With just a few laps remaining in the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified feature at Long Island’s Riverhead Raceway, Ryan Preece cut underneath John Fortin off turn four in a bid to take the lead. They drag-raced to turn one, and Preece took over the top spot the next time off turn two. He crossed under the checkered flag first, but moments later it was Fortin who rolled his red, white, and blue No. 84 into victory lane.
Riverhead’s chief stewards, Mike Cappiello and Steve Tooker, deemed that Preece went below the yellow line to advance his position as he worked his way by Fortin, which is against Riverhead’s rules.
As a result, Preece, who has three wins at Riverhead already this year, was placed back in second-place, which gave Fortin the victory.
“What we do is if you go below the yellow line and advance your position you go one spot back,” Cappiello told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “And that’s exactly what happened last night. Actually, he did it twice. He did it coming out of four and then we got him going into turn one.”
Preece does not agree with the call at all, however he did admit to going under the line.
“I feel like John put me below the line going into one because I was definitely at his door at that point,” said Preece. “And he’s trying to win which is totally understandable.”
The rule has been in effect since the midway point of the 2013 season at Riverhead. It was put in place to keep people from dive-bombing the corners in an attempt to pass, something Preece said he fully understands.
“I understand that when they put the rule in place it was to keep someone from pulling out halfway down the straightaway and diving into the corner below the line and then washing up,” explained the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. “What I did is I went high into turn three and cut under him going off the corner in four. Then he drove me down going into turn one and you can see that clear in any video.”
What Preece said he doesn’t understand is how to go about things in the future at Riverhead.
“I don’t understand how we are supposed to pass anybody without moving them if that’s what they’re saying,” Preece said. “The way the rule is, you aren’t going to have a race. You’ll just have guys going around a race track for 35 laps. Or you’ll have guys wrecking each other.
“It’s unclear of what they’re looking for at Riverhead Raceway to put a show on for everyone that goes there.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Mike Pares Photo