Big Time: Ryan Preece Rolls Through First Day As NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver

LOUDON, N.H. – When Ryan Preece rolled into the garage area at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday he saw former Sprint Cup Series champion Dale Jarrett on a golf cart.

Tommy Baldwin Racing crew members work on Ryan Preece’s Nationwide Series car during practice Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

“I was like ‘Man it would be cool to meet him,’ said Preece, who is attempting to make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Not long after it was Jarrett looking for Preece in the Nationwide Series garage in Loudon.

“I came over to the [Nationwide Series] car to hang out with the guys and just talk to them and all of the sudden he walks up to me and he’s like ‘Hey, how ya doing, I’ve heard a lot about you, people are talking about you.’” Preece said. “That was really cool that he came to me. It was awesome that he took time out of his day to come over to me.”

Such is life of late for Preece, who has been living a whirlwind lifestyle as attention grabber and media darling. Over the past few days Preece, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points leader, has made appearances on ESPN, Speed and Sirius-XM NASCAR Radio.

The 22-year old, who also competes weekly at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway, has been making the most of it all.

“That’s part of the game,” Preece said. “If you can’t handle that then you’re not going to be able to make it. I’m having fun. It’s awesome.”

When it comes to racing, Preece participated in two Nationwide Series practices Friday in preparation for Saturday’s CNBC Prime’s The Profit 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Preece, who is attempting to make the race in a car owned by former Whelen Modified Tour crew chief and Sprint Cup Series team owner Tommy Baldwin Jr., was 23rd of 41 cars in the first practice of the day Friday and 17th of 43 cars in the second and final practice. The Nationwide Series will qualify Saturday morning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In the second practice he ended up sandwiched between Sprint Cup Series drivers Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano on the speed charts.

“There’s things I’m going to be picking up throughout the race and the day [on Saturday],” Preece said. “I learned most of my stuff at the end of [the second] practice. I’m having fun. I’m real fortunate to be in this car this weekend. There’s hundreds of other guys at your local short track that would kill to be here right now. I’m real lucky and thankful. I’m just keeping my nose clean and keep working on my end. The car is getting better and better and I’m just having fun. … I’m going to be learning a lot tomorrow. This is only the beginning. This is the first chapter of many. We’re just going to keep our nose clean. I feel we have a top-15 car. I think we’ll be alright. I think passing is going to definitely be a challenge. I can tell there’s a fine line where you can drive and where you can’t drive.”

And beyond the Nationwide Series this weekend, Preece has plenty on his plate with his regular gig. Preece is looking to become only the third driver in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history to win four consecutive events in Saturday’s Town Fair Tire 100.

Preece said despite motor issues with his Modified in practice on Friday morning he’s hugely optimistic about his chances of grabbing that fourth win in six Whelen Modified Tour events this year. He was eighth fastest of 32 cars in practice.

“It’s a rocket,” Preece said of his car. “This is the first time I’ve ever stopped a half hour before practice ended and said ‘This is a good car.’ The speed charts can be so deceiving as far as who’s fast and who’s not. You can be on top of the speed charts and have a real ill handling car. My car, I can run high, I can run low. … I said at the beginning of the year we were going to work on having a racecar not just a fast car, but a racecar and we’ve got that this weekend.”

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  1. Mike Ray says

    Proud of you!

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