Listen to this article
All four Stewart-Haas Racing Fords were strong in qualifying on Saturday with Preece coming away with the pole. He took full advantage of what turned out to be a predominantly track-position race, with passing at a premium.
Preece led all 80 laps to win Stage 1 and was well on his way to a second stage victory when he was first off pit road on a round of pit stops on Lap 135 of 400.
From that point, it was a difficult journey for Preece to make his way back up the field and at one point fell a lap down. He ultimately finished 15th, his second-best finish of the 2023 season.
Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Menards/Libman Ford Mustang and Ryan Preece, Stewart-Haas Racing, HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang
Photo by: Danny Hansen / NKP / Motorsport Images
“I sped off pit road, I guess,” Preece said after the race. “That ultimately cost us the track position. We had a really fast race car, so once we got in the back it was so hard to do anything, so that’s on me. I’ll take blame for that. I was trying to beat them out and ultimately got snapped speeding.”
By winning the pole, Preece’s No 41 SHR team had chosen the first pit stall which is very close to the exit off pit road. Preece found himself trying to beat Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola to the line but exceeded the speed limit in doing so.
“It’s unfortunate, but when we had track position I think it showed that we had a really fast (car) but you can’t do those things. You can’t make mistakes.”
After winning the pole on Saturday, Preece emphasized the need for he and his team to do “all the little things” right in order to get good finishes in the Cup series.
Although the mistake happened with more than half the race to run, the difficulty in passing left little room for Preece to recover.
“That first run I think we climbed to 23rd or 21st, so I thought there was opportunity, but after three pit stops everybody else got their car that much better,” he said. “You saw Joey (Logano), they stayed out and gained track position and he ran second.
“I mean, he was a lap down for a while, so you can’t make mistakes.”