A last-minute decision to race at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) paid off for Ryan Preece, who won the Twisted Tea Open Modified 80 on Friday night. Preece now has two wins in three races in a Modified this season, following his Sunoco Modified victory at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) on Wednesday, June 5.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Preece said in Victory Lane. “I had a lot of fun. I love racing, and I love winning.”
Nobody was expecting the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender to make an appearance at Stafford – there was no mention of his intention to race on any of his social media channels. However, as soon as fans saw Big Red, the Preece family’s well-known hauler, rolling into the parking lot, word quickly spread around the paddock.
“I came here with my old 1968 box truck,” Preece said. “I didn’t have a pit box, so Tommy Baldwin was good enough to bring my tires out for me and change [them]. I didn’t want to publicize that I was coming tonight, I wanted to do it like they did it back in the day and just show up. But I’m happy I did it, and we won the race.”
Despite a somewhat dominant win, Preece kept the fans on their toes throughout the 80-lap feature. He started mid-way through the field but worked his way up into the top three by lap 20. He took the lead by lap 30, but did not come in for tires with the rest of the frontrunners during a caution around the halfway point.
Preece was able to stay ahead of the cars that came in for tires until he came in for his own pit stop with about 25 laps to go. He restarted the race near the back of the field, but found himself in second place about 10 laps after the restart. Another caution with at that point bunched the field back together, putting him on the front row for the restart.
From there, Preece took the lead and never looked back, finishing 1.066 seconds ahead of Eric Goodale.
Matt Galko had a good run to finish third, running in the top five for most of the evening. Bryan Narducci, driving Tommy Baldwin’s No. 7NY and making his first Open Modified start, finished fourth, ahead of Chase Dowling in fifth. Max Zachem, Andrew Molleur, Ronnie Williams, Keith Rocco, and Dave Etheridge completed the top ten.
Preece is not done with Modified racing just yet – he will head to Riverhead Raceway on Saturday, June 15 for a shot at a second straight Islip 300.
The next Open Modified race at Stafford is the Bud Light Open Mod 80 on Friday, July 12.
-Story by: Ian Pettigrew, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ian_pettigrew
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo