Kyle Busch may have won the Overton’s 200 on Saturday at New Hampshire, but it was Ryan Preece who stole the show.
The 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion was widely impressive in his first race since last season and finished second to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. Preece spent all of last season with JD Motorsports but this was his first chance in a quality ride. He made the most of it too.
“This one’s for all the short track guys,” said the 26-year-old Berlin, Connecticut native. “I work hard week in and out with that modified, so to be able to have this opportunity means a lot to me.”
Preece left JD Racing in December and returned to the Modified Tour because he wanted to win. He believes he can do the same at the highest levels of the sport, but simply needed the right equipment to get there.
Preece ran up front for the entirety of the 200-lap event. He even led for a couple laps at the start of the second stage. While a victory would have been outstanding, Preece understood the significance of a second-place finish.
“To win today, it was going to take beating Kyle Busch,” he said. “I watch him win a lot of races in the Xfinity Series sitting on my couch at home. To be able to finish second to him today was a great accomplishment, and something to build on. But Iowa’s the next task, next goal. I gotta do as much as I can to prepare so we can have another solid finish.”
Preece will get one more shot with Gibbs at Iowa in two weeks. Before then, he needs to figure out what he has to do differently to get everything he can out of such an opportunity.
“I don’t know if I’m overdriving it and building the right front air pressure too quick,” Preece said. “The car seems to be really neutral and then it tends to get on the snugger side. I’m going to get some feedback from Chris (Gabehart), my crew chief, and hopefully from Toyota and Joe Gibbs to see something that I can make better in the future.”
There shouldn’t be any Cup drivers in Iowa to stop Preece next time. That could be what it takes for him to get what would be an emotional first victory.