Taking It Home: Short Tracker Attitude Helps Ryan Preece To First Xfinity Series Victory

Ryan Preece affixes the winner’s decal to his car after winning the XFINITY Series US Cellular 250 Saturday at Iowa Speedway (Photo: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Facing the biggest moment of his racing career Saturday, Ryan Preece’s head took him home.

In preparing for a green-white-checkered finish in the Xfinity Series US Cellular 250 Saturday at Iowa Speedway, the short track racer competing at Thompson Speedway took over for the Berlin racer.

Preece used the high line to hold off a charging effort from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Benjamin over the green-white-checkered overtime finish to win the Xfinity Series US Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Ia.

“I knew [Benjamin] was actually better at the end,” Preece told RaceDayCT by phone Saturday after the win. “I was struggling to get off the corner and struggling to get going on those restarts. I knew what happened was the outside became the preferred lane. I just did exactly what I would do at Thompson [Speedway]. I made sure I got a good launch and kept it in that preferred lane and kept my momentum going. That’s really what was able to get me to victory lane.”

It was the first career XFinity Series victory for the 26-year old Modified racing veteran Preece, who is a regular on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and was the 2013 series champion. He is also a former SK Modified division champion at Thompson and Stafford Motor Speedway.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Preece said. “I’ve got to thank everybody. …I’m so lost for words right now. I don’t even know what to say. This is what emotion is. I thought this race would never end, that’s for sure. But man, nothing’s going to beat today.”

It was the second event Preece has run this year for Joe Gibbs Racing. He finished second to NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series star Kyle Busch in the Overton’s 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15.

Preece started the day by winning the pole for the event, his first career pole with the series.

Preece led every lap of the first stage. He spent most of the second stage battling Justin Allgaier for the top spot, with Allgaier winning the second stage. Allgaier stayed out during a caution on lap 169 while Preece and the rest of the leaders pitted for tires. Preece went to the lead following the lap 178 restart and Allgaier faded. Allgaier was forced to pit under green for tires and finished 20th, two laps down.

On the decisive final restart, Benjamin was able to stay in the low lane under Preece and fight for the lead during the two-lap overtime shootout. The two came to the checkered flag side-by-side.

“To do this at NASCAR’s second highest level in my second start [with Joe Gibbs Racing], it’s just a lot,” Preece said. “It reassures me that I can do it, that I can go out and win races and do it at NASCAR’s highest level.

“I take a lot of pride in [being a short track racing regular],” Preece said. “To be honest with you, I know a lot of race car drivers out there that are really good and I’m sure those last few restart they could have done the same thing. It comes down to being aggressive and what racing is built on. … I am a short tracker. I race week in and week out, wherever I can go race. You don’t see a lot of guys in the top three series that really do that. I’m really excited and really happy for my family and all my supporters. It’s just awesome.”

Preece has 17 career Whelen Modified Tour victories in 137 series starts dating back to 2007. He was the 2011 SK Modified champion at Stafford Speedway and won SK Modified championships at Thompson Speedway in 2012 and 2014.

Preece was making his 38th career Xfinity Series start Saturday. He had support in putting the deal from local companies Falmouth Ready Mix of East Falmouth, Mass., Mowhawk Northeast of Plantsville and Mizzy Construction of Plainville.

He ran full-time in the Xfinity Series last year for the underfunded Johnny Davis Motorsports team. He opted not to run a second season with the team and instead focused on finding selected rides with an upper level organization.

At this point he’s unsure what the gamble to run the two events with Joe Gibbs Racing will bring him.

“Right now there’s nothing more than what I’ve got,” Preece said. “This could have been my last race in an Xfinity car. But I told [my wife Heather], I have nothing to hang my head about. I finished second at New Hampshire, I got the pole here today and I won the race. If nothing comes of it, I’m not going to say I’m not going to be disappointed, but I did everything I could as a race car driver to get myself into the position to succeed. Now it’s just up to fate and up to hopefully sponsors and people are watching and we’ll see.”

Preece qualified sixth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 15, which marked his best qualifying effort in the series to that point. In his 33 events with the series in 2016 his best starting spot was 12th, which came in the division’s lone visit to NHMS. His best finish in 2016 was a 10th place at Darlington (S.C.) Speedway.


  1. Congrats Ryan great job

  2. Robert Lieberman says

    Awesome job Ryan. You are a class act both on and off the track and any team owner would be honored to have you represent his organization. Hopefully people will now take notice and give a local short tracker a chance at the national spotlight. Well deserved win.

  3. Hope he gets a shot again
    This guy just is better than those guys out there.
    Hendrick motor sports would be a nice fit.
    Jimmy Johnson and preece would be a great team.
    I’m on the phone with some contacts.
    I know most Hendrick guys
    I put 40 million in them last year

  4. Again, no reason he should not be in a top notch ride in Xfinity series along with Bobby Santos. You have someone like Kaz Grala from Westboro Ma in a truck ride with maybe a 100 followers because he didn’t really race in New England. Ryan, Bobby have cut their teeth in local racing. Yesterday’s race and the NHIS race are the only 2 races that I and many of of you have watched of the Xfinity series and will be the only 2 I will watch unless Ryan or another New England driver is running.

  5. Sure Preece is everything good that has been said about him. He’s the entire package. But is he more of a great package or a better driver then anybody out there from across the country. Unlikely. But he’s our guy. The guy we know, like and love seeing in a fast car. That should be enough. Unless of course you have a lucrative sponsorship you can attach to him in which case you could really grease the skids on his career.

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