With a dedication focused on making it in NASCAR, Ryan Preece finally got the chance he was looking for last year when he drove for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for four races. He made the most of those, scoring four top-10’s, highlighted by a victory at Iowa Speedway.
Now rewarded with an expanded schedule for 2018, Preece opened up to Popular Speed recently.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the year?
RYAN PREECE: Obviously, I’m really excited because it’s 10 races, versus what I had planned on having last year, which was two. It’s a big step forward for me, and I’m really excited because not only is it with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, but it’s with a top team. A guy like myself – when I go to the races, I want to compete for the win. So right now I feel it’s a great opportunities to do, and I have high expectations, for sure.
PS: What track are you most looking forward to?
RYAN: The schedule is not really set yet. The first one is known, which is California (Auto Club Speedway), and I’m definitely excited to go. It’s a worn out race track. The outside comes in, so it’s going to be interesting.
PS: Looking back on 2017, what did it mean to break through with the victory after all the hard work that you’ve put in?
RYAN: It was a big deal, not only for me and my family, but for the people that have supported me for so long. It was a big deal to all of us. So really, to go out and do what I said I would be able to do, kind of proved the fact that people should try and give me more opportunities as I can do this.
My goals are when I strap in the racecar is to finish as high as I can with the car that I am given that day, and to not tear a racecar up because I understand it cost a lot of money. So when you tear up stuff, you not only lose the race, but it costs the team a lot of money. So I’m very consciously aware of that, so that’s the goal for this year, also.
PS: What are your thoughts on how the stage racing played out?
RYAN: I like it, to be honest with you. It breaks up the race nicely so that you have to race; you cannot sit around and ride. I’ve never been a fan of riding around as that never worked in my favor. I feel it’s broken up right in having the two stage-end pit stops, and then should you have no caution, a green flag pit stop – but sometimes you never know. But as far as that goes, it kind of helped me in a way, and a lot of guys that don’t do green flag pit stops very often. But, I liked it. It created more racing and created more opportunities to gain track position on restarts.
PS: You’ve been involved with the modifieds for a long time. How did that experience help prepare you for the XFINITY Series?
RYAN: Well, I’d have quite a different route. I kind of ventured all over the place when it came to racing. I would say if I could move forward and keep going and get results, maybe people will start looking over at the modifieds a little bit more than they have in the past. But hopefully it creates more opportunities for people here n the northeast, more than anywhere else.
PS: So far, how have you been spending your off-season?
RYAN: I really don’t have an off-season, to be honest with you. I worked for my modified owner full-time in the race shop. So right now, I’m building a brand new car – I should say putting together a brand new frame from Troyer, which is a modified builder, for New Smyrna Speedweeks which is coming up in about three to four weeks. So I’ve been pretty busy with that.
My life revolves around racing. I’m gone every single weekend, whether working on modifieds and traveling down to the team in Huntersville, or racing the indoor midgets that I have been racing the past couple of years. We have three shows – just did one in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I got one coming up in Atlantic City in a couple of weeks, and then another in Albany, New York in a month. So I’ve been pretty busy.
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