After dominating most of the John Blewett III Memorial on Wednesday night but failing to win, people started to believe that maybe Ryan Preece’s dominance at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) this week had come to an end.
The Berlin, Connecticut driver made sure on Thursday night that everybody knew that wasn’t the case after putting in another dominating performance in the Tour-type Modified division at the 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car racing.
Preece qualified second, but started seventh after the top-eight qualifiers were inverted for the start of the race. But that didn’t matter to Preece as he quickly made his way through the field like he was at his home track of Stafford Motor Speedway (CT).
“I race weekly at Stafford and Thompson so I always start tenth or deeper,” Preece told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “That’s kind of one thing I’ve always excelled at was getting through traffic pretty quick.”
Preece caught early leader J.R. Bertuccio on lap 9, but it wasn’t until lap 21 of the 35-lap feature that he was able to take the lead for the first time. The two drivers made contact on a few occasions while battling for the lead before Preece finally prevailed in what might have been the fiercest battle he’s had yet at New Smyrna Speedway.
“J.R. seemed like he had a pretty good car,” said Preece, the driver of the No. 6 TS Haulers machine. “I saw him getting loose, but he really wasn’t fading so I started trying to make my own hole and sure enough we got one and made it happen.”
Bertuccio fell to third-place after getting passed by polesitter Chuck Hossfeld, who started eighth after setting fast time for the fifth time in five nights.
Bertuccio had been fighting a tight condition all week, so he and his team worked to improve that situation. They appeared to have fixed that, but the New York native believes that his team may have gone too far with their adjustments.
“We finally got it rolling in the center,” Bertuccio told Speed51.com powered by JEGS after finishing third. “We adjusted on it to get it good in the center, but we got it just a little too much now.”
Now the drivers head into the most prestigious Tour-Type Modified event of the World Series, the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Friday night. Heading into the division’s finale, Preece believes that he learned the reason behind his downfall in the previous extra distance race, the John Blewett III Memorial 76, on Wednesday night.
“(I learned to) probably not burn the right rear off and just keep the car under me and not use it up,” said Preece. “We definitely found some things here tonight and forward drive and to tighten it up so we don’t wear the car out. It seems like we have two different packages we can use now.”
Justin Bonsignore leads the way in the Tour-Type Modified point standings over Bertuccio by just two points heading into Thursday’s finale. Preece sits just three points behind Bonsignore despite being disqualified on opening night, while Hossfeld enters the race in fourth just four points out of the lead.
Doug Moff Finally Wins In Fla. Modified Competition
Multiple times this week, Doug Moff has dominated a Florida Modified feature prior to having his run derailed by motor issues. But that wasn’t the case on Thursday night.
Moff finally got a result to match his dominance when he pulled into New Smyrna’s victory lane following the 35-lap feature on Night #7 of the 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. Moff beat Kevy Terry to the line by just under one second to score the win.
Moff is the fifth different winner in five nights in Florida Modified competition this week. Meanwhile, Terry expanded his points lead with two nights of competition remaining.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com