Ryan Preece

NASCAR’s social media take on 2020 schedule

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Several drivers and other notables took to social media to give their thoughts about the 2020 NASCAR Cup schedule, announced today:

 

 

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Ryan Preece feels he’s ‘on the right track’ heading to Martinsville

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Ryan Preece admits he’s had a roller coaster year in his first full season on the Cup circuit.

He began his tenure in the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet strong with an eighth-place finish in the Daytona 500. That was a significant accomplishment, as prior to this season Preece had just five previous starts in Cup, all coming in 2015.

But in the four races since this year’s season opener at Daytona, the Connecticut native has been on a pendulum of sorts, finishing 35th at Atlanta (crash), 25th at Las Vegas, 34th at Phoenix (crash) and 23rd this past Sunday at Fontana.

It’s been really up and down right now,” Preece said during media teleconference Wednesday. “We started off really strong at Daytona, accomplishing our goal of finishing the race. That got us to where we were. Then Atlanta, we were running really well, just didn’t really have anything to show for it.

We went to Phoenix, Vegas and California. The West Coast swing to us, the 47, wasn’t really what we wanted.”

But the 28-year-old Preece has high expectations and hopes as the Cup circuit heads back East, starting with Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

I feel like we’re on the right track for what we have to, for what I need,” Preece said. “Obviously (teammate Chris Buescher) showed a lot of speed (on the West Coast swing). It shows our cars are fast enough to be where we’re running.

It’s early, it’s only five races in. The goal is to really just keep up and keep making gains and don’t fall behind..”

Admittedly, Preece has fallen behind due to the up-and-down results he’s posted. He enters Martinsville 25th in the Cup standings, 176 points behind series leader Kyle Busch.

But he also has raced at the .526-mile paper clip shaped track in south-central Virginia several times, including winning there in the Whelen Modified Tour in 2008 (below).

His game plan for this weekend?

Just approach it like any short track that I’ve ever been to: be able to attack the corner (and) get it turned as quickly as possible.

I feel good about our chances considering JTG with Martinsville, probably one of their best racetracks they go to. Definitely looking forward to going.

Preece believes Sunday could be a breakout race for him. He cut his teeth racing on short tracks in the Northeast, much like friend and reigning Cup Series champion Joey Logano. As a result, racing at Martinsville will kind of be going back to his racing roots.

My expectations when I go to a short track are to be a contender,” Preece said. “Really at this point it’s to have a really smooth weekend, run top 10 most of the day. If we can get a top five, that would be fantastic.

Definitely short tracks like Martinsville, Bristol, New Hampshire, those are kind of in my wheelhouse. It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. When it comes to the restarts and all those moments of being aggressive, it’s something that I enjoy doing.”

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Xfinity practice report from Fontana

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Justin Allgaier wrapped up the second and final Xfinity Series practice session Friday at Auto Club Speedway with the top speed (178.059 mph).

Tyler Reddick was second fastest (177.139), followed by Christopher Bell (176.956), Kyle Busch (176.670) and Noah Gragson (176.432).

Sixth through 10th were Ryan Preece (176.280), Cole Custer (176.061), Chase Briscoe (175.794), John Hunter Nemechek (175.640) and Brandon Jones (175.200).

A total of 34 drivers took to the track in the session.

Qualifying will take place Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET.

A few hours later, the Production Alliance Group 300 race (150 laps/300 miles) will take the green flag at 5 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Click here for the full second practice speed chart.

FIRST PRACTICE:

Cole Custer was fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practices Friday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

The Stewart Haas Racing driver roared around the 2-mile high speed oval in his Ford Mustang at 177.039 mph, the only driver to exceed 177 mph.

Christopher Bell was second fastest (176.882 mph), followed by the man who is getting the most attention this weekend, Kyle Busch (176.350 mph), who is seeking to become only the second driver in NASCAR history to reach 200 wins in a career.

Busch comes into this weekend with 199 career NASCAR wins: 52 in Cup, 53 in Trucks and 94 in Xfinity. He can reach 200 with a win in Saturday’s Xfinity race or in Sunday’s Cup event.

Tyler Reddick was fourth fastest in the session (175.970 mph), leading a surge of five Chevy drivers in a row, followed by Justin Allgaier in fifth (175.833), Noah Gragson (175.653), Jeremy Clements (174.834) and John Hunter Nemechek (174.478).

Rounding out the top 10 were Austin Cindric (174.338 mph) and Ryan Preece (174.350).

The final Xfinity practice will take place later this afternoon from 4:35 to 5:25 p.m. ET.

Click here for the full Xfinity practice speed chart.

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Kyle Busch, JGR teammates take four of seven fastest spots in first of two Cup practices

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Kyle Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut in Friday’s first of two Cup practice sessions at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch paced the 40-car field with a top speed of 200.285 mph, followed by JGR teammates Martin Truex Jr. (200.200) in second, Erik Jones in fourth (200.156) and Denny Hamlin was seventh-fastest (200.044). Ryan Preece was third-fastest in a Chevrolet at 200.169 mph, while Ryan Newman rounded out the top five at 200.093 mph.

Click here for the full practice speed chart.

The second Cup practice session of the day is scheduled later this afternoon at 3:05-3:55 p.m. ET.

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State Water Heaters to sponsor Jeb Burton’s 5 races with JR Motorsports

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JR Motorsports on Wednesday announced that State Water Heaters will sponsor Jeb Burton’s five-race stint in the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series.

State Water Heaters has been involved with the Burton family since 2007, starting first with Jeb’s father, Ward Burton, in NASCAR Cup and the NASCAR Truck Series, as well as with Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and in Late Models.

“I’m very excited to continue my partnership with State Water Heaters and make the introduction between them and JR Motorsports,” Jeb Burton said in a media release. “State has been an amazing partner over the years and has become family – helping me from the very start of my career going back to Late Models.”

Burton will debut the black, orange and blue No. 8 State Water Heaters Chevrolet Camaro at Texas Motor Speedway (March 30), as well as Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 25), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Sept. 7), a return stint to Texas (Nov. 2) and the season finale at Miami (Nov. 16). Alsco and Ultimate Headers will serve as associate partners for those same five races.

Burton will share driving duties of the No. 8 through the course of the season with Spencer Gallagher, Ryan Preece, Ryan Truex and Zane Smith.

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