Chase Briscoe, Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)
Stewart-Haas Racing’s driver lineup for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season is officially set following the confirmation of Cole Custer’s replacement.
Just one day after Joe Gibbs Racing solidified their four-car lineup for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season with the confirmation that reigning Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs is set to replace the Richard Childress Racing-bound Kyle Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing have solidified theirs, and also with a change.
The team have confirmed that Ryan Preece, who joined the organization as their reserve driver ahead of the 2022 season, is set to replace Cole Custer behind the wheel of the #41 Ford in 2023, with Custer set to move back to the Xfinity Series after spending three years at the Cup level.
Preece had been considered a potential replacement for Aric Almirola behind the wheel of the #10 Ford, having just signed as Stewart-Haas Racing’s reserve driver when Almirola announced before the season that the 2022 season would be his last.
But even with Almirola having changed his plans, signing a multi-year extension to remain with the team, Preece is set to get a Cup Series opportunity with the Tony Stewart and Gene Haas-owned team next year anyway.
Stewart is the co-owner who lobbied for Preece to get this opportunity, as Haas reportedly wanted Custer back for a fourth season.
Preece’s replacement of Custer marks the sixth time in the last seven offseasons that Stewart-Haas Racing have changed their driver lineup, and this is their lone change for next year.
After 2016, Stewart retired from full-time competition, and Clint Bowyer replaced him behind the wheel of the #14 Chevrolet-turned-Ford. After 2017, Danica Patrick retired, and Almirola replaced her. Daniel Suarez replaced Kurt Busch behind the wheel of the #41 Ford following the 2018 season, but he was replaced by Custer after just one year. Briscoe replaced Bowyer after 2020.
For the first time since between the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the team did not change their driver lineup last offseason.
In addition to Almirola returning to the #10 Ford for a sixth season in 2023, Kevin Harvick is set to return to the #4 Ford for a 10th season (seventh with Ford) and Chase Briscoe is set to return to the #14 Ford for a third season.
Custer is set to join Riley Herbst at Stewart-Haas Racing’s Xfinity Series team, presumably behind the wheel of the #00 Ford. He drove the #00 Ford from 2017 to 2019 before his Cup Series promotion. Herbst is set to return for a third season behind the wheel of the #98 Ford.