In racing, it pays to be good and sometimes it pays to get lucky.
Sometimes you have to create your own luck.
One of the two happened on Wednesday night as Ryan Preece won the Bud King of Beers 150 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Preece passed defending champion Doug Coby with just 16 laps remaining on the way to his 19th career Tour victory. In his last six Modified Tour starts, he has four wins, a second and a fourth. But it was the circumstances surrounding his triumph that drew a considerable amount of consternation from the pit area.
Preece was the leader on Lap 73 when the yellow flag flew for Matt Swanson spinning in Turn 3. Two laps later, the leaders were on pit road.
Every leader except Preece, that is.
Hoping for a later caution to bolt on his new tires, Preece quickly dropped to the back of the lead pack. By lap 114 Preece was running 14th when he spun in Turn 1 to bring out the caution he desperately needed to return to contention. He took his tires and that changed the dynamic of the event.
With more grip than anyone else, the 2013 champion went from 14th to first in 20 laps.
So was his spin an unfortunate but equally fortuitous occurrence or was the incident strategic in nature? Preece smiled and waited a couple of seconds before offering a response.
“I got a little nudge from behind, I don’t know, it just went around,” Preece said with a smile. “I mean, the tires were really wore out at that point.”
Even on older tires, Coby didn’t relinquish the lead without a fight. The four-time champion stayed on Preece’s tire tracks until the final laps when he cut a tire and hit the wall in Turn 1. Coby was able to continue and was scored as the runner-up as the race ended under caution.
The yellow flag froze the field on the final lap, and NASCAR officials ruled that Coby maintained a reasonable speed under caution given the track conditions.
Ted Christopher finished third, followed by Timmy Solomito and Bobby Santos. Andrew Krause, Rowan Pennink, Eric Goodale, Jon McKennedy and Woody Pitkat completed the top-10.
Solomito increased his championship points lead to 10 over Pennink, while Preece moved up to third — 19 back of Solomito — despite missing a race earlier in the season to get married. Coby and Goodale are each 11 points back of Preece.
The Bud “King of Beers” 150 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track next Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway with the running of the Bush’s Beans 150.
- Ryan Preece
- Doug Coby
- Ted Christopher
- Timmy Solomito
- Bobby Santos
- Andrew Krause
- Rowan Pennink
- Eric Goodale
- Jon McKennedy
- Woody Pitkat
- Justin Bonsignore
- Craig Lutz
- Brendon Bock
- Chase Dowling
- Max Zachem
- Dave Sapienza
- Matt Swanson
- Rob Summers
- CJ Lehmann *
- Calvin Carroll *
- Wade Cole
- Dillon Steuer *
- Jeff Rocco *
- Walter Sutcliffe Jr. *
- Melissa Fifield
- Dave Salzarulo
Paul Lambert contributed to this report.