NEWTON, Iowa– In his second start this season, Ryan Preece scores his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series pole award at Iowa Speedway.
Preece who is only slated to run two races this season in NXS for Joe Gibbs Racing is making the most of his opportunity as he backs up his second place effort from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a pole on Saturday (24.072/130.857 mph).
Preece who raced full-time the series last year, decided to take a step back and race in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Touring Series but always kept one ear close to NXS, waiting for a phone call to once again get behind the wheel in a more competitive car.
“It means a lot, it means a lot to everybody who helps me.” Preece said. “Most of all, when I think back to Febuary, I didn’t think I would have an opportunity to come and do something like this. It really means that much more but we’ve got 250 more laps, that’s the real thing and that’s the trophy I want to bring home. We’re off to a good start for sure.”
Preece had to hold off his JGR teammate of Kyle Benjamin for the pole. The two traded barbs in the final round of qualifying as both drivers bettered one another lap after lap as the session drew to a close.
For Benjamin (24.129/130.549 mph), he once again sits on the outside of the front row. In his short NXS career, Benjamin has never qualified lower than second position.
“I didn’t keep up with it too much, I knew it was going to be close though.” Benjamin said. “I figured we’d have to beat him for it. I kind of over drove a little bit on the second lap and I was tight in the center and kind of killed it a little bit. It still would have been tough to beat him, I knew that.”
Qualifying in the third position is Daniel Hemric with two-time Iowa winner Sam Hornish and Cole Custer rounding out the rest of the top-five.
Elliott Sadler, Blake Koch, Brennan Poole, Ty Majeski, Matt Tifft, Brian Scott and Spencer Gallagher complete the rest of the top-twelve.
Notables who failed to qualify for the final round include, Ben Kennedy (P13), Justin Allgaier (P14), June winner William Byron (P17), Ryan Reed (P18) and Michael Annett (P23).
Failing to qualify for the race, Bobby Earnhardt.
The green flag for the U.S. Cellular 250 presented by American Ethanol from the Iowa Speedway is at 3:30 pm/et (NBC, MRN, Sirius XM).