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Preece 'not stressed at all' about qualifying for Daytona 500

Ryan Preece finds himself without a guaranteed spot in this year's Daytona 500, but the prospect of having to fight for a place in the field doesn't intimidate him at all.

Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Maxwell Houses for Heroes
Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Kleenex
Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
#37: Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Slim Jim
Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Kleenex Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Kroger
Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Cottonelle
Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Velveeta
Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Cottonelle
Ryan Preece, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Natural Light Seltzer

Preece enters 2021 without a charter, meaning he and the No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing team must either qualify via time trials or race their way into the Daytona 500 through the Duels.

But Preece isn't concerned. “I’m not stressed at all," he said. "We’re going to go down, and if everything works out the way I think it’s laid out, we should qualify on speed. So, I feel pretty confident with it.”

The 29-year-old is coming off a disappointing season with just two top-tens in 36 races, having placed 29th in the championship standings. However, Preece has had success at superspeedway races in the past. His best career finish of third came at Talladega in 2019. That same year, he placed eighth in the Daytona 500. To him, entering 2021 as an Open team is 'just another hurdle' to deal with.

"I think we’re going to be just fine," he said. "To be honest with you, it’s not like I haven’t had obstacles in my career. It’s not easy and it’s not like you’re guaranteed (getting) in. Working with Trent (Owens, crew chief) and through some of the things that have been going on throughout the offseason, I feel confident that we should have plenty of speed and we can get in on time, which will make the Duals that much less difficult. No matter what plan you come up with when it comes to Daytona, you can be as prepared as possible but you never know what’s going to happen. We’ll see… hopefully we qualify in on time and everything becomes easier throughout the weekend. If we don’t then it will come down to executing, making sure everything goes right and get ourselves in.”

Preece isn't even sure if the No. 37 team will have funding to run the entire season, but a strong showing in the sport's biggest race could help greatly in that endeavor.

“I think you guys know as much as we all know," he said of running the full season. "We’re going to continue week after week and hopefully everything is there, we’re having a solid season and everything comes together.”

Without a charter, Preece says that that he will have to take a more aggressive approach to stages in order to ensure they score as many points as possible.

“I think you show up every single week trying to get the most out of your equipment. So that doesn’t change anything about what I’m doing. Our approach for Daytona is the same as it has been every year, except I think we’ll be a little more aggressive than we have been in years past when it comes to stages. We’ve typically tried to lay back and make sure we are there at the end. But I think stage points are so important now that you have to race every single lap.”

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