Operating Engineers Racing: Ryan Preece Chicago Street Race Advance

Notes of Interest


● Ryan Preece and the No. 41 International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) are headed to the inaugural Chicago Street Course this weekend for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 220. Race time is 5:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The race will take place on a 2.2-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit surrounded by some of the city’s most well-known landmarks, featuring the start/finish line at Buckingham Fountain.


● This weekend marks the first race as the primary partner on the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang for the IUOE. IUOE primarily represents operating engineers who work as heavy equipment operators, mechanics, pipeliners and surveyors in the construction industry, along with stationary engineers who work in operations and maintenance in building and industrial complexes, and in the service industries. Founded in 1896, the IUOE has more than 400,000 members in 106 local unions throughout the United States and Canada. The IUOE International Training & Education Center, along with over 100 local training and apprenticeship programs, ensures that IUOE members are the safest, most productive and highly skilled craft workers in North America.


● Operating Engineer members enjoy paid, on-the-job training with free classes at more than 100 local training sites and at the International Training & Education Center. The 265-acre campus near Houston is the largest and most comprehensive training facility for union operating and stationary engineers in North America. More information is available by texting “JOIN” to 41041 or at www.IUOE.org/41.


● Last Sunday, the series visited Music City for a 300-lap nighttime event at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway. The race marked Preece’s second Cup Series start at the 1.333-mile concrete oval. Preece, a two-time Truck Series winner at Nashville, qualified 25th on Saturday and fought a loose racecar during the opening two stages of Sunday’s race. Thanks to some significant adjustments, Preece was able to rally to a 16th-place finish.


● Prior to the sole open date on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule on Father’s Day weekend June 17-18, competitors took on Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway for the season’s second road-course race. Preece kicked off the weekend on the West Coast with a victory in the ARCA Menards Series West race on Friday afternoon. He qualified his No. 9 Bonanza Ford on the pole. From there, he dominated the Friday race by leading 55 of 64 laps and crossed the finish line 9.675 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Sammy Smith. Preece qualified 22nd for Sunday’s 110-lap Cup Series race and finished 13th.


● The No. 41 SHR Ford Mustang team has continued to improve in recent weeks and has exhibited an uptick in consistency, providing a heightened sense of motivation. Preece had a career weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April, earning his first Cup Series pole and leading a career-high 135 laps. In 17 points-paying events this season, Preece has five top-15 finishes, three of which came over a five-race stretch of points-paying races – May 14 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, May 29 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and June 11 at Sonoma.


● Preece heads to Chicago 24th in the driver standings with 290 points.


● Preece kicked off the 2023 season with a strong showing in the non-points Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, leading a race-high 43 laps but ultimately finishing seventh after a fuel pump issue. He has a best points-paying finish of 12th this season, which came at Phoenix Raceway in March.


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


This weekend, you get to be a part of NASCAR history as the sport heads to downtown Chicago for its first-ever street course. Are you excited about the new challenge and the track itself?

“I am excited. Honestly, any time you get to be a part of something new and different, it’s really exciting. We got to do the same thing with North Wilkesboro earlier this season and its return to the schedule. NASCAR is trying new things and they’re making an effort to draw in new fans and change up the schedule and I appreciate that. It’s what we have to do as an industry to keep things evolving. On a street course in the middle of a city like Chicago, it’s awesome. I can’t wait to get there and see what the atmosphere is like because I think it’s going to be unlike anything we’ve seen before. This weekend will be a great event and I think the sport will gain a lot of traction.”


How do you prepare to race on a track that you’ve never been on before?

“For the most part, all of us drivers are in the same position this weekend. The simulator has been the biggest tool for me and my team. Studying what the track looks like from the seat of your racecar and having things memorized in your head before you get there. You’ve got to have those pretty well set in your brain so, when we first get on track, we can feel things out and get those shift points down. The way I see it, this race is going to be a learning process and all the track time is crucial. It’s fun, though, it’s so different and so new. For me, I’m just studying and talking with my crew chief and my team to make sure our car is in the best shape possible to get out there and be competitive right away. Those first few laps on the course are going to tell us a lot.”


What kind of expectations do you and your team have this weekend?

“I believe our team can capitalize on moments like this. I embrace new and different and I look forward to it, so I don’t get nervous or worried about it. It’s going to be really challenging but that motivates me. The racetrack is so narrow and it’s going to continually change throughout the weekend. There’s going to be a lot of beating and banging on these cars. You’ve got long straightaways that abruptly turn into 90-degree corners. I think knowing when to press on the brake and knowing when it’s safe to make a move will be important. But, the most important thing will be where you qualify. Starting position is going to be crucial, those who qualify up front will likely stay up front and it’s going to be so hard to pass. We’ve seen how hard it is to pass this season as it is, and now being on a new street course, it’s going to be even harder. There’s also going to be a lot of things taking place on the track around you, so you’ve got to listen to all the spotters and be alert about those things, too.”