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XFINITY

Preece Eager for NHMS Weekend Following Kentucky Rebound

After a blown tire and a 32nd-place finish in Iowa followed by an engine failure at Daytona, Ryan Preece appeared to be stumbling into the summer stretch. But with a 15th-place finish at Kentucky and his home track next on the schedule, the Connecticut native feels his luck is about to turn for the better.

Preece’s result in the Alsco 300 on Friday night tied his best finish of the season, which came at Talladega in April. The XFINITY Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next — a track that brings positive memories for the JD Motorsports rookie.

“It was definitely a good week to have a good run,” Preece told POPULAR SPEED. “Especially heading into a place like New Hampshire, which I consider to be my home track among the three [national] series.”

Preece has five top fives and a pole at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, amidst his career totals of 80 top 10s and 14 poles in the series. The 2013 Modified champion also made his Sprint Cup Series debut there in 2015 driving for Tommy Baldwin Racing in the No. 98 Chevrolet.

Preece called the first half of his season “a tough pill to swallow.” He and team owner Johnny Davis want the No. 01 to be a top-20 car every week, and have scored six of them in 16 races. 

“There’s been a lot of misfortune,” Preece said. “But I had a good feeling about this weekend, in terms of a really good car. We’ve been looking for a feel in the car, and I think we found it tonight.”

The 25-year-old will compete in two Modified events before the XFINITY race at New Hampshire — the Modified All-Star Shootout on Friday and the New England 100 on Saturday. He hopes the extra track time will benefit him for the AutoLotto 200, which will take place after Saturday’s Modified race.

“We’re all making good progress,” Preece said. “I’ve learned that I can’t drive a tight racecar — I need it a little free. I had a car like that tonight, and it’ll work really well there, too.”

Preece sits 18th in the XFINITY standings. He is 19 points behind his rookie teammate Garrett Smithley and 100 points outside the Chase cutoff with 10 races left until the series’ inaugural playoffs begin.

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By John Haverlin

John Haverlin is currently studying Communication at Arizona State University. He has been a reporter at Phoenix International Raceway for three years and has written news stories for the track's official site. Born and raised in Long Island, N.Y., Haverlin has lived in Arizona the past three years.