Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will return to JTG Daugherty Racing in the No. 47 Chevrolet for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, the driver confirmed Thursday. The two parties agreed on a one-year contract.
The 2022 slate will mark Stenhouse’s third go-around with JTG Daugherty, having joined before the 2020 schedule. Stenhouse had three top-five and four top-10 finishes in his first year with the team. He has had one top five and two top 10s this season, with six races still remaining.
“I’m just looking forward to a third season with the team,” Stenhouse said on a Zoom teleconference. “I felt like this year was kind of like the first year with the organization with the way last year went and the way it was kind of thrown on us, not being able to hang out with the guys, be at the shop and really spend time with each. Now I’m really enjoying (it).”
Stenhouse used to race for Roush Fenway Racing, beginning his full-time NASCAR Cup Series career there in 2013. He won twice in the No. 17 Ford, both times in 2017 — at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway.
In addition to his personal news, Stenhouse also confirmed JTG Daugherty will field only one car in 2022 rather than its usual two. The No. 37 Chevrolet’s run will end when this season concludes, which leaves Ryan Preece without a ride for next year.
This will mark the first time in Stenhouse’s career he will race without a teammate.
“I definitely think it could be a negative on one hand and a positive on the other,” Stenhouse said. “When you’re practicing and testing and can have more ideas and run different things through both cars, it definitely speeds the process up. But we would also have to share the seat when it comes to testing. I feel like what I look for in a race car and what somebody else looks for in a race car and the way they drive is sometimes totally different. So, I feel like we’re going to be able to build the car around me.”
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That car Stenhouse referenced is the brand-new Next Gen car, which is set to make its competitive debut in 2022. Its first exhibition race will be The Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 6. The first points-paying race will come with the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 20.
NASCAR has planned three organizational tests — two at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 11-12 on the Roval; Nov. 17-18 on the oval) and one at Phoenix Raceway (Dec. 7-8). While other teams will have to rotate drivers, Stenhouse will be JTG Daugherty’s sole pilot. He sees that extra seat time as an advantage.
“I think next year could be our best year yet,” Stenhouse said, “even my best year in Cup in general.”