By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The Bass Pro Shops / NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway was a bright spot amidst a rough season for Ryan Preece.
The JTG-Daugherty Racing driver climbed into the top-10 late in the 500-lap race. Preece outlasted many of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers as they made green flag pit stops. A timely caution left the Berlin, CT native one of several a lap behind the leaders. However, only six drivers were on the lead lap.
Stuck a lap behind the leaders, Preece was limited to run between seventh and 12th in the running order. Several Playoff drivers including Kurt Busch and Matt DiBenedetto found trouble with flat tires and loose wheels, moving the 29-year-old up the grid.
Preece battled with his former teammate Chris Buescher and Chase Elliott. The trio were the only drivers one lap behind. The final run of the race at Bristol went green for 82 laps. By the time the checkered flag waved, Preece crossed the line in ninth in the No. 37 Bush’s Beans Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE to earn his first top-10 of 2020.
“That was a really fun night at Bristol Motor Speedway,” admitted Preece. “This year has obviously had its challenges for us. We’ve worked so hard to try and make the strategy play in our favor and get JTG Daugherty Racing the finish we deserve, and it feels really good to be able to put it all together.
“Our BUSH’S Beans Chevrolet was really good on the long run, and Trent and the guys did some great work on pit road to get our handling where we needed it to be to maintain those fast laps at the end of the long run.
“The cautions finally fell our way and we were able to capitalize on it. Every week for the rest of the season is so important to keep focusing on the positives and get as many good finishes as we can and to be able to get BUSH’S Beans as top-10 finish at their home track is something we’re all proud of.”
The ninth-place finish comes during a turnaround in performance for Preece. It’s his third consecutive top-20 finish. The past three races mark Preece’s best run since before he had a streak of four straight DNFs mid-season.
The top-10 run at Bristol is the fourth career top-10 for Preece in the Cup Series and came in his 70th career start. It is also his 23rd top-10 finish in NASCAR’s top two divisions.
Preece moved up from 30th to 29th in the points standings following his top-10 finish.
Next for the NASCAR Cup Series driver is the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 27. Preece’s best finish at Las Vegas was 25th at the 1.5-mile track last season. Earlier this year he failed to finish there due to an engine failure.
Photo by NKP / NKP Photo