NASCAR Cup Driver vs. Local Star in Match Race at Thompson

This Wednesday night at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park already has more than enough hype surrounding it with the homecoming of 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and two-time Thompson Sunoco Modified champion Ryan Preece for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Thompson 125.  As he did for many seasons at “The Big T,” Preece will be running double duty Wednesday, driving Eddie Partridge’s No. 6 Whelen Modified and the Moniz family No. 31 Sunoco Modified in the 30-lap feature.


Adding to both the hype and Preece’s racing schedule, he will also participate in a match race organized by the Thompson staff prior to this week. His opponent will be the most recent Sunoco Modified winner at the Connecticut oval, fellow Connecticut driver Ronnie Williams.


Williams has become a familiar name in Modified racing the past couple of years, with his career coming to a head in 2018, winning the SK Modified championship at Stafford Motor Speedway, and displaying a number of strong performances on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.


With the momentum Williams and the No. 50 Adam Skowyra team have underneath them, Preece is sure that it will be a most interesting matchup.


“It’s going to be pretty fun,” Preece told Speed51.  “The way we went about doing it was figuring whoever won the race at Thompson prior to this week was going to do the match race against me. It ended up being Ronnie and obviously he’s been doing a real good job in Connecticut with everything he’s got going on.”


The announcement of the match race is evoking memories of a highly touted showdown between Tony Stewart and the late Ted Christopher back in 2002 at Thompson.  With this week’s match race, Preece is looking forward to giving his long-time fans a nice treat.


“It’ll be something to watch, you haven’t seen something like that in a long time,” Preece said.  “It’s a cool thing to be a part of, so I’m looking forward to Wednesday, it’ll be an awesome night, with what should be a solid crowd there.”


Despite knowing about the match race for some time now, Williams is still taking in the opportunity that has been presented. But, he is sure to be ready come show time.


“That’s pretty exciting, funny thing is they told me about it last week and I don’t really know what’s going on, I just know I’m doing a match race with Preece,” said Williams, who also talked about that same Christopher/Stewart match race he saw as a kid.


Ronnie Williams celebrating his first Thompson win on May 19. (Photo credit: Clarus Studios Inc.)

“The last match race I saw was when my mom brought my brother and I up to Thompson to watch Tony Stewart and Ted Christopher do it a long time ago,” recounted Williams.  “I’ve still got this poster in my closet and still remember everything that went along with it.  Now, Preece is a Cup guy, he’s worked his way up there, he’s won a ton of races for lack of a better term.  He worked hard to get to the top, so for him to come back and do this for the fans is pretty neat.”


Also of great importance Wednesday will be that 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature, as Williams looks to back up what was his first career win at Thompson last time out in May in a thriller against another Connecticut great, Keith Rocco.


“Getting that win was pretty big,” said Williams.  “Everywhere we go with the Skowyra Motorsports guys, I know we got a car that can compete, and it’s just up to me at that point to do my job.  To finally get that win and get it for those guys after blowing two motors in the opening race was big.  I just hope we can build off this going forward.”


While Williams has only his No. 50 Sunoco Modified to worry about, Preece has the two cars as mentioned before.  The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie contender has not been in a Modified since competing in the Tour-type Modified division during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing this past February at New Smyrna Speedway (FL), where he won one of the three races he entered.


It should come as no surprise that “Preece Lightning” is more than happy to be coming home and returning to his Modified roots for one night, while expecting to walk away with some more trophies.


“No doubt,” said Preece.  “I’m excited to be putting a new car on the race track, that’s another thing I’m excited about.  Obviously, I haven’t been able to run a Tour race yet this year, so this is a good opportunity to do that, come home, and race some Modifieds.”


Race fans unable to make it out to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park this Wednesday, June 5 for the Thompson 125 can follow the night’s happenings on Speed51’s Trackside Now coverage.


-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT

-Featured photo credit: Speed51

NASCAR Cup Driver vs. Local Star in Match Race at Thompson