Ryan Preece Auto Club Speedway Preview

(Press release from Stewart-Haas Racing)

Event Info

● Pala Casino 400 (Round 2 of 36) 

● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Feb. 26 

● Location: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California 

● Layout: 2-mile oval 

● Laps/Miles: 200 laps / 400 miles 

● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 65 laps / Stage 2: 65 laps / Final Stage: 70 laps 

● TV/Radio: FOX / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

● Ryan Preece opened the 2023 points-paying season with a strong showing in Sunday’s 65th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Preece and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) qualified 20th and had the best 10-consecutive-lap average in final practice. He finished second in Stage 1 and was running up front for a majority of the second stage until he was caught up in a multicar incident in Turn 2 on Lap 183. Preece was unable to return to the race and finished 36th. Of note, Preece had the fastest lap of the race at 196.468 mph.

● Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, will be Preece’s third Cup Series start at the 2-mile oval. His first came in 2019, when he started 26th and finished 23rd. He second was in 2020, when he started 20th and finished 30th. He has three NASCAR Xfinity Series appearances at Fontana with a best finish of eighth in 2019. 

● Returning to the SHR No. 41 Ford Mustang in 2023 is HaasTooling.com, the cutting tool division of Haas Automation led by team co-owner Gene Haas. HaasTooling.com was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high-quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. HaasTooling.com products became available nationally in July 2020. Haas Automation, founded in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers, rotaries and indexers, and automation solutions.

Ryan Preece (Photo: Stewart-Haas Racing)

What Ryan Is Saying:

You had a strong showing at Daytona despite the unfortunate finish. What can you take from that and use moving forward?

“Track position is everything at Daytona, we learned that after qualifying and the Duel. It wasn’t the result we had hoped for and worked for, but I just want to focus on the fact that we had such a fast HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang. This opportunity is exactly what I wanted, so it’s unfortunate because I felt like we were going to put ourselves in position to give ourselves the chance to be in contention and win the race, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully, we keep unloading fast Ford Mustangs like we did this weekend, and we’ll have some fun. I’m looking forward to getting to Fontana and really getting this season started.” 

You’re heading to a track with a completely different configuration than what you experienced in the first two races of the season. What are your expectations for this weekend’s race at Fontana? 

“Yeah, we’ve gone to two completely different racetracks so far and we’ve had speed at both of them, so I know this weekend is completely different and more of a baseline track that most teams are looking at to see the speed. I feel confident going into it that we’re going to unload fast. Hopefully, we consistently have speed all weekend and start continuing to lay the foundation that we have with our team.”

How is your chemistry with the team?

“The communication is there. It’s really easy to work with Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and our entire group so far. It’s as if we’ve been working together for over a year. Outside of just my race team, whether it’s the fabrication shop, paint shop, the floor guys or parts room, they see me around. I feel like I already earned their respect. I’m there pretty much every day, and they see it. I’m right there with them. I already feel comfortable there, and with the foundation we’ve built. It’s just continuing to build the house and going through the steps. I’m certainly excited going forward and very eager to see how we are off the truck, and really where we’re going to be moving forward.”


  1. Suitcase Jake says

    “I am there every day”…. That is the same comment Tony Stewart made on the Fox broadcast from the LA exhibition 1/4 miler …. Wow nothing can energize a team and Organization like a Hungry – Humble Driver getting involved in the shop.. I just shows Ryan’s leadership abilities, He will bring that team’s effort to 100%.. When a Driver just shows up on Sunday with his helmet , the team just feels different than when there is personal relationship among Driver and Crew…” He’s in the gym every day, He’s in the shop every day , He’s totally all in ” ” we just felt like he deserves this opportunity ” said Tony Stewart …. fastest lap of the Race…. I think the ” RATINGS ” are going to jump for nascar viewers in the New England Region this year !!!! I know i will be tuned into every race this year, as I am sure many of my fellow RDCt faithful will also be much more in TUNE with CUP racing than the past??? It’s so exciting having Ryan in a top shelf Car with a great shot at a Win….
    Shawn, is there a way to track the uptick in our region for tv ratings , compared to last year.. I would be very interested in that figure or percentage???

  2. Suitcase;
    That would be interesting for sure.
    Ive followed cup right along, listened to all the nascar “don’t care” comments, or “taxi cab series “ comments over the years. But ive remained a fan. There have been changes I like a lot, and some, well, maybe not so much.
    With that being said, a local guy making it to the bigs, really makes it all the better!
    Pete hamilton winning in a petty superbird. Man, a Norwood Arena guy with a big score! No better than that. The heartbreak of Don McTavish. Another local guy I watched.
    The high of Steve Park in his prime. Then the low of Larry Foyt ( not his fault) into park’s Busch car. Fuller, Sacks, mcglauflin, on and on.
    So, it’s Preece’s chance. He has gambled on himself money wise at times, and worked his butt off to get to this point. At times, even knowing when to walk away from sub par rides, that were not going to get him where he felt he needed to be.
    That being said, this series is so tough, cars are so even, you have to have a little luck on your side. We saw what bad luck did to Ryan on Sunday. It takes so much to win one of these things. Restrictor plate race or not. Everything needs to be perfect.
    I am crossing my fingers, toes, and anything else I can, for Ryan to catch some good luck along the way, with everything else he has put into play. No question, his competition week in and week out will be extremely stiff. The 41 will be prepared, and Ryan will give it all he has, of that I have no doubt.
    And for the record, my personal opinion is Preece is a better driver than Stenthouse. Killed me to watch that 47 win on Sunday. Sour grapes on my part.
    Good luck Ryan. Ill be watching every week, like always. With fingers and toes crossed….

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