Across the pond in France there’s the 24 Hours of LeMans.
But in New England this weekend, it will be about the 36 Hours of Ryan Preece.
It will be a racing a endurance test for Preece, of Berlin, this weekend.
From early Friday morning until Saturday evening Preece will spend the majority of his time behind the wheel of various racing vehicles in two states as he prepares for and competes in four feature events.
Preece will compete in the Friday’s inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Whelen All-Star Shootout Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, then head to Stafford Motor Speedway for a 42-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Friday evening. Saturday he will run the Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway followed by the Sta-Green 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series in Loudon.
The action begins Friday morning at 8:30 in Loudon when the Whelen Modified Tour hits the track for their first practice of the weekend.
“It’s a lot of fun. You never stop. If you really look at the schedule, from Friday at 8:30 a.m. when we get on the racetrack, all the way until about Saturday after the Nationwide race, I’m going to be in a racecar for like 36 hours,” Preece said. “It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait.
“It’s going to be a busy weekend, but I’m for sure looking forward to it. All these opportunities coming my way, I really can’t thank Tommy Baldinw and East-West Marine and everybody else that’s helping support this whole deal, and obviously [Whelen Modified Tour team owner] Eric Sanderson, who gave me a shot again on the Modified Tour.”
It marks the second consecutive year Preece is entered in the July Nationwide Series event in Loudon in a Tommy Baldwin Racing entry. Baldwin, a former Whelen Modified Tour crew chief, owns a Sprint Cup Series organization.
Last year Preece finished 24th in making his Nationwide Series debut at Loudon for Baldwin.
“I know our expectations are higher than they were last year just because I was learning the car and it was all about seat time and finishing the race,” Preece said. “Tommy has put a lot into the car this year and I know [crew chief] Zach McGowan is as excited as I am. We both have something to prove. We’re looking forward to it. We have our goals and if we met our goals and go past them everything else is just a bonus.”
On the Whelen Modified Tour, Preece is still searching for his first victory of the season and his first ever at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Preece, the reigning Whelen Modified Tour champion, sits ninth in the standings after five of 14 events this year. He has recorded four top-10 finished in four events this year, but is still trying to erase the effects of a 24th place finish at the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 27.
“Usually some teams end up starting off really well and they have their bad races toward the end of the season or in the middle,” Preece said. “Right now, we had our slump races the first two races. To be honest, we’ve only had one [did not finish] and that is our only race outside of the top-10. But as competitive as it is right now, the guys that are running up front, they’re all getting top-fives and top-three’s every week. Yes, we’ve got to rattle off some wins, but I think the momentum is there, we’re starting to get it on our side a little bit. The past two races were our best of the year.”
In 15 career Whelen Modified Tour starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Preece has an average finish of 11.8. His best finish is third at the track, a feat he’s accomplished four times.
“It would be nice to finally win there and join guys like Ted Christopher and Doug Coby and Ron Silk and Mike Stefanik on that win list,” Preece said. “If you look at [Dale Earnhardt], it took him so long to win [the Daytona 500]. It’s so hard to win at New Hampshire in a Modified. You have to be in the right place at the right time. You have to have everything perfect. I’m looking forward to it. I know when we tested there I felt like we had a really good car and we kept on making improvements on it.”
He’ll go looking for his first triumph of the weekend in Loudon Friday afternoon in the Whelen Modified Tour shootout, a 40-lap event with a 20-car entry list that includes nine former Whelen Modified Tour champions.
“I like it because there’s no better way to find out what you’re car is going to do than in a race,” Preece said. “It’s basically like a paid practice where we’re all going to be a little bit more aggressive because there’s some money on the line. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Obviously everybody in there is, for the most part, a former champion or former winner. You’re going to have 10 cars out there at least that could definitely win that race. And it will be a good test for Saturday.”