● New York State of Mind: Ryan Preece and the No. 41 United Rentals Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) are heading to the 2.45-mile, seven-turn Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road-course layout for Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen at 3 p.m. EDT. Coverage will be live on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
● By The Numbers: Sunday’s race will mark Preece’s third start at the road course in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes Region. His first outing came in 2019 for JTG-Daugherty Racing. He started 29th but had to retire from the race early due to a rear-gear issue on his No. 47 racecar. He returned with JTG-Daugherty in 2021, when he started 23rd and finished 28th. This weekend will mark his first Cup Series start at the track for SHR and his first since the 2021 race. Preece has made three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Watkins Glen, the first in 2016 for JD Motorsports, when he started 21st but was relegated to a 27th-place finish by a suspension issue. He returned in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing entry in 2018, when he started eighth and finished fourth and led eight laps. His third Xfinity Series outing at The Glen came in 2019 with JR Motorsports. He started eighth and finished 10th in that event.
●#WorkUnited: This weekend, United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI), the largest equipment rental company in the world, returns to the No. 41 Ford Mustang serving as the primary sponsor. United Rentals has an integrated network of 1,449 rental locations in North America, 13 in Europe, 27 in Australia and 19 in New Zealand. In North America, the company operates in 49 states and every Canadian province. The company’s approximately 24,700 employees serve construction and industrial customers, utilities, municipalities, homeowners and others. The company offers approximately 4,700 classes of equipment for rent with a total original cost of $19.3 billion. United Rentals is a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, the Barron’s 400 Index and the Russell 3000 Index®. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. Additional information about United Rentals is available at UnitedRentals.com.
● Turns for Troops: In an effort to make every lap a lap of honor, United Rentals is supporting military veterans and families. Through the Turns for Troops program, United Rentals will donate $50 for each lap that one of its three sponsored drivers complete during specific races throughout the season. So far this season, there have been two Turns for Troops races (Phoenix and Michigan). Preece completed all 512 laps possible and raised $25,600 for Operation Homefront. This weekend at Watkins Glen, Preece can raise a total of $4,500 for Operation Homefront if he completes all 90 laps of the race. Funds from the Turns for Troops program will go to Operation Homefront. Click here to learn more.
● Last Weekend: Preece and the No. 41 Ford Mustang took to the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last Sunday, where he qualified 30th and was not able to overcome an unscheduled pit stop due to a tire issue six laps into the race. He spent the remainder of the race trying to rally toward the front, but the final 77 laps were caution-free and Preece could finish no better than 31st.
● Where He Stands: Preece heads to Watkins Glen 25th in the driver standings with 403 points.
● VIP Race Day Experience: RaceChoice.com, a proud partner of Preece, has launched its second special racing experience giveaway for fans this season. Fans can enter through Sept. 30. The winner will receive airfare and a two-night stay in Phoenix for the season finale race weekend. RaceChoice.com will also give the winners two pit passes for the race and a meet-and-greet with Preece, driver of the No. 41 SHR Ford Mustang. Click here for more information.
What are the challenges of racing at Watkins Glen, and what is the importance of practice and qualifying there?
“Practice is really key for us. I didn’t necessarily grow up road racing, so it’s really important. I’ve logged laps at Watkins Glen before, most recently in 2021 in the Cup Series. But track position is always a topic, right? There are some things that we worked on in the Ford Performance sim to be able to prepare. But for a driver, it’s getting out there and doing it – the visuals and a lot of the braking marks that you tend to get. I mean, when you think about it, how many laps are we really going to get in practice? I think nine, 10 laps, maybe, which kind of reminds me of the SRX race when we got five laps. The only difference was that I’ve raced at Stafford all my life. So, it’s going to be extremely important to get everything we have out of the racecar and qualify really well.”
What is different about Watkins Glen compared to other road courses on the schedule?
“Comparing the Indy road course and Watkins Glen, it seems to me like going to a short track versus an intermediate track. Watkins Glen is very high-speed and it kind of flows, whereas Indy, it reminds me somewhat of COTA, where it’s a lot of transitions and making your car change direction really quickly – stop-and-go. So, from the short-track style of racing that I’ve done – the heavy braking and a lot of those things – I’m comfortable with that. But there are certainly things that I can do better as a racecar driver to be a better road racer – when it comes to the downshifting and all those things that, really, growing up racing at the short-track level, what I did is different. There’s definitely a lot of training that a driver can do to continue to grow from a road-racing perspective. We saw it at Chicago with Jenson (Button) in the Cup Series – SVG (Shane van Gisbergen) and those guys. They grew up and lived it. There is just a lot of preparation to do for a road race and they’re all different.”
What is your mindset heading into road-course weekends now?
“I mean, our team knows that we’ve got two more chances to make the playoffs and we have to win. That’s my mindset. We need to go out there and execute, make no mistakes, qualify well and be there at the end. From a road-course perspective, I didn’t run Formula 1, IndyCar or V8 Supercars, but it’s always something I’ve enjoyed because of my short-track background – heavy braking and the downshifting. All those little things you do as a race-car driver. The road-course races are ones I look forward to being aggressive and having good days. We didn’t have a good day in Indy last weekend but I’m ready to have a good day at Watkins Glen. I’ve had some good runs there in the past in the Xfinity Series and would love to pull one off this weekend.”