By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
One year removed from being the story at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Ryan Preece quietly finished inside the top-10 in his final start for Joe Gibbs Racing. The Ford EcoBoost 300 capped off a successful run in the Toyota Racing Development equipment for the Berlin, CT native.
With the race going caution free, except for stage breaks, there was little time for Preece’s team to work on his No. 18 Rheem / Watts Toyota Camry. His speed was not lost however, as he often battled with Championship Four drivers Daniel Hemric and Tyler Reddick.
However, as the final stage went caution-free, Preece’s Toyota slipped backwards. The rapid pace of the race was apparent as he took the checkered sixth, with just seven drivers on the lead lap.
In the first two stages, Preece battled with all four of the Championship Four drivers. In the second stage, he briefly fought with Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek. The sheer speed that Custer’s Ford Mustang had left both Nemechek and Preece in second and third at the end of the stage respectively.
The sixth-place finish was the 10th top-10 finish for Preece this season. Although he only competed in 15 races, he finished 21st in the Championship Standings. In 19 total races with JGR over the past two seasons, Preece’s run ends with two victories, 11 top-five, and 14 top-10 finishes. He also earned one pole position in that stretch.
Preece will now have the opportunity of a lifetime starting in February. After taking a chance on himself last year, he will move up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to drive the No. 47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 full-time for JTG Daugherty Racing.