SOPHIA, N.C. – Ryan Preece saw an opportunity he simply couldn’t pass up.
Preece, of Berlin, Conn., was in the right spot when the leaders wrecked ahead of him with four laps remaining Saturday night at Caraway Speedway, inheriting the lead he would not relinquish on the ensuing restart to win the 10th annual Colors Edge John Blewett III North-South Shootout presented by PPG. Preece held off Chuck Hossfeld and Matt Hirschman to win the 125-lap Tour-Type Modified feature event.
Preece was making his debut in the No. 7ny owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and previously piloted by Ryan Newman to wins at Bristol Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
“I’m still in shock right now,” Preece said. “I don’t even know what to say. That was just the most up-and-down race. I can’t thank my Dad enough, ‘Bono,’ and everybody who gave me this opportunity. Holy crap!”
Preece was fourth on Lap 121 – when the three cars ahead of him got together in Turn 2 to bring out the caution. When the race went back to green, he held off both Hossfeld and four-time race winner Matt Hirschman to take the checkered flag and the winner’s payday of more than $6,000.
Danny Bohn and Chris Pasteryak finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“I knew (Hossfeld) was good, but I knew we were a little bit better,” said Preece, who led early in the event but was shuffled back in traffic following his pit stop on Lap 56. “I just wanted to keep those guys out there, because I’ve lost two races to Matt Hirschman this year on the last lap. I wanted to keep him behind me. Awesome job by my crew, awesome job by everybody on this car.
“I’m so thankful right now, and I’m so happy to be here.”
Earlier in the day, Michael Gervais Jr. of Southbury, Conn., led every lap of the 25-lap SK Modified feature event for his first career North-South Shootout victory in his first trip to the event. Jimmy Zacharias finished second, while Glen Reen capped the podium with a third-place effort.
“This is really special. We only got our first two wins this year (at Stafford Motor Speedway), so to come down here and be competitive, it really feels great,” Gervais said. “I can’t thank everybody enough.”
Jay Fogleman of Durham, N.C., won the 150-lap PASS Super Late Model event to begin feature racing on the .455-mile oval. Kaz Grala won the 25-lap Legends feature, while Justin Newlin won the 75-lap Truck feature, and Kenny Bost capped the day with a win in the 40-lap Sportsman event.