LOUDON, N.H. – In the grand scheme of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series it was just another practice in a long season of practice session after practice session Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
For a 24-year old from Berlin, it was the moment of living a dream he’s held since youth.
At noon Friday Ryan Preece hit the 1.058-mile oval at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the first time in his life as a Sprint Cup Series driver.
Preece, the points leader on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, will make his Sprint Cup Series debut Sunday in the Sylvania 300 at NHMS.
Preece said there was no time Friday for taking in the magnitude of reaching the particular life goal of competing at the top level of stock car racing. Preece is competing for Premium Motorsports in the event.
“The emotions are off,” Preece said immediately following the first Sprint Cup Series practice session of the weekend at NHMS. “I’m focused on what we’ve got going on. I’ve always excelled pretty quick when it comes to open wheeled stuff, whether it was Midgets or Modifieds, but right now, when you only get in these full-bodied cars so often, you’ve got to pick it up really quick, especially with no testing. I’m trying to do that as quick as I can.”
Preece was 38th fastest of the 44 cars practicing Friday during the one hour and 25 minute session. Despite being guaranteed a spot in Sunday’s event, Preece desperately wants to show he has the speed to earn his way into the starting field for the Sylvania 300. Qualifying for the Sylvania 300 is at 4:45 p.m. Friday.
“The competitive side of me wants to go fast,” Preece said. “I want to run good and it’s bothering me because I’m trying to figure this car out as quick as I can. Today was my first time in that racecar. I felt like we unloaded pretty good and I’ve just been, I just need to talk to some guys because now that I’ve got information to give them and what I’m feeling I feel like they can tell me what I’m doing wrong and how I can make it better. When I go out there and qualify I want to qualify well. I want to get everything I can out of it.”
Preece turned 22 laps during the first practice. Sprint Cup teams will have two more practice sessions Saturday.
“You’re just limited,” Preece said. “You’re very limited on time trying to figure out everything you can. I felt like we started off pretty good and just started adjusting it. They’re just different to drive. It’s all about rolling. If you get on the brakes really hard it gives you a sensation like the car is taking a set, but then when you get on the gas too soon you’re not set up for the corner yet.
“Tomorrow is the day when I’m going to have a lot more time to figure this out. But we’ll be alright. I think we’re going to be better in qualifying than we were in practice. We have a better car, it’s just trying to figure this out.”