Coming into the 2016 edition of Speedweeks at New Smyrna the overwhelming favorite had to be 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece, who dominated the Tour-type Modified portion of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in 2015 and came in this season with a brand new racecar.
But Preece has come up short in the first two Modified events this week, getting beat on a late restart by Ron Silk on Tuesday night and only being able to march back for another runner-up finish after spinning early in Wednesday’s 76 lap event.
On Thursday night, Preece reasserted his dominance, storming past Silk on lap eight to take the lead for good in the 35 lap feature. Preece was cautious in the second half of the race, but was happy as ever when it was all over.
“It’s been a lot of work; we’ve just been fine tuning the setup and really learning this car. I have a pretty good handle on it now. If anything we got tight there. I was actually a little nervous around lap 20 or 25 because it wasn’t freeing up.” Preece said after the race on FansChoice.tv. “I’m really excited to get to victory lane and I’m happy for Eddie and Connie Patridge and TS Haulers, my owners. It’s just awesome.”
Preece has a busy day on Friday as he heads north during the day to Daytona International Speedway to practice his Johnny Davis Motorsports NASCAR Xfinity Series car in advance of Saturday’s 300-mile race.
Despite him missing practice for Friday night’s Richie Evan’s Memorial 100, Preece has no problem leaving the car as is.
“I think we have a really good car for the 100-lapper tomorrow. I wish we didn’t have to change tires because we have a really good hold on this thing.”
Justin Bonsignore finished second to Preece on Thursday and believes he has something for Preece and the rest of the field Friday.
“I think we have a better package for the longer distance races, where maybe Ryan is not as strong in the longer ones, but you never know. Hopefully he gets stuck at Xfinity practice all day and we can race, but no hopefully he gets back in time so we can battle it out.”
Friday’s Richie Evans Memorial will be the final outing for the Tour-type Modifieds in 2016 at the World Series before the teams return home to prepare for the upcoming championship seasons.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Mass, Conn, and Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Bruce Nuttleman
Tour-type Modified 35
New Smyrna Speedway, New Smyrna Beach, Florida