By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After earning a top-10, there was no need to knock off the rust for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ryan Preece. Preece made his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the 2018 season in the Rosanne 300 at Auto Club Speedway. The road to a ninth-place finish was a rocky one however.
In the final run to the finish, Preece had to climb his way up through the field in the No. 18 Rheem Toyota Camry. While battling Cole Custer for fifth, Preece slid off turn two. He drifted down several lanes, leaving tire marks in his wake before catching the car just before the apron. The loss of momentum left Preece sliding back in the running order, from sixth to ninth.
“We were really good on restarts and thought we were going to be really good on the long run,” Preece explained, “but we struggled there and for a place like this, it’s going to bite you. Overall, we got ninth so a top-10 and we’ll build on this for Texas.”
Prior to the slide, Preece had several run-ins with the outside wall. He bounced off the wall exiting turn four on multiple occasions. Eventually, the hits caused a tire rub that cut his tire. Luckily for Preece, the carcass of the tire worked its’ way out of the wheel well without causing damage. It also resulted in a caution with 28 laps to go as the carcass came to rest in turn two.
The ninth-place finish was just the sixth top-10 finish in Preece’s NASCAR Xfinity Series career and came in his 41st start. His next scheduled race with the team comes in two weeks at Texas Motor Speedway. It will be the second of the 10 races that Preece currently has scheduled with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Preece believes that the seat time will be beneficial for his next outing with the team,
“Seat time is everything so the more and more we’ve got going – we made the car better, we just couldn’t complete the corners. If you break a car down into five points, the fourth and fifth points – to make the straightaway as long as possible, we just struggled. Overall, I’m happy we didn’t wreck. Solid day I guess, but we need to build on it to keep climbing that ladder a little bit.”
Now Preece and his entire No. 18 Toyota Camry team will prepare to improve on their top-10 finish in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.