Shortly after 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece locked himself into Sunday’s 63rd Annual Daytona 500. Three hours later, after making the quick drive from Daytona International Speedway to New Smyrna Speedway, Preece stood in victory lane celebrating his second career win in the John Blewett III Memorial for Tour-type Modifieds.
After missing qualifying at New Smyrna while driving his No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing car at Daytona, Preece started the race at the tail of the field. Patiently navigating his way to the front while avoiding the mishaps of others, the Connecticut native found himself in victory lane after 76 laps.
“A bad race car. A really bad a– race car,” Preece said on the NBC Trackpass broadcast. ” I’ve got to thank my team for working here today, getting this thing prepared, and letting me just come and drive. We actually broke something [in the rear suspension] when Matt got turned. I was just hoping it would hold on, and it did.”
Tuesday night’s winner Patrick Emerling led the field to the green flag and led the opening 31 laps before Eric Goodale powered out front on lap 32. Making good on his Tuesday night promise to be in contention the rest of the week, Goodale showed the way until Preece made the race-winning pass with slight contact on lap 69.
An array of late-race cautions forced Preece to work even harder for the victory, but he fended off a fierce challenge from Matt Hirschman in the closing laps.
Scoring a win in one of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing’s most prestigious races made the triumph even more meaningful for Preece.
“I remember the day John died. He was a racer, man. A lot of Modified guys are racers, but John Blewett was a racer,” he said. “I’ve had a ton of respect for Jimmy Blewett and John Blewett, so to be able to win this race, it’s been a while since I’ve won here. It’s been over a year, so it’s pretty cool.”
Hirschman overcame adversity of his own Wednesday night. After being involved in an accident with 15 laps to go, the driver known as “Big Money” charged back to the front before ultimately finishing second to Preece.
“I congratulated [Preece] and also thanked him for not cleaning me out after I got cleaned out,” Hirschman said. “He was the first car I saw when I spun around, coming right at me. Obviously he’s a talent, so he was able to avoid that. I’ll go to bed and thank my lucky stars tonight that we have a race car because that was very bad.”
Tuesday’s winner Patrick Emerling completed the podium, while Jon McKennedy and Ron Silk round out the top five.
Fans can follow Speed51’s on-location coverage presented by BMR Drivers Academy throughout the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Live updates are available on Race Day Now by clicking here. Fans can also enjoy all of Speed51.TV’s on-demand video content from the World Series with a free seven-day trial by clicking here.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Director of Content – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Will Bellamy
John Blewett III Memorial Unofficial Results
New Smyrna Speedway (FL) – February 10, 2021
|9||14||Bobby Measmer, Jr.||18|
|26||17K||Danny Knoll, Jr.||26|
|28||9||Tom Martino, Jr.||23|
|33||73||Paul Hartwig, Jr.||32|