Berlin's Ryan Preece gets his
chance in front of potential NASCAR car owners
Ryan & his Hall of Fame Grandfather
Bobby Judkins at New Smyrna Speedway.
Photo Courtesy of Tom Ormsby (SpeedwayLineReport.com)
|By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press
— It seems that everything young Ryan Preece of Berlin has touched lately
has turned to gold.
Besides being a threat to win the NASCAR Whelen modified tour and the
NASCAR Whelen All-American series titles every year, now the 22-year old
has the biggest opportunity in his life as he was selected as one of
NASCAR’s Next, a program that helps put young drivers in front of
potential car owners.
“I was shocked when I got the call.” Ryan said when reached by phone.
“This is certainly quite an honor.”
Preece, along with the other 12 drivers, were flown out to Iowa Speedway
where the announcement was made. The following night, Preece won the
Richie Evans 100 modified race at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
“Being part of the NASCAR Next program opens up a whole new realm of
opportunity for me, it’s a great chance to move my career forward.” Ryan
said. “It’s awesome to be part of a great marketing push by NASCAR for a
new generation of drivers.”
Preece, whose grandfather is modified legendary car owner Bob Judkins,
started his racing career at the age of 14.
He has six career wins as 12 poles. NASCAR Whelen modified tour and has
won titles at the Stafford Motor Speedway in the SK modified division and
in 2012 at the Thompson International Speedway. He currently is the points
leader on the NASCAR modified tour and at the Stafford Speedway.
Then the good news continued for Preece when he was tabbed to make his
Nationwide debut at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway next month driving a
car owned by former modified crew chief and Sprint Cup team owner Tommy
Baldwin, Jr., who has employed many people that were involved from the
modified series including Berlin’s Doug Campbell, who is the spotter for
Sprint Cup driver Dave Blaney.
“I am excited to have Ryan Preece in our No. 8 Nationwide Chevrolet in New
Hampshire,” Baldwin said in a statement. Watching Ryan’s career grow over
the years, mixed with my continued support of the Northeast racing
community, have all combined to give us this opportunity to put Ryan in
the car. I am looking forward to seeing him take to the track at Loudon.”
Preece will be sponsored by East West Marine, suppliers of marine lumber
and timber as well as vinyl seawall, composite sheet pilings and many
varieties of seawall accessories based out of Manorville, N.Y.
“Ryan runs in a lot of different series and we try and support all his
efforts,” Brian Slaga, owner of East West Marine said. “Ryan is a great
ambassador for East West Marine and we are extremely proud to have him
Ryan Preece earned his
sixth tour victory, second at Stafford, and second overall victory of
Jim Rogash/Getty Images for NASCAR
While the exposure is a plus for the drivers,
Preece said that ‘nothing is guaranteed’ but that he would do
everything he could do make sure he optimizes his opportunities.
“I am really glad that I am the first driver that this program has
looked at who runs the modifieds. They have been overlooked so I think
this is great for the series.” Preece said.
When asked if he knew any of the other participants in the program,
Preece said he knows just a couple of them to say hello.
“The whole program is that NASCAR will help get you in front of the right
people. They will guide you along and make sure you meet the right
Racing has been in the Preece family as his father, Jeff was a competitor
at the Riverside Park Speedway and that is where he met and later married
Jodie Judkins daughter of Bob Judkins.
It was in the modified that Preece first got his start in racing.
Preece is a racer. This year the youngster plans on making over 90 starts,
including weekly racing at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday, Stafford
Motor Speedway on Fridays and at the Riverhead Raceway on Saturdays.
Mix in another 14 starts on the modified tour and you have one hectic
schedule. It is that schedule, however, and his easy demeanor, not ot
mention his many trips to victory lane, that has put this Berlin resident
on the front row to NASCAR racing success.