NASCAR’s version of Woj once again dropped a bomb this morning. The JTG Daugherty Kroger Clicklist Racing Team (think that’s the name) are exploring their driver options for 2019 for both cars. Count them, the #37 and the #47, that’s two cars. Got it?
.@JTGRacing is evaluating its options as it relates to possible driver/team changes in '19 for its two cars, per people familiar with the matter.
➖ The team had no comment. pic.twitter.com/1IRFtyJT30
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) August 9, 2018
In 2018 JTG Racing combined has three Top-5 finishes with all of those happening at the two Daytona races. AJ Allmendinger leads the team with three Top-10’s including both Daytona races and the spring Martinsville race. The team is averaging a 21.8 place finish this season as well.
With wins not in the question and no improvement in performance compared to the investment being made by the team the discussion of a driver change has now become public. Naturally, AJ will handle this completely fine and not have a complete meltdown.
JTG has not won a race since Allmendinger got the team their first win in 2014 at Watkins Glen. Four seasons later and an alliance change from RCR to Hendrick the team could be looking to replace AJ and Chris Buescher. Keep in mind Allmendinger signed a 5-year deal in 2015 so buyout will obviously be involved unless there’s a performance clause or something so they can Kevin Ollie their way out of this situation.
Who are the other driver options out there? Of the midpack teams, JTG has always been a stable, sponsored outfit that a driver could cut their teeth at. They’re competitive at certain tracks but the right driver and some other small changes could make them a competitive team.
The modified driver who has impressed everyone in his limited schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing that has included 2 wins and 9 Top-10s in 10 races is a name that has been tossed around.
At 27, Ryan Preece is entering the prime of his driving career without a permanent home. In terms of guys trying to climb the ladder, he’s getting to the age where teams won’t look at him but he isn’t in the Stewart Friesen territory. Preece provides something most young drivers in the Xfinity series can’t and that’s maturity. He doesn’t abuse his equipment, he’s smart behind the wheel and makes the most out of what he has.
He’s like a journeyman getting called up from the minors and then all of a sudden everyone in the fan base is like WHY DIDN’T WE CALL HIM UP SOONER? And management is like listen, we don’t pay attention to what happens in Billings. That’s what happened to Preece riding around in the back with JDM.
People keep saying he shouldn’t entertain the idea of taking over one of these rides. Why not though? He doesn’t have a full-time ride, there is no space for him at JGR or any other Toyota team. JR Motorsports isn’t going to run him without some sponsorship, RCR is the same as JTG. Why not take over a solid mid-pack ride, cut your teeth and hope someone like Ganassi notices you?
Literally, the exact same story for Preece except he has a full-time ride and no wins. He’s 27, he has proven himself at the truck and Xfinity series level. He should have won driving for Brad Keselowski in the truck series. Not winning at RCR isn’t a huge deal because no one does anymore. He outruns Austin Dillon on a regular basis in the Xfinity Series as well.
Hemric is regarded as a driver with a lot of upside. A guy that will get you the finish the car deserves but not destroy equipment unless it’s the last lap at Iowa and Kyle Benjamin is trying to pass him into Turn 3. Other than that, really solid driver.
Both drivers would be solid choices for JTG. Their two current drivers have plateaued or regressed in some cases. Sometimes a change in scenery is needed for all parties. Chris Buescher may still be under contract with Roush Fenway Racing as well.
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