Friday, Sep 22

Ford Performance - Ryan Preece New Hampshire Advance

RYAN PREECE, No. 41 Mohawk Northeast Ford Mustang – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS GOING BACK TO YOUR ROOTS IN THE NORTHEAST? “For myself, having a lot of experience, I’ve been racing at New Hampshire since 2007, so think about 16 years of going and racing on that track. There’s a lot of places that we go to on the NASCAR Cup schedule and a lot of us drivers that are newer, I don’t want to say have a disadvantage, but we don’t have as much track time as some of the others. So, when I go to New Hampshire Motor Speedway and even though it’s been in different types of race cars, I look at this weekend as a similar opportunity as when we went to L.A. The quarter-mile background was something that really fit my style and this Next Gen car and all my laps at New Hampshire, I feel like I have a good understanding of what I need to go fast there, and obviously I hope it translates this weekend.”


A NEW TIRE THIS WEEKEND. HOW MUCH DOES THAT IMPACT YOUR SIMULATION? “That’s a good question. For me, there are some what-ifs. You really don’t know how that tire is going to react until we do get there or I get some lap times there, but they did a wheelforce test, I want to say it was a few weeks ago or a month or so ago, so there is some data there and we use the tools the best we can with not having testing for ourselves now, so that’s why going into Monday and Tuesday post-New Hampshire Motor Speedway is going to be a nice moment for our 41 team and SHR to gather more data for ourselves.”


DO YOU LOOK AT POINTS RIGHT NOW OR DO YOU JUST TALK ABOUT A STRATEGY TO WIN OR GET BETTER WEEK TO WEEK? “I think we’ve gotten better. We’ve gotten consistent, but not nearly where we want to be. I would say we’ve consistently been around the 15th spot and the next goal is top 10s, top 5s and this week at Atlanta I felt like we’ve been bringing closer cars. We’ve been bringing cars that I feel like I’m getting real comfortable with, so to go back and answer your question, this is a weekend that I feel like, similar to Martinsville, that if we execute, we bring a really fast race car, I do my job and we do everything right, we can sneak one in. I don’t think we’re not capable of winning. We’re certainly able to do that, so I would say New Hampshire, Richmond is somewhere I’m looking forward to going to and some of these road courses there are a lot of opportunities to try and be off on strategy and execute and win. I think that’s really the goal.”


IS THERE ANY DANGER OF PUTTING TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON YOURSELF OR YOUR TEAM TO DO IT THIS WEEKEND? “I’ve put pressure on myself my entire career and these guys, whether it’s my pit crew, who a lot of these guys, this is a pressure sport. If you can’t perform in a pressure situation, then you’re probably not going to continue to do this, so myself, I enjoy pressure situations and I feel really comfortable with them as well as my crew, my crew chief and also my pit crew. That’s kind of the motto and everything that we live by is performing.”


IS THIS A RACE YOU’VE HAD CIRCLED ON YOUR CALENDAR? “Absolutely. I put a lot of preparation at going over details with Chad and amongst my team every week, but when you see places like this, you put in that extra little bit, that little bit more to make sure because you know at the end of the day, me going to New Hampshire versus me going to Kansas is my opportunity to win at a place like New Hampshire is greater. Definitely, I have a really good idea and feel for what I need to get around New Hampshire Motor Speedway fast. We’ve been heading in that direction. I feel really confident with what we’re bringing that we can be a contender.”


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN DRIVING A MODIFIED VERSUS A CUP CAR AT NHMS? “From the modified standpoint, they’re restricted. They have restrictor plates. We can’t shift in those cars, but they do have 15-inch wide tires. Aerowise, they’re a lot different, but the groove and how I grew up racing at my local short tracks is very – I’ll use Stafford as an example – is very similar to how I’d want to race the Cup car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Obviously, the Cup car I feel like in the modifieds you just try to run that outside lane, keep momentum up, you draft and slingshot. We don’t have that in the Cup cars. It’s very much like a bigger short track. Obviously, it’s one mile, but the basics of how you’d want to attack racing Stafford is very similar to how you’d want to race Loudon in a Cup car.”


WHAT ABOUT RICHMOND MAKES YOU SO CONFIDENT? “Just off of earlier this year. We didn’t have qualifying or practice and we drove up to run around the 10th-12th range, so I felt like with all the stuff that we’ve learned over the course of the past four months and the feel that I’m looking for and getting closer to that feel, we’ve definitely been putting more of an emphasis on qualifying, so if we can qualify well at Richmond, I feel like all the things and the sim sessions that we’ve had have told me that we should be able to execute and run really well at Richmond.”


THAT WILL BE THE SECOND TRACK YOU’VE BEEN TO TWICE WITH THIS TEAM. HOW MUCH DOES THAT HELP? “I think every time you go back and you have something to look at off of what you did. You within your own team and have an idea of what you fought and what your team brought with the setup – it’s definitely something that we can build on, so I think that showed. Even though we lost a cylinder at Atlanta earlier this year, I felt like in the race we had a car that I could go bottom, middle, top. I could do the things I want to do as a driver and that’s just a product of Chad Johnston and I working together and our entire team trying to find the feel that I want, so, yeah, I think when we go to places twice, we’re gonna see some big improvements.”


POCONO IS NEXT WEEK, SO HOW DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE IS THAT TRACK? “I think you’ve just got to attack that place so different, but from a driver’s standpoint, something myself as a driver, I really like the tunnel turn. I like that feeling of not necessarily being out of control, but being on the racer’s edge. I’ve always enjoyed racing there and this is no different. Chad and I, we ran the truck race together there last year and ran really well, so he knows the feel that I’m looking for and he’s had a lot more time with this Next Gen car. He’s a badass, so we’re looking forward to it.”


YOU ARE TESTING NEXT WEEK AT NHMS. HOW CRITICAL IS THAT AND WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS? “It’s an opportunity for us drivers, NASCAR and Goodyear to get it to where we can put a great show on for the fans, but have a compromise for us drivers that something that we feel is what we want for a short track package. I’ll leave it at that right now. I’m very optimistic. I’m really excited about it because this part of the sport, it’s very dynamic. We have road courses. We have intermediates. We have short tracks and we have superspeedways and this is an opportunity for me and the other drivers to shape the short track package to what could be great, and I’m excited to have a hand in that.”


WITH ONLY SIX DRIVERS IN THE TEST, IS THERE A CHANCE YOU GUYS TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU FEEL ON THE TRACK AND TRY TO GET THE RIGHT FEEL, OR IS IT MORE INDIVIDUAL BASED? “There’s definitely got to be communication between all of us and have an understanding of what we’re all trying to achieve. Myself, something we always talk about is fall off. We want, and I’ve always been a driver in the past and I’m gonna use North WIlkesboro as an example. That was probably one of the first races where I’ve ever had to go 50 percent at the beginning of a race to still have 50 percent at the end of the race. It was just a completely different way. A lot of drivers talk about the old days of you could have a guy take off and lead 15-20 laps, but he burned his stuff up and he’d pay the price and lose 5-10-20 spots, whatever it may be. That’s what we want. We want to have more tools in our toolbox to where if we don’t have the fastest car, what can I do as a driver to beat them? We just want to have more opportunities to showcase those skills.”


HOW DO YOU MENTALLY GET OVER THE CHALLENGE OF EVERYONE GIVING 100 PERCENT, BUT CIRCUMSTANCES SOMETIMES GETTING IN THE WAY AND HOLDING YOU BACK? “It’s a building process. I’ve built enough race cars to know that some things can happen overnight and sometimes they take time. One thing I will say is we’ve been doing a good job of executing for what we can and sometimes the chips are stacked against you with track position or whether cautions fall untimely, but you need to know within your team that everybody is pulling the rope in the same direction and that’s the case. I see the gains each week, the little gains that we make each and every week, so even though, like for example, Atlanta 24th but we ran top 10 a good amount of that race until it ended, and I felt like we would have been fighting in the top 10 or top 5 had that weather not come in. Most people are gonna see 24th, I see a day of ‘hey, we had a good handling race car, let’s continue in this direction.’”


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