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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE


July 9, 2014


Ryan Preece


THE MODERATOR:¬† We're now joined by Ryan Preece.¬† Ryan has an extremely busy weekend.¬† He'll be running in Friday's Whelen Modified All‑Star Shootout at New Hampshire, heading back to Connecticut to run Friday night's Whelen All‑American Series SK Modified race at Stafford Motor Speedway, and then on Saturday he'll return to New Hampshire to return the Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco 100, and then the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sta‑Green 200.¬† He ran in his Nationwide debut at New Hampshire last year.¬† Can you talk about your expectations coming into this weekend?
RYAN PREECE:  Well, with four races, that's four opportunities to run very well.  Right now with the Modified Tour team, we've been building up some momentum, and we've had two of our best finishes this season the past two races, so I'm hoping to use what we learned in our test and to have a strong car that can win there.  I've finished third there three times, so to improve that would be really, really good.  I'd be happy.
Also going over to Stafford with our SK Modified, we're going three races this season with that, we've been real strong, and hopefully weather doesn't come in, which it doesn't seem like it will, so we'll be able to have a good strong run there.  And then obviously with the Whelen Modified Tour on Saturday, running that race and trying to win it, the Nationwide car, I'd say our expectations are to run strong.
You know, we ran pretty well last year, and we were a little conservative.  We wanted to pretty much run all the laps, and a rookie mistake on my part trying to charge into the box for the pit stop, I slid through, and then we ran out of fuel with three to go in the Lucky Dog spot.  I think this year we're going to be a little bit more aggressive as far as the setup goes, and with Zach McGowan, crew chief and me, we've been real good.  We've been texting back and forth looking at notes and just really trying to be prepared for this race.  I'm definitely pretty excited, and I really can't thank Tommy enough for this opportunity.

Q.  Ryan, there's a pretty stout group of drivers participating in Friday's Shootout.  What are your thoughts on the format first of all, and then the draw for the starting position?
RYAN PREECE:  It's definitely going to be an exciting format with the twin 20s.  It's kind of a short track dash type deal where we usually only get that at New Smyrna minus the draw.  There really isn't any format like that.  But the short runs like that are going to create for some awesome racing and a lot of fun, and obviously all the bonuses that come along with it, whether it's if you have the fastest lap in the race or the most positions gained throughout the race.  It's going to create for some excitement, and as long as everybody respects one another, because I know most of us are going to run the same car the next day, we shouldn't have a problem.  But I'm really excited for it; it's a great opportunity that Whelen New Hampshire and NASCAR has presented for the modifieds, and we just have to take advantage of it and put on a show.

Q.  Your thoughts on your second year in the Next program, and Ricky Craven mentioned when we were speaking with Ben that his thoughts with drivers and when they look at their career is to go through and to chart where they are on their course and where they plan on going.  Your thoughts first of all on the next step program and where you are in charting your course.
RYAN PREECE:¬† As far as my course, and I was actually listening to that, you know, it's very hard because the course I want to run is to possibly be full‑time in Nationwide and through myself then be presented with that opportunity of trying to get that Cup opportunity.¬† Well, it's not quite as easy as I wish it would be, but that's why short trackers like myself, we fight hard for it, as that's why we try to win as many races as we can and do the best we can.
As far as that goes, like I said with Tommy, he's investing a lot in me, and he's taking a chance on me.  He's putting a lot of money into that race car and this weekend, so it's a great opportunity to be presented, and I just have to take advantage of it and take all this knowledge that I've learned since I've started racing and put it into this race and give the right feedback and work good with Zach, and we shouldn't have a problem.
The NASCAR Next program has really catapulted my followers on Twitter, but my Ryan Preece fan base and people knowing who I am.  When you think Ryan Preece, it was more the modified community, where pretty much the racing community throughout the United States knows who I am now, but it's just trying to continue having success of winning races and running well in everything I get in and just being basically diverse and basically willing to get in any race car at any time, and that's what I'm trying to do.

Q.  You've obviously had a lot of success in the modified ranks.  You called last year your dream season, but one race that's really eluded you for your career so far is winning this modified race at New Hampshire.  How much stress do you put into wanting to win this race this weekend?
RYAN PREECE:¬† You know, I was just thinking about that earlier.¬† It's kind of like when Dale Earnhardt was trying to win the Daytona 500.¬† I'm not nearly‑‑ I haven't been in the modified series nearly as long as Mike Stefanik had or Ted Christopher had, but they've won there, and I've been in the modifieds since I was seven, so that's quite a while, and to try and win this race, it's just so hard, and it's a race that every modified guy wants to win.
As far as stressing how bad I want to win it, I don't even think there's a chart for that.
But it's also something that you have to have the right place, the right time, the car to do it and everything, and we work so hard at it, and we've had a really good car last year in the July race.  We had a good car that was capable of it happening, but unfortunately we just didn't have the right situation on the last lap, and I think we broke our primary motor in practice so that kind of put us down.
I'm going to try everything I can.  My team is going to try everything they can, and hopefully you'll see us in victory lane, but I want to try to have a really strong run, try to get back up on the horse and try to gain some points on these guys so I can possibly try and repeat, but we've got some time to do this.

Q.  Last year when you pulled this weekend doing your Nationwide gig, we saw you running around the pit area with your helmet on golf carts trying to get to where you needed to be for practice, time trials, but then we saw you at Thompson on a scooter making your way around.  What are your travel plans this weekend to get around to where you need to be?
RYAN PREECE:¬† That's why I was running‑‑ I've been running a lot for the last month, running like three miles a day so I've been pretty much getting ready to run from garage to garage.¬† I'm lucky, my uncle is coming with his golf cart so maybe I'll hitch a ride with him and we'll have some fun.
But as far as getting from track to track on Friday night, I'm not quite sure if we're going to take my car or if we're going to take one of the crew guys' cars.  We'll see about that.  But I have a lot of fun with that, Thompson running around on that scooter.  I might have to go pick one up and bring one up to Loudon because that would be pretty funny, scooting around on scooters.  But we'll see; it's all about being prepared, having your schedule ready, knowing where you've got to be, and this is what I've been preparing for for months and just being ready.

Q.  Looking at a similar question that they had with Ricky Craven, Mike Stefanik is having his final season this year, Ted Christopher, Jamie Tomaino, a lot of the drivers over 50.  Do you feel we're going to have a similar movement with the Modified Tour in getting another crop of young drivers in to replace some of the cars that are out there now?
RYAN PREECE:  It's hard to say because the modifieds are really one of its own because the passion that's in our series, it's really hard to describe, but you've got guys that are out there like Mike and Teddy that they want to win just as bad as I do at the age of 23.  Age is just a number, and I'm a firm believer in that.  But I definitely think you're going to see one or two or three younger guys going to be coming up through, and they've just got to be willing to learn and willing to capitalize on the opportunities that they've been given.
So that's one thing I've always preached and one thing that's always been preached to me is from Kenny Bouchard and Mike Herman Jr., they've always taught me when you're in an opportunity you've got to learn from it and not make the same mistake, and that's pretty much something I try to do, and that's pretty much it.
I mean, you can very well see that happen, the youth movement in our series, which I could see it happening, but it just comes down to the guys that get those opportunities and if they pretty much do the right thing.

Q.  Ryan, what do you think you'll learn most from veteran drivers, and in addition to that, your NASCAR Next peers, young guys working their way up?  When you step up that NASCAR ladder what do you think you're going to learn the most?
RYAN PREECE:  As far as learning from veterans, this is something that I've been doing, as far as racing like Teddy Christopher and Mike Stefanik and those guys.  It kind of comes back to the race that I had with Teddy about two weeks ago at Stafford where we were crossing each other over and racing each other hard.  Those are all moves that I saw him do in front of me when I wasn't in a battle with him.  It's just kind of like when you see somebody do something, you've got to think to yourself, how did he get his car to do that, what do I got to do to make my car do that, and when you're in that opportunity, instead of charging into the corner, if you're on the outside of him, you know he's going to throw it into the corner, why not check up, give a little bit and then cross back over.
It's all something where you've got to be paying attention as well as driving the race car, and racing is a lot of a mental game, and you have to be thinking while you're racing.
A lot of people, this is what sets some people apart is when you're out there racing, you've got to be willing to pretty much pay attention to what's going on around you, not only in front of you but what's behind you and seeing how the race is going to play out.  That's pretty much it.  I mean, just willing to be focused, pay attention and see what's going on.

Q.  Basically you're going to be going from not only one location to another, but you're also going to have to adjust from going from a modified to an SK, then to the modified, then to the Nationwide.  Basically just your thoughts on adjusting from one car to the other with different teams during the weekend.
RYAN PREECE:¬† You know, I think the biggest challenge is probably going to be the radial tire compared to the Hoosier tire.¬† Our modified tires are very aggressive, and we can get‑‑ pretty much we can hang it all out there.¬† When we get loose we can really drive through it, where it seems like the radial tire, when you get loose, you really get loose, and it's pretty difficult to drive, but it also creates good racing sometimes.
We'll see.  I think that's going to be the biggest thing, but going from modifieds to SK, I pretty much do that so much, when you get into the race car you know the difference between the SK where you can pretty much throw that car into the corner as hard as you can and it will almost stick nine times out of ten, and then in the modified it quite isn't the same.  But one thing that I'm very lucky this weekend with the modifieds and the SK is running a modified at New Hampshire is pretty much like running an SK at Stafford.  You're driving the car really, really hard every single lap, and you know, that's one thing that I saw at the test with the grip levels that the Cup rubber puts down.  You really don't even have to lift until you're completely into the corner, so it's going to create for some crazy racing, but it's going to be awesome.  I can't wait.

Q.  What would you quantify as success at the end of the Nationwide race on Saturday afternoon?
RYAN PREECE:¬† I mean, to be honest with you, me and Zach and Tommy, we've talked about it, and we're going up there, and to be honest with you, our goal is to possibly get a top 10.¬† A lot of people would think that that's‑‑ I would think a long shot, but I don't.¬† I know the amount of work that's gone into this race car, and Tommy and Zach and all the things we've been looking over from last year to this year and what we can improve on and what I can improve on, and I think it's something realistic.¬† But it's the same goals as last year, also:¬† Keep the car in one piece, don't tear it up, finish every single lap of the race and just keep getting experience and keep running.
I mean, you can't gain experience if you're out by lap 50 or 100.  So we're going to try to finish all the laps and have a good, strong run.

Q.  What's the main thing that you learned from last year's race that you think can definitely help you this year?
RYAN PREECE:¬† They drive like modifieds.¬† Believe it or not, a race car is a race car, but when you have so many different people telling you, oh, they're full‑bodied cars, there's so much roll in them, there isn't.¬† The way Nationwide, or cars the way I believe they're set up now is with platforms and they want to keep them as flat as possible, and that's sometimes jacking the left front for everything, and it's just‑‑ they drive very similar to how a modified is now.¬† Where aerodynamics and everything, that does play a difference just because clean air makes a lot of downforce on these cars and just all that stuff, but I would say that's the biggest thing.
But it's just learning the different ways of how you've got to pass guys with these cars compared to how I've been passing with a modified.
I think we'll see that all in the 200‑lap race on Saturday.

Q.  As far as how last year went, how did the race go for you?  You talked about learning from last year; what did you learn and how did that race go and where can you make some changes do you think specifically?
RYAN PREECE:  As far as throughout the race, we kept getting the car better and better.  I mean, throughout the modified race, a lot of people know I drive a car free, a lot freer than most people do.  We kind of took it easy I would say in the Nationwide car as far as keeping it a little bit locked down just to get those laps and figure out what I wanted in the car, and throughout the race we kept getting that, and I kept driving the car harder and harder and figuring out what I needed to do better.
And then obviously this year I definitely don't plan on making the same mistake with pit stops, and I learned a little bit as far as the pit zones and all that stuff.  I've been watching some videos and reading and all that stuff to get ready for it, and I don't think we'll run out of gas, either.  There's just so many different things that come into play to where I definitely feel that we could have a good strong run this year, and I know Tommy, like I said, Tommy, he's putting a lot into this.  We have the right stuff.  We have a new body on the car and ECR power under the hood, and I'm really excited for it.  We'll see when we show up and unload and get out there.  I mean, the only way we're going to find out is if I get on the track.

Q.¬† Looking at the Whelen All‑American Series with this new points system, maximum cars and getting the most points that you can is going to be important.¬† If it comes down to it in the last part of the season, would you consider running an SK modified at Waterford in order to get the most points?¬† And then looking at September, as well, would you consider‑‑ just talk about the significance of not being able to race one event at Stafford potentially and try and still win the track championship there.
RYAN PREECE:¬† Well, that's going to take a lot of winning races and Teddy to have a little bit of trouble.¬† In order for me to do that, I pretty much have to have a 50‑point lead going into that race when I'm going to miss it.
But as far as skipping the Riverhead race to go to Waterford, I mean, honestly hopefully their car count will come up a little bit and I won't have to do that, which when I commit to somebody, I commit.¬† I'm 100 percent there.¬† But if what goes my way and things start to get a little more heated up front where I can get in the top three in the Whelen All‑American Series and contend for it, I might have to start thinking about it.
But right now I'm pretty much set on I'm going to dip in there one or two more times maybe running with these guys.  So we'll see.  But right now I'm pretty happy.  We've got two wins at Riverhead, three wins at Stafford, two wins at Thompson, and hopefully we can get a win on the tour pretty soon.

Q.  You mentioned in a joking manner not running out of gas.  Can you explain to the people how you mentally don't run out of gas with such a busy weekend?
RYAN PREECE:¬† Oh, I was talking about last year we ran out of gas, like literally ran out of gas with three to go.¬† But physically, I mean, to be honest with you, I was just thinking about that because how people think probably racing that much could affect your performance, but to be honest with you, with racing, the more you race, the better you are, and the more you're ready to go.¬† Where it seems like some guys if they race once a weekend or whatever and they'll get that pre‑race butterfly feeling, where me, it's like walking into your house and sitting on the couch.¬† It just comes natural and you're ready to go.
I'm extremely lucky to race as much as I do and have the owners I do and the race cars I do.  It makes racing fun.  Every time you show up to the racetrack, you know you have your car that's contending to move forward and to possibly win races.  As far as not running out of gas mentally, I don't know, I mean, eat a lot of chicken and exercise regularly during the week.  I mean, that would be pretty much it.

Q.  You've got short races, you've got long races, you've got a longer race, different teams, different cars.  When the dust settles Monday morning, in your mind what will make this weekend a success for you?
RYAN PREECE:  Winning a lot of races, but realistically, just having strong runs.  Every racer is happy if they're contending for the win and battling it out, and if you don't win and you finish second or third and you were right there duking it out, you know, that's just as much as a win.
But I would say realistically, running really strong at Stafford in that SK modified, contending for the win in the All‑Star Race, at least winning at Loudon.¬† I've been trying for so long, and I know there's a lot of other guys that have been, but it would be really nice to win there.¬† I couldn't even describe the feeling that it would be to win at New Hampshire.
Hopefully if I end up there, I'll let everybody know, and in that Nationwide car, I just want to do what I feel that I'm more than capable of doing, and I know Tommy is doing everything he can to give me that opportunity with this car, and Zach McGowan, he's a great guy and he's listening to everything I tell him and I'm listening to everything he tells me.  We're looking forward to it, and we're going to see what we can do and give it our best.

Q.  There's a lot of speculation on when you're going to make your move and transition to North Carolina to pursue a career in one of NASCAR's three national divisions.  Any word on that?
RYAN PREECE:  I mean, as far as moving down there, I'm a firm believer in if I'm going to move, I want to have something in place and be ready.  I really don't think moving down there is going to create more of an opportunity for me just because I think winning races and running as much as I do creates more opportunity than being there.
You know, I'm more than willing to jump on a plane on Monday or Sunday or whatever it takes to go talk to somebody, but right now it's just trying to get that opportunity, and Tommy has presented it to me.  We'll see where it goes from here and see what we can do this weekend with it.

Q.  What about being part of the NASCAR Next program?  Has that opened doors for maybe to launch more than just one or two races a year in say the NASCAR Nationwide Series or maybe even the Truck Series?  Your name is talked about a lot around the garage area but some people feel like you have that out of sight, out of mind mentality because you're racing so much in the Northeast.
RYAN PREECE:¬† That could be extremely true.¬† That's very true, but at the same time, if I had those opportunities to be in front of them and be racing with them, I would be there in a heartbeat.¬† It's not the fact that I don't want to be there and that I don't want to move outside the Northeast.¬† It's more of‑‑ it's really more of just the opportunity to do these type of races.¬† It really hasn't been presented.¬† But if you look at it, I ran the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown where I've never run a late model stock, and we were going for third there in the last 50 laps, and unfortunately it was just a racing deal where I restarted 20th and got back to 10th.¬† But we had a really strong car, and any chance I can get to go down there where‑‑ I don't have the amounts of money that some people do to get those opportunities, so they don't come quite as easy, but I can promise you when you do get those opportunities, I'm going to run good and do everything I can to run good.
And as far as NASCAR Next, it's created a lot of opportunity for me.  It's created my name to be more than just the Northeast.  It's got it to where people are talking about me in the garage.  Now I'm doing the best I can, and I know NASCAR is doing the best they can, and everybody is doing the best they can.  It'll come down to being at the right place at the right time and proving myself.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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