Did Ryan Preece deliberately spin himself out to get the caution he needed to win the Bud 150 at Thompson Speedway on Wednesday night?
The answer is unclear but evidence and popular opinion overnight has worked against the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion.
Having decided not to pit from the lead on Lap 73 when everyone else behind him did, Preece found himself in a bind. He needed a caution to take on fresher tires.
He got one on Lap 114 when Preece himself spun in Turn 2.
Thanks to the caution, the 26-year-old was able to get fresh tires without losing a lap. With fresh rubber and the grip it provided, Preece was able to chargefrom 14th to the lead in 20 laps and eventually scored his fourth win of the season.
Preece maintained his innocence when asked about it in the press box after the race. He believes another driver got into him.
“I got a nudge from behind, I don’t know, it just went around,” Preece said with a grin when discussing the caution. “I mean, the tires were really wore out at that point.”
But others provided a decidedly more skeptical take.
Veteran Tour racer Teddy Christopher didn’t exactly mince words when responding to questions about how the second half played out.
“I don’t know how they didn’t penalize Ryan for bringing out the yellow,” Christopher said. “That’s another story.”
Championship leader Timmy Solomito didn’t exactly know how to analyze the ordeal.
“You could say it was strategy,” Solomito said. “You could say what a number of people are saying — I guess he thought of it and everybody else didn’t … Sometimes the guy with the best strategy wins and I guess his was the one tonight, you know?”
“If that caution didn’t come out, who knows where he would’ve finished, but it’s all part of the game.”
And then there was social media reaction from those inside the sport.
Congrats on the W @RyanPreece_ . Would have thought a WMT Champ & NXS winner would have more car control, but hey it worked out great. 👍🏻🏁😂
— Freddie Kraft (@FreddieKraft) August 10, 2017
Meanwhile, numerous spectators voiced their displeasure with Preece’s actions, accusing the usual fan favorite of intentionally spinning.
Regardless of the circumstances, it was Preece standing in Victory Lane by the end of the night.