Call it spring training at speed.
While many of the teams of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wait patiently to start shaking down equipment in preparation for the 2015 season, Ryan Preece will go to Thompson Speedway for the April 12 season opening Icebreaker carrying confidence.
The confidence that comes with already having run a multitude events in his first season with the Eddie Partridge owned TS Haulers Racing team.
Preece and the team were the dominant force during a week of Modified events at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in February. And since then his TS Haulers team has made starts in both Whelen Southern Modified Tour events at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C. this year and also in a KOMA Unwind Modified Series event at Hickory (N.C.) Speedway.
“If you count New Smyrna, and the three other races that we already did, I’ve already have more than a half a Tour season in this year,” Preece said. “I’m pretty happy about that.
“I think things have gone really well. New Smyrna went really well. We had a parts failure at the [first Whelen Southern Modified Tour] race. At the KOMA race we tried something different with the new car we have. And basically that’s why we’ve been going racing. The last Caraway race we found something in the new Troyer car that we felt we need to work on. Those are things that we probably would have had happen in the first three [Whelen Modified Tour] races if we hadn’t gone racing.”
After three seasons with the Eric Sanderson owned Flamingo Motorsports team, in which he finished second (2012), first (2013) and second (2014) in the Whelen Modified Tour standings, Preece left the organization after last season to join up with owner Eddie Partridge with the series.
Both Partridge and Preece made it clear when announcing they were teaming up that the hope was to not only chase wins and championships on the Whelen Modified Tour, but also chase wins anywhere else they could with the TS Haulers Modifieds. In his first event for the team Preece won last fall’s North-South Shootout at Caraway Speedway.
“I’m really happy as far as everybody working on the car,” Preece said. “Eddie is great. Just the entire team in general, it’s a go-getter type deal and everybody is on board to go racing.”
With Partridge on board for moonlighting wherever and whenever, Preece’s seemingly always busy schedule looks that much busier for 2015.
In North Carolina Wednesday preparing for this weekend’s Whelen Southern Modified Tour event at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, in which he will drive a car owned by Kevin “Bono” Manion, Preece rattled off the long list of scheduled events for the upcoming season.
Preece will once again be chasing a second SK Modified division title at Stafford Motor Speedway, where he has finished second in the standings in ridiculously close battles the last two years (to Woody Pitkat in 2013 and Ted Christopher in 2014).
“It’s like a 40-lap shootout of a Modified Tour event every week there,” Preece said of the stacked SK Modified field at Stafford. “You basically have the Whelen Modified Tour doing a 40-lap dash every Friday night. It’s not easy. I like it because it’s a dash. You’re not holding anything back and you’re going. I’m just happy that I’m able to drive the car I’m driving there and have Mike Paquette [as the crew chief] and have [Jean-Guy and Brigitte Poulin] behind me with everything and to have Chassis Dynamics behind it. We have a really strong car.”
He will also be defending his 2014 SK Modified championship at Thompson Speedway with car owners Al and Cathy Moniz. And it will be with a Moniz owned car that Preece will compete in all of the Connecticut Valenti Modified Racing Series events during the 2015 season.
Preece will run all four of the Tri-Track Series open Modified events for Patridge, in addition to the late season Open Modified show scheduled for the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
He will also run selected events in the weekly Tour Type Modified division at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway for car owner Bill Park and for Partridge.
And he also hopes to keep making it to as many Whelen Southern Modified Tour events as he can with the TS Haulers team. The team has at least three more Southern Modified Tour events they hope to make this season.
“I know we plan on going to Bowman Gray [Stadium on Aug. 1], Preece said. “There’s another at [Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. on Sept. 5] and another South Boston (Sept. 19) that we’ll get to. … I wish there was a little bit better scheduling as far as the North and South tours go so that if you were a north team and you wanted to run all the races you’d be able to do it. I wish we could do that. But I’m still going to run as many races as I can.”
Preece has made select NASCAR Xfinity Series starts the last two years for Sprint Cup Series owner Tommy Baldwin Jr., but he’s unsure if that will happen in 2015.
“I’ve been working on trying to pull sponsors together so that I can go racing and get that seat time that I need,” Preece said. “We’re working on it and maybe by the year’s end we can get a couple Xfinity [Series] races in.”
Preece understands well that any short track race having the sort of bursting schedule he has is a good thing.
“I have a lot going on, there’s so much going on, but I’m really lucky,” Preece said. “I’m down here in North Carolina right now and a lot of people down here do racing like you’d run a business. A lot of people have to pay for rides. Fortunately for myself, I kind of call it the ‘Old School Racing’ because I don’t pay to drive a racecar. I’m fortunate to where I race for teams and I’m usually hired by the team to race for them. I’m pretty lucky. Not a lot of people get to do that. It’s really cool. But at the same time, I feel like that I don’t tear their equipment and I try to run hard all the time on the racetrack and that’s maybe the reason why I do get hired by the these teams. I’m really lucky in the aspect that the cars that I’m in are really all top-notch cars.”