Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – Connecticut native Ryan Preece has had his fair share of victories in his NASCAR Tour Modified over the years. His move to the XFINITY Series with Johnny Davis and his big gamble with Joe Gibbs Racing have landed him a full-time ride in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevy for 2019’s NASCAR Cup Series. Success hasn’t gotten to Preece’s head. He’s still the down-to-earth racer fans across the Northeast came to know.
“I think a lot of you guys standing here that I’ve seen over the course past few of years have seen everything that I’ve gone through and the chances I’ve taken but at the end of the day its been the success, it’s been the wins, it’s been the people I’ve surrounded myself with to help make this happen. It’s really satisfying to have this opportunity because it’s not easy.
Preece wants people to understand one thing about JTG Daugherty and the opportunity he has with them. The perception of most NASCAR fans is that JTG has mostly been a mid- pack team. Preece says otherwise.
“I hear a lot of people say JTG is a small team and the way I look at it is it’s not a small team. It’s a two car team. I look at it as we can be just like Ganassi where they contend for wins. But you guys look at Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch, you look at them as somebody who can win right? Just because we haven’t had that reputation yet of contending for wins doesn’t mean we can’t get there and that’s something I’ve learned in all of my racing.
You find a setup and you build on it and fine tune it. That’s what it’s going to come down to and that’s where I feel like one thing I can bring to this team is, I’m not setting up the race cars but I can tell you which corner we need to work on and keep making gains to where when we unload for practice we constantly make that car better and not make it worse.”
Preece’s participation in the Cup Series full-time marks the first time in over a decade since a driver from the Modified ranks will compete since Steve Park. Preece’s love for the Northeastern racing community shows. For the teams, tracks and competitors alike.
“I race because I love to win. I race because I want to win and the competitiveness. That’s what drives everybody up north. They want to win and sometimes you don’t see that at different levels of racing. There’s a goal to get to a certain place and that’s it. What I love about it up there is they race for the love of the sport.”
As a rookie in a season where the drastic changes to horsepower and aerodynamics have brought about massive change in the style of racing NASCAR will be putting on week to week, Preece is hoping to seize the opportunity of the unknown.
“I think this is the reset button. I think nobody knows. Everybody’s been making gains I can promise you right now somebody found something within the last twenty-four hours that’s going to make them better at Atlanta. It’s going to constantly happen all the way until Wednesday when the car needs to get put in that trailer it’s a constant development so I think as long as we keep after what we’ve been working on and never quit working I think we can hopefully, well not hopefully, I think we can contend for a win eventually.”
Preece couldn’t forget to mention the passionate northern fan base. Whether at Thompson, Stafford or Oswego or any of the myriad of great tracks spread across the Northeast and New England.
“That’s what drives us as drivers. We want to see passion and that’s what your hardcore race fan is. I feel like I’ll be bringing the Northeast with me back into having somebody to cheer on. I don’t think it’s pressure. I feel like I’ve got a lot of support and I’m just looking forward to getting out there and doing what I can to make everybody proud.”