Notes of Interest

● Sunday’s Food City 500 returns to the concrete of Bristol Motor Speedway and Ryan Preece, driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Stewart-Haas Racing, is poised for a breakthrough performance on the half-mile, high-banked oval in Eastern Tennessee. Preece has competed in three different racing divisions at Bristol – the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour – for a total of 17 starts and 4,877 laps, or the equivalent of 2,600 miles, roughly the same distance between Preece’s hometown of Berlin, Connecticut, and Phoenix Raceway, site of last Sunday’s Cup Series race.

● Preece endured an eventful race at Phoenix. After narrowly avoiding a multicar accident on just the seventh tour of the 312-lap race, Preece began a relentless ascent, climbing from his 27th-place starting spot to as high as second during the race’s final stage. However, with the race going green for the final 92 laps, fuel mileage became a factor. Preece was forced to make a late-race stop for fuel and fresh tires, which left him an unsatisfied 23rd.

● The Food City 500 will mark Preece’s seventh career NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol. In his six previous starts, Preece has never finished outside the top-25. In fact, he has three results of 12th or better to earn an average finish of 15.5. His best finish was a ninth-place drive in September 2020.

● Preece won at Bristol in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In his third and most recent Xfinity Series start at the track, Preece won the 2018 Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300. He led four times for 39 laps in the April event, including the final 10 circuits to take the victory over Justin Allgaier.

● Preece’s Bristol success in the NASCAR Xfinity Series was preceded by his success on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. In eight starts at Bristol in the only open-wheel series sanctioned by NASCAR, Preece never finished worse than 11th. He had seven top-10 finishes with five top-fives and three podiums. Preece finished third in his Tour debut at Bristol in August 2009 and then equaled that finish in August 2022 before earning an impressive win in August 2015 when he led three times for 47 laps to take the victory over Woody Pitkat. Preece left Bristol atop the championship standings by two points over Pitkat, but eventually succumbed to Connecticut counterpart Doug Coby, who took the title by 11 points over Preece. It was one of four runner-up finishes for Preece in the Modified Tour championship. However, Preece did take the Modified Tour crown in 2013, which highlighted a four-year run where he never finished outside the top-two in points (2012-2015).

● Back with Preece and the No. 41 Ford Mustang Dark Horse at Bristol 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 Dark Horse

What are your thoughts on leaving the dirt and returning to the concrete surface for the Food City 500 at Bristol?

“I’m someone who has grown up around short-track racing. Bristol is the world’s fastest half-mile, and I think moving back to the concrete is something everyone is happy about. It was a great event to do on dirt, but I think it was time to go back to the concrete and what we all love. I, for one, am someone who is certainly happy that we’re going back to the concrete, even though we ran good on the dirt, as well.”

Do you feel that Bristol is one of the best opportunities for you and the team to potentially capitalize on with a strong finishing position, based on your past success at the track?

“It’s certainly been a track that has been good to me. It’s one of the stronger racetracks that we go to, so the confidence is pretty high. We’re building toward being consistent, and hopefully we can show up and have that speed.”

Can you share a glimpse into your journey from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and how those experiences shaped who you are as a driver, and how that experience has prepared you to tackle the short tracks on the Cup Series schedule today?

“Obviously, when it comes to short-track racing, and the experience that I have in Modifieds, all the experience racing at my local tracks and on the Whelen Modified Tour, have certainly shaped who I am as a driver. I’ve won at Bristol in a Modified, and I’ve won there in an Xfinity car. I would say that the grit of having to pass cars and find a way to the front is there.”

What role does having discipline play into succeeding at Bristol? How do you balance the need for speed and aggression with patience?

“Bristol is a really fast short track, so doing the whole bump-and-run is kind of risky now, but at the same time, there are points during that race that we will need to force the issue, and just knowing how to do that correctly plays a big part.”

Take someone who doesn’t drive racecars into your perspective behind the wheel and tell us what it’s like driving at Bristol, and how it’s different from other short tracks?

“Bristol is super fast, high-banked, and not very forgiving, so it’s a track that can bite you pretty quickly. At the same time, it’s one of my favorite tracks. We can run on the top and run on the bottom, so as a driver, you’re never locked into a spot and never feel like you can’t move forward.”