Ryan Preece’s name has been a staple in short track racing, especially the Modified ranks, for several years. Soon, he will become a household name as he enters his rookie season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Before he takes to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, however, Preece is hopping into a Tour-type Modified for three races at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Preece talked about that, going Cup racing, and more on “The Morning Bullring” Monday on Speed51.
Preece discussed his climb to NASCAR’s highest level, coming from the short track wars of the Northeast to the chance to start in the Great American Race on February 17. Ultimately, Preece said that it ultimately came down to winning every time somebody took a chance on him, at every step of the ladder.
“It really comes down to winning,” Preece told co-hosts Alan Dietz and Casey LaJoie. “Without winning races like you’re doing, you don’t meet people or get those opportunities. Before I had that ride with Eddie [Partridge, in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour], if I wasn’t winning when I was racing with Cathy and Albert Moniz from Thompson, who knows if that relationship would have built to where it is today.
“Really, you’ve got to race and do it because you love racing,” Preece continued. “Not because you aspire and hope to get to a certain level. We all dream of getting there, but at the end of the day, we race because we love this sport and we’re all competitive. That’s really the only advice I can give. At one time or another, everybody’s who has chased after a dream had to take a gamble.”
Preece’s primary competition for Rookie of the Year will be Daniel Hemric, another short-track standout. While Preece was cutting his teeth in the Northeast Modified ranks, Hemric emerged from Super Late Models after growing up in North Carolina.
“I was at the same Super Bowl party as [Hemric] last night,” Preece said about the contrast. “We were talking about that. I was talking about the first time I met him, which was when he drove for the Hillbilly [Racing] bunch in the Modified up north. It is pretty crazy, how things play out. We had totally different ways of getting where we are now, but it’s pretty exciting. It’s crazy to think that in less than two weeks, we’re going to be racing in the Daytona 500.”
Preece also spoke on his excitement to climb back into a Modified over the next two weeks at New Smyrna before challenging NASCAR’s top series – so much so, that he spent some time testing at New Smyrna recently in preparation of Speedweeks.
“I love New Smyrna,” said Preece. “It’s been really good to me the past two years. I love racing Modiifeds in general. That’s what fueled me to go test and get ahead of the game. Just to shake everything down and try some things different. If you’re caught sleeping, you’re going to get passed. I wanted to get down there and work on a couple of things. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we can win one of those nights.”
Preece will also be going against one of his most noted on-track rivals at Speedweeks, as Doug Coby is making his first trip to the World Series in 2019. Preece said he was excited to take on Coby in Florida, speaking of him highly while also bringing attention to a tweet of Coby’s from last week that references a past run-in at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2015.
“I’m excited about it,” Preece said. “I like Doug, he’s a great guy and a great competitor. We all have rivalries, and that’s what this sport is part of. He put a tweet out, for all the people that said karma would get him for New Hampshire a few years ago, he was taking pictures of my condo in Connecticut to sell it for us. If his car is anything like his photos, it’s going to be really good at New Smyrna.”
For the @RyanPreece_ fans wishing for bad karma to come my way after I wrecked him @NHMS you may have gotten your day: today while he tests his new @MonsterEnergNCS ride @LVMotorSpeedway I am here at his old condo taking listing photos to put it on the market. Fair trade off. pic.twitter.com/5xFnRf2pdA
— Doug Coby (@doug_coby) January 31, 2019
In years past, Preece has juggled obligations at ‘the big track’ in Daytona with competing in the World Series, sometimes arriving at New Smyrna just in time to qualify his Modified. This year, he will only run three of the five nights of Modified features to avoid such logistical headaches and focus fully on one car at a time.
“I think it’s pretty easy for the most part with the way the schedules work,” Preece said. “We’re at the Speedway Saturday and Sunday for Daytona. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, we’re completely off. I’m lucky the schedule makes it easy on me. It really shouldn’t be too difficult.
“That’s why I didn’t want to race Friday at New Smyrna,” Preece explained. “We just have previous commitments, I’m not going to run around like a madman like I have in the past. It’s not the best idea to do right now, but we’ve got three shots to win at New Smyrna. I feel we’ve brought a really good race car, and we’ll find out on Monday.”
Preece will take a similar approach throughout the season, as he hopes to race Modifieds whenever his Cup obligations allow.
“Right now, on the Whelen Modified Tour, probably twice,” said Preece. “There’s a Wednesday show at Thompson, there’s New Hampshire, and I know I can probably make something work for another race track, it’s just a matter of logistics on how it’s going to happen to get there. There’s those two as well as some other races. I plan on running an open show here or there. Bowman Gray on April 20, the [Hayes’ Jewelers] 200, I plan on going to that one. I’m going to go all around and wherever I feel I can go and be prepared and not run around, I’m going to do that.”
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-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com