After nearly 18 months of work, the first ever points-paying race for the EXIT Realty Modified Touring Series took the green flag Saturday night at Monadnock Speedway (NH) with some of the best Modified drivers in the Northeast on hand. Throughout the night, it was two of the very best in the game who went at it in a caution-free 125-lap affair.
At the end of the night, it was “Preece Lightning” striking again with Ryan Preece besting 2016 Valenti Modified Racing Series champion Jon McKennedy for the victory.
McKennedy got the early edge, moving by polesitter Richard Savary in the opening laps after starting second. But Preece, the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, went on the attack, taking the lead from McKennedy by diving to the inside just around the lap-30 mark. From there, Preece would hold on for the win, but McKennedy put his full driving ability on display keeping pace and often pressuring the eventual race winner.
“Jon is no slouch; he had a really good car, but I felt we did too. I wanted to get out front and set my own pace, about lap 50 to 60 I could feel the right rear start to get a little hot, so I decided to back it off a little bit and started using some momentum,” Preece told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Sure enough we were lucky to have track position and keep that pace to where we’d have a good enough gap to stay in front of him and that’s what we did.”
McKennedy felt that Preece had the advantage on track, but it didn’t stop him from keeping pace.
“We had a good car most of the race, but those last 30 or 40 laps he was a little bit better and we were the best of the rest, second place. I knew going into the race he’d be tough like he is everywhere, he has that spec engine which helps a bit, the engine is aluminum which helps with handling and tire wear. Just have to work harder to overcome those differences next time.”
Naturally, many were surprised that racing on the tight quarter-mile yielded a race without a yellow flag. A handful of drivers, including Preece, were prepared to come down pit road to get the one fresh American Racer tire they were allowed to change.
“Right around lap 75, I told the guys to go to the pits and get ready for the tire change because I was ready to do it, even if the caution was at lap 90,” Preece explained.
One of the major topics of conversation throughout the event surrounded how the American Racer tires would perform over a long-distance event, but no one had counted on the caution-free event. In the end, the tires still had plenty left when the checkers fell, even for a hard-driving McKennedy.
“They are a good tire, they reheat really well, and really last. We ran 125 laps pretty much as hard as we could the whole run and there was still a lot of life left to them.”
The race also served as a successful full-season debut for the MTS which held its first race in May 2016 with the $15,000-to-win Winchester 200 exhibition at Monadnock, also won by Preece, who gave the series a thumbs up at the time, and gave another moving forward.
“I like their series. I like the format they have throughout the day, and their points structure how you can be a contender. That was cool.”
For more information from Saturday’s race, visit Speed51.com’s Speed Central coverage. The Speed51 Network powered by JEGS will have race highlights early next week.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, NY, MA)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com