We will hear a lot about the incredible efforts by Denny Hamlin grabbing his fifth win of the 2019 season Sunday at Kansas Speedway, and Chase Elliott’s gritty determination to move on to the Round of 8 in the Playoffs. But let’s give a bit of love to JTG Daugherty Racing’s rookie driver Ryan Preece as well.
Preece and his No. 47 team didn’t even get to use their primary car this weekend, as their hauler truck caught fire in Illinois on the way to Kansas Speedway on Thursday.
The team regrouped, and borrowed their teammate Chris Buescher’s backup No. 37 car and used it as their primary car. They also utilized a Hendrick Motorsports test hauler to work out of for the weekend.
On Friday, Preece qualified 28th for Sunday’s race. Initially it felt like a win for a team that had been reeling the day before. Then, Daniel Hemric — Preece’s competition for the rookie of the year crown — took the pole for the race.
It looked like a bad week was going to get even worse.
Preece didn’t show top speed for the majority of the Hollywood Casino 400. In fact, up until 10 laps to go in the race, he looked like a 25th-place car.
As Preece lined up for a late race restart he got back into the game as he took a wave around to get back on the lead lap.
With a few laps remaining, a crash involving Bubba Wallace developed right in front of Preece. Luckily, for the driver of the No. 47, he was able to avoid the carnage.
During this yellow, Preece would pit for fresh tires, as he flat spotted his trying to avoid the crash. This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened for Preece.
He restarted 23rd and when Daniel Suarez, Hemric and Joey Logano went spinning to bring the caution out again, Preece had moved to 16th.
Even luckier for Preece, Hemric’s day was done in the incident.
On the final restart of the day Preece utilized his four fresh tires to knife his way to 12th. This finish marks Preece’s best finish since a seventh-place effort at Michigan in August.
Couple Preece’s 12th place finish, with Hemric’s 31st-place DNF and what you have is a change atop the Rookie of the Year Point Standings.
Preece came into the day 17 points behind Hemric. After an emotional week, he and the JTG Daugherty Racing team leave Kansas with a two point advantage with four races left in the 2019 season.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.