Trend Setter: Never Giving Up Lands Ryan Preece Right Where His Dreams Hoped For

Ryan Preece celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 in April at Stafford Motor Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor)

Admit it, you didn’t think this would happen.

Nobody really thought this would happen.

Well ok, nobody but Ryan Preece and his staunchest supporters thought this day could really happen.

Two years ago when the the Berlin native and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour veteran was languishing mid-pack or worse with JD Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, he would talk to me about his optimism and his plans and how everything was working the right way.

And he would talk about not being ready to give up on the dream of competing full-time at the top level of NASCAR.

I’ll be honest, my nods of agreement while listening to his peppy optimism were admittedly tainted.

While I smiled and wished him well outwardly, inside I was thinking: “This kid is crazy. He’s too old. Too inexperienced. Too much of an unknown commodity. He’s not going to get to that level with a good team.”

Preece, the 2013 Whelen Modified Tour champion and regular in the SK Modified divisions at Thompson Speedway and Stafford Speedway, proved me wrong and proved so many other people around racing wrong.

“There were a lot of nights where I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Preece said Friday when he was announced as the new driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Monster Energy Cup Series ride. “I was going to try though. I was going to try like hell.”

In the last two years Preece has bucked the trend in NASCAR in way that has made the movers and shakers of the top levels of stock car racing stand up and take notice.

That year in 2016 languishing with the underfunded JD Motorsports team clicking off finishes week after week in the 20’s? It helped him establish his face in the garage. Helped him show that he wasn’t just a pie-eyed kid running roughshod on someone else’s checkbook. He established to people who had power that he was to be taken seriously. He made people like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick into believers.

And in 2017, instead of taking that backing he had and running another year at the back of the pack, Preece took a major gamble. He basically pushed all-in and dared the racing gods to make him or break him by using the financial backing he had to get a two-race XFINITY Series deal with the powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing organization.

And that two-race all-in push in the blink of an eye made him the most famous part-time driver in NASCAR. First race, second place to Monster Energy Cup Series driver Kyle Busch at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Second race, an XFINITY Series win at Iowa Speedway on July 29, 2017.

Boom. In the blink of an eye Preece was bucking the trend, and essentially indicting the whole NASCAR system as broken.

Twenty-six year old part-timers weren’t supposed to win XFINTY Series races. Those were celebrations that were supposed to be reserved for Monster Energy Cup Series stars playing at the lower level or teens or early twenty-something’s already deep into the developmental pipeline thanks to endless family checkbooks.

Suddenly Preece was changing the game. Suddenly people at the top levels of NASCAR were talking about how talent could win out over money.

Talent landed Preece a nearly half season commitment from Joe Gibbs Racing on the XFINITY Series this year. And there Preece kept digging, kept kicking down doors, kept showing that despite the trends of the sport, there’s no “too old” for that amazing chance.

Today it was announced that Preece would drive for JTG Daugherty in the Monster Energy Cup Series in 2019 as a replacement for AJ Allmendinger. The dream to race every week at the highest level of NASCAR? Achieved. Against all odds, achieved. Preece, the seemingly way too optimistic believer made it work and found the way to make dream reality.

Certainly some will look at JTG Daugherty and see a team that’s not exactly at the elite level of the Monster Energy Cup Series. They aren’t Joe Gibbs Racing or Hendrick Motorsports or Stewart-Haas.

But don’t sleep on Preece next year. He’s already shown he’ll prove you wrong and make the biggest doubter a believe because you just can’t not be a believer based on what he does. Don’t be shocked if he can turn that team into a contender. Don’t be shocked at anything Preece says he plans on doing.

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  1. HOT DAMN !!!!! Congratulations !!!! I now have a reason to watch racing on Sunday afternoon’s again !!!!

    Been following Ryan for a LONG time, watching him mature as a racer and hoping that this day would come. Go get ’em, Ryan !!!

  2. WOW..This is awesome for all !!!!

  3. Being from Plainville I’ve watched Ryan race as often as possible. I may start watching Nascar again! Good job!

  4. Walter Maguire says

    Fantastic! What an example of tenacity and perseverance!

  5. Thanks for writing this, Shawn.

  6. This is the first time in a number of years that talent, desire, and determination superseded “How much $$ can you bring to the table?”. Although I’m sure he and his backers did not get off cheaply, it’s really cool to se someone get noticed for their abilities, and not how big of a truckload of cask is behind them. Now I have two Connecticut Kids to root for during MECS races! WAY TO GO RYAN!!!!

  7. ken ouellette says

    I knew ever since quarter midgets he would get there
    Ryan and his dad have a never quit attitude and it shows
    Congrats and Good Luck

  8. Great to hear. I knew if Ryan stuck it out good things would happen. Good luck and best wishes going forward.

  9. Obviously great for Ryan. Making a good living finally at what you love with the security of a big league contract and multi year it would appear. Freely admit I’d never see it happen and freely admit I’m sad for me to see him go.
    Instead of seeing him in person at Stafford wheeling through traffic or at the front of the field. Or watching him in the Musket 250 trying to dirt track his way into the lead and fail he’ll be on TV with the big boys. Maybe having a chance to pop into the top 5 every now and then and a few top 10’s but mostly deep in the field with his team mate Chris Buescher. Unless the switch from ECR engines to Hendrick Motorsports power gives the team a boost fingers crossed.
    Yea for Ryan. But it’s bitter sweet having to lose yet another one of our local favorites albeit for a great reason.

  10. I hope He doesnt forget all the Modified Owners&supporters like Connie& Eddie,Flamingo motorsports Chassis Dynamics & Mike Paquette. And hopefully he can Bring some of them To the front of the Table on this journey. But yeah Congrats.

  11. Never ever give up on your dreams. Way to go!

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