Rally Car: Ryan Preece Uses Late Run To Win Lincoln Tech Open 80 At Stafford Speedway

Ryan Preece celebrates victory in the Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80 Friday at Stafford (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – The gremlins and unlucky incidents while running near the front of the field in Open Modified events at Stafford Speedway this season have been all too common for Ryan Preece.

Friday the Berlin driver changed things up and made the come from behind style work for him.

Preece came from 20th place after a lap 50 pit stop and raced back to win the Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80 at Stafford Speedway Friday.

“The old razzle dazzle on the radio,” Preece joked in victory lane, similar to his comments when he won the Whelen Modified Tour GAF Roofing 150 two weeks ago at Stafford. “We struggled for three races with this new car. We had a bunch of speed but just haven’t had anything to show for it. I figured I’d play the other card today, come from behind, swap left [tires], put a right rear [tire] on and go like hell. We had a badass race car.”

Mike Christopher Jr. of Wolcott was second and Marcello Rufrano of North Haven third.

Chris Pasteryak dominated the first two thirds of the event before caution flew on lap 50 for the spinning car of Robert Bloxsom III.

Pasteryak led the field off of pit road with Christopher going from fifth place before the caution up to second after the pit stop. Preece came off pit road in 20th place.

With 21 laps remaining Christopher found the way under Pasteryak to take over the top spot.

Caution flew again on lap 70 with Christopher leading Pasteryak and Santos in third.

On the restart it was Santos moving to second. But by lap 72 it was the train of Rufrano and Preece chugging back toward the front. Rufrano went by Santos for second on lap 72 in turn two with Preece then going by Rufrano for second in turn three.

A multi-car crash brought out the caution again on lap 77. On the restart it was Christopher and Preece going side-by-side for the lap with Preece edging Christopher by a bumper to complete the lap. Caution flew on lap 78 to put Preece at the front for the ensuing restart. Preece was able to check out from Christopher on the restart to cruise to the checkered.

“Don’t remind me of that,” Christopher said of the final restart. “That’s pretty disappointing, but if you’re going to lose to anyone I guess [Preece] is a good person to lose to. But I hate that. I hate that so much.”

Rufrano started 20th in the 25 car field.

Said Rufrano: “This is awesome. We really had an awesome car tonight. Just playing the possum game. We kind of played it all day. Tried to play a little bit of the mind games. At the end of the day we had a really fast car, but we didn’t have enough for [Preece]. He was wicked fast.”


  1. David Fisher says

    Preece came from 20th to 7th before the announcers even mentioned him on FloRacing, before finally saying something like “don’t look now, here comes Preece.” Thankfully, the camera man knew what was happening and showed a lot of the charge, before the announcers figured it out. Maybe some monitors for the announcers, so they can talk about what we are seeing?

    And by the way, I saw several passes on the outside, in multiple races. Shhh!

  2. THAT was an entertaining race. I was not able to be there in person, but I was able to watch on Floracing. I am so happy for Ryan, but damn Chase put on quite a show.

  3. Tommy Baldwin called it? 7ny at the point at the restart with Preece outside in the third row. He notes the tire switch and the fact Preece was his main threat and exactly what he feared happened. That was the spec motor car Preece had wasn’t it?

  4. That Preece charge is what MODIFIED racing is all about.

    That was awesome. 😎

    Pretty good event.

  5. The Atomic Punk says

    There actually was some racing on the Outside. I was surprised. Have not seen that in quite a while. Not a bad race….. For Slower Mods.

  6. Sounds like the Tom Baldwin PSR pro series car was pretty stout last night. Great run MCJ.

  7. Maybe Stafford should look at his engine and fuel,,,,Nascars not going to,,

  8. “Maybe Stafford should look at his engine and fuel,,,,Nascars not going to,,”

    Why would NASCAR tech a car at a non-NASCAR race?

  9. Fast Eddie says

    Atomic, slower Mods? Please explain. And don’t compare them to the previous WMT events; Friday’s race was in 90 degree heat with about 95% humidity. Those weather conditions will slow down any combustion engine unless you’re using nitromethane. WMT car times and speeds would have been comparable at best.

  10. Just Me - The Original says

    How did Preece, Dowling and Kopcik get stickers for practice, everyone else was on used tires.

  11. What’s good competition have to do with speed? Best race of the night was the Street Stocks.

  12. The Atomic Punk says

    Slower Mods means Slower than a NWMT mod, The Baddest Asphalt Mod on the Planet…. Granted the Tour is run by cluelessness, as it was 30 years ago, but the cars themselves…. Bad.

  13. Car counts and speed. In my view two of the most oft mentioned bench marks with the least relevance to good competitive racing.
    You want speed watch the Super Modifieds. I always marvel at their speed but frankly don’t think the races are that competitive or entertaining and that push off stuff is for the birds.
    The NWMT are the fastest modifieds and in similar conditions by a few tenths perhaps at the front that gets watered down as you move down the field and drops like a rock at the end for the NWMT. And at what cost.
    Phil Moran, one of the two best crew chiefs in the NWMT says:
    ” Everybody has a cookie cutter setup. Everybody has a spec engine, an LFR or a Fury Chassis, and everyone has the same tires.”
    Meanwhile on the open scene where there are a menu of offerings the built engine variations by local builders are numerous and on the rise. Stan Mertz has an engine issue at Monadnock, ships it off to Billy the Kid in Torrington, Ct and gets it back ready to race the next week at Stafford. That’s good on a number of levels.
    Car counts are over rated and speed as well in my view. I like the NWMT offerings as good as any but their business model and engine rules specifically are on life support. A good place to start would be to throw out the engine cookie cutter.

  14. The NWMT has survived because of the strength, commitment and addiction to modified racing of the TEAM OWNERS.

    Many years ago, Mike Stefanik gave an interview and he raised the issue that the NWMT is losing owners. Owners that can field a competitive car.

  15. Fast Eddie says

    Atomic, and the big performance difference between a wmt mod and a tour mod is what? The spec engine is slower on the straight with the weight advantage letting it turn a little better. Obviously you missed the nhms open race with no wmt restrictor plates. Definetely faster than the choked off wmt event. —– Dareal, agreed, there aren’t many new owners with deep pockets coming in to keep the wmt going.

  16. The Atomic Punk says

    Cost of a spec. vs a built motor like the Hutter that is or was in the 51? and when you are spending 200+k?? a year to run a series does saving 25k a year in motor costs really make a big difference?….. and YES Speed. Speed. I watch all forms of racing for Speed. If Speed does not matter to you maybe You could go sit on a bench on Main st. and watch all roll by at 25mph…. If Speed means little to you maybe the local walking track would do…. Watch the SR’s stroll around at 2 mph… Because after all WHY would anyone want to go to a Race track for Speed?

  17. The Atomic Punk says

    Fast Eddie I thought a wmt mod was a tour mod? and if you need to unrestrict an open mod to make it faster than a restricted NWMT mod the difference would be obvious…..and of course the slower car is turning better, its going slower.

  18. Fast Eddie says

    Atomic, that’s what I thought as well until you made your “slower mod” reference. I’m just trying to defend the non-WMT teams out there that put on some great Modified racing in their own right. TriTrack, Open events, and MRS put on some really good races as well. My point is the WMT is not the “be all, end all, absolute best” Modified program out there that you claim it is. You’re welcome to your opinion, of course.

  19. I personally am not a mall walker but some of we geezers can be pretty competitive in our endeavors no matter how trivial or mundane they may appear to others. Snappy walking togs on, head down, eyes focused and get those hips swaying past the shops and kiosks you betcha. You want real competition stop by the local senior center and take in a game of pickle ball.
    Each fan can chose their own priorities for liking racing there is no one over riding quality one is obligated to focus on. If it’s speed fine. For me it’s rules that promote quality side by side, wheel to wheel competition. The absolute value of top speed less important then their comparative speed to each other within a division. Rules the equalize competition that in most cases limit speed.
    Fast Eddie’s point a good one. The open mods at the NHMS were turning race laps in the .28.7 area give or take in the April open in competition. The NWMT mods were qualifying at 29.27 and up. The NWMT cars slower with a breathtaking finish. The open mods with Santos/Tinio winning had it’s moments but not as good in my estimation.

  20. Fast Eddie, whenever there has been mixed series races, that is NWMT cars and MRS, Southern, TTOMS etc. teams in the same race, the NWMT cars rule almost every single time. If a NWMT didn’t win, they dominated the top 5 and top 10, depending on how many showed up. When an invader shows up to a NWMT event, they usually don’t do too well.

    The NASCAR north-south combined events were conclusive and undeniable proof of that. Why do you think only a few of the southern cars showed up? They didn’t have a chance.

    Each series is good in their own way and chosen niche. The NWMT runs on tracks that require horsepower and a commensurate car that will use that horsepower, hence they tend to be “better” cars. Let’s be clear and blunt, the NWMT has three classes: 1. Competitive, 2. Almost There Mid Packers, and 3. No Chancers. This convo applies to the Competitive class.

    Then there is MH, who races a Modified and specializes on bullrings, and does not care about what sanctioning body is running the event.

  21. The Atomic Punk says

    I’m just glad to see that there are plenty of Asphalt Mods around. If I have to watch 2 series to see them all so be it.

  22. The weather also affects performance. Can not compare the Spring NHMS race to a late Summer/Fall NHMS race. Lap times differed with temperature and humidity. Teams had weather stations in the haulers for a reason.

  23. Not quite sure why a top quality racing engine can cost teams 50-60k, are the bearings made of gold?

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