LOUDON, N.H. — Audio and story by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Mike Stobe/Getty Images for NASCAR photo — Ryan Preece is a man on a mission.
The 23-year old Kensington, Connecticut young gun and defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion is set to tackle the flat mile at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this Friday and Saturday, competing in three events across two days: the non-points Whelen All-Star Shootout on Friday and both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco 100 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta-Green 200 on Saturday.
However, solely competition is far from Preece’s goal. The young NASCAR Next standout wants to win.
It’s been eight races and 300 long days since Preece’s last Tour victory, at Riverhead Raceway on September 14, 2013; an eternity in his mind and a stat he wants to break this weekend at Loudon — his 101st career Tour start.
“I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Loudon, but this event, this race track is like our Daytona 500 in the modifieds,” Preece expressed via phone on the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show earlier this week to Race Chaser Online. “It’s important to all of us, but I’ve got a monkey on my back that myself and this Flamingo Motorsports team are trying to get rid of!”
If they can rid themselves of the winless funk this weekend, it would be Preece’s first ever win at the New England mile, after finishing a personal-best third at the race track four times. Preece’s most recent podium effort at Loudon came last year in this event.
In addition, Preece will be contesting the non-points modified event, the Whelen All-Star Shootout, on Friday, searching for glory, pride, and some bonus money as well.
“I think if you bag the ‘Move of the Race’ award and have the fastest lap, and then go win the all-star race, you can win something like $6,000 for the afternoon, so it’s a really cool thing that New Hampshire and NASCAR have going, and I hope they make it into tradition.”
Preece says all the track time will have him well prepared for his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series start on Saturday, driving again for New England team owner Tommy Baldwin in the No. 36 Chevrolet.
“I’m super excited for this weekend in general, but especially the Nationwide car on Saturday driving for Tommy. I got my feet wet last year and I feel like with the team Tommy’s put around us that we can go out and have a solid run this weekend. I’m not saying we’re gonna go out and take it to the veterans out there, but I think we can post a really respectable finish on Saturday.”
In the modified, however? Nothing but victory will suffice. The nine-time winner and defending series champion is due, and he knows the clock is ticking on the season.
“We’re already halfway home in this Tour season,” Preece reminded us. “Time is short, and we know it’s going to take victories to win this championship. We’re not used to not winning, and I’m ready to start again.”
After all, he has a reputation to uphold.
Listen in as Managing Editor Jacob Seelman sat down for a full interview as part of the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show on Thursday evening: