Over the course of the past few years, Modified stalwart Ryan Preece has dabbled in racing cars with fenders. He’s made a few NASCAR Xfinity Series starts and ran the final four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of 2015, all while contending for championships on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
In 2016 Preece will no longer be a contender for a Modified championship. Instead, he will be racing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Johnny Davis Motorsports beginning with the season opener at Daytona International Speedway on February 20.
“It’s a great thing to finally be full time in a stock car,” Preece told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I’ve been trying to do this for the past few years and right now all the stars have aligned.”
Preece explained that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner, Tommy Baldwin, will be assisting the Johnny Davis Motorsports team as much as possible throughout the year.
“I really have to thank Tommy and all of my supporters that have helped me get where I am and have made this happen,” he said. “I think I flew down after the new year and met with Johnny with Tommy and learned about his operation. I felt like it was a really good fit for me. He has an open door at his shop for anyone from Johnny Davis to come over.”
Preece said visiting visiting Davis’ shop reminded him of when he first started on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2008 with the Boehler Racing Enterprises team.
“It was really cool meeting Johnny Davis and heading over to his race shop,” said Preece. “It’s a real race shop. It reminded me of when I first went to the Boehler’s back in the day. Everyone is working hard and giving us every resource to get speed.”
The 25-year-old driver won the 2013 NWMT championship and has finished second in points three of the last four years. He has scored 15 wins in NWMT competition dating back to 2008, and in 2015 alone he scored 22 wins across multiple series and divisions.
Preece, a native of Berlin, Connecticut, said even though he’s moving up to one of the national levels of NASCAR that he doesn’t plan to stop racing Modifieds.
“I’m working on putting a schedule together between going Xfinity racing and then flying back and racing Modifieds whenever we can,” he said. “I know there’s at least seven to eight Tour races that I can make it to and hopefully some open shows. If I have an off weekend I’ll be there at Riverhead, Waterford or Stafford, or wherever it may be.”
He said he believes that racing two or three times a weekend every single weekend is what got him this opportunity, and that’s why he plans to continue doing that when he can.
“I got to this point by racing all the time,” he said. “I had seat time and was fortunate enough to have the sponsors and people around me that brings wins. That’s what got me to where I am and I don’t want to stop doing that unless I’m told to. Right now Johnny is all for me racing. I’m excited. I’m just going to continue on with a busy schedule. It’s probably not going to be as many races as usual, but probably a lot more travel.”
Preece said that when he runs NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races he will still be racing the TS Haulers No. 6 owned by Eddie and Connie Partridge. He said that they also plan to race all five nights at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car racing, as well as at a Tour-type Modified show at Florida’s Bronson Speedway just before heading to New Smyrna. Preece won four races at New Smyrna last year as well as the Tour-Type Modified World Series championship. He also said that Partridge, who now owns Long Island, New York’s Riverhead Raceway, will not be running any NWMT races without Preece behind the wheel.
“Pretty much anytime I can race I am going to race,” he said. “I’m really lucky to have the owners that I have behind me.”
While Preece said that he still loves racing Modifieds, it’s been a dream of his to race in the upper levels of NASCAR since he was a kid.
“I love racing and I love Modifieds,” Preece said. “But this is something that as a kid you dream about doing. A lot of people dream about doing it. This is where my heart wants to be. I want to be down south racing those cars. I’m doing everything I can to be down there and stay down there. If it doesn’t work out then it doesn’t work out, but at least I gave myself a shot.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Daryl Canfield/Speed51.com photo