Preece Wins at Martinsville...A Few Days After the Race by Mike Twist
Myers is DQ'ed and Young Gun Gets His First Big Victory
Ryan Preece (#3) lead Burt Myers for much of the race at Martinsville.... (Rick Ibsen Photos)
“It was a little [disappointing],” said Preece. “This is the second time when we came close one way or another and didn't go to victory lane.“
The underaged driver already knows what he will do in victory lane…he just doesn't know what he'll be allowed to use in that celebration.
“Hopefully, by the end of the year I can go to victory lane and throw champagne…or water…or whatever they put in my hands…and throw that on my parents and my crew. That will be a lot of fun.”
Ryan Preece has likely been looking forward to his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory for much of his 17 years on earth. He probably didn't envision it to unfolding quite like it did for the Whelen Made in America 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA) though. Preece didn't have to look over at the scoreboard after a photo finish or look back in his mirror at the finish line to see distant cars.
Instead, he found out about the overall victory through a phone call - after the original apparent winner, Burt Myers, was disqualified in the middle of this week for a transmission issue. Preece had already technically been given credit for the NASCAR WMT win, since the event was a combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour that Myers competes on, but the this week's ruling elevated Preece to the role of being the undisputed winner at Martinsville.
“I got a phone call yesterday (Tuesday) from Jason Cunningham at NASCAR saying that he received an e-mail from Chad Little saying that Burt Myers was going to receive last place points and money,” said Preece. “He would move down on the list and I would be given the win.”
Despite the non-traditional way of winning, Preece was mostly excited about what transpired.
“It's pretty cool. A win is a win and you take them however you can these days because it's so competitive.”
Still, he couldn't help to think that it was a little bit disappointing too. Especially since it brought back memories of when he crossed the finish line first at Stafford earlier this season, only to find out that he would be penalized for rough driving and Jimmy Blewett would win that particular race.
Ryan Preece's winning #3.
and definitely a track where you might mess up one lap and lose a lot of time, but then have another lap that is perfect and pull away.
“You have to be right on with the set-up. You need to have that and a good crew. We had the perfect combination for Saturday and it paid off.”
Preece's victory came behind the wheel of the legendary 'Ole Blue #3 fielded by Boehler Racing Enterprises. That car has been winning big Modified race for decades and now Preece has become the latest driver to take it to victory lane.
Most importantly for Preece, he wants to get his hands on the Martinsville “trophy”, a full-sized Grandfather clock - but he's not quite sure how he'll be getting that from Myers yet.
“I can't wait to get the Grandfather clock,” said Preece. “That is going to be pretty cool. I don't think Burt would let me repossess it. We'll find out what is going to happen on that deal because I haven't heard anything yet.”
Preece might be young in age, but he has a deep appreciation for the history of the Modified Tour as the grandson of legendary car owner Bobby Judkins. He knows how much winning a race at Martinsville means.
“I think that winning at Martinsville is pretty big. I know a lot of the guys who have won there and it is an accomplishment. My Grandpa came real close and finished fourth with Eddie Flemke there. That was when it was 500 laps. So to win there has a lot of prestige. It's a big accomplishment in my career.”
Plus, Preece really enjoyed racing at the half-mile track.
“I love the place. It's awesome. You have to rim ride the whole way around. You're right on the curb. I would stick my left front tire on that curb and use it to turn the car. It's a lot of fun
...yet it was Myers who crossed the finish line ahead of the #3. A few days later, Preece was awarded the victory though.
“It means a lot. Winning in a car like that is big. It's been a great first year and we've been waiting for that win. Now we have it, so hopefully the other wins will come a lot easier.”
Preece had come close to winning on several occasions this year, but still felt no pressure heading into the Martinsville event.
“I knew that we were running really good and it would happen soon enough. My crew chief didn't put any pressure on me, my parents didn't put any pressure on me.”
This coming weekend, Preece will head to Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) with the rest of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and this time is hungry and looking forward to maybe winning another race - and visiting victory lane this time around.
“I'm always hungry for a win. I went a year or two without winning and it kills you. You want to win so bad. I want to go into every race and win it. But I also know that I need to finish every race for the points. I think we'll be good at Stafford this weekend.”