ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Standing beside his No. 6 TS Haulers TQ-Midget in the pit area before the Gambler’s Classic at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Friday, former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece was able to reflect on his recent opportunities in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Preece, from Berlin, Conn., has competed in 41 NASCAR national series events over the past three seasons, including five races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2015.
Most recently, Preece contested a full-time campaign with JD Motorsports in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, recording a top-10 finish at Darlington Speedway but missing the postseason Chase Grid by a scant few points.
Despite a successful first season in the No. 01 Chevrolet for Johnny Davis, Preece announced a few weeks after the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway that he would be returning to his roots in the modifieds for this season and forgoing another NASCAR national series slate.
“I am definitely excited to be heading back to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this season,” Preece said. “We are working extremely hard this offseason to have a strong upcoming season in the modifieds. Hopefully, we can win a lot of races and eventually the championship.”
For this season, the 2013 Whelen Modified Tour champion will again be piloting a modified under Eddie and Connie Partridge. During his previous full-time stint with the team (in 2015), Preece recorded four victories en route to a second place finish in the championship standings.
Additionally, along with his commitments in the XFINITY Series, Preece competed in modified races with the Partridges last season — finishing as a runner-up twice in eight events.
However, this season will be quite different from Preece’s previous campaigns in the modified ranks.
He, like the other northern competitors, will be faced with new challenges at southern tracks after NASCAR announced the Southern Modified Tour would be combining with the northern Modified Tour to form one collective series.
With that change, there will now be the addition of four southern tracks to the schedule, something that Preece believes will impact the championship battle.
“I have raced with most of the southern drivers quite often,” Preece explained. “I sorta have an idea of how the southern races will play out, just because I have raced there a couple times. But, I definitely think it will be tougher for the northern drivers that have not competed on rough tracks, like the ones in the south.”
Preece, 26, does not have immediate plans to return to the NASCAR national ranks. For the moment, he is focused on delivering a championship to the Partridges and earning his second modified title.
“Right now, there is not much for me as far as racing in the NASCAR national series this season,” Preece expressed. “I am really focused on the modifieds and bringing home a championship. But we will see how it goes.”
Even though his NASCAR national career might be on hold, Preece is still eager to perform and flourish in different motorsports venues — starting with this weekend’s Gambler’s Classic in a three-quarter (TQ) midget.
“It is really cool to be here,” Preece said. “I love racing these midgets. This is a lot of fun racing. I think if you talk to a lot of guys that run higher series, we all agree it is always fun to come back to these midgets.”
Preece will kick off his championship chase during the season-opening NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event on March 18 at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway.
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and handles public relations needs in multiple outlets of motorsports, including for tracks and drivers. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Maryland, completing his junior year. He is just 16 years old.
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