MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America photo —
For the second time in his career, Ryan Preece will be strapping behind the wheel of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car this weekend.
Preece, the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modifed Tour champion and runner-up in the point standings on the 2015 NWMT title trail, will be in competition Sunday in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the opening race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and race 33 of 36 overall this season.
The start will be Preece’s second-career in NASCAR’s top divison, following his inaugural run for Tommy Baldwin Racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.
The modified ace is entered in the No. 98 Ford, a machine that has longtime modified supporter and Preece sponsor Mike Curb as the listed owner, and will have crew chief Zach McGowan calling the shots on top of the pit box during the course of the weekend. Reed Sorenson was originally listed as the driver of the car when the first look at the entry list came out on Monday.
Preece had already announced he would be running the Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, but the Martinsville stop comes as a surprising twist in the storyline. The Kensington, Conn. native took his first career NWMT win at the 0.526-mile Virginia oval in 2008, during a combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and led 265 of the 300 laps en route to victory that afternoon.
In his Sprint Cup debut at Loudon during the Sylvania 300, Preece kept his car clean all afternoon, staying out of trouble and driving to a respectable 32nd place finish after starting the event in 37th. He was scored four laps down at the checkered flag.
This story will be updated.