● Taking On The Roval: Ryan Preece and the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Ford Mustang will stay close to home for some road-course racing on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, October 8 with live coverage on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
● By The Numbers: The Bank of America Roval 400 marks Preece’s fourth Cup Series start on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course. His first start on the course came in 2019 for JTG-Daugherty Racing, when he qualified 14th and finished 21st. His second came in 2020 and marks his best at the track – 14th. Preece didn’t compete on the Roval last season and this weekend will mark his first start with SHR. Preece made his lone Roval appearance in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2018 for Joe Gibbs Racing. He started 10th and finished fourth. The Cup Series has already competed at four road courses this season – Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International – and on the downtown streets of Chicago for NASCAR’s inaugural street race. In the June race at Sonoma, Preece won the Friday ARCA Menards Series West race and on Sunday earned his season-best Cup Series road-course finish of 13th.
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● All About HaasTooling.com: Back again in 2023 and joining Autodesk as a co-primary partner this weekend is HaasTooling.com, the cutting tool division of Haas Automation led by SHR 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.
● Last Weekend: On the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway high banks last weekend, Preece started 19th and showed speed from the first wave of the green flag. He led eight laps en route to a ninth-place finish in Stage 1. The team executed solid pit strategy throughout the race and used the final laps of the race to forge to the front. Preece raced his Ford Mustang to an eighth-place finish.
● Where He Stands: Preece heads to the Roval 25th in the driver standings with 529 points.
Coming off a strong weekend at Talladega with an eighth-place finish, what kind of momentum does that give the team heading into the final five races of the season?
“Eighth place at Talladega, I’ll take it. We even led a few laps and got some stage points in Stage 1. The superspeedways are all about track position and that was the name of the game all day long. Our team worked hard to execute smart tire strategy and fuel strategy throughout the day. My Ford Mustang was fast all day and I knew if we could make that high line work with the other Fords, we could take off. It was a really fun weekend and a finish that this team needed. We’ll keep that momentum going this weekend at the Roval.”
Another road course this weekend and you and your team have shown improvement on these types of tracks. What’s your mindset like for the weekend?
“The road-course program at SHR has been strong and I feel like I’ve improved as a driver on the road courses. That’s not the background I come from, so it’s something that I had to work on, but we put a lot of work into it and I think we’ve shown great improvement. We won the ARCA race at Sonoma earlier this season and had a really decent run in the Cup car there, too, and got a top-15 finish out of it. I haven’t been on the Roval since 2021 but I’ve put in a lot of work in the simulator. Simulator time is definitely key with the road courses so you can study the turns and where you need to be on the racetrack. Track position will be big since passing is going to be so tough, so we’re going to really put an emphasis on our qualifying laps and trying to get a starting spot up front. I feel good heading into the weekend and I think we’ll have a good race.”
Do you think racing on the Roval will be similar to any other road courses you’ve raced on this season?
“All the road courses have a lot of similiarities and differences, I think. You’re only partially on the throttle in certain places and then you’re in a braking zone and you’ve got to be able to know when and where to take advantage of those shift points. It’s an aggressive road course and it’s going to be tough to pass, especially in some of the corners. Having everything memorized beforehand is what’s going to be important so you can spend those first laps of practice getting yourself and your car right and feeling out the grip on the racetrack. Once I got the hang of things at Sonoma, I felt really comfortable, so I’m hoping it will be the same thing this weekend. I know it’s going to be aggressive every lap, especially with those guys fighting for their spot in the next round of the playoffs, so our goal is to be smart and aware and stay out of the messes so we can be there in good position at the end.”