By: Ashley McCubbin
The trip down to Florida in February typically sets the tone for the rest of each series’ seasons in regards to car count and the competition level. If World Series Speedweeks was any indication, it could be a very good year to be behind the wheel of a modified.
The modified portion of the event witnessed over 30 cars on the starting grid each night, with several different faces vying for wins throughout the week as the cream rose to the top.
“I just think that the modified tour set the base, but Ricky Brooks did a phenomenal job at New Smyrna Speedway with the World Series,” Ryan Preece told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “I remember when there was only nine or 10 cars showing up, so he really did lay a really good base for the modifieds down at New Smyrna, as far as tech goes, to keep everyone in line and to know when you showed up, you weren’t behind the eight ball. I think just everybody is at the point they want to race again and get out of the house, and yeah, it was cool to see 30 plus modifieds at New Smyrna.”
While not a tour event per say, it has increased the already growing excitement surrounding the series season opener at Martinsville Speedway on April 8. After long-term comments from both fans and competitors alike, the famed paperclip returns to the schedule in 2021.
Preece was one of two drivers who partook in a test at the facility ahead of the event last week, with excitement beaming off of him after getting on-track.
“Man, this place was made for it I can tell you that. Modifieds are light and fast, and they’ve got a lot of tire and a lot of grip. So, all smiles out of me today. It’s pretty cool,” he expressed. “They’re a fun race car to go out and basically drive really, really hard. The harder you drive it, the more rewarded you are. That’s what is exciting about it. It was actually really cool.”
When pushed as to what car he likes to drive more – the modified or the Cup car, Preece kept the answer simple – he just likes racing.
“A Cup car is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. I love working with JTG and the No. 37 guys and just fine-tuning those things. But I also enjoy racing Modifieds, just like I’m sure Kyle Larson enjoys racing his Sprint car or Christopher Bell enjoys running his Midget or some of these guys doing those things,” he added. “So, it’s a nice refresher to kind of come out here and it’s no different than if you’re a kid going and racing a Go Kart in a sense. You get excited. I’m having a lot of fun here today. I’m lucky enough that Ed and Connie Partridge, who own the Modified team that I race for, they have a new guy that’s taken over maintaining and setting these cars up. He’s a young kid that I have a lot of faith in, and I’m really excited about working with him this year.”
In-between his Cup schedule, Preece has expressed interest in running as many modified events as possible. In looking at potential to see his opportunities grow, he said he’d be interested in seeing the ground pounders back on a road course.
“They’re pretty fun. But I don’t really know,” he responded when asked as to what track to add to the schedule. “I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into it. I guess there are some really cool short tracks out there. New Smyrna would be a really cool race track to see open up on the Modified Tour. Hopefully it can happen soon.”