It was a battle of the Ryans during Friday’s Whelen All-Star Shootout for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. At the end of the day, Ryan Preece ended a 20-race winless drought at “The Magic Mile” after last-lap contact with Ryan Newman.
“I was more worried about him coming over to victory lane after,” Preece joked after the race. “I didn’t know what kind of mood he’d be in. We had a really good car; we chased him down from about seven or eight (car lengths) back.
“I started tightening up and I think he started tightening up there at the end. I was just trying to get that run down the frontstretch and clear him the first time with two to go. I couldn’t quite make it happen. I sent it in there and I thought I was going to clear him sliding up and then I felt that left front on the right rear nerf bar. Ryan has been a great person and he’s always offered up plenty of information, so you never want controversy like that to win a race.”
Preece started the race from the 19th position and charged to the fourth position during the first 20 laps of the race. An invert of six during the break put Preece third in the running with 15 laps to go.
Newman quickly took command during the second half of the race before Preece started reeling him in with less than 10 laps to go. After following in the tire tracks of Newman, Preece made his first bid at the lead with two laps to go as they entered turn one. That bid failed when he didn’t get a good enough run going into the turn, but he tried the same move again on the final lap of the race.
After diving to the inside in turn one, Preece slid up the banking into Newman, forcing Newman’s No. 77 up into the marbles. From there, it was clear sailing for Preece on the way to his first victory at the Loudon, New Hampshire oval.
While Newman was disappointed with a second-place finish, he didn’t fault Preece for the move he made.
“It was a race-losing pass for me,” Newman said. “We had a good car and we were able to go three-wide a couple times on the restarts. Preece was just in a better position being able to catch my draft. He had a good race car. I don’t think he hit me on purpose by any means, but he had position. I stuck it down in there on the outside of him trying to hold him down and he knocked me up into the marbles. I wish we could have raced to the checkers but it was a heck of a race from our standpoint.”
For Preece, the victory was the first of his career in any type of race car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, It was also one that means more given the hard work he’s put into his No. 6 Modified this season.
“One thing I’ve done this year is I’ve taken on setting the car up and maintaining it. When you’re doing it yourself it brings a whole different emotion to it when you get to victory lane,” Preece stated. “Way back when, when I would win, it was a great feeling to beat everybody, but it was almost a feeling of emptiness when I got out of the car. Now when I win, all of those hours I put in the race shop to get there kind of floods that.
“To win here at Loudon finally, it only took 10 years, it’s pretty cool.”
Patrick Emerling rounded out the podium after leading 10 laps during the first half of the race. New Hampshire native Andy Seuss and defending NWMT champion Doug Coby completed the top five.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back on track Saturday afternoon for the Eastern Propane & Oil 100.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Saturday’s Whelen All-Star Shootout by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage presented by Spafco Race Cars and Jerico Performance Parts.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Whelen All-Star Shootout Unofficial Results
New Hampshire Motor Speedway – July 14, 2017