Courtesy of Tuesday’s fourth-place finish, two-time defending World Series of Asphalt champion Ryan Preece sits in a tie with Jon McKennedy for the top position in the Tour Type Modified Speedweeks championship.
However, Preece might want to look over his shoulder for the rest of the week, because he has a new enemy in the paddock – JR Bertuccio.
Preece and Bertuccio, who shocked the field to win Race 1 on Monday, were battling for fourth position in Tuesday’s 35-lap tour type mod feature when contact between the two drivers sent Bertuccio spinning in Turn 3 of the half-mile New Smyrna Speedway.
Preece continued on to the finish line to claim his second-consecutive top five.
After a brief delay, Bertuccio was able to get his No. 2 mod re-fired and cross the finish line in 16th. However, given the level of talent in the field, Bertuccio’s World Series championship hopes are likely gone.
After the race, Bertuccio claimed that the accident could spell the end of Preece’s title run, too.
“Preece thinks he’s a spoiled boy,” Bertuccio said. “I’m going to show him what spoiled boys get.”
As one would expect, Preece saw the incident differently.
“Unless New Smyrna Speedway decided to pave a new inside lane on the apron, I don’t believe I could do anything different,” Preece said. “If JR wanted to try and hook me going in to (Turn) 3 and spun himself trying, that’s unfortunate for him.”
Preece is one of three former World Series champions in the field, joining Ron Silk (2014) and Jimmy Blewett (2008).
Bertuccio was the surprise of Race 1 after entering the 2017 Speedweeks championship with a winless drought that dated back to a Whelen Modified Tour race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Aug. 2014, wherein Bertuccio finished 13th overall but was credited with a win as the highest-finishing Whelen Southern Modified Tour driver. His last true victory had come five months earlier at Southern National Motorsports Park.
The tour-type mods will return to New Smyrna Speedway for Wednesday for the John Blewett III Memorial 76.