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Preece Finishes 9th, Records Best Finish of 2024


Ryan Preece during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

RIDGEWAY, Va. — Ryan Preece thought he had a car capable of mixing it up toward the front Sunday at Martinsville, but ultimately didn’t have the track position in an eventual ninth-place finish.

It’s Preece’s best result of the season and he took solace in running arguably his best race to this point. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver ended up 13 spots higher than where he started. Still, he thought a better qualifying effort could’ve improved the overall result of the weekend.

“Plus 13 for the day, so on a day where I don’t think we saw a whole lot of passing, I would say it was somewhat a win even though I felt like I had a really good car,” Preece said. “To come from where we did, I felt like we did a good job. Ultimately just got to qualify better.

“Unfortunately, had to start 22nd because we got loose on that qualifying lap and had to start a lot deeper, but my car drove pretty good. Just ultimately came down to track position and we couldn’t really get it on pit road, but it was one of those things where you ended up with — I’ll take a ninth today.”

Preece made small gains throughout the race, getting up to 19th at the end of Stage 1 and finishing 14th in Stage 2. After an early spin kicked off the final stage, the race went green for the next 180 laps, putting things into the drivers’ hands.

But for the second consecutive race, a caution came out with two laps to go. John Hunter Nemechek hit the wall and went up in flames, setting up NASCAR Overtime.

Nearly all the leaders stayed out except for Denny Hamlin, who pitted for four tires. Restarting 13th with two to go, Preece went to work. He took the bottom lane and went three wide on Todd Gilliland and Erik Jones, advancing past them and into the top 10.

As the race featured long runs and minimal passing, Preece stayed on the lead lap and slowly climbed through the field. But he refused to claim he was just trying to survive the 400-lapper. He truly believed he had a car capable of contending.


Ryan Preece during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. (Photo: Wayne Riegle | The Podium Finish)

“We’re all getting everything that you can get, whether you’re running 33rd or 10th,” Preece said. “We’re all driving our absolute asses off, there’s just only so much you can do as a race car driver and I felt like we had a pretty good race car. If you put me in third or whatever or on a restart, I felt like we had short-run speed and we had everything that it took to fight. You just can only do so much from back there, and ultimately, qualify better, execute and you will have track position.”

Before Sunday’s Cook Out 400, Preece had just two finishes inside the top 20. He got behind early in the Daytona 500 with a speeding penalty, suffered damage Lap 1 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and ended up in a backup car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Plus, Preece and the No. 41 team had a 35-point penalty for improper roof air deflectors at Atlanta.

Preece’s previous best finish of 14th came three weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway. But going into the second short track race of the season at Richmond Raceway, they struggled mightily — finishing 28th and a lap off the pace.

But ultimately, missing it last week may have been the reason why Preece and crew chief Chad Johnston hit on it at Martinsville.

“Richmond was just a learning day as far as what we don’t want to do,” he explained. “I think we learned those lessons at Richmond last week, tried a different approach this week and then it paid off. So even when you have a bad day, you can learn from that.

“I’d love to have better finishes. I’d love to not have the penalty that we’ve had. But certainly, even though we’ve had — I don’t want to say shitty luck because, at the end of the day, you make your own luck. But ultimately, we’re ahead of where we were last year with no penalty.”

The NASCAR Cup Series returns on Sunday, April 14 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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