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FORT WORTH, Texas – Ryan Preece won the first two stages in Friday night’s (May 20) NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, and when the checkered flag flew he was a season-best third.
And while the numbers look good, they hardly tell the whole story.
Preece lined up fifth on the starting grid and took the lead from eventual winner Stewart Friesen on lap 14. Though Friesen fought back and took the top spot for a handful of laps, Preece once again led the final 10 laps and scored his first stage win.
While Friesen took the lead on pit road and led much of stage two, a late stage pass gave Preece the top spot once again and the stage two victory.
— NASCAR Camping World Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) May 21, 2022
Shortly after the stage three restart, contact with Christian Eckes damaged the rear bumper, something that quickly became a concern as the field remained under the green flag. With the bumper cover flying in the wind, the No. 17 team caught a big break when Derek Kraus and Ty Majeski got together to bring out the fourth caution.
The yellow allowed Preece to bring his damaged truck to the attention of his pit crew, which was able to secure the back bumper panel while keeping him on the lead lap.
Following the damage repair, Preece was outside the top 25 but was able to work his way toward the front once again. He was inside the top 10 around 30 laps to go and reentered the top five inside 20 to go.
Contact between Ben Rhodes and Tanner Gray sent Rhodes hard into the outside wall, ending his night and setting up an overtime finish. Preece lined up behind Friesen, pushing him on the restart, and while he made a run on the leaders, the damage to the No. 17 was just enough to keep Preece from making a challenge for the win.
— David Gilliland Racing (@dgr_racing) May 21, 2022
The third-place run marks Preece’s fourth top 10 in his fourth of seven scheduled starts with David Gilliland Racing this season.
“I’d much rather win, that’s for sure. You gotta manage expectations,” Preece said after the race. “It sucks when you don’t win with a truck like we had.”
And he did all he could to set himself up for a chance at the victory
“With the damage, I could tell. It wasn’t pulling through air quite as good as it was earlier and that made it a little more challenging to pass,” Preece explained. “I really thought for all the adversity that we came through throughout that race, when I pushed the (No.) 52 (Friesen) and they were side by side and I felt like the bottom was coming in and the top wasn’t as dominant. I felt like if I could push Stewart and put him in a position where they were side by side and put them in an awkward position that it would give me my best chance to win the race. I felt like we did; just the 52 was able to clear the 98 there and we had to settle for third.
“The fact that we finished third was really good with the damage we had and how much drag it was. I was holding on at that point, but third… it is what it is.”
Preece, who is also a reserve driver for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will also run Nashville Superspeedway (June 24), Pocono Raceway (July 23) and Kansas Speedway (Sept. 9).
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