Notes of Interest

● Ryan Preece and the No. 41 Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) are gearing up for a showdown in the Lone Star State as the NASCAR Cup Series takes on the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. It will be the first of five races on a road or street course in 2024. This season, proficiency on road courses carries heightened importance as NASCAR has integrated two road-course events into the 10-race playoff format for the first time.

● COTA marks a transition for Preece from the intense, close-quarters racing action last weekend on the high-banked, half-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway concrete oval, where he produced the No. 41 Ford Mustang Dark Horse’s best finish of the season on a day extreme tire wear throughout the field became the prominent storyline. Preece surged from his 25th starting position to ninth by the end of the opening stage, securing two bonus points. Drawing from his experience in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, where tire management is paramount, Preece prevailed again in the second stage to earn a 10th-place finish and an additional bonus point. He took the checkered flag 14th to log his first top-15 of the season and fourth in seven career Cup Series starts at Bristol.

● Preece’s most recent road-course outing resulted in an 11th-place finish last October on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval and he is poised to navigate both right and left turns again this weekend at COTA. His best road-course finish in the Cup Series was his ninth-place effort after qualifying sixth on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course in February 2021, driving for JTG Daugherty Racing.

● In six starts on road courses in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Preece has two top-fives and three top-10s. Best of those finishes is fourth, which he achieved twice in 2018, the first at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the second on the Charlotte Roval.

● Last June, Preece claimed a road-course victory in the ARCA Menards Series West race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Driving the No. 9 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas, he qualified on the pole, led a race-high 55 of 64 laps, and finished 9.675 seconds ahead of runner-up Sammy Smith.

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

You’ve had your share of success on road courses in your career. How do you approach learning and improving your performance on road courses, especially considering the unique challenges that this style of track creates?

“Road courses somewhat resemble short-track racing in terms of how you approach braking, so adapting to this style of racing has come with a baseline given my background. Channeling into that and utilizing the tools at your fingertips is what you have to do to be successful. I enjoy the challenges that this style of racing presents, and I’m certainly looking forward to COTA, as it’s a track where I enjoy racing.”

Will COTA offer a glimpse into what to expect from the quality of racing at road courses this season?

“I think COTA will offer an insight into a lot of things. It’s a heavy braking track and maximizing brake performance is an area that much of the field is currently looking to improve on. With the new package, COTA could show what road courses will potentially look like this season, but at the same time, it’s a track the field doesn’t have a lot of laps at.”

The NASCAR Cup Series season features a total of five road courses on the schedule, with three occurring in the regular season and two taking place during the playoffs for the first time in series history. How would you describe the importance of your road-course race craft, and what is your outlook of continued improvement as the season progresses?

“Road-course racing is certainly becoming something that we are doing more and more in the NASCAR Cup Series, so having the ability to adapt to driving on road courses is becoming increasingly important. A lot of drivers are focused on getting seat time to help speed up the learning curve with the changes that are coming our way. I think you see a lot of younger drivers coming through the ranks who are really good at road-course racing now because they’re getting that experience a lot earlier on in their careers.”

What are a few words of motivation for your team now that the season is well underway?

“The biggest thing for our team is to continue working on the details. We have to be sure that we’re doing all the little things right in order to maximize what we’re all capable of achieving.”