After picking up a NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Bristol Motor Speedway last year, Ryan Preece will move up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series full-time with JTG Daugherty Racing. Recently, the Connecticut native shared his thoughts entering the 2019 campaign.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?
RYAN PREECE: I’m really excited to get this season started with JTG Daugherty Racing. I’m incredibly thankful to Tad, Brad, Jodi and Ernie for giving me this opportunity. Tad does such a great job with getting us set up on the partnership and marketing side of things, and he and Ernie Cope (competition director) have really invested a lot in this season not just in me as a driver, but in our alliance with Hendrick and Hendrick motors and everything we’re doing to provide the fastest racecars we can every week.
With all the changes they have been making it is not only the Hendrick power that has a great reputation, but also the chassis development that they have done. All brand-new, fresh stuff for this year. That is a huge part of it.
PS: You put everything on the line, giving up a full-time opportunity to run those races with JGR and prove yourself. Now that you’ve landed this opportunity, what does it mean to you?
PREECE: I think I’m pretty biased when it comes to this, but I think the way I came up was the way. It’s prepared me in so many different aspects. I’ve been working and learning race cars and then winning. Learning to be a winner. I wouldn’t want to come up any other way. It’s gotten me, what I feel, prepared for where I am now and to be ready for restarts, ready for situations that I’ve been in already.
With that being said, this opportunity means everything to me and I can’t sleep I’m so excited to get to Daytona and get this season going.
PS: What are your goals and expectations?
PREECE: Our goals and expectations this season is to just continue consistency and constantly improve every week. Start out with goals of top-15 finishes, then top-10 finishes, then top-five finishes and when you are consistently there, that is when the wins will come. As long as there is progression, forward progress and not getting stuck in that one group where you are running with the same guys every week, then the results will come.
PS: What track are you looking forward to the most?
PREECE: I’m most looking forward to any of the short-tracks, but mostly New Hampshire Motor Speedway. I’m a short-track guy, but that track is my home track and I’ve had a lot of modified success there. I’m looking forward to bringing that over to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series side now.
PS: What is one track that you wish was on the NASCAR schedule that currently isn’t?
PREECE: Thompson Speedway has always been one of my favorite local tracks, and I think it would be awesome to run a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race there one day.
PS: Being a rookie, how much of a benefit will it be having Chris Buescher to lean on as a teammate?
PREECE: Chris is a veteran. He’s been doing this for several years and has a lot of NASCAR experience. It has taken me a little longer to get here, but Chris and I get along really well. He is a racer just like I am. He has had a different road than I have, and I respect coming to race with him. I think we are going to work really well together and we can bounce ideas off of each other. I feel like he thinks about a race car like I do. Once we get going in the season, we can really start making some gains.
PS: If you were in charge of NASCAR for one day, what is one change that you would make to help the sport?
PREECE: That’s a tough one. NASCAR does such a great job with the accessibility for fans to see and be close to their favorite team. It’s unprecedented in sports. That alone is a really positive thing that they’ve done to increase fans at the track, and with all the events the tracks are doing in support of the NASCAR race, I think it’s really going to help improve attendance at a lot of the places we go to.
PS: We know you love modified racing. How much will you be behind the wheel of a mod with your Cup Series schedule?
PREECE: I’ve gotten the approval to run a few modified races throughout the season, and I’m really excited about those opportunities starting in New Symrna. I’ll be racing on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at New Symrna Speedway leading into the Daytona 500. I plan on the weekend we have off in April at Bowman Gray Stadium racing the 200-lap race.
There are two tour shows that I have circled on my calendar. A mid-week show at Thompson that we are going to try and do some promoting for and obviously, New Hampshire Motor Speedway since we are racing the Cup race the next day. From there it will be fill-in stuff. The grassroots of racing is my first home, and I don’t plan on leaving it very much.
PS: We’ve seen a lot of drivers running different cars and series recently. What is a series/type of car that is on your bucket list to one day try?
PREECE: I’m a racer. I really would love to run any race that’s thrown my way. The challenge of trying a new type of racing is more than enough excitement for me.”
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