June 15th, 2017
Preece Rockets To Thompson Victory; Rolls To Second Whelen Modified Win After Late Pit Stop
A NASCARHomeTracks.com release
THOMPSON, Conn. -- Ryan Preece's pit stop strategy pushed him back in the field. But the Berlin, Connecticut, driver wasted no time in driving to the front en route to Wednesday night's NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in the Thompson 125 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
The win was the second of the season for Preece and 17th of his career.
Preece pitted with many of his lead challengers on lap 70. The No. 6 TS Haulers Chevrolet was forced to restart outside the top 10 behind a number of cars including Rowan Pennink and Bobby Santos, who pitted earlier. A late charge through the field by Preece culminated with a move to the inside of Pennink for the lead with just 18 laps to go.
From there, Preece pulled away from the field and clicked off some of the fastest laps he ran all night while out in front of the pack. He finished 2.106 seconds ahead of second-place Pennink.
"All of my guys work really hard," Preece said. "Our guys live in Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island, so it can be hard for them. As long as the car is good and I can drive forward, it's my job to get myself back there. I shouldn't have to depend on them."
Preece, who won the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Connecticut's Stafford Motor Speedway on April 30, missed the last tour race on May 13 to get married.
Back on the race track, he had an early hiccup when he missed the final minutes of the only practice session of the day because of a broken driveshaft. Once they got to the race, though, there was no issue.
Pennink followed up his Thompson win in April's Icebreaker 150 with another strong run on the .625-mile oval. He pitted under caution at Lap 50 and inherited the lead 20 laps later when the lead pack came down pit road.
Santos, who pitted for tires on lap 33 and stayed out for the remainder of the race, held on for third. Santos was the defending race winner.
"Our strategy definitely worked in his favor," Santos said. "We weren't spectacular to start the race but we made a good adjustment and put tires on and we had a good car overall tonight."
Four-time tour champion Doug Coby qualified second and finished in fourth spot, with Eric Goodale rounding out the top five.
Jon McKennedy, Ted Christopher, Timmy Solomito, Andrew Krause and Max Zachem completed the top 10. Donny Lia won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day but got caught up in an early wreck and finished 23rd.
Pennink cut Solomito's lead to two points after five of 16 championship events, while Goodale is 17 points back of Pennink in third. Despite missing a race, Preece is 10th in points -- seven behind ninth-place Coby and 47 out of first.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday, June 24.
April 30, 2017
Hands On: Ryan Preece Scores First Whelen Mod Tour Spring Sizzler Win At Stafford
A www.racedayct.com article
STAFFORD – In a decade plus of racing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Ryan Preece has developed a reputation as a driver who carries himself with a nature most would consider to be a recipe of cocksure swagger combined with cheery fun when it comes to celebrations.
Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway though, a side of Preece never seen before after an event poured out as the exultation of victory set in.
The NAPA Spring Sizzler had the normally cheery-eyed and playful Preece breaking down in tears.
Preece, of Berlin, passed a dominant Doug Coby on lap 187 and then went on to victory in the Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
It was the first Spring Sizzler victory in ten starts in the event for the 26-year old Preece. His grandfather Bob Judkins won the event with driver Ed Flemke Sr. in 1973. Preece has been attending the event since he was child.
“It’s crazy,” Preece said, pausing to regain his composure as emotion took over. “This is about, like [winning the Whelen Modified Tour championship] back in . It’s crazy. A lot of hard work. This isn’t the normal Ryan Preece that’s usually up here. There’s just so many things I could say right now.”
Coby, of Milford, was second. Chase Dowling of Roxbury third.
For Preece the victory took on even more meaning for the fact that it was a truly hands on experience for him.
After the 2015 Whelen Modified Tour season Preece walked away from his full-time ride with team owner Eddie Partridge to take an opportunity running full-time with the NASCAR XFINITY Series, one step below the top-tier Monster Energy Cup Series.
He left the XFINTY Series ride at the end of the 2016 season looking for a way to get back to the Whelen Modified Tour full-time. The answer was to become the full-time mechanic on his own car for Partridge.
“Obviously everybody knows I left the XFINITY [Series] deal and to make that happen I needed a job,” Preece said. “During the offseason I talked to [Partridge] and I said to him ‘I’d really like to maintain the cars and keep them up and put them setups in them and that would be my job and that would make it easier for me to come home.’ And he believed in me.”
“I’ve been learning. … To be able to work on a racecar, put a setup in a racecar. Not me personally spending the money, but being able to go out and win races with my hard work, you know what, I don’t think anybody can really ever know. Winning this race, doing what I did, it means more to me than my first win in a Modified. It’s just so much hard work. I don’t think anybody really knows.”
Coby led a race-high 143 laps, but it was Preece that had the drive Coby was missing in the late stages.
Coby was second to Eric Goodale and Preece in fourth after the leaders pitted for the final time on lap 158. Coby went by Goodale for the lead on the ensuing lap 162 restart but Goodale grabbed the top spot back on lap 163. Coby then grabbed the lead back again on lap 167. Meanwhile, Preece was up to third by Justin Bonsignore by the time the caution flew again on lap 168.
On the next restart Preece got by Goodale for second. On lap 187 Preece was able to use a low move with a little contact in turn three to take the lead from Coby.
“As soon as I came out [of the pits] I said ‘This is going to be tough,” Preece said. “We got Justin [Bonsignore] and we got Eric [Goodale] and then I just had to kind of set up [Coby]. I had to help him move up a little bit. But that was the good old fashioned bump and run. I had a lot of fun doing that. Doug and I, we know we’re going to race each other hard and it’s going to be one of those seasons like it was in years past and I’m ready to have fun.”
Coby briefly took over the lead at the line on a lap 193 restat, Preece snared the top spot back almost immediately and then left Coby fighting for second over the closing laps.
It was the first time in three events that Coby, the three-time defending series champion, has finished and event.
“The right rear tire never came up on that second set so we were way shy on stagger,” Coby said. “The track had so much rubber on it, we were just never going to fight through that.
“Obviously a win would have been better, but the fact that we survived all those restarts at the end, that’s a plus. The series has proven in the first two races that late race restarts don’t really work too well with all of us.”