Ryan Preece scored a second John Blewett III North-South Shootout Modified victory Sunday at Caraway Speedway, putting a strong start to the driver’s partnership with his Ed Partridge-owned race team.
Preece, who also won the 2012 edition of the North-South Shootout, made his debut in the No. 6 Modified that he will pilot in 2015 on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in strong fashion, pulling away from five-time Shootout winner Matt Hirschman for the 125-lap victory in Sophia, North Carolina.
“This means we are going to be strong right out of the gate for sure,” said Preece in victory lane. “I’m just really happy. It’s great to be a part of this.”
Preece started on the outside pole, only being bested in Friday’s qualifying by Hirschman. Preece, of Berlin, Connecticut, got a little bit loose out of turn four on his second qualifying lap, which cost him some time.
But that didn’t affect Preece too much as he quickly made his way by Hirschman to take the lead before the 125-lap race was even five laps old.
Preece led until lap 65 when Andy Seuss got underneath him entering turn three. Seuss set up Preece off turn two and completed the pass by diving to the bottom of the Caraway banking in the following corner.
Seuss remained the leader until Hirschman got by on a restart on lap 83, and then “Big Money” Matt started to show his strength.
Preece took the lead back from Hirschman on a restart with 27 laps to go. He started to pull away from Hirschman, but with seven laps to go Hirschman started to close back in. Hirschman gave the bumper to Preece on a couple of occasions, but Preece was able to hold him off to score the win.
Hirschman was strong on restarts all day long, but just not when it mattered most.
“This one is on me,” said Hirschman. “I cost us a win. I was the leader of the race and I cost us a win on the restart. I had all great restarts the rest of the race until then. I just tried for too much there and didn’t get it into gear at the point I needed to and cost us the chance to win.”
Preece said he was aware that Hirschman might be trying to make one last run on him, but he knew what he had to do to hold him off.
“I knew all I had to do was keep my line and keep going straight and just keep digging,” said Preece. “Now I just want to stay strong and I want to be ready when we go up (north) for the first three races and to New Smyrna Speedway and everything.”
Preece and Hirschman have combined to win every North-South Shootout dating back to 2010.
Ron Silk, Jason Myers and Derek Ramstrom were the top five.
Ryan Moore took down the win in the 150-lap feature for the PASS Super Late Models South in a thrilling late-race duel with Christopher Bell on North-South Shootout Sunday. Bell was working his way through lapped traffic when he made contact with his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate, Karl Weber, going into turn one with five laps to go. Moore was about 10 car lengths behind of Bell at the time of the contact, but quickly made his way to the back of Bell’s black No. 52 machine.
Moore and Bell battled side by side for three laps before they made hard contact in turn three on the final lap. Bell started to spin as Moore drove away to take the checkered flag. Bell held on to finish second with Jody Measamer taking third.
Chris Lamb took the win in the 35-lap feature for the USAC Southeast Midgets and Bradley McCaskill dominated the 100-lap Southeast Limited Late Model feature to put a cap on the 12th Annual North-South Shootout.
For more information on the 12th Annual John Blewett III North-South Shootout at Caraway Speedway, visit www.carawayspeedway.com.
– 51 Sports / North-South Shootout press release. Photo credit: Brenda Meserve/Speed51.com