(Stafford Springs, CT)—Any time there is a new driver/team combination, questions can arise for a driver as did I switch to the right team and for owners they can wonder if they have the right driver in the seat of their car. For Ryan Preece and the Ed and Connie Partridge owned T.S. Haulers, Inc. team, they put any doubts to rest with a dominating performance during SpeedWeeks at New Smyrna, winning 4 of the 6 Tour Type Modified feature events, including the prestigious Richie Evans 100. With SpeedWeeks now in the rearview mirror, Preece will look to carry the momentum from his week in Florida over to the start of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season and the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on April 24-26.
“I think I had high expectations and I’m sure Eddie did too,” said Preece. “We hoped that we could run that well but to have a week like we did, you just don’t get that all the time. Eddie and Connie [Partridge] give Tommy [Grasso] and I and the entire T.S. Haulers team everything we need to win races. Hopefully this is something that we can carry over to the Tour and run well and win some races this year. It seems that we’ve done pretty well so far with the North/South Shootout and Speed Weeks. We’re heading down to Caraway for the Southern Tour opener and we’re hoping we can carry that performance over to the tour this season. Right now we could just swap some springs and change some weights around and we’d be ready to go. It seems like the car has a really good balance and a really good starting baseline for when we go to Stafford, so I think we should be pretty good.”
When it comes to racing at Stafford, Preece is certainly no stranger to NAPA Victory Lane. He has won 22 SK Modified® feature events since 2010 and on the Whelen Modified Tour, he has one victory in the TSI Harley-Davidson 125, one win in the Call Before You Dig 150, and one win in the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final. Out of the four NWMT races that Stafford hosts, the only race that Preece has yet to win is the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. In 7 career Sizzler starts, Preece has recorded 3 top-5 finishes and he has led a total of 175 laps with a best finish of second in 2012. Preece’s grandfather Bob Judkins nearly won the very first Sizzler in 1972 and he won the 1973 edition of The Greatest Race in the History of Spring with Ed Flemke, Sr. behind the wheel and Preece would like to add a Sizzler victory to his resume.
“I’ve finished second in the Sizzler and I’ve led a few laps and it’s obviously a race that you want to win,” said Preece. “My grandfather won the race back in the day and it would be pretty special for us if I could win that race. I think for sure we’ll have a good chance at winning the Sizzler this year.”
Preece just may have an ace up his sleeve when it comes to this year’s edition of the NAPA Spring Sizzler. The Tour modifieds ran two extra distance feature events at New Smyrna, a 76 and 100-lap race. Preece led for much of the 76-lap John Blewett Memorial race, but his car began to go away towards the end of the race and he had to settle for a third place finish. But two days later, Preece and his T.S. Haulers crew made the necessary adjustments and he won the Richie Evans 100. That experience could prove to be crucial as they prepare for the longest race of the NWMT season, the 200-lap NAPA Spring Sizzler.
“I think we’ll be fine for the Sizzler,” said Preece. “That 76-lap race, between things I could have done differently and the team could have done differently, it added up to what it was and the car went away with 7 laps to go. It didn’t help that I was driving hard pretty much the whole time, but that race showed that the car could take a pretty good beating for 68 laps on the soft tires that we were running. I think we’ll be ok for the Sizzler because it’s a change race and you get to change 3 tires. The thing that I really liked about this car is with the balance that we had at New Smyrna, I feel like we could pit as late as 30 laps to go, and even as hard as it is to pass at Stafford, I think we have a good enough combination where I could still go forward and make a late race charge. As far as confidence goes, I have all the confidence in the world in Tommy and he has confidence in me. Thinking we’re going to go in and dominate, it’s never like that because there’s so many good drivers and good equipment on the Tour. We have everything we need to go win races and now we just have to go out and do it.”
Preece begins his quest for his first NAPA Spring Sizzler victory with practice and Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, April 25th as part of the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. The 200-lap NAPA Spring Sizzler will run on Sunday, April 26 at approximately 3:15pm following the NAPA Pit Party from 11am-12noon and the SK Modified® and Late Model feature events beginning at 1pm. Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. All tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.
For more information on the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
-Stafford Motor Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Bruce Nuttleman/Speed51.com photo