After finishing in the top-two in points over the past four years in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, @RyanPreece_ is finally getting his chance to move up the racing ladder as he will run the full XFINITY Series schedule in 2016.
“I have to say that it’s a dream come true,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am and to accomplish the goals that I have accomplished. It’s great to have the opportunity to move up the ladder and give myself a shot to run in the XFINITY Series.”
Preece will run the full schedule for JD Motorsports, taking over the ride previously piloted by @landoncassill. Cassill is focusing on a full Sprint Cup Series effort as he moves to Front Row Motorsports.
For Preece, his new home is a great fit.
“It’s a great company, and I’m happy to be with them,” he said. “It’s going to be great to run for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year. A lot of new tracks that I’ve never been to.”
Looking at the variety of tracks on the schedule, Preece notes he’s most excited to get to Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, and Iowa Speedway as his background is short track racing. Although he also quickly noted he’s excited about the rest of the events, as well.
“I’m also looking forward to going to some road courses; I always enjoy doing road racing,” he said. “The superspeedways, and the mile-and-a-halfs are always fun too, so I’m pretty much excited for the entire series. It seems like it will be a good year.”
Having made three previous XFINITY Series starts for Tommy Baldwin, Preece will enter the season with at least some stock car experience. He posted a career-best at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2014, finishing 14th.
Preece’s racing experience thus far has been in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series where he’s put in nine years of dedication. Throughout his career, Preece has won 15 races and finished runner-up in points on four different occasions. In 2013, he won the series championship.
That experience will hopefully come into play as Preece begins the phase of his racing career.
“The more racing that I’ve done, the more I understand it. I understand more in the situations that I put myself in, and it kind of gives you an understanding,” he said. “I feel from racing so much that I understand when it’s go time, and when you have to step back and ride a bit and take what you get.
“At the same time, I’ve always been one to go out and race hard, and try to win races. So it’s going to be a little different, but I think JD [Motorsports] is going to give us everything possible to run really strong and have great finishes.”
Preece’s pre-season goal is to try and match the success JD Motorsports has enjoyed in the past, while improving on the finishes he’s already compiled.
“They had some solid success last year and I feel that I can do that, and perhaps run better in some races,” he said.
If things go well, there is a chance Preece could be one of the 12 drivers in the XFINITY Series Chase, which he’s excited about because it opens the door of opportunity for the smaller teams.
“I feel like we can do pretty well, and our goal is to make it, and to run really well in it, and take it race-by-race,” he said. “I think with my experience that I have in racing, and Johnny’s experience in the series, I think we can learn a lot from each other and hopefully have a solid year.”
Beyond having Davis’s experience to lean on, Preece will have series veteran Eric McClure as a teammate. Having McClure to lean on for support will be crucial.
“I’ll be leaning on him quite a bit when we go to Daytona, trying to tackle that rookie learning curve as quick as possible and trying to understand what I need to be looking for when it comes to superspeedway drafting,” Preece said. “I mean, I’m pretty familiar with drafting quite a bit from the modifieds, but I also understand that a superspeedway like Daytona is a lot different. I’m just going to try and lean on him, and any veteran that I can to help get me through that learning curve.”
Preece added he also plans on using @ReganSmith, through the connection he’s built with Baldwin. Though while focused on having as much success as possible, there’s one thing he will be keeping in mind all season long.