Ryan Preece of Berlin, Connecticut has made a significant change to his racing schedule for the remainder of the 2014 season. Instead of competing in his second NASCAR Nationwide Series event of the 2014 season at Richmond International Raceway (VA) this Friday, he has decided to forego the start and exchange it for a start in the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 36 at Homestead Speedway (FL) in November.
The decision made by Preece and his supporters will allow him to chase his second career Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) SK Modified division championship, as well as gain NASCAR’s approval to compete at superspeedways such as Daytona International Speedway (FL).
“If everything runs well and we finish all the laps, have a good run, and everything goes good I’d be approved to run Daytona,” Preece told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “You’re done with the approval process at that point. I talked to Tommy (Baldwin) and all my sponsors backing us and they were 100-percent behind me.”
In just his second career NNS start in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Preece turned heads with an impressive 14th-place finish in a race littered with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars.
As he attempts to climb the ladder in the NASCAR racing ranks, the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion looks at his upcoming start at Homestead as a huge opportunity to gain experience at larger tracks and show teams that he is ready to answer the call if a full-time ride became available in one of NASCAR’s top-three series.
“I’m just doing everything I can incase that opportunity does become available,” said Preece. “I don’t want to be that person that teams have to say, ‘hey, we can’t have you because we need somebody that’s going to run a full season and you’re not approved.’ Right now, Tommy and everyone behind me are trying to get that opportunity and do everything we can.”
Despite never turning a lap at a track bigger than one-mile in length, Preece is hoping that his experience racing “wide open” in a Modified at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) will translate over to the wide open racing at tracks like Homestead and Daytona.
“I’ve been watching some YouTube videos to try to get ready,” said Preece. “If you think about it, it seems like some guys are holding it wide open at tracks like that. In a Modified at Bristol, it’s sort of the same deal. Relevance of speed, as far as how quick things happen, I think it’s going to be similar to that but obviously you don’t know until you get in it.”
In addition to the doors that he hopes will open as a result of his start at Homestead, the Connecticut native’s path towards a second career SK Modified championship at Stafford Motor Speedway will become easier. Originally, Preece was not going to be able to compete in the track's 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature Friday night due to his scheduled start at Richmond.
Although he still believed he had a shot at winning the championship if he had missed a start, it would have required a nearly perfect remainder of the season and bad luck for Ted Christopher, who currently sits 16 points behind Preece in the standings, for him to win the title.
“Even if I did race Richmond, I would only be behind Teddy by like 34 points,” said Preece. “If he had a couple bad weeks and I had a couple good weeks it would have been possible, but now it’s going to make it a little bit easier. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully we can seal the deal.”
Preece has additional plans to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event at Charlotte Motor Speedway (NC) in the Kevin “Bono” Manion-owned, Gary Putnam maintained No. 7NY that NASCAR star Ryan Newman fills the seat of at New Hampshire and Bristol.
He will also be chasing a track championship at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT), hunting for wins in Riverhead Raceway’s (NY) NWAAS Modified division, and making spot starts with the Valenti Modified Racing Series. The 23-year-old even has a USAC Dirt Midget start on his schedule for September 20 at Vermont’s Bear Ridge Speedway.
“My schedule is pretty much in place for the rest of the season, but if anything comes up I’ll certainly listen to all opportunities. Even if it’s a tricycle, I’ll drive it.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com