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Chris Buescher paint scheme
(Zack Albert | NASCAR Digital Media)

JTG Daugherty Racing enters 25th anniversary with new sponsor strategy, youthful lineup

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Ahead of its 25th season, JTG Daugherty Racing unveiled a new sponsorship strategy with Kroger behind its two fully-funded cars for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season with drivers Chris Buescher and Ryan Preece.

The cars and plan were made public on Wednesday morning during an announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The No. 47 Chevrolet of Preece will highlight Kroger’s shopping and delivery options including online ordering. The No. 37 Chevrolet of Buescher will carry seven different shopper themes with each theme carrying a specific group of brands to communicate with fans when they are most likely to be focused on specific buying occasions such as spring cleaning in April or grill season in June and July.

“It’s huge,” team co-owner and five-time NBA All-Star Brad Daugherty said. “Sponsorship is the lifeblood of the sport. We’ve got two fully-funded race teams and it’s just remarkable. … We’ve been fully funded the last several seasons so now we are getting to the point where we have our relationships in place, our drivers in place, our personnel, people in place, so it’s time for us to have some success because we feel we’ve done everything we need to do to in order to be better.”

RELATED: Drivers on the move for 2019 season

The team is also introducing a new mobile technology where fans will be encouraged to text a key word from JTG Daugherty Racing advertising that directs fans to fun tips, sweepstakes and savings from Kroger for the various brands highlighted on the cars.

“It’s the biggest blessing ever,” team co-owner Tad Geschickter said of the Kroger partnership. Geschickter’s wife Jodi is also a team co-owner as well.

“It’s really like having big brother in the room when you are talking to sponsors. They’ve got a lot of stores and they sell a lot of products, so it’s fun.”

The organization moved to two cars ahead of the 2017 season and this season will see Preece and Buescher behind the wheel. Buescher, 26, is the “veteran” of the group, having spent three seasons at the Cup level – the past two with JTG. The 2018 season saw Buescher post his best average finish (21.0) in the sport’s top series.

“It is really nice to have that relationship and be able to be in the same place and the same car without a bunch of moving pieces for now the third year,” Buescher said. “For me, that’s something I haven’t had in a long time and can really appreciate. I feel like that can only help going forward.”

2019 Jan23 Preececar Main
(Twitter: @RyanPreece_)

Preece enters the year with just five Cup starts to his name and spent the past two seasons running part-time with Joe Gibbs Racing. Two wins for JGR over the past two seasons impressed plenty around NASCAR and showed what the 2013 Whelen Modified Tour champion can do in a national series. The 28-year-old Connecticut racer will be competing for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors against Daniel Hemric (RCR), Matt Tifft (Front Row Motorsports) and Tanner Berryhill (Obaika Racing).

DEBATE: Who will win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2019?

“I’ve never won a rookie of the year to this date,” Preece said. “At the same time, I’m focusing on it but I’m focusing more on our team and achieving goals that we have set throughout the year and if we can achieve those goals, that’s going to put us in that hunt for that. Right now, if we obtain those goals, we are going to be fine.”

Optimism is high heading into the season for the two-car operation especially with the team building its own cars (except for superspeedway cars) and Hendrick providing engines and pit crew support.

“This is our 25th year in NASCAR and it started in a barn and every time we made a buck, we invested in more equipment,” Geschickter said. “We worked a long time to get here just like Ryan Preece has—pulling his own cars around the country and racing. Just like Chris Buescher has living above an ARCA shop trying to get a shot. I love the people we got in the cars. I love how everything has kind of come together after 25 years. We got all the tools. We got smart people. We got great partners. I really think it’s going to be a breakthrough year.”