Ryan Preece didn’t want to leave New Smyrna Speedway this week without a Tour-type Modified victory. The NASCAR Cup Series rookie made sure that didn’t happen Tuesday night by charging from the eighth starting spot to win the 35-lap World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing feature.
For Preece, his victory was made special because of the people involved, including many friends and supporters who have been with him since day one.
“What’s really special about this is that it’s all my friends. We’re all buddies from home, they come down and it’s a yearly thing,” Preece said on FansChoice.TV. “To be able to come here and win, this is a brand-new car, a Chassis Dynamics race car. What’s even more special about it is the guy who owns Chassis Dyanmics, Mike Paquette, gave me an opportunity in 2010 with Bob Hitchcock. That’s really what got my career going, so to be able to debut this car as a tour car and be as good as it is, I’m really pumped.”
Preece, who will only be competing in the first three nights of racing at New Smyrna before shifting focus over to his Daytona 500 debut, started the night by setting fast time in qualifying over the field of 22 Modifieds. However, an invert of eight made him work hard to earn his 11th career Tour-type Modified win at the World Series.
At the drop of the green flag, Preece began picking off positions as he worked his way to the front. His biggest and boldest move came on Lap 10 when he shot to the bottom of the race track in turn two and made a three-wide pass down the backstretch for the second position.
Three laps later, Preece reeled in early leader Tommy Catalano and made the pass for the lead on Lap 13.
A major pileup in turn three on Lap 21 collected a handful of competitors including Anthony Nocella, Patrick Emerling, Andy Jankowiak, Dave Sapienza and Jeff Goodale. Jankowiak’s car came to a rest on top of Emerling’s and the incident resulted in the red flag being displayed for extensive cleanup.
On the ensuing restart, Preece pulled away from the field as Jimmy Blewett made the pass for second on the inside of Catalano.
Blewett held off Monday night’s winner Doug Coby in the closing laps to finish second. Coby completed the podium in just his third career start at New Smyrna.
“We just missed a little bit tonight,” Coby admitted. “We made some adjustments based on how I thought the car was last night. We figured that in a 35 lapper we’d probably have to pass some cars, which we did, so we made a few changes. It didn’t quite work so we have to go back to the drawing board. Luckily we have another 35 lapper on Thursday. It’s just a good learning night for us. It’s still a big test session here and we did try some more stuff, we just didn’t have anything for Ryan tonight.”
Chuck Hossfeld, the winner of the Kickoff to Speedweeks at Bronson Speedway finished fourth and early leader Tommy Catalano completed the top five.
Preece will have one more chance to add to his New Smyrna resume Wednesday night during the John Blewett III Memorial 76. After that, he’ll head 20 minutes north to Daytona International Speedway to focus on his Daytona 500 debut and the start of his NASCAR Cup Series rookie season.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Tuesday night’s action at New Smyrna Speedway by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Tour-type Modified Unofficial Results
New Smyrna Speedway (FL) - February 12, 2019
|20||83||Mike Willis, Jr.|