Growing SHR ‘study group’ is beginning to pay dividends

Ryan Preece found the Stewart-Haas Racing study group to be a good resource after attending it for the first time this week.

He raised eyebrows May 4 when he responded, “Study group I wasn’t aware of,” with a shrugging emoji to a social media post about his three teammates getting together. It started when Noah Gragson admitted he needed help in his preparation process, and he went to Chase Briscoe, who has a similar style.

The “study group” has evolved to include Josh Berry, who joined for the first time two weeks ago. Other Stewart-Haas Racing personnel are also involved, helping them better understand the drivers since everyone might be saying the same thing but express it differently. Preece joined for the first time this week after seeing the social media post about the group.


“Ultimately I do a lot of prep on my own,” Preece said. “But being in there in that group on Tuesday, people at SHR were able to clip things together and for the 10 to 12 hours of work I do on my own, it condensed it into an hour and a half. I think the biggest thing you can take away from it is just communication among the four drivers. That’s what you don’t have when you do it on your own.”

As for why he publicly responded (and drew attention) to not being previously aware of the group, Preece said, “I wasn’t targeting anybody. The reason I commented what I did was [because] I was taken by surprise, but I felt like that was attacking my integrity as a person who works really hard.

“It doesn’t matter what the results are now from the last two weeks — I take pride in myself [as someone] who works really hard. I know Door Bumper Clear (podcast) and Freddie [Kraft] said, ‘Why comment on it?’ Well, my pride and who I am as a person in my work ethic means a lot to me, and I don’t want the public to think I’m lazy, because I’m not.”

There has never been an issue of the four Stewart-Haas drivers getting along or working together. All four have repeatedly stated how much time they spend together and how well things have gone since the lineup was finalized coming into the season. It’s been a focus for everyone at Stewart-Haas to work closer together as one team instead of four separate entities.

“It’s something that over the offseason, we all sat down as a group and were trying to figure out if we needed to hire a driver coach or whatever it may be,” Briscoe said. “Me and [Richard] Boswell and Noah and Drew [Blickensderfer] honestly kind of took it upon ourselves about a month and a half ago. How me and Noah study is definitely different than how other guys study, and we needed something to hold each other accountable.

“We just decided we were going to start us two together and see where it grew. It’s grown, and it’s cool to see the progression.”

Briscoe leads the way at 14th in the championship standings. He has four top-10 finishes. Gragson leads the organization with five top-10 finishes, but he’s been fighting to reclaim lost ground, now 19th in the standings, from an early season points deduction (35) for a roof rail infraction.

Berry is 23rd in points and has yet to score a top 10. Preece, whose team was also docked 35 points for the roof rail infraction has one top 10 and is 29th in the standings.

The four have all taken turns at being the best Stewart-Haas car on any given weekend. Texas Motor Speedway, for example, was one event where all four seemed even and ran in the top 15, although the results were scattered in the end due to different circumstances.

“I feel like it helps me [and] Noah feels like it helps him,” Briscoe said. “I feel like there’s still a long way we could go from the standpoint of how we’re building it, but it is nice. [It’s] not just drivers and crew chiefs, now we have engineers in there, and they can kind of hear the drivers being [in] an open dialogue, and I feel like that goes a long way. Even Zippy [Greg Zipadelli] has been sitting in on them.

“It’s been really good for all of us. It’s obviously helped us on the racetrack, but from a communications standpoint, it’s made it where, after practice, I can get out, go to Ryan, Josh or Noah, and the lingo and things we’ve talked about all week…we know. It makes a two-minute conversation a 30-second conversation, so it just makes things way easier from that standpoint.”

Story originally appeared on Racer