Preece’s Big Bet Has Put Him In A Cup Ride

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 28 2018

Ryan Preece will drive the No. 47 car next season . (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – Ryan Preece bet on himself in 2017, bringing full sponsorship to Joe Gibbs Racing for two NASCAR Xfinity Series events. It was an all or nothing scenario – produce or forgo his dream of competing at stock car racing’s top level.

Preece produced. In the two races – Loudon, N.H., and Iowa – he snared a second and a victory. JGR wanted to see more so races at Kentucky and Homestead were sent his way. Again, Preece made the most of the opportunity, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. In four Xfinity races last year he never finished outside the top five. Nine more races for JGR this year, another victory, four top-five and six-top-10 finishes and now Preece owns a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride for 2019.

Next year Preece replaces A.J. Allmendinger in JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 47 Chevrolet. In an era when “buying rides” has become the norm, Preece’s “dream come true” story serves as an inspiration to local short-track racers.

“A lot of you know the path that I’ve gone down and the sleepless nights that I’ve gone through to chase after trophies and win races,” Preece said Friday during a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “Last year, when I was going to JGR and running those couple of races, I read Joe’s (Gibbs) book about his journey of being a head coach and kind of how whenever he forced something to happen it never panned out. I could relate to that because in my career, whenever I’ve tried to force something to happen, it really just doesn’t happen. So … I leave it up to fate.”

Preece noted it certainly wasn’t easy, but he knew if he fell down the “money, money, money” hole he would never make it.

“There were a lot of nights I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Preece continued. “I didn’t know what my future was going to be.  I didn’t know if I could even make it to this level. I was going to try like hell.  Really, my advice is do what you think is right. Don’t let somebody tell you that you can’t do it.”

Preece’s Modified success was well documented and Competition Director Ernie Cope said when he reviewed the Berlin, Conn., native’s racing resume he concluded he was “right up my alley.”

“He builds and drives and works on his own equipment and that’s the mold I’m looking for,” Cope said. “I want someone that’s a race car driver who has done it his whole life. Every time I’ve called him, he’s in the shop. He is always underneath that race car or going to the shop. That’s all he does is race.”

At age 22, Preece claimed the 2013 Whelen Modified Tour title, making him the youngest champion ever in that series and he owns 25-career Modified victories across the two NASCAR series that merged in 2017. Still, team co-owner Tad Geschickter doesn’t know if he would have considered Preece if it hadn’t been for his Xfinity Series victories in JGR’s Toyota.

“I think, you have to win at the level you are at before you look at the next level,” Geschickter said. “So, obviously, the fact that he has been able to win in Xfinity against the best of the best, obviously, that put him higher up on the list. Certainly, his accomplishments in his career and the way we researched things he was definitely on the radar anyway … (but his victories) didn’t hurt.”

Geschickter also confirmed that Chris Buescher would return to the Harrisburg, N.C.-based operation and the team would switch to Hendrick Motorsports engines in 2019. ECR has been the team’s engine provider.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, September 28 2018
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