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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour




Preece Closes 2014
Race Season Strong
Denise DuPont

With a car on rails Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT passed for the lead before lap 10 and went forward to dominate and win the Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP).

Previously at Thompson, Preece, had four second place and four third place finishes, but not one career win. So the final 2014 event was an opportunity for Preece to not only make it back it back to back wins at the end of the season, but also to conquer the 5/8ths mile oval.

Leading 137 of the 151 laps in the tour’s World Series event for a win, Preece can now add TSMP to his long resume of wins. “If you go to my name on NASCAR Home Tracks and look at all the tracks that I have won at Riverhead, Monadnock, Stafford, Martinsville, and I am sure there is another track. I have gotten track records, I have gotten poles but this just seemed to be the place that I could not be a winner at. Now I can say it and especially to pick up two milestones like this – We got the Fall Final and the World Series – those are two real prestigious races. And I was just the lucky guy behind the wheel to do it.”

In victory lane, Preece first acknowledged the Flamingo Motorsports Team that prepared him the car that brought him to victory lane. “The real people that should be getting the credits right now is this Flamingo team. They got me off pit road right where I came in. They did a phenomenal job on that pit stop. Sly (Szaban) did a great job setting this race car up and I was just the lucky guy to drive the inside line here.”

This has been a frustrating season for Preece and the #16 NWMT team. Before their at Stafford Motor Speedway “Fall Final” victory, they were winless. Leveraging the momentum that the team gained at the Stafford win, they came to Thompson ready for a grand slam. “I think that we drove in a dominate fashion driving the bottom - I was hooked up. I know that Ronnie (Silk) moved down there because I was watching him but I do not know if he was as good as I was on the bottom. This was the first time that I had to worry about hitting the bottom coming off of two and maneuvering around it. This car was just on rails. The whole Flamingo Team worked their tails off including car owner Eric Sanderson. It is great to win here. I said to my spotter (and crew chief Sly) ‘You know how many times that I finished second here? I‘m not finishing second again. ’This seemed to be the place that I couldn’t say I was a winner at and now I can say it.”

Donny Lia was definitely a man on a mission going into the last race of the NWMT season. He was third fastest in practice, started third and hung with the lead pack all day to capture the runner up spot when the checkered flag flew. “It is a good way to finish the season I would have like to have won the race of course, but we had a pretty tough year so a second is good right now.” Expressed Lia.

Drivers drove hard and were all looking for the one break that would give them the World Series win. There were eight cautions that cut short some runs and made restarts challenging.

“It was a tough day with restart after restart. It was at the point that I was set to get towards the front and I am not sure what was up with the #75, but he drove up underneath me and just about wrecked us.” A caution occurred on lap 122 when lead cars were racing three wide for position going into turn four and made contact while passing lapped traffic. “I almost lost it and we did lose a bunch of spots then. So then we had to make them back up. A couple of restarts lined up in our favor and I was able to get back into second. I did not have a second place car at the end - we got tight, tight, tight. But there were definitely times during the race that we were a top two car but then again towards the end we were too tight. So we will settle for second.”

Lia did not score a 2014 win and the #4 Mystic Missile definitely had their share of bad luck. So getting to the finish line second was a relief. “A top two is like a win for us especially the way things are right now with the rules and the motor and stuff. It is almost impossible to really compete against these other spec motor packages. I looks like that is the future. So if you want to compete and win races, if the rules stay the same -- you have to be able to get it done.”

Rowan Pennink was off during qualifying and started almost half-way back in the field - fifteenth. Pennink was involved in the same incident as Lia riding three wide to get to the lead. He recovered for a podium finish “We struggled a little bit through practice and qualifying. I figured that we would have a good car for the race and we definitely did. We were able to stay out and pit late and come back through the field. The car was really good the last fifty. But we came up just a little bit short. We were at a little bit of a disadvantage on the bottom the last couple of laps on the restarts. We just needed to get going green for more than a couple of laps at the end to have a shot at it.’”

With about twenty to go Pennink passed for second and the plan was to go for the lead next. In position he was ready to give it his all but then the challenges, cautions and restarts began. Lap after lap and restart after restart he gave it his all but in the end he spun his tires and Lia passed him. "I knew that I had a faster car than them so I just wanted to get by him (Ron Silk) as fast as I could and not let Ryan take off like that. But he wanted to battle me for it instead of just letting me go. I felt a little bit aggressive there a couple of times but it showed once I got by him I pulled right away from him. He really should have let me go and then we could have run down Ryan together.” Pennink never had the opportunity to directly run with Preece but the #93 Monk Hand Cleaner car was prepared for the action. “I thought that we had a car that could have battled Ryan. Dozens of restarts are tough particularly once the tires get worn. The way that Ryan was going just so-so on the restarts there was just no way that you could just not spin the tires. That was just all that I had to hang on during those restarts.”

Doug Coby from Milford, CT. finished the race seventeenth and it was enough to earn the #2 Dunleavy's Repair/HEX Performance./Fox Shocks team their first ever NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Championship. This is Coby’s second NWMT Championship in three race seasons.

Timmy Solomito of Islip, NY captured the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Title and will be honored as the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year for the Whelen Modified Tour at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards on Dec. 13 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame..

Have a great off season and see you back at the track next year!

Notes from Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park:

What are Your Thoughts on your 2014 Race Season?

Ryan Preece

“It was mixed emotions here today. We did not win the SK race so when you win the Championship you just wish you could have won it (Sunoco Modified race) and the Championship at the same time. I won this race and I won that Championship so it was a flip flop in a way. But I am a guy that does not point race and today I kind of was because I knew what are cards were. I kind of decided to ride and out myself in a position where I was not going to get wrecked or anything. Then when it came to the tour race from the top of the green I knew that my car was good. So I just bit my time behind Woody and just got by him and then just road from there.”

After Pitting what was your strategy?

Ryan Preece

“Everything worked out our way. I did not realize that I was going to get to the front as quick as I did. That really shocked me. It took me probably five laps - three laps and I was not even trying. So that was why when I got out into the track lead I was really saving it until about the last thirty or so laps. I really did go hard that green flag lap when Rowan and Ronnie were going at it. And I was able to get away quite enough to where he was not going to be able to catch me in ten laps. I put myself in the right positions as I could and won the race.”

Thoughts on being part of the #16 Flamingo Race Team

Ryan Preece

“I am really happy for these guys and the team. They deserve nothing but the best. Eric Sanderson, I cannot thank you enough you have been phenomenal and to win here today is awesome, it is great. I am so happy for everybody for the team to finish off the year with a win”.

What are your thoughts on your 2014 season?

Donny Lia

“For us to finish second with the package that we have. I am really happy. With today’s finish as well as the season that we had, we had a really rough year. It has been a great experience driving this car. I do not know if that will be the same next year.”

Your thoughts on the restarts

Rowan Pennink

“Definitely if you have a restart and you are rolling on the restarts like you are supposed to go. That is one thing that isn’t really fair. The rules say that you are supposed to go pace car speed on the restarts and when you bog it down to ten miles an hour and then all at once launch of course the guy that starts the race is going to all at once run a couple car lengths ahead like he did. It was the same thing that Barrett really did and they penalized him for it. They need to do more stuff like that because it is horrible when they bog down the restarts like that.”

Who made the decision to pit late?

Rowan Pennink

‘We were going to pit with everybody and then Doug Chenard asked me if I could hold on for another 30 laps and I kept out there and I was able to stay up in the top five until we pitted with fifty to go. It was definitely the right call for our strategy and helped us through the race.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: October 22, 2014

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