May 28, 2012

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Berlin’s Preece a Young Racing Star on the Rise
 


Ryan with his Grandfather Hall of Fame
Car Owner Bob Judkins at
New Smyrna Speedway

 

By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press

CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE

Berlin, CT----Ryan Preece of Berlin may look like a rookie, but this veteran on the NASCAR Whelen modified tour is no rookie and figures to be a threat again to win the title this year.

This 21 year old has a fantastic racing DNA and it shows in what he has done so far this year and in his brief career on the modified tour. His grandfather, Bob Judkins, owned modifieds for years and was a crew chief for some of the biggest names in racing and his father raced.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have a family involved in racing and who support me in what I am doing and want to do.” Ryan said recently.


Ryan Preece is off to a great start for the 2012 season as he’s posted Coors Light Pole Awards in each of the first two events this year and set a new track record last time out at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
Getty Images for NASCAR

So far in three modified tour races, the speedster has won all three poles, finished second in the Stafford Spring Sizzler, one of the premier events on the modified tour schedule and then followed that up by leading all 200 laps and winning the Whitcomb 200 at the Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire. It was his first win of the year and his fourth career win.

This year, he is teamed with car owner Eric Sanderson and with crew chief Sly Szaban, he feels that they can and will compete for the NASCAR Whelen tour title, something he did in 2009 when he was just 18 years old, losing the title by just 16 points.

“I am really looking forward to working with them. Sly is very good at listening to me and what the car needs. He has kept notes of all the previous races at the different tracks and I feel that we will be in victory lane again soon.”
Last night the modified tour was scheduled to race at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

Preece joined the Flamingo Racing team for the last race of last year and it seemed that they clicked from the time he slid into the seat. Preece has captured the pole in all four races in the #16 dating back to the last race last season.

While the modified tour is the primary goal for the young driver, he also plans on running the Sk modified full time at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday and the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday as well as events at the Riverhead Raceway and Waterford Speedbowl when his schedule allows.

“With the modified tour schedule at just 14 races, it’s important for me to stay sharp and race as much as possible and with the different teams that I will be racing for I hope to have a chance to also compete for the NASCAR Whelen All American series title.”

The Whelen All American series features every tracks premier division from all NASCAR weekly tracks across the country for the right to be called the ‘national champion’. It only takes a drivers best 18 finishes so the more you race; your worst finishes get replaced with higher finishes.


Ryan Preece celebrates his win in the Whitcomb 200 May 12th at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.
Photo By Fran Lawlor for NASCAR

Last weekend was a series of highs and lows for the young driver as he was disqualified from the SK modified race after spinning out the leader on the last lap at Stafford and then on Sunday, he was credited with the win after again making contact with the leader on the final lap of the race at the Thompson Speedway.

Today if a racer is 15 years old and hasn’t signed on with a developmental team; it seems that they are too old, especially if they have aspirations on competing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

“I am not one of those kids who if they don’t make it to Cup racing they don’t want to race. For me I am a racer and want to race as much as possible but if the chance to move up came along, I’d take a look at it.” Ryan said, “There is a lot in my career that I would love to accomplish before I am through racing. One is to win the NASCAR modified tour title a couple of times and also win the Whelen All American series title.”

While a lot of the younger drivers like the big wide tracks which produce a lot of speed, Ryan likes the bullrings like the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. “I like Stafford and New Hampshire but I like to get on the smaller tracks and mix it up a little.” That is one of the reasons why he will compete at Riverhead when his busy schedule allows him.

When asked if there was anything about the tour and its rules that he would liked to see changed it would be to have two tire companies competing against each other.

“When you have that you have companies making deals with drivers to run their tire, right now we don’t have that but other than that I like the tour and the rules.”

Preece also plans on running races on the Valenti Modified series, a modified based series for teams who can’t compete on the modified tour because of the cost.

Preece has shown that he has the maturity to win the modified tour this year, armed with a new team and crew chief, this young driver is looking to become the youngest tour champion in NASCAR’s oldest division.

With this driver’s pedigree, it could be the start of many championships.

 

Brian Danko has been covering Auto Racing for over 30 years for various magazines & and racing papers including Area Auto Racing News. His weekly column can be seen "In The Print Edition" of  The New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.

 

Copyright © 2012 Brian Danko