One Day University Business School is coming to Hartford DEC 7th at Dunkin Donuts Park! Register now

Preece Holds Off Rocco for SK Modified Win At Thompson Speedwa

Special to The Courant

THOMPSON — Keith Rocco's ownership of the SK Modified division at Thompson Speedway in 2018 came to an end Saturday night.

Ryan Preece held off Rocco's charges over the closing stages to win the 30-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature Saturday.

Rocco had won the first three SK Modified features of the season at Thompson coming into Saturday's event.

"It was fun," said Preece, of Berlin. "I had fun because I ended up winning. It was a race, that's for sure."

Rocco, of Wallingford, ended up second. Woody Pitkat of Stafford was third.

Rocco rocketed to the lead at the start with Todd Owen following him to second and Preece to third in the opening stages. Preece passed Owen soon after and, after stalking Rocco for a spell, made the move for the lead on lap 20. But the pass was negated when a crash at the back of the field brought out the caution.

Rocco was able to hold off Preece on two ensuing restarts, but on lap 24 Preece used the low lane into turn three to grab the lead.

A lap later, Rocco tried a diving move into three and briefly regained the lead. But Preece deftly slowed hard through the corner and let Rocco drift up the track. Preece went low to retake the lead before the close of the lap. From there, Preece controlled the race on the way to victory.

"With the SK Modifieds, the draft comes into play," Preece said. "I knew my car was better through the corners. Just sometimes, when you get that guy, if he can stay within a half [a car length] off of you coming off the corner he can usually get to you or try to pull a dive bomb on you when you're getting [into the corner]. That's what happened in [turn] three, so I checked up hard and got back under him and tried to make sure I had two solid corner to kind of inch away to where he couldn't get that sniff of a draft."

After the race, Preece announced that he has been added to the entry list for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lakes Region 200 on July 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

When his 10-race 2018 schedule on the XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing was announced, one of events that seemed glaringly missing was the Lakes Region 200, the only visit for the XFINITY Series to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2018.

In his first career XFINITY Series start for Joe Gibbs Racing, Preece finished second to Monster Energy Cup Series star Kyle Busch in the 2017 Lakes Region 200 at NHMS.

"Going to New Hampshire … I'm very excited," Preece said. "Obviously, we don't have a lot of race tracks in New England for [Monster Energy Cup Series] or XFINITY [Series] or any of the big three. That's really the only one we go to. Last year, we finished second. We had a little bit of luck there with [ Brad] Keselowski having a penalty. Really, I think we were a third place car."

In his next XFINITY Series start following last year's event at NHMS, Preece got his first victory with the series at Iowa Speedway. He recorded finishes of fourth and fifth in two more starts for Gibbs in 2017.

"I'm looking forward to going back and knowing what I know now to try and make ourselves a little better, be better on the long run, and try to win there," Preece said. "Ultimately, I think that would be pretty freaking cool. … I've got a lot of laps there and it kind of falls into my wheelhouse."

This year, Preece has made four XFINITY Series starts so far for the team, with a victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on April 14.

In eight starts for Joe Gibbs Racing, dating back to last year's event at NHMS, Preece has two victories, six top-fives and seven top-10s. His only finish outside the top-10 for Joe Gibbs Racing came at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, when he retired after 51 of 105 laps with an overheating car.

In addition to running the part-time schedule with the XFINITY Series this year, Preece also is running full-time with the Whelen Modified Tour and in the SK Modified division at Thompson Speedway.

He has two victories in six Whelen Modified Tour starts this year and will compete in both the Whelen All-Star Shootout for the division on July 20 at NHMS and the Eastern Propane & Oil 100 on July 21 in Loudon.

Copyright © 2018, CT Now
44°