Ryan Preece Heads To Martinsville Speedway Sunday Looking For Short Track Turnaround

Ryan Preece (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

For former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece, the last four weeks on the NASCAR Montser Energy Cup Series haven’t been much to put a smile on his face. 

Sunday the Monster Energy Cup Series Rookie of the Year contender heads back to a race track that helps to give him smiles every day. 

In 2008 the then 17-year old Preece scored his first career Whelen Modified Tour victory at Martinsville Speedway. As is tradition at Martinsville, Preece was awarded a commemorative grandfather clock as his trophy for winning the event. 

“My Martinsville clock is in my foyer when you walk into the house,” he said. “It’s pretty special when you walk through that door and know that you’ve won at Martinsville. To be able to go back for the first time since 2010 and have another opportunity to chase after another clock, that’s pretty special to me.”

Preece’s first season with JTG Daugherty Racing began on a high-note. But after a gripping Daytona 500 that saw him running in third place on the final lap and ending up eighth in the Great American Race, Preece has been clawing to find the positives. The week after Daytona Preece looked in a place to snare a possible top-10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but a pit road accident for him to settle for a 35thplace. 

The Monster Energy Cup Series west coast swing of the last three weeks didn’t help buoy any spirits following with finishes of 25that Las Vegas, 34thafter an accident in Phoenix and 23rdat Fontana, Calif. 

“It’s been really up and down right now,” Preece said. “We started off really strong at Daytona, accomplishing our goal of finishing the race.  That got us to where we were.  Then Atlanta, we were running really well.  Just didn’t really have anything to show for it. We went to Phoenix, Vegas and California. The West Coast swing to us, the 47, wasn’t really what we wanted. Going back [Tuesday] in our meetings we assessed everything. I feel like we’re on the right track for what we have to, for what I need. Obviously [my No. 37 car] showed a lot of speed. It shows our cars are fast enough to be where we’re running. It’s early. It’s only five races in.  The goal is to really just keep up and keep making gains and don’t fall behind.” 

The tight confines of the .526-mile paper-clip tight Martinsville Speedway has Preece feeling better about the surroundings for this week’s STP 500 in Martinsville, Va. which marks his first visit to the track with the Monster Energy Cup Series. 

“Man, the expectations?” Preece said. “It’s hard to say without being there or running there with the team. I mean, my expectations when I go to a short track are to be a contender. Really at this point it’s to have a really smooth weekend, run top-10 most of the day. If we can get a top 5, that would be fantastic.

“Definitely short tracks like Martinsville, Bristol [Motor Speedway], New Hampshire [Motor Speedway], those are kind of in my wheelhouse. It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. When it comes to the restarts and all those moments of being aggressive, it’s something that I enjoy doing. As far as what I expect, I expect that we should show really well and at least be running top 10 and hopefully get a top 5 by the end of the weekend.” 

Preece understands the tight confines of Martinsville means plenty of contact is to be expected on Sunday. 

“I’ve never been somebody who really wants to put a bumper to someone,” Preece said. “I always try to find a way around them without doing that. At the end of the day, I think we all just look for respect. You’re going to race somebody the way they race you. I’m going to fully intend on going into the weekend just like I would in a Modified, that’s finding a way around without using them up. At the end of the day, as long as we’re respectful to others, I believe you get respect back. That’s kind of how I’m going to approach it. I don’t fully intend on going there and smashing people.”

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  1. mid pack car means mid pack qualify means getting lapped early and wrecking because of the
    way the team is in terms of quality that’s my prediction

  2. This is where Ryan’s driving and experience on this kind of track can be an advantage. Here’s hoping he can get the car set up.

  3. I hope he has a decent run but he will need a good qualifying run and hope to miss the carnage in front an behind as cautions will either help or hurt him

  4. Sharpie Fan says

    Here’s hoping that his experience can help him make some more amazing moves to miss those wrecks.

  5. Short tracks are where Ryan lives. Hoping for a good showing this weekend.

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