Chasing The Big One: Ryan Preece To Start 25th In Fifth Daytona 500 Appearance On Sunday

Ryan Preece poses on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday. (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ryan Preece finished 13th in the first 150-mile qualifying duel event Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. 

The twin Bluegreen Vacations Duels on Thursday set the the starting field for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Preece, a former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and Berlin native, will start 25th in the Daytona 500.

“We have a really good Ford Mustang,” Preece said. “With there being four Fords in the [qualifying] race, I tried to stick with Joey [Logano] and Chris [Buescher] and Todd [Gilliland] and, ultimately, we were playing the [fuel] saving game so much that we lost a lot of track position. But our cars are going to be fast. I’m not worried. I’m just going to race the heck out of everybody on Sunday.”

Preece will be making his fifth start in the Great American Race. 

“Most sports have one of their biggest events at the end of the season, where ours is – I don’t want to say it’s the biggest one at the beginning of the season, but it pretty much is,” Preece said. “That’s the crown jewel event that every driver – we all want to win every race, but if you can put that on your resume and be a Daytona 500 winner, that’s a huge deal. Obviously, each and every one of us wants to go out there and do that, and I feel not necessarily more pressure, but knowing how fast our superspeedway cars were last year, I feel really good going into it.”

Preece had an eighth place finish in his Daytona 500 debut in 2019 and was sixth in the event in 2021.

“I think just starting the season out strong is the big thing,” Preece said. “The beginning of these seasons can really dictate how the middle of your season is also going to go and how much of a hole you may or may not have to dig out of. And with it being superspeedways that we’re starting at, those are two wild cards, so to speak, and I think it’s going to be really important to put yourself in good positions. But at the same time, I don’t want to say points racing, but you’ve got to make sure you don’t put yourself in a bad position and put yourself in a hole to start the season.”

Preece’s last Cup Series event at Daytona in August of last year was one that few will ever forget. Preece was involved in one of the most violent single car wrecks ever seen at the track, getting airborne and flipping wildly numerous times. Preece said he has no trepidation about keeping at the track even after the historic crash.

“I think we all understand the risks that we take,” Preece said. “I chose this profession for a reason, so if I’m afraid to drive a race car and get the max potential I can, then I should probably retire and just quit. … I think that was probably about as vicious of a wreck as you can get, and to see the car really hold up to those conditions, it makes you feel better as a race car driver. But obviously in our sport, we continue to evolve and continue to try and make things better, so it was also nice to see some things that we could continue to work on.”

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