THOMPSON – Thompson Speedway was the beast that proved for so long unbeatable to Ryan Preece.
That is until Sunday. Preece finally got the the Whelen Modified Tour victory he’s been trying to get for so long at the track, and did it in dominating fashion.
Preece led 137 of 151 laps on the way to winning the Whelen Modified Tour season ending Sunoco World Series 150 Sunday at Thompson Speedway.
Preece, of Berlin, was making his 28th career start at Thompson in Whelen Modified Tour action Sunday. He had four second place finishes and four third place finishes at the track before Sunday.
“It was great to finally win at Thompson,” Preece said. “I said under the red flag [on lap 141] to my spotter and [crew chief Sly Szaban] ‘You know how many times I’ve finished second here? I’m not finishing second again.’ … This seem to be the place that I couldn’t say I was a winner at and now I can say it.”
Donny Lia of Jericho, N.Y. was second and Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, Pa. third. The race was extended to 151 laps because of a late caution.
Doug Coby of Milford finished 17th to clinch his second Whelen Modified Tour championship.
Preece, won the series title in 2013, closed out his reign as champion in style, winning the final two events of the season. He won the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway on Sept. 28. They were his only two victories of the season.
“To pick up two milestones like this, we got the Fall Final and we got the World Series,” Preece said. “Those are two really prestigious races. I’m just the lucky guy to be able to do it.”
Preece started second and went to the lead past pole winner Woody Pitkat on lap nine.
Preece gave up the lead to Tommy Barrett Jr. when he pitted under caution on lap 73. Preece was ninth on the ensuing lap 76 restart but made a meteoric charge back through the field to regain the lead from Pennink on lap 79. From there it was clear the battle was on for second place.
“I didn’t realize I would be able to get to the front as quick as I did,” Preece said. “That really shocked me. … I wasn’t even trying. … [My crew] got me off pit road where I came in, they did a phenomenal job on that pit stop. Sly did a great job setting this racecar up and I was just the lucky guy that got to drive the inside line here.”
Preece came into the event sixth in the standings, but jumped to second to end the season. He finished the season 22 points behind Coby.
The victory may have proved a winning goodbye for Preece and his Flamingo Motorsports team. Preece joined the organization prior to the 2012 season and he finished second in the standings that season. He has spoken with Whelen Modified Tour team owner Ed Partridge about his open ride for next season. Preece said following Sunday’s event that he’s unsure what his plans are at this point.