If there is anything on the side of Ryan Preece currently, it is momentum. After a life changing win just six days earlier at Iowa Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the Connecticut driver got back behind the wheel of the Partridge family No. 6 Modified at the familiar confines of Stafford Motor Speedway. By the end of Friday’s Stafford 150, not even a pre-race penalty forcing Preece to start on the last row, coupled with a near invincible run from Doug Coby, could stop “Preece Lightning” from taking his third NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of 2017.
Preece showed speed all day, but was too low in post-qualifying inspection, which sent him to the rear for the race start. But it turned into an even greater opportunity for Preece to prove his mettle once again.
“It was tough to have to start in the back, the way the track was today I don’t know if it was tighter than it has been in week’s past. Ever since we unloaded I expected to be free, and the car was in the track all day. Track conditions played in my favor and to be honest, we’ve had a really good car all year. I enjoy doing this, I enjoy showing up and knowing what I have and being successful,” Preece told the media after the race.
Another interesting race wrinkle for Preece and everyone else was pit strategy which was shaped by a new rule which specified that teams could only change one tire per visit to pit road. While most leaders pitted later close to halfway, Preece pitted early, despite losing hard-fought track position. It turned into a fresh tire advantage that would last the whole race, even after Preece later pitted again with the leaders.
“What I liked about today was the strategy aspect. We were only allowed to take one tire (per pit stop), so everybody was waiting. I came in and put a right front on, I was actually going to (come back) and put a right-rear on. They were going green so quick that I was never able to do it. Forty laps later the caution came out, that’s when everybody was coming in. We came in, put our right-rear on, and I expected a huge line to come in and put a right-front on, and no one did, everyone was worried about track position. It almost worked out for some of those guys, but all those cautions at the end, when we got to the lane that was going to move, we were able to capitalize.”
Ultimately, bold moves and race attrition put Preece to the outside of race dominator Doug Coby with under 10 laps to go. The first restart was rendered moot, with a wreck right at the drop of the green flag, setting up a final showdown with 2 laps to go. Though Coby had control, tire wear would be a factor, no matter how strong he was.
“I got beat. It happens. I had a great car, but I knew he was coming even when we were out front. The red flags and the restarts just don’t help, we spun the tires a little bit on both restarts. I thought I got a better restart the second time, but he had massive drive and did a good job. We got beat tonight. Didn’t get our first win of the season, but it’s coming. We’ve been really fast,” Coby said after the race.
Preece also agreed that fresher tires were a difference, and would not have restarted any other way had he had been in Coby’s position.
“Doug was smart that last restart. He had older tires except the right rear. That was the biggest difference was having the left-rear to help me go, because once he fired the first restart with 10 to go, he did it real slow and I think he saw that hurt him. Then he rolled it faster, but having fresh tires just really helped get me in front of him and help get it to where I could beat him in the corner and take that line away where he could run me up a little. Everything worked our way there.”
The night also allowed Preece a chance to celebrate not just another Modified win, but the Xfinity win with his home state fans both before and after Friday’s race. Preece admitted that he feels as though he’s on top of the world, but that he still needs to watch himself.
“I’m just riding this wave. You can have a high and go dominate everything and next week run 15th hanging on for dear life and everybody’s like, ‘Man Ryan’s off his game.’ It’s a lot of fun carrying the momentum from Iowa. This is huge. This is what I need to do right now. I need to go out, perform, and win races to keep my name relevant.”
Behind the two Connecticut rivals were Justin Bonsignore who rounded out the podium, Timmy Solomito who reclaimed the points lead after taking advantage of a late mechanical failure of Rowan Pennink; and Jon McKennedy who finished fifth after starting on the last row with Preece after his car was found to be too light after qualifying.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour gets a mere four days off before returning to action to begin the 2017 season’s second half on Wednesday, August 9 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Speed51.com will be there to cover the action.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
|1||27||6||Ryan Preece||TS Hauler Chevrolet||150||47||4||Running|
|2||2||2||Doug Coby||Mayhew Tools/Dunleavy/AJ Romano Chevrolet||150||44||2||Running|
|3||6||51||Justin Bonsignore||Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet||150||42||1||Running|
|4||10||16||Timmy Solomito||Starrett Racing Ford||150||41||1||Running|
|5||28||00||Jon McKennedy||Brady Bunch Racing/Copeland Toyota & Chevrolet||150||40||1||Running|
|6||20||64||Rob Summers||Hoosier Tire East/Fast Track Elect/Hughes Motors||150||38||Running|
|7||14||36||Dave Sapienza||Sapienza Enterprise Chevrolet||150||37||Running|
|8||1||46||Craig Lutz||Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet||150||36||Running|
|9||17||77||Gary Putnam||Curb Records Chevrolet||150||35||Running|
|10||19||89||Matt Swanson||Starrett Racing Ford||150||34||Running|
|11||13||44||Bobby Santos||Sully Tinio/Brendan Kelley Music Chevrolet||150||33||Running|
|12||18||24||Andrew Krause||Supreme Manufacturing Chevrolet||150||32||Running|
|13||15||58||Eric Goodale||GAF Roofing Chevrolet||150||31||Running|
|14||25||78||Walter Sutcliffe Jr.||Last Minute Racing Chevrolet||150||30||Running|
|15||7||21||Ronnie Williams *||Gershow Recycling Chevrolet||148||29||Running|
|16||22||26||Gary McDonald||Lakeland Landscape /TRC Electric Chevrolet||148||28||Running|
|17||9||3||Rowan Pennink||Cape Cod Copper/USNE Chevrolet||146||27||Fuel|
|18||11||7||Woody Pitkat||Bardahl Chevrolet||144||26||Accident|
|19||5||20||Max Zachem||Course Legend/Robert B Our Chevrolet||144||25||Running|
|20||3||29||Brendon Bock||Meadow Brook Collision Chevrolet||141||24||Accident|
|21||21||39||Calvin Carroll *||Power with Prestige/Cruising w/Betty Chevrolet||119||23||Running|
|22||4||66||Shawn Solomito||New England Gear/Natural Designs/Starrett Chevrolet||111||22||Accident|
|23||16||74||CJ Lehmann *||IGA Food Markets/Applebee’s/Baldwin Automotive||105||21||Accident|
|24||8||85||Todd Szegedy||Stuarts Automotiive/J&R Pre-Cast Chevrolet||54||20||Overheating|
|25||26||33||Wade Cole||Perf. Engines/Kendall Oil Chevrolet||44||19||Accident|
|26||12||82||Ted Christopher||Horton Avenue Materials Chevrolet||37||18||Accident|
|27||23||38||Dave Salzarulo||Perf Engines/Kendall Oil/Ryan’s Chevrolet||26||17||Mechanical|
|28||24||1||Melissa Fifield||Eastern Propane & Oil Chevrolet||21||16||Power Steering|
Time of Race: 1 hrs., 13 mins, 38 secs Average Speed: 61.114 mph Margin of Victory: 0.302 Seconds
Caution Flags: Laps 36-41; 46-54; 61-66; 100-104; 106-109; 111-114; 126-128; 141-143; 145-147. 9 for 43 laps.
Lap Leaders: Doug Coby 1-54, Justin Bonsignore 55, Doug Coby 56-62, Ryan Preece 63, Doug Coby 64-66, Timmy Solomito 67, Doug Coby 68-102, Timmy Solomito 103, Jon McKennedy 104, Timmy Solomito 105-109, Doug Coby 110-114, Timmy Solomito 115, Doug Coby 116-143, Ryan Preece 144, Doug Coby 145-147, Ryan Preece 148-150.
Total Laps Led: Doug Coby 135, Timmy Solomito 8, Ryan Preece 5, Justin Bonsignore 1, Jon McKennedy 1. 15 changes involving 5 drivers.
Top 10 Driver Points: Timmy Solomito 310, Rowan Pennink 303, Eric Goodale 285, Justin Bonsignore 285, Ryan Preece 284, Doug Coby 278, Max Zachem 272, Dave Sapienza 261, Rob Summers 249, Woody Pitkat 249