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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Riding on High from Xfinity Series Win, Preece Captures His Third 2017 NWMT Win
by Denise DuPont

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) returned to Stafford Motor Speedway for the second time in the 2017 season. History has shown that this is a pivotal time in the race year for the tour ‘Chase to the Championship”. It is a point where teams take out their notebooks and strategies and pull together their plans for the rest of the year. Everyone’s target is to be the one to capture the title but in the end only one team and driver can. Every race now becomes more critical. As expected Doug Coby of Milford, CT was strong coming into the race. He knew it was his race to win, or race to lose.

Piloting the #46 Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet, young Craig Lutz of Miller Place, NY went to the top of the charts in group qualifying to receive his first ever Coors Light Pole Award. Coby was one position down to qualify second. Starting on the outside pole, Coby wasted no time passing for the lead on lap 1. He continued to dominate the race, leading the most laps but the most important one – the last. A late race caution ended the race with a green-white-checker finish. When the green flag flew, Coby was on the bottom and Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT was on the outside. Preece used fresher rubber to shoot by Coby for the top position by turn one. Grandstands full, fans were on their feet as the front two drivers raced to the checkers. Preece was the stronger of the two maintaining the lead and capturing the win.

“The best thing is I am back home,” expressed Preece in victory lane. “I do not know how many times I went to the back. I have to thank my spotter, Shawn Waddell, for doing a great job. He is more excited about this win than I am. The team worked hard for this. They made a great call on the tires. This win is for them.”

Returning to his racing roots after his first ever win in the NASCAR Xfinity series, it was a bitter sweet win for Preece. He loves racing the open wheel modifieds, it is a passion and the core of his race career. “Racing here in Connecticut at these short tracks has made me who I am. Basically this is the best racing in the country.” Preece said reflecting. “Here at Stafford, Thompson (Speedway Motorsports Park), Riverhead (Raceway), Seekonk (Speedway), all these Northeast race tracks, I hope people realize what great racing we have. I’ve been to a lot of short tracks and watched a lot and nothing compares to Modifieds.”

“We had a really good car and the track conditions fell in my favor. I really enjoy doing this. Knowing that I have and being successful. It is all about strategy in the end,” confessed Preece. “You are only allowed to take one tire so we all we waiting to the end.” Then just shy of lap 100 a caution came out and drivers took advantage to pit and make adjustments not once but several times for some. Preece was one of those who came down pit road three times to get the car ready for a potential fifty lap shootout to come. “We made it out and got to the front. This is huge. We need to get out and win races”.

“I’m just riding this wave,” Preece stated about the Stafford modified win that came right after his Xfinity win at Iowa Speedway. “I’ve known because I’ve been racing for years, you can have a high and go and dominate everything and next week I could be running 15th and holding on for dear life and everybody would be like ‘Man, Ryan is off his game.’”

In the lead and with only ten circuits to go the #2 Mayhew Tools/Dunleavy/AJ Romano Construction Chevrolet appeared to be headed to their first win of the season. The last thing the team wanted was a caution. When the yellow came out the team braced for what was to come. They had executed their race strategy and it was time for the final shootout. Coby selected the bottom and went for it all when the final green flag flew. Preece was strong and there was no holding him back as Coby fell into the runner up spot. “I got beat,” Coby said. “It happens. Ryan had a great car. I knew he was coming even when we were out front. The red flags and the restarts just don’t help. We spun the tires a little bit on both restarts. I thought I got a better restart the second time, but he just had massive drive and he did a good job.”

“We were in the lead going for the win and the caution came out.” Stated one disappointed Coby. “Their (#6 team) pit strategy worked. He (Preece) had a fresher set of tires and got us on the restart. We got beat tonight and didn’t get our first win of the season. But it’s coming. We’ve been really fast.”

The #2 team have shown their resilience in the past and tenacity to come back when they are down. So we look forward to see the team will regroup and make their presence known when they return to racing next week.

Friday night was a big turnaround for Justin Bonsignore from Holtsville, NY and the #51 team. Crew chief, William Michael, had returned to the team and he brought his energy with him. “We are proud of our efforts,” declared Bonsignore. “It all got down to strategy and taking a few more tires. I thought that we were in good shape but I was just too far back and I was shuffled further back. A couple of those guys behind us got to the front row quick. This is such a tough place for track position. I thought we had the best strategy for tires, I guess it just did not work. All and all I am really proud of my guys It has been a tough season so far but we are back! It was a good top finish and this track sets the tone for the rest of the season. Last year at this time we started to come on and we are still in the point’s contention. Hopefully we will go to Thompson and get in Victory Lane while having a good time doing it. Everyone keep an eye on us for the rest of the season.”

Timmy Solomito took back the NWMT points lead with a fourth-place finish, while Jon McKennedy completed the top five.

Rob Summers was sixth, followed by Dave Sapienza, Craig Lutz, Gary Putnam and Matt Swanson. Rowan Pennink, who held the points lead coming into the event, finished 17th and is seven points behind Solomito in the championship quest. Preece is fifth in points, one behind Eric Goodale.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to racing action next Wednesday for the running of the Bud 'King of Beers' 150at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. From there, the series will visit Bristol Motor Speedway on. Wednesday, August 16th.
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: August 5, 2017

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