HaasTooling.com Racing: Ryan Preece Daytona Speedweek Advance

Event Overview

 

  • Wednesday, Feb. 15:  Daytona 500 qualifying (single-lap qualifying to determine pole for the Daytona 500)
    • Time/TV/Radio: 8:15 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
  • Thursday, Feb. 16:  Bluegreen Vacations Duels (two 150-mile qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500)
    • Time/TV/Radio: 7 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio 
  • Sunday, Feb. 19:  65th annual Daytona 500 (first of 36 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series races in 2023)
    • Time/TV/Radio: 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

 

Notes of Interest

 

  • Riding along with Ryan Preece on his No. 41 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is HaasTooling.com, the cutting tool division of Haas Automation led by team co-owner Gene Haas. HaasTooling.com was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high-quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. HaasTooling.com products became available nationally in July 2020. 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.“I’m really excited about representing HaasTooling.com because Gene Haas and Tony Stewart, they’re both innovators, they’re racers,” Preece said. “Tony’s a racecar driver, and just look at everything Gene Haas has built; this empire that he has created. It’s a great opportunity that I have to race for this team and organization in partnership with HaasTooling.com. Hopefully we’ve done a good job preparing and we can go out and have an extremely successful career with them on board.” 
  • The 65th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 19 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway will be Preece’s fourth career start in The Great American Race. His first Daytona 500 was in February 2019. He started 21st and finished eighth in a race that had 12 cautions for 47 laps. 
  • This will be Preece’s seventh overall start on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Most recently, his best finish at the track of fourth came in August 2021. He started 24th and finished fourth, tallying his first top-five finish at the track.
  • Perseverance has paid off for Preece. The 32-year-old racer from Berlin, Connecticut, was promoted by SHR to his role as fulltime driver of the No. 41 Mustang in the Cup Series after serving as a reserve driver with the organization in 2022. He spent last season performing simulator work while running a mix of races across each of NASCAR’s top three national touring series – two in the Cup Series, three in the Xfinity Series, and 10 in the Truck Series. His season was punctuated by a Truck Series win from the pole on June 24 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, his second straight win at the 1.333-mile oval east of Music City.
  • In the first of his three Cup Series outings last year with Rick Ware Racing, Preece punched his ticket into the main event of the non-points Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum to kick off the season. He had to race his way in and did so in one of the Last Chance Qualifier races after working closely with the team to wrench on the car himself. He also ran at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway, where he finished 25th, and at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, where he finished 37th.
  • In his three Xfinity Series starts last season, Preece had a best finish of fifth at Charlotte.
  • In addition to his Truck Series victory at Nashville last June, Preece collected six top-fives and eight top-10s in his nine other starts. He led 125 laps in all last year.
  • Preece made a name for himself on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour – NASCAR’s oldest division and the only open-wheel series sanctioned by NASCAR. Preece won the Tour championship in 2013 and worked hard to leverage that title into additional opportunities in the Xfinity Series – NASCAR’s stepping-stone division to the elite Cup Series. After spending all of 2016 in a scrappy effort with an underfunded team that delivered a best finish of 10th, Preece mortgaged his house to secure two races with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in 2017. In equipment finally befitting his talent, Preece finished second in his JGR debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, then won in his second start at Iowa Speedway in Newton. In his next five Xfinity Series starts, Preece never finished outside the top-10, a run capped with his April 2018 victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
     

Ryan Preece, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

Some might consider this a comeback year for you now that you’re back to fulltime racing in the Cup Series. What does this moment feel like after all the hard work you’ve put in?

“I mean, it’s a dream come true and it’s honestly the perfect matchup. Getting this opportunity at Stewart-Haas Racing is exactly the opportunity I need to succeed. I know what I can do in a racecar and there’s nobody who’s harder on me than I am on myself. I’m going to make the best of every opportunity I get and that’s what I’ve always done. I feel like being in the position I am now with this organization and this team – it can’t get any better. I’m ready to go out there and win races. That is always my goal, every single weekend. Having Chad Johnston as my crew chief this season, too, is just another motivator. We’ve worked together before and we’re very similar. I think we work really well together. We have the same goals for this 41 team. It is a great feeling to be back fulltime in Cup. Sometimes I don’t think I let myself enjoy those moments. They are special and I’m very thankful. I’m just ready to get out there and race.”

 

This will be your fourth Daytona 500. You ran your first one in 2019. What was that experience like, and how will this year be different?

“To be honest with you, in 2023, I just feel like there’s going to be a lot of different challenges. I’m very optimistic going into the race because we’ve had some really strong runs previously at Daytona or even other superspeedways. But I think this will be one, at least for myself, of learning how to prepare better for these types of situations. Those last five laps, things get hectic and you’re just trying to position yourself in the right spot. That way, once you take the white flag, it’s not necessarily one lap to go there, it’s one lap going into turn three. Trying to understand that and put myself in the best situation to give myself the best opportunity to win.”

 

Strategy is always something talked about when NASCAR heads to superspeedways, but the Daytona 500 schedule is so unique with qualifying, the Duels, practices and the race. Do you have a specific strategy, or does it depend on the event?

“The strategy constantly changes. As far as positioning goes and where I think I need to be to give myself the best chance, it’s always changing. I’d say, in a perfect world, I know exactly where I want to be but it’s all in different circumstances.”

 

What is the No. 41 team’s mindset heading into the Daytona 500?

“Well, our mindset is to win. I think most teams will say that’s what their mindset is. It’s true, though, you don’t put in all this work that we do in the offseason and during the week for anything less. It’s important for our team to work closely with each other, get to know each other and then execute on the weekends. I have no doubt that we will.”

 

You have some experience in the NextGen car, but you didn’t get to run it every weekend last season like other drivers. What do you think that’s going to be like?

“I spent a lot of time in the simulator last season. I was really focused on learning that car and getting as much experience as I could. I think that time in the simulator definitely helped me, and I did get some seat time in a car throughout last year. Everyone was sort of learning the new car last season, so I don’t know that I’m very far off from them. It was a growing year for everyone in the series. Now it’s time to take all of that and go out and perform.”

 

What are your expectations for this season?

“It starts with, we need to make the Playoffs, and that’s going to be by winning. At the end of the day, that’s what it took to get in last year. From there on out, just consistency. We want consistently fast racecars. We want to continue to build consistently fast Ford Mustangs. If we do that, we can go out and perform the way we should.”

 

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