Ryan Preece borrowed money in 2017 to pay Joe Gibbs Racing for a couple races. He won at Iowa Speedway and hoped that it was an investment well-spent.
It appears, so far, as if it wasn’t a waste. Preece earned 10 races with the team for 2018, and one of those will be Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1). It is the only race among the four events of Xfinity’s Dash 4 Cash program in which Preece will compete, so when Preece finished fifth April 7 at Texas to earn a spot among the four Xfinity drivers to qualify to compete for the $100,000 bonus at Bristol, it was a big deal.
“I had local sponsors; I borrowed money to do this,” said Preece, who primarily races modifieds in the Northeast. “So every little bit has helped pay everything back. I am ecstatic because I told people I can run up front, I can pass cars, I can restart.
“Joe Gibbs Racing is giving me that opportunity to go out there and do that. A top-5 is a pretty good day.”
Ryan Blaney won the Xfinity race at Texas but isn’t eligible for the program because he earns points in the NASCAR Cup series. Christopher Bell, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Preece are the four drivers eligible for the bonus at Bristol. Whoever is the best among those four at Bristol earns the bonus, and that driver plus the top-3 finishers (as long as they earn Xfinity points) at Bristol will be eligible at Richmond. The bonuses continue the following weeks at Talladega and Dover.
“All I have to say is I’m a short-track racer — $100,000 with one [lap] to go, it’s going to make you think twice,” Preece said. “Never dumping somebody, but it’s Bristol. It’s going to be a show.”
Preece competed full time in the series in 2016 with JD Motorsports but then decided to return full time to modifieds, where he can get paid to race instead of having to buy a ride.
“I fully intended on pretty much settling and racing modifieds for the rest of my life, and when … Carl Edwards retired [at JGR] and everything kind of shifted, I was like, ‘OK, there’s an opportunity here; I need to try and take advantage of this, and it got me to those two races, and I think you’ve seen how things have kind of taken off from there,'” Preece said.
“Every time I show up to the racetrack, I’m almost treating it like it’s my last even though I know I have 10 races right now. Each one of these races could determine my future, so that’s pretty much how I show up and that’s how I’m going to race.”