Preece Wins Whelen Engineering All-Star Shootout
With 17 career wins, Ryan Preece is no stranger to victory lane in the Whelen Modified Tour. But there was one hole in an otherwise sterling race resume.
The native of Berlin, Conn., had never visited Sunoco Victory Lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Until Friday, that is. Biding his time for the final 10 laps of the Whelen Engineering All-Star Shootout, Preece made his move on the final lap, bumping Ryan Newman out of the lead in Turn 1 and sped away to his first win on the 1.058-mile ova.
"I have taken on setting the car up and maintaining it, so when you are doing it yourself it brings a whole different emotion when you get to victory lane," said Preece, who had never finished better than second in 23 previous mod starts at NHMS. "It only took ten years. So yeah, it's pretty cool."
Newman, who won the inaugural All-Star Shootout in 2014, held on for second place, while Patrick Emerling, Andy Seuss and Doug Coby round out the top-five.
"My car did get a little bit tight and slowed me down," said Newman, "but I don't think it changed the race for us."
The 35-lap, 30-minute timed and segmented shootout featured 20 cars. Eric Goodale, Emerling, Newman, Preece, Justin Bonsignore and Ron Silk were the top-six at the competition caution on Lap 20. Those six were were forced to restart from the back of the pack after a random spin of the wheel saw it stop on the number six. From the restart, it was all Newman and Preece; the two Ryans pulled away from the field to battle it out for eight bumper-to-bumper laps.
Preece held tight to Newman's bumper for much of the final six laps before making a move to pass Newman underneath his driver's door with two to go. But Newman held strong and closed Preece off heading to the backstretch and stayed out front all the way through Turn 4.
With the white flag flailing above the Granite Stripe, Preece made one last bid as the two approached Turn 1. Using Newman's draft to expose him, Preece once again dove underneath, but this time was able to make it stick, catching Newman's front-left tire with his back-right, forcing him into the marbles.
"When you tuck up behind a guy it gets him to free up, and that was it," said Preece, who will try to sweep the weekend in Saturday's Eastern Propane & Oil 100 Whelen Modified Tour points race. "I was more worried about (Newman) coming to victory lane; I didn't know what mood he would be in."
"He didn't hit me on purpose by any means, I think he was trying to keep it down," said Newman, who will also race in Saturday's Eastern Propane & Oil 100. "He does have to worry about me for 100 laps tomorrow, though."