The My Bariatric Solutions 300 took place on a cold windy afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. Qualifying only made it one round before NASCAR cancelled it due to slight rain in the surrounding area. Ryan Preece and his No. 18 Ruud – RTP Toyota team ended up taking their first round position of 13th for the upcoming race.
The green flag flew at 3:00pm EST with Preece aggressively moving through the field. The first caution of the day flew on lap two due to a car spinning out. Preece advanced his car into the top-10 with the feeling that they were close to moving up further.
Two quick cautions came out on lap nine and on lap 15. Preece was able to maneuver his Ruud – RTP Toyota Camry into the fifth position. With no feedback on the car, he stayed out on track and took the green again on lap 20.
Stage one came to an end on lap 45 with Preece crossing the stripe in the fourth position. Preece told his Crew Chief, Eric Phillips, that the car started experiencing a vibration on the last few laps of the stage. With minor air pressure adjustments and the addition of tape on the pit stop, Preece started the second stage in seventh.
Caution flew again on lap 70 with Preece recorded in the third position. Preece told Phillips on the radio that for the next stop they need to do a little more of the same adjustment so that he can run a couple tenths faster to carry the same speed as the leaders.
The last caution before the second stage end came on lap 80 with Preece in second racing for the lead with teammate Christopher Bell. Phillips called for Preece to bring his Ruud – RTP Camry down pit road since the No. 18 team wouldn’t benefit from stage points. This strategy would put Preece back towards the front after the end of the second stage. Preece would restart in 18th with only two laps to go in stage two.
Stage two ended on lap 90 with Preece avoiding any trouble on track, putting himself in a good spot to attack the lead over the next 110 laps. Not everyone came down pit road right away so Preece cycled out to the 11th position as the race restarted for the final stage on lap 97.
Phillips called Preece down pit road on lap 144 for a green flag stop that would allow him to make it until the end on fuel if there were no further cautions. Preece was running in the fourth position when he came down for fresh tires and fuel. The No. 18 Ruud – RTP Toyota Camry cycled out in the fifth position and was posting faster lap times than the drivers in third and fourth.
The remainder of the race stayed green with Preece doing the best he could to move his way further into the top-five. Over the final 30 laps of the My Bariatric Solutions 300, Preece moved up to fourth for almost ten laps before moving back into the fifth position where he took the checkered flag. With the fifth place finish, Preece qualifies for the Dash-For-Cash race at Bristol Motor Speedway next week where he will compete for 100,000 dollars.
What’s it going to be like to race for $100,000 next week at Bristol?
“It could help me finish building a race car. That would be a lot. It’s going to be pretty cool. Bristol is a short track. Daniel (Hemric) and I, we’re – he’s from Late Models. I actually raced Daniel in Modifieds growing up quite a while ago, so we’re kind of from the same whole deal on the East Coast and then you got (Christopher) Bell who’s a midget driver from out West and then you have Cole (Custer) who’s K&N and all that. We’re all from the short tracks and now we’re just going to be brought into the Xfinity Series and go race at Bristol. On top of it $100,000…That’s a big deal. This is what I keep telling Bell, “I’m a bottom feeder.” So I’m going to be the catfish and I’m sure he’s going to be right up against the lip up top.”
Did you ever think you’d be up here and racing for $100,000 next weekend?
“Did I think this last January in 2017? Absolutely not. I didn’t even know – I fully intended on pretty much settling and racing modifieds for the rest of my life and when Daniel Suarez, or when Carl Edwards retired and everything kind of shifted I was like okay, there’s an opportunity here. I need to try and take advantage of this and it got me to those two races and I think you’ve seen how things have kind of taken off from there. Every time I show to the track, I’m almost treating it like it’s my last race even though I know I have 10 races right now, each one of these races could determine my future, so that’s pretty much how I show up and that’s how I’m going to race.”
How do you race next week at Bristol with no Cup guys entered in the field and you four going for $100,000?
“I think we all race with respect, but it’s $100,000. I know what I would do with it and I’m not sure what everyone else would, but it would sure help.”