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Ryan Preece signs with JTG Daugherty to drive in Cup in 2019

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Preece, who gained notice by pooling his sponsorship money to run a limited number of races with a top Xfinity team last year instead of running a full-time schedule with a lower team, had that gamble pay off Friday with a full-time Cup ride for 2019.

Preece will join JTG Daugherty and drive the No. 47 next season, the team announced Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 27-year-old Preece, who has signed a multi-year agreement, replaces AJ Allmendinger. Preece, who has five career Cup starts, will be a teammate to Chris Buescher. The team will have Hendrick Motorsports supply its engines next year. This is the team’s last season with ECR Engines.

Preece drove a full Xfinity season for JD Motorsports in 2016 for JD Motorsports, a lower-funded team, and had one top-10 finish. Preece used his sponsorship money to run a couple of races for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017. He finished second at New Hampshire and won at Iowa, earning a ride in two additional races. This season, he’s scored one win and six top-10 finishes in nine starts for JGR. He’s set to run the rest of the Xfinity schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing before joining JTG Daugherty Racing for the 2019 season.

“We’re really looking forward to having Ryan join our team for the 2019 season,” team owner Tad Geschickter said. “Ryan has an impressive list of accomplishments in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series and is now being given a great opportunity to compete at NASCAR’s highest level full-time. We really believe in him and think he’s a great addition to the team.”

Preece, a native of Berlin, Connecticut, has competed in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour since 2007. He has 22 wins and 76 top-five finishes in 155 series starts. He won the 2013 title. Preece also was a part of the NASCAR Next Class in 2013 and 2014.

“Tommy Lasorda says, ‘The difference between impossible and possible lies in a man’s determination,’ and I feel that JTG Daugherty Racing has just that,” Preece said. “It’s been many years of fighting for opportunities to compete and win races at NASCAR’s highest level, and it is nice to officially say that JTG Daugherty Racing is my new home for 2019. I look forward to not only racing, but working with the team as well to build speed and create a name for myself here. I can’t thank Tad and Jodi Geschickter, Brad Daugherty and Gordon Smith enough for the opportunity.”

Kyle Busch, JGR teammates take 4 of 7 fastest spots in first of 2 Cup practices

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Kyle Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut in Friday’s first of two NASCAR Cup practices at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch paced the 40-car field with a top speed of 200.285 mph, followed by JGR teammates Martin Truex Jr. (200.200) in second, Erik Jones in fourth (200.156) and Denny Hamlin was seventh-fastest (200.044). Ryan Preece was third-fastest in a Chevrolet at 200.169 mph, while Ryan Newman rounded out the top five at 200.093 mph.

Click here for the full practice speed chart.

The second Cup practice session of the day is scheduled later this afternoon at 3:05-3:55 p.m. ET.

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Chase Briscoe fastest in first of two Xfinity practices at Daytona

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Chase Briscoe turned in the fastest speed (196.455 mph) in the first of Friday’s two NASCAR Xfinity Series practices at Daytona International Speedway.

Defending Daytona Xfinity race winner Tyler Reddick was second-fastest (196.344 mph), followed by John Hunter Nemechek (196.202), Ross Chastain (196.002) and Justin Haley 195.135.

Click here for full results of the first practice.

Today’s second and final Xfinity practice runs from 2:05 – 2:55 p.m. ET.

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Kyle Busch Motorsports adds Canadian teen for three Truck races

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Kyle Busch Motorsports has a long history of developing young drivers such as Erik Jones and Christopher Bell.

Now, KBM has gone north of the border for its latest addition to the fold, 17-year-old Canadian teenager Raphael Lessard.

Lessard, a native of Saint Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, is slated to drive the No. 46 Toyota Tundra in three Gander Outdoors Truck Series races for KBM this season: Martinsville (March 23), Dover (May 3) and Bristol (August 15). He turns 18 in July.

“Driving for KBM I will be assured of having one of the best vehicles in the Truck Series and that will allow me to go for the win every time out,” Lessard said in a media release. “KBM is a team of winners, and I intend to take full advantage of the great situation I find myself in.”

Raphael Lessard (Photo: Kyle Busch Motorsports)

The move to Trucks is a promotion for Lessard, who competed for KBM’s Super Late Model Program in 2018. He captured two wins: the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol last May, and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Indiana) Speedway last July.

In 16 combined starts for KBM last season, Lessard recorded two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018 across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series.

“Raphael was really fast in our Super Late Models last season and added a couple of marquee wins to KBM’s resume,” team owner and NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Busch said in a media release. “We expect that he’ll be able to step right in and be competitive as he makes the jump to the next level.”

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Friday’s schedule at Daytona, including Truck season opener

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The Gander Outdoors Truck Series opens it season tonight to complete a busy day at Daytona International Speedway.

The day features two afternoon practice sessions each for the Cup and Xfinity Series.

Then it’s on to NextEra Energy Resources 250 race for the Trucks at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times Eastern)

9 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Cup garage open

9:30 a.m. – Truck garage open

10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

12:05 p.m. – 12:55 p.m. – Xfinity first practice (Fox Sports 1)

1:05 p.m. – 1:55 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network)

2:05 p.m. – 2:55 p.m. – Xfinity final practice (FS1)

3:05 p.m. – 3:55 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

4:40 p.m. – Truck qualifying (single vehicle/two rounds)

6:15 p.m. – Truck driver/crew chief meeting

7 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

7:30 p.m. – NextEra Energy Resources 250 Truck race (100 laps/250 miles) (Stages 20/40/100) (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)