Ryan Preece went to victory lane on Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway driving the No. 18 Rheem Toyota. Preece, from Connecticut, led the field for 39 circuits to score his second career NASCAR XFINITY Series win.
“Words can’t even describe. My mom’s super happy, my dad’s super happy – I’m 27 years old and I’m not getting any younger,” said Preece after the win in victory lane. “I’m looking for opportunities. We did it last year at Iowa and now we did it here at Bristol. I hope I don’t get labeled as a short track racer, I want to win on mile-and-a-halves soon. Nothing beats winning. That’s what I told somebody earlier today. They asked me what was the most exciting thing and I said winning – I hate losing more than winning. Today we did it.”
The young driver also took home the $100,000 cash bonus as a result of the win. Preece says he will probably use the money for his family and team for all of their hard work and dedication given to him.
“You know what, probably do something for my parents, my brothers, my wife and my team,” said Preece regarding the bonus prize money. “We’re going to go get something to drink later. Man, I can’t thank Eric Phillip (crew chief) enough. I know he works his butt off, he doesn’t just sit behind a desk, he’s out there in the shop working hard and I have a lot of respect for him. It was a good run for us, good run for my teammate Brandon (Jones). If that caution hadn’t come out, he had it in the bag. He’ll be up there soon enough.”
Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Brandon Jones and Matt Tifft traded the lead four times within the final 115 laps of the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300. With 10 laps remaining, Tifft passed Jones for the top spot before parking his No 18 Toyota in victory lane. As for Jones, piloting the No. 19 Toyota, he’ll leave with a sixth-place finish.
Justin Allgaier nearly took the lead away from Tifft in the closing laps after a restart with around 10 laps remaining. However, as the run went on, Allgaier couldn’t gain any more momentum on the race leader and settled for the second spot. The driver from Illinois will leave the 0.533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway with his fourth top five finish of the year through seven races.
Daniel Hemric will round out the top three finishers on Saturday at Bristol. The young racer spent 61 laps of the race at the front of the field and was one of the drivers to watch coming into the event.
With seven events completed this season, Hemric, from North Carolina, has three top five and five top 10 finishes so far in 2018.
Elliott Sadler and Spencer Gallagher will round out the top-five finishers on Saturday.
Numerous drivers throughout the day were involved in caution flags as a result of hard racing. The first one of the day involved nine cars on the frontstretch six laps into the event that involved heavy hitters Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell and Ty Majeski.
Another incident on the backstretch on lap 59 impacted big names. The four-car incident included John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Allgaier, Matt Tifft and Elliott Sadler. Each driver was able to continue with their respective days – at least for now.
Tifft’s day continued to worsen as the No. 2 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing drew the yellow flag on lap 67. With all of the struggles early on, Tifft and the No. 2 team went to the garage area and finished with a 35th-place finish.
Another yellow flag on lap 102 involved a number of potential race winners including Justin Allgaier on the backstretch. It also included Brandon Jones, Ty Majeski, John Hunter Nemechek and others. All these drivers continued with their days.
A yellow on lap 142 involved three cars in turn three. Among those involved included Christopher Bell, Vinnie Miller and Cody Ware and resulted in a seven minute and one second red flag period. Bell, one of the expected championship contenders this season, finished 29th on the leaderboard as a result of a DNF. Miller and Ware went on to finish 33rd and 30th.
The next race for the series will be on Friday, April 20 at Richmond Raceway. The ToyotaCare 250 will air live on FS1 and MRN Radio at 7:00 p.m. ET.