LOUDON, N.H. — For the better part of a decade, Ryan Preece had been trying to win a race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Friday, in the fourth-annual NASCAR Whelen Engineering All-Star Shootout at the “Magic Mile,” Preece finally accomplished the feat. But it wasn’t easy.
Behind the wheel of his No. 6 Simoniz Wax Chevrolet, Preece used a last lap pass of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Newman in turn one of the white-flag lap to take down the win after a hard charge from the back of the field.
In a random draw for starting positions Preece drew 19th, which put him in the final row for the 35-lap main event. That gave him an uphill battle to make it to the front.
By the competition caution at lap 20, Preece had climbed inside the top 10. Then, shortly after the green at the restart, Preece worked his way into the top two and began chase to Newman, who had pulled out front. He hit the back bumper of the leader with just eight laps to go and haunted the No. 77 Curb Records Chevrolet all the way until they hit the line with two laps to go.
As they went into Turn 1 on the final lap, Preece pulled out to the bottom and drove in under Newman. The two made slight tire contact, Newman went up the track, and Preece went on to pull away and roll into Victory Lane.
“I’ve taken on setting the car up and maintaining it this year,” Preece said. “When you’re doing it yourself, it brings a whole different emotion to it when you win. When I win, all of those hours you put into the car in the race shop to get there — it floods at you. It only took 10 years, but it’s pretty cool.”
Since the inaugural All-Star Shootout in 2014, no driver has been able to sweep both races in the same weekend. Preece will look to become the first to accomplish the feat in Saturday’s Eastern Propane And Oil 100.
Newman, who won the inaugural All-Star event in 2014, crossed the line second at the finish. Patrick Emerling, who made his first Whelen Modified Tour start of the season on Friday, finished third. Former champions Andy Seuss and Doug Coby rounded out the top five.
Donny Lia, Ted Christopher, David Sapienza, Timmy Solomito and Max Zachem rounded out the top 10.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track Saturday afternoon with the points championship event, the Eastern Propane And Oil 100, at 2 p.m.