‘Looking for Direction,’ Ryan Preece Finishes Ninth at Martinsville

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Martinsville, Va. – Short track ace Ryan Preece built up momentum to take further into the NASCAR Cup Series season with a top-10 finish at Martinsville Speedway.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver hovered just outside the top-10 throughout much of the Cook Out 400. A late-race caution that pushed it into Overtime provided the opportunity that Preece needed to break his No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang Dark Horse into the top-10.

Despite a chaotic scramble that included his teammate, Noah Gragson, getting collected in a wreck coming to the white flag, Preece soldiered on. He worked his way by another teammate, Chase Briscoe, and fellow Ford Performance driver Todd Gilliland, to move up to ninth before the checkered flag.

“(A top-10 finish) is certainly nice,” Preece said. “I would say the expectations are there just from my background, but certainly to fight track position like we did and end up having a really good day. It’s good and you need momentum. You need points especially from the penalty we had earlier this year. We need to keep making ground.

“So, if we can continue to work on the things we need to as a group to have more consistent days like this, we’re going to be a lot better. It wasn’t like we really lucked into it. I just felt like we fought track position all day we had a good car.” 

The top-10 helps with a turn in momentum that the Chad Johnston-led team has been seeking since last year. A penalty for modified roof rails at Atlanta Motor Speedway put Preece in a hole. However, the issues plaguing him and his teammates is bigger as they look for a bigger sense of direction to improve their overall results.

“Well, I think it’s really just trying to find a direction of what we need to work on, because even with last year, we thought we did, but I don’t think we did and neither does Chad,” Preece admitted. “I feel like something that we’ve learned today, or this weekend, will help us moving forward.”

The ninth-place finish was Preece’s first top-10 finish of the season and his first since the Talladega Superspeedway playoff race last year. It was also his 12th career top-10 in the Cup Series.

The top-10 finish moved Preece up from 31st in points to 26th. He is 197-points behind leader Kyle Larson and 77 behind the cutoff, currently held by Kyle Busch.

Next for Preece is the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. In seven starts at the track he has a best finish of 18th in the 2020 playoff race.

The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled for Sunday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *