Notes of Interest

● After a pair of superspeedway-style races to start the NASCAR Cup Series’ regular season, Ryan Preece is ready for a return to normalcy at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Sunday’s Las Vegas 400 will mark Preece’s ninth career Cup Series start on the 1.5-mile oval. The driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing posted a career-best Las Vegas finish of 15th in March 2021, which came on the heels of his previous best of 19th in September 2020. In his first two outings at the track with Stewart-Haas in 2023, he posted finishes of 23rd in March and 26th in October.

● Preece overcame an incident-filled race during last Sunday’s Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway to bring home a 16th-place finish, exceeding his previous best Atlanta finish of 24th achieved last July. In a display of resilience reminiscent of his performance in the season-opening Daytona 500, Preece confronted early adversity once again. He was collected in a multicar incident on just the second lap, emerging with significant damage to the nose of his racecar. Preece pitted for repairs and returned to the race and soldiered to the finish, avoiding numerous accidents along the way to score the best result for Stewart-Haas.

● In two NASCAR Xfinity Series outings at Las Vegas, Preece has a best finish of sixth in September 2018 while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. In his lone NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at the track in March 2022, Preece started fifth, finished fourth, and led three laps driving a David Gilliland Racing entry.

● Back with Preece and the No. 41 Ford Mustang at Las Vegas is, the cutting tool division of Haas Automation. allows CNC machinists to purchase high-quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas cutting tools are sold exclusively online at and shipped directly to end users. Haas Automation, founded in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers, rotaries and indexers, and automation solutions.

Ryan Preece, Driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang

Will Las Vegas be the first true test of where teams stack up in relation to one another?

“With the new Mustang Dark Horse body, I think many teams in the Ford camp have been waiting for this weekend. At Daytona and Atlanta, it’s really about pure speed and not necessarily about the downforce or handling side of it. Going into Vegas, I think we’re all really optimistic based on some of the information that we’ve been provided through wind tunnel tests and CFD. We’re all excited about seeing what the Ford Mustang Dark Horse can prove.”

You’ve spent some time in the simulator in preparation for Las Vegas. Has that shown you anything new in relation to how the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse will race at Las Vegas?

“I think the simulator is a great tool that we all use. There are some things that are unknown, but it has shown us the difference in capabilities that this car has versus the old car. The pure speed that it has will provide us with the ability to go out there and compete for wins, top-fives and top-10s. That is something that we’re all optimistic about, and we’re certainly ready to get rolling into the mile-and-a-half tracks this year.”

What does it take to have a good day at Las Vegas?

“Speed. You can’t drive a slow car fast. That’s something that I feel like we’ve all been working toward by communicating with the crew chiefs about what we need out of the car, and the crew chiefs communicating to the aero department on what we need in order to optimize everything to get the car to go faster on mile-and-a-half tracks. This is what the two-and-half months of work during the off-season has been building toward. When we left Phoenix last year and began working toward 2024, we circled all the mile-and-a-half tracks and said, ‘If we’re going to compete this year, we need to be better here.’”

When your car isn’t right, what do you do behind the wheel to get the best finish possible?

“I think it’s really about understanding what you have that day. You’re not going to take a 15th- or 10th-place car and win with it. It’s about understanding the situation, not overstepping those boundaries, and making sure that you get the best day possible out of it.”

What kind of a Las Vegas person are you – the kind who hits the blackjack table and finds a good restaurant each night, or are you the kind who tries to find quiet places while keeping your body clock on East Coast time?

“I think I’m a little bit of both. I’m somebody who likes the quiet, so when I do find a blackjack table or a roulette table, it’s pretty empty for the most part. I do enjoy playing your typical casino games. I’m a racecar driver, so I gamble every day of my life. It’s no different when I go to Vegas and decide to visit a casino to see if I can make some money.”

Most drivers don’t bring their motorcoach to Las Vegas and instead stay in a hotel on The Strip. But that also gets them out of their routine, where things are sometimes forgotten because it’s kind of rare to not live at the track for a weekend. What do you do to stay in your routine, and do you have a funny story about being caught out of your routine?

“I’m wired to stay in my routine. Every day to me is a new day. When I look at my clock and it’s 7 Vegas time, sometimes I think to myself it’s 10 at home, or whatever time it is. Going to the West Coast doesn’t necessarily change my schedule because I’m a structured person, but I live my days one day at a time, just like Vin Diesel lives his life a quarter mile at a time. I enjoy going out there. It’s definitely a busy and happening place. I’d say that, ever since we left Phoenix last year, going to Vegas has been circled on my calendar, on (crew chief) Chad Johnston’s calendar, and on many other Ford teams’ calendars. We’re hoping that this Mustang Dark Horse body fixes a lot of things that we felt like we were fighting las year, and we’re working toward making it happen.”