DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Connecticut’s Ryan Preece – one of the “race anytime, anywhere” drivers that permeates NASCAR’s weekly and regional touring ranks – plans to launch his aggressive 2013 racing schedule with the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach at Daytona Int’l Speedway, Feb. 18-19.
Preece has steadily increased his racing involvement since bursting on the scene at age 16 in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2007. Now 21, the Berlin, Conn., racer is looking at nearly 100 races in total for the 2013 season, starting with his first trip to the “World Center of Racing.”
“Drivers at my level, we don’t ever know if we’ll have the opportunity to race on the big track at Daytona, so to be able to be there [to race the short track] is pretty cool,” Preece said.
“I think this Daytona deal with the short track races – I think it is going to be a lot of fun, not only for the drivers, but for the fans as well,” Preece said. “It brings a bit more of the NASCAR history into Speedweeks. Bringing the Modifieds and short-track racing to Daytona is going to be a pretty big deal.”
Preece is locked into the NASCAR Whelen Modified feature at Daytona by virtue of his race wins during the 2012 season. Drivers to win touring series races and championships in 2012 are locked into their respective features in Daytona. All others must qualify through heat races.
In addition to a tour-leading six poles, Preece notched wins at both quarter-mile bullring races on the schedule: Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., and Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway.
While the .4-mile, flat-track layout on the backstretch at Daytona will be unique, Preece has quite the fondness for the smaller tracks and very much anticipates his first laps on the course.
“I love the racing where you’re getting up on the wheel and sawing at it,” Preece said. “A track like Stafford or Thompson, a lot of it is getting your car hooked up and just having it be there. On the short tracks and flat tracks, a lot of it is being up on the wheel and just trying to find different places where there’s grip.
“That’s what I love about short-track racing – you move around, you aren’t really stuck to that one spot. That’s what makes it interesting as far as passing and making a good race.”
The Whelen Modified events will be just one facet of the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models will have qualifying races and a 150-lap feature on Monday, Feb. 18 while the action on Tuesday, Feb. 19 will include a similar schedule of qualifying races and 150-lap races for both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours and NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
In addition to his exploits with the No. 16 Flamingo Motorsports Ford team on the Whelen Modified Tour, Preece is also a regular in Whelen All-American Series action at a pair of Connecticut tracks. He won the track title at Stafford Motor Speedway in 2011 out of the SK Modified division and just this past season he was track champion in Sunoco Modifieds at Thompson International Speedway.
The top 10 drivers in the final 2012 Whelen All-American Series national standings also earned secured starting positions for that series’ Late Model feature as part of the UNOH Battle At The Beach. Preece, who raced Modifieds in All-American Series action and finished fifth nationally, does not currently have plans to compete in that series’ Late Model event in Daytona, although he’s looking for opportunities.
Preece is the only driver locked-in to more than one of the UNOH Battle At The Beach features.
“I would love to race on Monday,” Preece said. “I wish I could be in it, but I haven’t gotten any calls. I have a guaranteed spot, so if anybody out there with good equipment wanted to run the race and know that they could make the race, they should get ahold of me.”
Regardless of whether he has the opportunity to pull double-duty or not, Preece is very much looking forward to heading to Florida to break up the offseason and Northeast winter.
“I’m looking forward to it, not only because it is Daytona, but because it is in February,” Preece said. “The winter season seems to get long at some points, so I’m looking forward to getting back to the track and getting the rhythm of racing again.”