ALLENTOWN, PA – Ryan Preece, who won on NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and Whelen Modified Tour this season, will compete full-time in 2018 on the Indoor Auto Racing Series fueled by VP Racing Fuels.
The Berlin, Ct. driver has teamed up with his cousin Donny Preece to run the three race series which begins at Allentown, Pa.’s PPL Center on Friday and Saturday, January 5th and 6th.
In past years, Ryan has been extremely fast in limited appearances racing his own TQ Midget. Cousin Donny, however, has been part of one the most successful Indoor Racing Teams in history while teaming up with his close friend Ted Christopher.
Christopher, who lost his life in a plane crash on route to a NASCAR race in September, is the all-time win leader on the Indoor Auto Racing Series. “TC” drove to victory eight times while teaming with Donny Preece. That included four victories inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, stop two on the 2018 series on Friday and Saturday, January 26th and 27th.
Donny Preece, who co-owned the TQs with Christopher, has now taken sole ownership of the two cars he drove to so much success. These cars will be adapted in the coming months for Ryan to chase the indoor championship with in 2018.
Preece has had a Driver of the Year type season. Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, the 27 year-old won his first ever NASCAR Xfinity race in Iowa. In two other starts with the team, he finished second and fourth including a runner-up performance in his debut to teammate Kyle Busch on the New Hampshire mile.
Despite missing a NASCAR Whelen Tour event early in the season to be married, five Modified wins put Preece on top of the point standings late in the year. An offer to drive for Gibbs at a third event in Kentucky, eliminated Preece’s hopes to win his second Modified Tour championship. His performance in 12 of the 14 events and the help of two substitute drivers however was enough to clinch the car owner championship for Eddie and Connie Partridge.
The Preece combination makes them one of the early favorites on the Indoor Racing Series, but they’ll have plenty of competition from drivers from six dates and Canada.
Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, NY, also an eight time winner and three time Indoor Racing Series champion, will be just one of 60 other competitors. Rudolph is coming off an outside 2017 season in dirt Modified competition which produced 17 feature event wins and the BRP Modified Tour championship.
After winning the crown in 2015 and 2016, Rudolph finished second in the standings last year to Mooresville, N.C. driver Ryan Flores, who swept the Ironton Telephone events in Allentown last year. After working as a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup crew member on The Wood Brothers No. 21 team this season, Flores is eager to get back behind the wheel at Allentown.
Driving a TQ Midget on the Indoor Series is a perfect off-season workout for the drivers. The TQ’s are open wheel race cars, specifically adapted for racing in the tight indoor speedway confines. Powered by a 750cc motorcycle engine, the car and driver weigh only 825 pounds allowing them to ignite to speeds up to 75 mph. The unbelievable racing, with lap times under eight seconds, has produced huge fan attendance.
These are not cookie cutter race cars held in a box by a large rule book. The suspension and car design are open to the team, making it a throwback style of racing.
The Allentown schedule calls for racing to start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Three Quarter (TQ) Midgets will run a full program of racing with feature events both nights. Champ Karts will be racing in a complete show on Friday night, with the Slingshots on Saturday night.
For choice tickets, contact the PPL Center Box Office by phone at 610-347-TIXX (8499), online at pplcenter.com. The 2016 event was a sell-out.
The series moves next to the NAPA Auto Parts Indoor Auto Racing Weekend in Atlantic City. For tickets, contact Ticketmaster, the Boardwalk Hall Box Office, or the Area Auto Racing News office at 609-888-3618.
The finale will be a first annual event in New York State, on February 9-10, 2018 in the Times Union Center in downtown Albany, N.Y. For choice tickets, contact the Times Union Center Box Office, charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000, or visit online at ticketmaster.com.
Photo Credit: Speed51.com