Preece Off To Fast Start With New Team
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The 2011 season proved to be a challenging one for Ryan Preece. The driver who established himself as winner on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at just 17 years of age faced his first major roadblocks in racing as he spent the majority of his fifth season looking for racing opportunities from week to week.
All told, Preece was able to compete in just 10 of 16 events a year ago, and those 10 starts came between four different teams. The trials of 2011 are a thing of the past, however, as Preece is now established as a full-time driver once again, this time in the Flamingo Motorsports No. 16 Ford.
Preece, from Berlin, Conn., actually debuted for Flamingo and car owner Eric Sanderson in the 2011 finale at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway and earned the pole before getting caught up in a crash after leading 36 laps. His top qualifying efforts in the No. 16 have continued to start the 2012 season as he's posted Coors Light Pole Awards in each of the first two events this year, including at track record last time out at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
In three starts with Flamingo Motorsports, Preece has three poles and 222 laps led, leaving little doubt that they're fast out of the gate. In those three races together, however, Preece and Flamingo have an average finish of 16th. That is a trend Preece already feels is starting to turn around after a runner-up effort at Stafford, and he feels a trip to Victory Lane is not far off.
"We're a front-running team - we're winning poles and leading a lot of laps - we just seem like we can't get that first win yet," Preece said. "But it's only been three races. A lot of teams it takes half a season to even get remotely competitive, so I'm feeling pretty excited about how things are going and I'm very thankful for the opportunity I've been given."
Now 21, Preece has three victories to his credit in 69 career starts, but the last came in 2009, 33 races ago. He's finished on the podium 12 times in that span, and is not putting any more pressure on himself than he normally would.
"I'm not really dwelling on it [win drought] because I know it's going to be coming, and when they come it's not going to be just one or two, it's going to be quite a few of them I hope," Preece said of getting back to Victory Lane.
Preece finished 23rd in his only previous Whelen Modified Tour race at Monadnock, but does have success on quarter-mile tracks. He has a win and an average finish of fourth in six races at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway. The bullring success has Preece excited for a return to Monadnock.
"I'm a big-time short track guy, I love going on the quarter miles and really pressuring somebody to get by them, that's kind of my thing," Preece said. "I feel like with how the cars are and with my driving style - I love the quarter miles - we'll see if we can get the job done at Monadnock."
Home State Appearance: Andy Seuss of Hampstead, N.H., spends the majority of his racing season heading to the southeast to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. The Monadnock 200 provides him a rare opportunity to race close to home, however, as the Winchester track is just a two-hour drive. Seuss competed in last year's Monadnock 200 and finished 17th. In 61 Whelen Southern Modified Tour starts he's posted 11 victories.
Silk Stays Steady: Defending Whelen Modified Tour Champion Ron Silk keeps turning in top finishes and showing no signs of slowing down. He's finished in the top 10 in 14 of the last 17 races and has led in points following 11 of the last 12 races dating to 2011. He finished fourth at Monadnock during his title campaign. Silk will also hit a personal milestone in this year's Monadnock 200 as it will be his 100th career start.
Bullrings Suit Bonsignore: Learning the racing ropes at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, Justin Bonsignore is right at home on quarter-mile tracks. The reigning NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion at Riverhead, Bonsignore also posted his first Whelen Modified Tour win at the Long Island bullring and finished second at Monadnock in 2011. He has four top fives in six Tour starts between Riverhead and Monadnock.
Monadnock Marks Marquis' Return
The Monadnock Speedway track champion in 1990, `91 and `92, former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standout Jerry Marquis has chosen the fast quarter mile as the place to make his first start in five seasons.
Marquis, the 2000 Tour champion with 19 wins to his credit, last appeared in a race in 2007. Despite his weekly success at the track, Marquis posted an average finish of 16th in three Tour starts at Monadnock from 1986-90, but has recorded 116 top 10s in 212 career races.
Marquis did find considerable success in four NASCAR K&N Pro Series East appearances at Monadnock. One of his seven victories in that series came on May 15, 1994 at Monadnock, and finished fifth in the July 1995 event there.
Home Tracks: Monadnock
A sanctioned member of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Monadnock Speedway holds weekly competition on its quarter mile on Saturday nights throughout race season.
The Sportsman Modifieds headline a weekly program that also includes Super Stocks, Mini Stocks, Lightning Stocks and Thunder Stocks. Kirk Alexander has earned the last two track championships out of the Modified division.
Last Time Out: CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler
* Doug Coby earned his second career Whelen Modified Tour Spring Sizzler victory as he led the final 89 laps of the event.
* With the win, Coby became just the sixth driver in Tour history to record multiple victories in the Spring Sizzler.
* For the second race in a row, Ryan Preece earned the Coors Light Pole Award and led all drivers in laps led, this time with 100. He finished second on Sunday after setting the track qualifying record on Saturday.
* Keith Rocco finished third for his best result in seven career Tour starts.
* Jimmy Blewett finished in the top five for the second race in a row, marking the first time he's done that since July-August, 2008.
* The 200-lap race concluded in just 65 minutes and had an average speed of 92.260 mph, which marked the fastest race in Tour history at Stafford among those where average speed was recorded (55 of 103).
Up Next: TSI Harley-Davidson 125
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway for the second of four events at the historic half mile in 2012 on Friday, May 25. The TSI Harley-Davidson 125 will be the first of two night races at Stafford, and the shortest of the four at 125 laps. Ron Silk won from the pole in this event a year ago.
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