RICHMOND, Va. – In the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s return to Richmond Raceway, Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT dominated, leading 98 of 156 laps and surviving multiple late-race restarts to win his third consecutive race over a three-month stretch and first at “The Action Track.”
“Usually you really don’t want late-race restarts, but I knew I had a really good car,” Preece said. “And I knew from the first restart we had that my car was gonna take off. I was good on the short run and good on the long run. It all worked out.”
While multiple big names and championship contenders ran into issues behind him, Preece made staying up front a point of emphasis, understanding the effect clean air has on a car at the 0.75-mile track, regardless of vehicle.
“Clean air was something I wanted,” he said. “Funny to say in a modified, but it matters. I knew the deeper you get into the pack, the less your car is going to do what you want it to do. Ultimately, I’m pretty happy we controlled the race and we had a fast race car.”
His wins at Richmond, Stafford and New Hampshire mark the fourth season in the Berlin, Connecticut, native’s career he has won three or more races on the Modified Tour. This is Preece’s final scheduled race of his Modified Tour season.
Earning his best finish of the season in the runner-up spot was Jon McKennedy. Following back-to-back 16th-place finishes at Beech Ridge and Oswego, the Tommy Baldwin-led group gained a total of 18 positions on the evening after starting back in 20th.
Ronnie Williams brought his No. 50 machine home third after leading three times for a total of 34 laps, the best finish of his career, with Cup Series veteran Ryan Newman and six-time series champion Doug Coby rounding out the top five finishers. Kyle Bonsignore, Austin Beers, Andy Jankowiak, Burt Myers and Woody Pitkat completed the top 10.
Notably absent from the front all night long were the three championship contenders: Justin Bonsignore, Patrick Emerling and Ron Silk.
Around Lap 40, Emerling’s No. 07 began smoking on track. Shortly thereafter, he brought it to the garage for service and a rear end issue was diagnosed. A handful of laps later, points leader and championship rival Bonsignore suffered a similar issue and brought his No. 51 behind the wall. The two teams worked feverishly to get back on track, only a few yards from each other.
Both Bonsignore and Emerling were able to get back on track, but returned to the garage mere laps later, ending their nights early. They finished 24th and 25th, respectively.
Their trouble meant Ron Silk, winner of the last two races on the tour, had an opportunity to pounce. But the No. 85 struggled most of the night and ultimately was involved in a crash of his own, leading to the eventual overtime finish.
With two races to go in the season, Bonsignore’s lead over Emerling in the standings is at 22 points. Up next for the Whelen Modified Tour is a trip to Riverhead Raceway on Sept. 18. Doug Coby earned both wins earlier this season, with Justin Bonsignore winning the four prior in a row (eight overall)