Ford Performance – Preece / Button Transcript

RYAN PREECE, No. 41 Purdue University Ford Mustang – YOU HAVE A SPECIAL PAINT SCHEME FOR THIS RACE, AND IT’S BEEN A BIG WEEK FOR YOU IN BECOMING A FATHER. TELL US ABOUT YOUR WEEK.  “Obviously, becoming a father was awesome. Doing that with my wife, having my first daughter, it’s truly amazing. Going on the Purdue University motorsports program: Growing up a kid that spent a lot of time with race cars, working on race cars and really learning about them, it has created an opportunity for young kids that have always been intrigued by auto racing or motorsports. A fun little fact that I found out: 32 of 33 cars in the Indy 500 this year had Purdue graduates. That was really neat, and it’s a great way to create an opportunity for kids that don’t necessarily have family ties or some avenues to get into motorsports. So, it’s a great way to get started. Obviously, they have a really great program.”

 

CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH MONDAY MORNING WHEN YOU RECEIVED THE CALL FROM YOUR WIFE? “One thing that I am really lucky for is that my wife is very supportive of my racing. She raced herself. So, going into this journey, we hired a doula in case of the worst case scenario if I wasn’t home. But I got a call Monday morning at 2 a.m. – which I learned about a month ago to have my phone on ring just in case of a moment like that. She called me, and she was scared. Our doula came, brought her to the hospital. Unfortunately, I don’t have a private plane or anything like that. We didn’t anticipate having the baby that week. We actually had a c-section schedule for a week from then, so we really didn’t even think that it was something that could happen – not that it couldn’t happen, that was really planned to happen. But as our daughter kind of proved to us, is that she’s going to run the show. I was able to FaceTime my wife, and be present without actually being there. But definitely… really, really… thankful and happy that we have a healthy daughter. It’s awesome being a father.”

 

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES OF QUALIFYING, AND HOW IMPORTANT IS PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING? “Practice for a lot of us: I didn’t necessarily grow up road racing, so it’s really important. I was fortunate enough to have raced here back in 2021, so I have some laps. But, track position is always a topic, right? There were some things that we did with the Ford Performance sim to be able to prepare. But for a driver, it’s getting out there and doing it – the visuals and a lot of the braking marks that you tend to get. I mean when you think about it, how many laps are we really going to do in practice? I think nine, 10 laps maybe? Which kind of reminds me of the SRX race when we got five laps. The only difference was that I’ve raced Stafford all my  life. I haven’t raced the Indy road course or anything like this. So, it’s going to be extremely important to get everything we have into this race car and qualify really well.”

 

HOW DOES THE BIRTH OF YOUR DAUGHTER THIS WEEK PUT RACING INTO PERSPECTIVE? “I need to provide. I need to do a very good job, so I can give my daughter every opportunity that she’s ever wanted. So, it’s driven me even more than ever. I’m a pretty determined person.”

 

WHEN YOU HAVE BACK-TO-BACK ROAD COURSE WEEKENDS, HOW MUCH INFORMATION DO YOU TAKE FROM ONE TRACK TO THE NEXT? “Indy road course and Watkins Glen… it seems to me like going to a short track versus an intermediate track. Watkins Glen is very high-speed and it kind of flows, whereas here, it reminds me somewhat of COTA where it’s a lot of transitions and making your car change direction really quickly – stop and go. So from the short track style of racing that I’ve done – the heavy braking and a lot of those things – I’m comfortable with. But there are certainly things that I can do better as a race car driver to be a better road racer – when it comes to the downshifting and all those things that really, growing up racing at the short track level, what I did is different. There’s definitely a lot of training that a driver can do to continue to grow from a road racing perspective. We saw it at Chicago with Jenson (Button) in the Cup series – SVG (Shane van Gisbergen) and those guys. They grew up and lived it. There is just a lot of preparation to do for a road race.”

 

THERE ARE SIX DRIVERS OUTSIDE THE U.S. COMPETING THIS WEEKEND. FROM A DRIVER’S PERSPECTIVE, WHAT’S IT LIKE TO SEE ALL THESE RACERS FROM DIFFERENT DRIVING DISCIPLINES? “Exactly – disciplines. That’s something that I’ve always appreciated. Even from the North America side when I watch dirt racing or asphalt racing, road racing… you see guys from V8 Supercars, Formula 1 and all these different etiquettes and you see the different styles. I’m somebody who appreciates that.”

 

YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SPEND TIME WITH GRAHAM RAHAL. HOW EXCITED WERE YOU TO SEE HIM WIN POLE FOR THIS WEEKEND’S INDYCAR RACE? “That was awesome. You can see the emotion he had. He said it: The pole was like a win for them, especially for some of the struggles they’ve been going through over the past few years. That’s what defines racers, defines people – hard work and being relentless. I’m pretty much going to say that I’m his lucky charm even though I haven’t been very lucky this year. But, certainly, really excited for Graham Rahal and their team, United Rentals and all our partners. Even going down on pit road and seeing the process – how their practices go and qualifying. It was an awesome opportunity to be able to be down there. Because usually, if I’m here. I’m walking around and I don’t really know anybody. So, I’m just walking down pit road. You don’t really experience it. You kind of see it, but my vantage point as a driver, I really didn’t get to experience it. Whereas yesterday, I did. I got to wear the headset and see how their intercom system works and how they run their practices. It’s just so different. It was really fascinating and a really great experience.”

 

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