By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
For the second time in the last four starts, Ryan Preece has failed to finish after crashing into the Turn 2 tire barriers in the Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Monday, resulting in a red flag.
On the 80th lap, Preece restarted alongside Tyler Reddick in row three, but the inside lane got the push, and he couldn’t challenge Reddick.
Therefore, his challenger became John Hunter Nemechek at the South Short Chute. Preece was able to get an advantage over Nemechek and was running in sixth.
However, Nemechek tapped Preece at the entry of Turn 2, and ricocheted his No. 18 Rheem Toyota Camry into the barriers at full force.
Large cloud of smoke came out of his Joe Gibbs Racing machine, but he was able to get out of his mangled car unharmed.
The accident marked the seventh and final caution of the race, and Preece’s second retirement since running a partial schedule for Gibbs.
Preece felt that Nemechek made contact with him as a result of the nature of restarts at Indy, and Nemechek getting loose at the entry of Turn 2.
“It felt like somebody got into my left rear or the air just completely whipped the back of the car around. We had a really good Rheem No. 18 Joe Gibbs Toyota. I don’t know, man,” said Preece.
“These restarts are tough for sure. The air is just off it at that point. I don’t know. It’s tough. You try to get all that you can. Probably when he (John Hunter Nemechek) got loose is when I felt the air right there. Tough deal. It’s upsetting for sure, but I’ll be back in the next eight weeks.”
Preece added that the impact was hard, forcing NASCAR to stop the race to repair the barriers which lasted under 10 minutes.
In addition to the impact, Preece was disappointed to not be in contention for a race win at the Brickyard.
“Tough, tough situation for sure. Wish it was different. Wish I was still out there,” said Preece.
“This is a pretty special place to me, so to be out early definitely isn’t something I wanted to be, but we had a pretty fast race car today. Our Rheem No. 18 Joe Gibbs Toyota, it was almost as fast as Xfinity internet. Just really upsetting to be out this early.”