Story By: THUNDER ROAD – BARRE, VT – Thunder Road announced today that NASCAR Cup Series racer and Tour-type Modified standout Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT will compete in this year’s Essex Equipment Vermont Governor’s Cup on Thursday, July 15.
Preece will drive a car prepared by American-Canadian Tour and NASCAR Busch North Series legend Dale Shaw, who will also serve as his crew chief for the event.
Preece is in the middle of his third full-time season with the NASCAR Cup Series. He currently sits 24th in points driving for JTG Daughtry Racing. Prior to joining the team, Preece won two Xfinity Series races for Joe Gibbs. The Governor’s Cup will be Preece’s first time racing at the “Nation’s Site of Excitement” and his first time in an ACT Late Model.
“I’ve never run at Thunder Road, so I’m pretty excited about it,” Preece said. “It will be nice, being able to jump into one of those cars, it seems like quite the racey track. I’m excited about it, and the ACT Late Models always put on a great show.”
Preece first came to the racing community’s attention an accomplished Modified racer. He earned his chance in NASCAR’s top series by winning multiple Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park championships and the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title. Preece also helped Ed and Connie Partridge win the 2017 Whelen Modified Tour owner’s championship. He has 22 wins on the series.
Even with his NASCAR Cup schedule, Preece continues to compete in Modified events around the region. He ran the NASCAR Modified event at New York’s Oswego Speedway this past Saturday and is planning to run multiple Outlaw Open Modified Series events at Thompson Speedway. Preece also won a SMART Modified Tour event at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway in early April.
Come July 15, he will turn his attention the Barre high banks. Although the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models are far different from the NASCAR Cup cars and Tour-type Modifieds he’s used to, Preece is eager to get to up to speed.
“To me, I’ve always looked at it as every race car is the same, and they all want to go left,” Preece said. “You just have to get them driving right. Thunder Road looks like a track I can relate to with all the tracks that I’ve been to. I don’t really know what to expect, but I can honestly tell you I’m going to show up and give 120 percent and try to win. That’s what I do as a race car driver, right? So I’m excited about it.”
Preece will be the latest NASCAR star to try their hand at Thunder Road. Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace, and David Ragan have all come to the “Nation’s Site of Excitement” over the past 15 years. Oklahoma’s Christopher Bell, who won his first NASCAR Cup race in February, was the most recent invader with a ninth-place finish in 2019.
However, a NASCAR “ringer” has not won at Thunder Road since the mid-1970s, when Butch Lindley and Bill Dennis win Vermont Milk Bowls as part of the Northern NASCAR circuit. For Preece, winning is the main goal whenever he shows up at a racetrack, so he’ll be set on breaking that drought.
“I love racing, I like competition, but I race because I want to win — just like any other race car driver, right?” Preece said. “But that’s what really drives me, is success and winning. That’s what I enjoy. I like trying out different racecars, but I want to be able to say that I’ve won in that type of car. Pretty much all the way up until this point, every different type of racecar I’ve driven, I’ve won in except for a Cup car. I’d like to continue going with that and have the ability and the chances to do those things.”
Thunder Road is next in action this Thursday, June 17 at 7:00pm for Casella Waste Systems Night. The RK Miles Street Stocks will run double features to make up their Memorial Day Classic event. They’re joined by full card for the Maplewood/Irving Oil Late Models, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, and Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warriors. The annual Kids Rides are also scheduled from 4:00-4:45pm for youngsters ages 12 and under to take a ride around the high banks.
Admission to Casella Waste Systems Night is $15 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12, and $30 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids). Advance tickets are available at www.happsnow.com/event/Thunder-Road-Speedbowl.