When Ryan Preece made the change from the No. 16 Flamingo Motorsports team over to the Eddie Partridge-owned No. 6 this past offseason, he made the move because it presented him with an opportunity to race more. While he was extremely thankful for all that Eric Sanderson and that 2013 championship team did for him, he wanted to race at more events outside of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Since making the move, Preece scored victories at the North-South Shootout at Caraway Speedway (NC) and the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) with his new team. But through the first three races of the NWMT season, despite showing a lot of speed, the team was unable to piece it all together to score their first Tour win together.
That changed on Saturday night when Preece survived a green-white-checkered restart with defending champion Doug Coby to his outside and went on to win the Mr. Rooter 161 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT). The win was his second in the Mr. Rooter 161 and the 12th win of his NWMT career. But maybe more importantly than anything else, it was his first win with the TS Haulers No. 6 team.
“I think we’re having some fun here,” Preece said. “To be honest with you, I haven’t raced at Waterford very much but when I do it really suits me because I like running the outside. To finally get that one win out of the way for the year is great. Hopefully we carry the momentum into Stafford and Thompson. It really sets you up for hopefully a good summer. Hopefully we can just win a lot of races.”
Throughout the 161-lap event, Preece and the rest of the 33-car field was forced to endure 12 cautions, a NWMT record at New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Over the course of the first few restarts as the leader, the Berlin, Connecticut driver elected to restart from the outside. But after Coby was able to get by him on a restart near the halfway point of the race, Preece decided he’d be better off switching to the bottom of the race track for the remainder of the race.
“At this place, it really seems like it becomes the preferred groove,” Preece said about the outside lane. “All I was thinking about when Doug got me on that one restart was that Keith Rocco deal (Friday night at Stafford). I said, ‘Screw it. I’m going to take the bottom and make him go where I want to go.’”
The battle between Preece and Coby on Saturday night was a flashback to the 2012 and 2013 Mr. Rooter 161 events at The Speedbowl. Coby got the better of Preece in 2012, while Preece came out on top in 2013. This time around it was the past two NWMT champions once again battling for the lead up front.
“Ever since lap 120 it was like a green-white-checkered of 2012 and 2013 over and over again,” Preece explained. “To be able to do that that many time is never-wracking.”
Although the 12 cautions allowed Coby to have a number of shots lined up alongside of Preece on the restarts, the defending NWMT champion said after the race that he would have preferred a long green flag run at the end.
“I don’t like those chances, though,” Coby told Speed51.com powered by JEGS when asked about the chances he had at Preece on the restarts. “Those are chances that one little mistake from either of us would ruin any chances you had. I’m more the type of guy that would have liked to see it go 40 or 50 laps green at the end. It seemed like I had a better car on the long run.”
After starting from the sixth position, Preece jumped out to the lead for the first time on lap 47 of the 161-lap event. From that point on, he was able to stay within the top-two positions and keep the chaos in his rearview mirror. Looking back, the 2013 NWMT champion was just glad that he was able to put himself in a position to have control of his race.
“I’ve never really been one to really hold back and ride,” Preece said. “I was riding when I got back to second and the lead, but I never really thought about sitting there. If you have a bad restart it can put you back. I’d rather be the guy controlling my own destiny. It just makes it a lot easier when you can set your own pace. “
With their first win together now in their pocket, Preece and the No. 6 team will now head to Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) next Friday night before traveling to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday, June 10. The busy stretch of racing (three races in 12 days) is something that Preece really looks forward to.
“We’re racers. This is what we want to do,” said Preece. “I’m just having a lot of fun and it’s great to win this Mr. Rooter 161 again.”
For a full on-demand replay of Saturday night’s event, visit Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage presented by LFR Chassis.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 161 Unofficial Results
Saturday, May 30, 2015 – New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT)
|23||63||Tom Rogers, Jr.||137|