Despite a fourth place finish on Saturday in the Performance Plus 150, Ryan Preece likely couldn’t wait to leave Myrtle Beach Speedway after an exhausting first race back as a full-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver.
His afternoon began with a minor crisis as the lift gate on his team’s hauler failed to unload his No. 6 entry. A crane eventually had to be rented from off-site to help raise and lower the car down into the pit area. As for the race itself, Preece spent a majority of the event riding just outside of the top-5 in an effort to conserve his tires. He pit under caution with 18 laps to go and seemed set up to make a late charge but needed green flag laps to do so.
They never came as the final 15 laps were marred by several lengthy cautions. Preece survived the melees and passed a majority of the cars on attrition, but wishes the race could have played out less chaotically.
“That’s a byproduct of what happens when drivers are forced into a situation when they feel like they have to go win a race right now,” Preece said afterwards. “What really I think caused it was riding around for so many laps under caution when I think we should have went red flag.
“That’s 100 percent how I feel put every driver out there in a position where they had two laps to win that race.”
The Lap 128 caution forced cars to ride around for 10 laps until the race could be resumed. That combined with the carnage over the final five just went against the TS Haulers team strategy.
“I had rear tires that had four laps on them, four legitimate laps, that’s it,” Preece said. “My every intention was late pitting and I think it probably had a good chance of working if we didn’t ride around. Like I said, we came in with 20 to go and I figured we’d go green with 17 to go and we ended up going green with nine or eight.
“And then, after another caution, you have two to go. It really puts every driver out there in a bad situation when you’re trying to win the race.”
Preece felt like he probably had a car better than fourth and was largely satisfied with a good points day. Still, between the track-specific tire rule and his team’s performance, Preece hopes to make additional gains before the Icebreaker.
“I definitely still need to work on some things for the shorter tracks,” Preece said. “I don’t know. I’m happy with everything that we’ve got going but there are some things that are making me scratch my head. That’s where I’m at.”