Ryan Preece To Drive For Gary Putnam at New Hampshire
By KYLE SOUZA
Ryan Preece is going to be a busy man next weekend.
Friday, the Berlin, Connecticut, driver will compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Richmond Raceway for Joe Gibbs Racing. Shortly after the checkered flag, Preece will start traveling up north to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he will compete in the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Musket 250 on Saturday afternoon.
Preece will drive the No. 77 Curb Records Chevrolet for car owner Mike Curb in the longest race in the history of the Whelen Modified Tour. The car is the same one that Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series star Ryan Newman drove to the pole and a third-place finish in July, and is the car that Gary Putnam drives and maintains.
“Ryan and I are friends, we have been for a while and he’s driven my car five or six times now,” Putnam said of the decision to have Preece run the car. “He was able to win a couple of Whelen Southern Modified Tour races in it (in the past). I was planning on running the 250 myself, but he called me about a month ago and asked if I was running and he asked me to practice and qualify the No. 6, but I told him I was running my own car.”
“After Oswego (Speedway), he asked me to practice and qualify the car, and he said how about I’ll run your car on Saturday. I thought it was a pretty good idea.”
With Preece competing at Richmond, Putnam will drive the car for practice and qualifying on Friday, before Preece takes the wheel when he arrives. Preece has 22 wins across 12 years of Whelen Modified Tour competition including winning the 2013 series championship.
In his modified career at NHMS, he has one victory, which came as part of the non-points Whelen All-Star Shootout at New Hampshire in July of 2017. He has yet to win a points-paying event at the 1.058-mile oval. In 47 career Xfinity starts, including the last 11 with Gibbs, Preece has two wins and nine top-10 finishes.
Like many Whelen Modified Tour competitors, Putnam is intrigued to see how the race plays out. He will be catching all the action from pit road when Preece comes in for tires and fuel.
“I was really excited to hear about it when it came up at the end of last year,” Putnam said of the event. “It’s something that I had penciled in that I said I wanted to drive myself, no matter if I had to sit out a few races to afford it. I grew up around the Thompson 300 and I always thought that was the biggest event of the year. For New Hampshire Motor Speedway to pick up this tradition and have a big modified event, I think it is really neat.”
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the inaugural Musket 250 on Saturday, September 22, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.