Ryan Preece Shows Slick Moves, Makes Big Statement In First Daytona 500

Ryan Preece (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Staff Report

NASCAR Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. – As far as Daytona 500 debuts go Ryan Preece was plenty encouraged if not wholly satisfied with his eighth-place finish Sunday night. He was running top-five, had even pushed into the top-three with a lap to go, but got shuffled out by veterans as the checkered flag flew to close out the overtime season-opener.

In the moments after climbing out of his No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, he stood on pit road and looked at replays of the race finish on the giant television screen a few yards away. 

There were the final two laps for review. Toyota driver Denny Hamlin earned his second Daytona 500 win and on the last lap, it looked as if Preece may finish on the podium in his 500 debut. Instead, a last lap shuffle – so typical of this race – resulted in Preece losing positions as the field took the checkered flag.

But the 28-year old Connecticut native still managed a smile at his top-10 standing by his car and shaking hands with his smiling JTG Daugherty Racing crew.

“Sitting here watching this I’m probably going to get frustrated with myself because there’s a couple things I could have done different to help my chances,” Preece said as he watched the replay. “I was so committed to pushing Joey [Logano], I focused more on him than I did some of the runs I probably should have focused on.

“All in all it’s a good day. It’s an eighth-place finish, a great day for JTG.”

Another replay of the race finish showed again over the speedway as Preece finished speaking with reporters.

“It’s so frustrating watching it,” Preece said, obviously trying to summon a smile. “We were in third place on the white flag lap and got flushed. “

Perhaps in the coming days, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup rookie will look back at the closing laps as encouragement. His competitors were impressed with the job he did and the crowd seemed to be as well. He was competitive all day, avoided multiple late-race accidents and put himself in position to be a factor as the field approached the most famous checkered flag in NASCAR.

The reigning NASCAR Cup champion Joey Logano, was certainly complimentary of his fellow Connecticut native.

“It was intense as you would expect with the Daytona 500 on the line and I had a great push by the 47 of Ryan Preece and I thought that was cool,” Logano said after climbing out of his car. “We grew up racing quarter-midgets against each other in Connecticut and it just shows that dreams can really come true.

“I’m proud to be racing with him in the Daytona 500. I think that’s super-cool.”

Preece also recognized the opportunity to partner with Logano, a former Daytona 500 winner, and appreciated the restrictor plate lesson.

“I know he does a really good job at these restrictor plate races,” Preece said. “I have a good relationship with Joey. Other than that, he’s really good at making holes. He got me to third and I didn’t do a good enough job blocking and trying to help him move forward to.

“This is a learning experience. Everyone talks about learning and I can tell you multiple things I learned today to help me better my career but also learn what I need to do different the next time I come.”

A two-time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Preece eventually walked off pit road much more encouraged than frustrated. This is the biggest opportunity of his life and Sunday night was a good start.

“I’m a racer. … and I’m competitive so I’m going to nitpick myself right now,” Preece said. “When I get in my truck and drive home and watch this finish I’m going to say, ‘man, I could have had fifth. I could have had third.’ But at the end of the day, it’s still a great day.

“All in all, today’s been about finishing the race, but hopefully gaining people that will work with me in the future. If I can keep on putting that group of people together for maybe the July race [at Daytona] or Talladega [Ala.], I can build that reputation of ‘hey, we can work with him.’

“Then we will run up front more at the end of these races and put ourselves in a good situation.”

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  1. Viva race fan says

    Very proud of Ryan he’s come along way .

  2. Great job Ryan.That was a first class race performance in a second rate race car.I was literally on the edge of my seat watching the late race restarts.You can bet I was not the only one who thought he might pull off a win.Congratulations!

  3. Sharpie Fan says

    Preece had to rely on his modified experience to avoid some of those wrecks. On one replay you can hear his spotter saying “check up, check up” as he steps on it to avoid the wreck. Good thing he didn’t listen to his spotter or his day would have ended.

  4. Great job Ryan Preece. Brought the car to the finish in one piece and finished 8th. A oided some big wrecks along the way. A good starting point for 2019.

  5. Sharpie Fan, I agree with you. In all incidents, Ryan appeared to rely on his modified driving skills, defied his spotter, and drove it through. It appeared to be pure instinct. Just listen to the announcers talk about how Ryan drove through it, they know what was going on.

    Great driving, Ryan made quite a show, made the best with what he has to work with. If JTG Daugherty is getting engines from Hendrick, they aren’t getting engines as good as the Hendrick teams.

  6. Could you post a list of places Ryan will be running in 2019?

  7. After years of only casually checking in on the Monster Cup series our clan was all in on a throwback 500 get together for one reason….Ryan Preece. And boy did he deliver.
    I certainly didn’t want anyone getting hurt but surely did root for the big one that usually happens for exactly the reason the result produced. Better yet it was a 2fer. Maybe even a 2.5fer. Luck or skill? Probably both. I don’t think it’s a coincidence Preece was position and had the muscle memory to go low in a melee. My expectation sans the big one was 15th or better and it just all worked out so perfectly.
    Beer fueled screaming and cheering after seeing him escape the carnage. Just like the old days.
    Two Ct boys done good.
    A great day.

  8. BJ,
    Beyond running full-time on the Monster Energy Cup Series and running selected events on the XFINITY Series for JR Motorsports, I don’t think anything else he’ll be doing is fully solidified. I’m fairly certain he intends to run the Whelen Modified Tour event in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and I think his intentions are to run one of the mid-week Whelen Modified Tour events at Thompson Speedway. I know he’s told me there’s some other local events he’d like to get to, but again, I don’t think anything has been finalized yet.

  9. knuckles mahoney says

    Great ride. I was super impressed he did not collected in those wrecks.But how about Jeff Gordon after he avoided a wreck. Something along the lines of “he’s a lucky driver” Sorry Jeff, no luck there, both were complete skill from a guy who knows how to drive.

  10. knuckles mahoney says

    Great ride. I was super impressed he did not get collected in those wrecks. But how about Jeff Gordon after he avoided a wreck. Something along the lines of “he’s a lucky driver” Sorry Jeff, no luck there, both were complete skill from a guy who knows how to drive.

  11. Knuckles – no Les Hinckley reference in your email above?

  12. The announcing line of the race came from Darrel Waltrip when he got through the first wreck: “That’s a Modified driver right there!” CONGRATULATIONS RYAN AND THE #47 TEAM!!

  13. Somebody, please get Ryan some more horsepower.

  14. Hey Dareal maybe a new Troyer chassis, I though it was the people involved that made it go , today your telling me it’s the engine, can’t wait for what next week brings , Great job Ryan despite driving for a second rate team with no horsepower ,so I’m told

  15. knuckles mahoney says

    Rafter clown, you may want to look up the definition of email.

  16. underpowered sour grapes of preece says

    da real, ask ryan, possibly a horsepower issue but more likely no help or more time needed for the draft as well as the desire to bring it home in one piece and understanding you need to finish before you can win.. especially after all the carnage. good job preece. nice to see logano whom I dislike mention his “friend” . nice change of pace.

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