Notes of Interest
● The NASCAR Cup Series is going left and right this weekend at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. This will be the series’ third visit to COTA, the 3.426-mile, 20-turn road course. Ryan Preece made his first and only start at the track on the outskirts of the Texas state capital in 2021 for JTG-Daugherty Racing. He started 36th and finished 15th, leading two laps and completing all 54 laps. Sunday will mark Preece’s first start at the track with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
● Preece's road-course racing background is not extensive. In his Cup Series career, he’s made 12 road-course starts. His best road-course outing was in 2021 at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course, where he started sixth and finished ninth.
● In six NASCAR Xfinity Series road-course starts, Preece has two top-five finishes and three top 10s. He has a best finish of fourth, which occurred twice in 2018, at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, respectively.
● The Cup Series wrapped up the 2023 West Coast swing two weekends ago at Phoenix Raceway and returned to the Southeast last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Preece raced for the fifth time in his Cup Series career. He dropped a cylinder during Stage 2 and fell multiple laps off the pace. The No. 41 was credited with a 28th-place finish.
● Five races into the season, Preece is 26th in the driver standings with 63 points.
● Preece’s eighth career start at Phoenix two weekends ago ended with a 12th-place finish, his best points-paying finish of the season.
● Preece was a victim of circumstances in the second event of the season at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, getting caught up in a multicar accident on a lap-88 restart and ultimately finishing 33rd. The following weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Preece battled a tight racecar all day and was credited with a 23rd-place finish.
● Preece opened the 2023 season with a strong showing in the 65th running of the Daytona 500. He and the No. 41 Ford Mustang qualified 20th and logged the best 10-consecutive-lap average in final practice. On race day, Preece finished second in Stage 1 before getting caught up in a multicar accident on lap 181. He was unable to return to the race and finished 36th.
● Back again on the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Ford Musting for 2023 is HaasTooling.com, the cutting tool division of Haas Automation led by SHR co-owner Gene Haas. HaasTooling.com was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high-quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. HaasTooling.com products became available nationally in July 2020. Haas Automation, founded in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers, rotaries and indexers, and automation solutions.
Ryan Preece, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
You had a tough day at Atlanta last weekend and fought the whole race while the team was diagnosing the problem, what happened?
“Yeah, that was a really bad day for our No. 41 Ford Mustang in Atlanta. We had an issue from the beginning and tried to limp our way through the first stage to make some adjustments. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fix the issue with our car. We had to visit pit road multiple times and we just kept going laps down. Sunday was just a real struggle all around, all day. Looking forward to putting that one behind us.”
What are your thoughts on racing at COTA?
“Road-course racing has always been something that, when it compares to short-track racing, there are a lot of things that can certainly translate but there are also so many differences, too. I don’t have a ton of experience at COTA but I’m definitely looking forward to getting there. I feel like I’m as prepared as ever, so I’m excited for it.”
In general, what is it like to race on a road course in a stock car?
“I believe in the old stock car, at least when I drove the old car, it was a lot different from what I feel like this will be. Basically, we used to take a Cup car and convert them to be able to race on road courses. But now, with these cars, it’s almost natural for them to race on road courses. I think aggressive racing and track position is going to be everything this weekend. Practice and qualifying will be crucial.”
The number of road-course races on the schedule has doubled in recent years. How does that change the way you condition, and your mental preparation?
“There are a lot of similarities when it comes to road racing and short-track racing. The racing discipline of it is definitely still the same. But, there are a lot of other road-course ringers, or whatever you’d like to call them, that have the upper hand on a lot of things. For instance, when it comes to braking, there are a lot of differences. From a preparation standpoint, though, we’ve been given all the tools we need to be as prepared as possible and, at this point, I just want to show up and go do it.”