Notes of Interest
Ryan Preece, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Some might consider this a comeback year for you now that you’re back to fulltime racing in the Cup Series. What does this moment feel like after all the hard work you’ve put in?
“I mean, it’s a dream come true and it’s honestly the perfect matchup. Getting this opportunity at Stewart-Haas Racing is exactly the opportunity I need to succeed. I know what I can do in a racecar and there’s nobody who’s harder on me than I am on myself. I’m going to make the best of every opportunity I get and that’s what I’ve always done. I feel like being in the position I am now with this organization and this team – it can’t get any better. I’m ready to go out there and win races. That is always my goal, every single weekend. Having Chad Johnston as my crew chief this season, too, is just another motivator. We’ve worked together before and we’re very similar. I think we work really well together. We have the same goals for this 41 team. It is a great feeling to be back fulltime in Cup. Sometimes I don’t think I let myself enjoy those moments. They are special and I’m very thankful. I’m just ready to get out there and race.”
This will be your fourth Daytona 500. You ran your first one in 2019. What was that experience like, and how will this year be different?
“To be honest with you, in 2023, I just feel like there’s going to be a lot of different challenges. I’m very optimistic going into the race because we’ve had some really strong runs previously at Daytona or even other superspeedways. But I think this will be one, at least for myself, of learning how to prepare better for these types of situations. Those last five laps, things get hectic and you’re just trying to position yourself in the right spot. That way, once you take the white flag, it’s not necessarily one lap to go there, it’s one lap going into turn three. Trying to understand that and put myself in the best situation to give myself the best opportunity to win.”
Strategy is always something talked about when NASCAR heads to superspeedways, but the Daytona 500 schedule is so unique with qualifying, the Duels, practices and the race. Do you have a specific strategy, or does it depend on the event?
“The strategy constantly changes. As far as positioning goes and where I think I need to be to give myself the best chance, it’s always changing. I’d say, in a perfect world, I know exactly where I want to be but it’s all in different circumstances.”
What is the No. 41 team’s mindset heading into the Daytona 500?
“Well, our mindset is to win. I think most teams will say that’s what their mindset is. It’s true, though, you don’t put in all this work that we do in the offseason and during the week for anything less. It’s important for our team to work closely with each other, get to know each other and then execute on the weekends. I have no doubt that we will.”
You have some experience in the NextGen car, but you didn’t get to run it every weekend last season like other drivers. What do you think that’s going to be like?
“I spent a lot of time in the simulator last season. I was really focused on learning that car and getting as much experience as I could. I think that time in the simulator definitely helped me, and I did get some seat time in a car throughout last year. Everyone was sort of learning the new car last season, so I don’t know that I’m very far off from them. It was a growing year for everyone in the series. Now it’s time to take all of that and go out and perform.”
What are your expectations for this season?
“It starts with, we need to make the Playoffs, and that’s going to be by winning. At the end of the day, that’s what it took to get in last year. From there on out, just consistency. We want consistently fast racecars. We want to continue to build consistently fast Ford Mustangs. If we do that, we can go out and perform the way we should.”