Ryan Preece will make his first start on a 1.5 miler at Homestead later this year.
It’s going to be a few weeks until we see Ryan Preece return to action in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Preece, 23, is running for two NASCAR Whelen All-American titles in Connecticut at Thompson Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway.
A change of plans
With a focus on winning those championships, the Connecticut-native was forced to skip the Nationwide race at Richmond International Raceway this weekend. Originally, he was supposed to race the No. 36 Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing. However, since he has the commitment at Stafford on Friday evening, the pair will return to the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final race of the 2014 season.
We’re doing Homestead because of NASCAR’s approval process to go to certain tracks where you start out at a half-mile and then go to a little bit larger one
But there is another reason as to why Preece swapped the races.
“We’re doing Homestead because of NASCAR’s approval process to go to certain tracks where you start out at a half-mile and then go to a little bit larger one,” Preece told Motorsport.com. “Homestead is definitely a faster mile and a half. I am approved to go there, so I am running at Homestead. If all goes well there and we have a good run – I should be approved to go to Daytona in February. That was pretty much the motive because getting approved to go to all of these tracks is a lot of work.”
Looking towards 2015
Preece is looking for funding to race in NASCAR’s second-tier division in 2015, but nothing is set in stone at this time. As of now, the only Nationwide Series race he is running will be the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead in November. Moreover, if funding can come along before then, he might be able to run another race.
It is definitely a great opportunity for me, and hopefully it will open some doors for my future
“I really don’t know what to expect other than what I have watched so far over the past couple of days. Right now, the biggest track I have been one was a mile, which was New Hampshire. If you take a little bit of New Hampshire with the Modified stuff where you go really fast around tracks like that and Bristol, I think you can relate it to that. It is obviously going to be something new, especially new with it being a lot more aero-sensitive. We are going to be working really hard to get everything done. It is definitely a great opportunity for me, and hopefully it will open some doors for my future,” Preece said.
Making his Nationwide Series debut last season, he finished 24th with Tommy Baldwin Racing. This year, he returned to New Hampshire and earned a 14th-place finish – outrunning drivers from Richard Childress Racing, JR Motorsports and several other large organizations.
Winning a title up here is just extremely hard because of the guys you are running
Besides racing the short tracks in Connecticut, along with Riverhead Raceway in New York, Preece is contending for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title. The reigning champion in that division, he was recognized as a member of the latest NASCAR Next class. With three races left in the season, he is focused on making up a 46-point gap in order to win the title.
“Especially up here, winning a title up here is just extremely hard because of the guys you are running. It is guys on the Modified Tour. It would mean a lot to me not only to do it at Stafford, but we are in position at Stafford too. If we continue doing what we are doing and keep having solid runs, I think we’ll be alright. I want to cap off the year winning some races and winning a championship or two.”
Preparing for a 1.5 miler
Since he has never raced a Nationwide Series car at a track larger than New Hampshire, Preece has to prepare for the challenge in a rather different way compared to his peers. Using iRacing and YouTube, he has been able to jump the gun on learning the 1.5-mile track located in southern Florida.
Tires are extremely valuable there, and I think it is going to be a lot of fun.
“I’m going to jump on iRacing to get as many laps as I possibly can before actually going there. At that track, you can go on the bottom or you can go on top. Tires are extremely valuable there, and I think it is going to be a lot of fun. We’ll see what we can do,” he said.
Going to Daytona?
Running Homestead isn’t his only goal, though. As long as he impresses NASCAR officials, he will be approved to race at Daytona in February. However, he is not sure if he’ll have funding to go to Daytona. Getting approved does speed up the process, and if he can get funding; he might be able to run the full slate in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015.
There is nothing in place right now, but it is just to be ready in case that opportunity does arise so you don’t waste the year trying to get approved
“It is more of an approval deal in case we come up with money or if we do get a sponsor to run quite a few years or a full season; it is kind of just to be ready. There is nothing in place right now, but it is just to be ready in case that opportunity does arise so you don’t waste the year trying to get approved to run a full season,” Preece said on getting ready for the future. “The only thing we have set in stone is running Homestead. Tommy (Baldwin) wants me to be prepared in case something happens, and to further myself to get those opportunities. He has definitely helped me a lot with this deal.”