Ryan Preece put in a dominant performance in front of a standing-room only crowd at Riverhead Raceway (NY) in the NASCAR Modified feature Saturday night. Preece started on the pole and led every lap in the caution-free 35-lap feature as part of I Love America Night at the Long Island bullring.
Preece’s orange No. 20 car probably wasn’t the fastest car at the track as shown by his fourth-place effort in time trials. But the check comes for the race, and he was fast when it mattered.
Preece said that his team led by Bill Park had been making gains with the car in recent weeks, but they felt they reached a plateau with the car last week.
“We’ve been fighting all year,” said Preece. “They tried something totally different and totally out of the box and it was good. We weren’t on the pole, but we knew we had a good race car and I think it showed there in the race.”
He got a great jump on the inside of Howie Brode on the start and that was just about all Preece needed to drive off to the win. By lap 10 he led by half a straightaway. Seven laps later he led by a full straightaway over Brode who was battling hard to keep Tom Rogers Jr. behind.
“That’s the biggest lead I’ve ever had here in a while,” said Preece. “When I had about eight car lengths on Howie and I was watching the nine (Rogers) at the same time, I was kind of trying to save my stuff.”
The battle between Brode and Rogers proved to be the best of the race as they ran bumper to bumper for the whole second half of the event with Brode managing to keep the spot. That battle had championship implications as Brode is trying to fend off Rogers who has been hot in recent weeks.
“I was trying to catch Preece, but I couldn’t catch him,” said Brode. “He was too fast. I was going as hard as I could.”
While it appeared that Preece was on cruise control for much of the race he did say that the race was a stressful one because he’s had strong results recently even though he’s been winless at Riverhead since early July.
“It’s been so rough,” said Preece. “I’ve gotten a lot of seconds here the past few weeks. Those 35 laps were a long 35 laps, I’ll tell you that.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT, NJ) – Twitter: @RobBlount. Featured photo credit: Speed51.com
1. Ryan Preece
2. Howie Brode
3. Tom Rogers Jr.
4. Dave Sapienza
5. John Fortin
6. Jason Agugliaro
7. Kyle Ellwood
8. Vinny Biondolillo
10. Amber Fortin
11. Ken Darch
12. Cj Lehmann