● Ryan Preece opened the 2023 points-paying season with a strong showing in Sunday’s 65th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Preece and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) qualified 20th and had the best 10-consecutive-lap average in final practice. He finished second in Stage 1 and was running up front for a majority of the second stage until he was caught up in a multicar incident in Turn 2 on Lap 183. Preece was unable to return to the race and finished 36th. Of note, Preece had the fastest lap of the race at 196.468 mph.
● Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, will be Preece’s third Cup Series start at the 2-mile oval. His first came in 2019, when he started 26th and finished 23rd. He second was in 2020, when he started 20th and finished 30th. He has three NASCAR Xfinity Series appearances at Fontana with a best finish of eighth in 2019.
● Returning to the SHR No. 41 Ford Mustang in 2023 is HaasTooling.com, the cutting tool division of Haas Automation led by team co-owner Gene Haas. HaasTooling.com was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high-quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. HaasTooling.com products became available nationally in July 2020. Haas Automation, founded in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers, rotaries and indexers, and automation solutions.
You had a strong showing at Daytona despite the unfortunate finish. What can you take from that and use moving forward?
“Track position is everything at Daytona, we learned that after qualifying and the Duel. It wasn’t the result we had hoped for and worked for, but I just want to focus on the fact that we had such a fast HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang. This opportunity is exactly what I wanted, so it’s unfortunate because I felt like we were going to put ourselves in position to give ourselves the chance to be in contention and win the race, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully, we keep unloading fast Ford Mustangs like we did this weekend, and we’ll have some fun. I’m looking forward to getting to Fontana and really getting this season started.”
You’re heading to a track with a completely different configuration than what you experienced in the first two races of the season. What are your expectations for this weekend’s race at Fontana?
“Yeah, we’ve gone to two completely different racetracks so far and we’ve had speed at both of them, so I know this weekend is completely different and more of a baseline track that most teams are looking at to see the speed. I feel confident going into it that we’re going to unload fast. Hopefully, we consistently have speed all weekend and start continuing to lay the foundation that we have with our team.”
How is your chemistry with the team?
“The communication is there. It’s really easy to work with Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and our entire group so far. It’s as if we’ve been working together for over a year. Outside of just my race team, whether it’s the fabrication shop, paint shop, the floor guys or parts room, they see me around. I feel like I already earned their respect. I’m there pretty much every day, and they see it. I’m right there with them. I already feel comfortable there, and with the foundation we’ve built. It’s just continuing to build the house and going through the steps. I’m certainly excited going forward and very eager to see how we are off the truck, and really where we’re going to be moving forward.”