Toyota NXS Kentucky Ryan Preece

by Official Release On Fri, Sep. 22, 2017

Toyota Racing – Ryan Preece
Kentucky Speedway – September 22, 2017

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Ryan Preece was made available to the media at Kentucky Speedway:

RYAN PREECE, No. 20 Hurricane Relief Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Can you tell us a little bit about your hurricane relief paint scheme and what it means to you?
“Well, first off, it’s pretty cool that it’s Toyota For Good, and Toyota USA is based out of Texas, and I believe what they’re doing is they actually are supporting the American Red Cross, which is on our hood, and you can text 90999, and if you type “Red Cross” to it, it’ll donate $10, and that’s a great ‑‑ it’s such a great thing to do, and to support Texas right now because of the hurricane, and every little bit helps. It’s great, and obviously having Toyota, it’s always driving forward, always moving forward, so it’s a great opportunity to be here in Kentucky, and hopefully we can win.”

Can you tell us about the tribute you are running to honor Ted Christopher and your relationship with him?
“Yeah, there’s a lot I could tell you, to be honest with you. Teddy (Christopher), we got into it quite often on the racetrack. I respected him a lot, and I’ll never know if he ever respected me back. You’re always trying to earn that respect. But it’s what I’ve told through Instagram and a couple people that published it. The last conversation I ever had with Teddy was at Oswego a couple weeks back, and he said to me, in his Teddy voice, Hey, you’re going to miss New Hampshire this weekend? I said, Yeah, and right now I’m currently leading the Whelen Modified Tour Championship, which is a huge deal for us in the Northeast, and I looked back, and I said, yeah, it’s something I’ve been trying to do for a long time, my entire life. This is my goal. He goes, yeah, you know, all right, I’ll let you do it, as long as you win. He was always about winning. So I talked to his brother Mike on Tuesday. I wanted to make sure it was okay with him and obviously Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing allowed us to do it, which was having the silver numbers, which is what I’m used to seeing when I grew up watching Teddy Christopher in the Mystique No. 13. It’s special to me to have TC’s name on the roof, the silver numbers. Hopefully I can have him riding with me tomorrow, and we can get him back into victory lane.”

What has it been like to get to step in to a JGR XFINITY Racing car and winning at Iowa?
“Well, it really came about when I heard that Carl Edwards was retiring, and I kind of figured that Daniel (Suárez) was going to be moving up, and that creates availability. I was stepping back with the XFINITY Series, racing modifieds full time for my owner Eddie Partridge, and I called up Steve deSouza (JGR’s EVP of XFINITY and Development), who I got his number through Kevin Manion, who crew chiefs the 51 truck car. I actually lived in his race shop last year, so that’s kind of how I had that connection, and I left a voicemail. Well, later that night, he called me, and obviously a big thing for him to call me back, and told me what we needed to do, sponsorship wise, to make it happen. So I was able to pull sponsors together for those two races, and it all kind much went from there. I made it very clear that when I showed up to Loudon, I was trying to win. Well, Kyle Busch is there, it’s not exactly very easy. Iowa was that second chance for me. Going to Iowa, leading lots of laps, getting the pole and winning that race, you know, you never know what it can bring because you never know what can happen in our sport, so to be able to win that race and then have this opportunity to come here to Kentucky, where I love this racetrack, we got 15th with Johnny Davis Motorsports, and then we had an electrical problem early on so it kind of took us out of contention for another good run. But I love this racetrack, I love the repave, and hopefully we can have a pretty stout run here with the 20.”

What do you think of today’s announcement up at Loudon about the 250‑lap race that’s going to be in place of the Cup weekend?
“I was already thinking about strategy to be honest with you, what I’ve got to do different for next year. I’m really ‑‑ I think that’s so awesome. I hope they kind of get rid of the mandatory pit stop ‑‑ not mandatory, the halfway break, so it can bring strategy. But one thing I’ll let you know is modified teams in general, there’s a lot of heart there, and a lot of those guys are volunteers, so if you’ve never seen a modified race, I’d definitely recommend you at one point in the future to make it a point to go to one, you know, or watch one on TV because it’s some of the roughest racing that you’ll ever watch, but there’s a lot of heart there, and it’s pretty cool to see.”

What kind of support have you gotten from the modified family? Second part, what’s it been like to wait to get back on the track and back in this car?
“Well, to answer your first question, there’s been a lot of support, not only from the modified community, my competitors that we bang Nerf bars off each other, and at the end of the night sometimes we want to choke each other. But they were all really happy for me. So actually before or when I was racing Iowa and winning and could win, two of my competitors that I’ve gotten into it multiple times were cheering me on, and there’s pictures of it, which is awesome, and that’s really cool. As far as the second part, getting into this car, waiting a month or a month and a half, it’s not a huge deal for me because I’m racing two, three nights a week, so I’m always in the seat, I’m always doing something. Now coming down to North Carolina, being in Charlotte this past week, I got there on Monday, and I was there, and I said to my crew chief, Chris, I’m like, what do I do with myself. Usually I’m working on the race car, and I was watching video and doing stuff, but I was like kind of lost because there’s not a whole lot I can do. These guys all do this for a living. This is their jobs, they know their jobs, and I’m just trying to do everything I can as a race car driver for them. I was kind of lost this week not having much to do. But it’s really cool to be a part of an organization like Joe Gibbs Racing and have Toyota there behind them because the team that they are, it was pretty cool to see how well they interact with each other, and they don’t even have to tell each other things, and they know what they’re thinking. It’s a great thing to be a part of.”

What’s your next race and are you going to try to figure out a way to get back into another XFINITY car?
“Yeah, that’s the hard one. You really just hit it on the head right there. I did. I’ve texted him a couple times of some Snapchat pictures when we win or something. But he was happy for me, sent me a text message saying great job. Obviously I’ve reached out to him. Ryan Newman, I reach out to him a lot. I was texting him earlier today about the modified, making sure the 16 and the 2 don’t win, you know, so I still have a shot. But as far as the future, my future is all ‑‑ the only thing I’m looking forward, like looking ahead at right now is tomorrow night, and if I go out and win, there’s nothing else I can do. Everything is kind of out of my hands at that point. I’d love to be here full‑time or part‑time. You know, I’ve made that very clear. This is where I want to be. But I want to be contending for wins. I feel like I have to. All the experience that I got up to this point, I wouldn’t trade that for the world because it’s gotten me ready, but hopefully I can win tomorrow and we’ll be talking about some other stuff in the future, but right now I don’t have a clue what’s happening next year or towards the end.”

Do you care about the guys that are in the Playoff picture around you?
“Yeah, I have respect for everybody I race, absolutely. I wouldn’t go wrecking somebody. But at the same time, this is my career, and this is my last race as far as I know. Yeah, I’m going to do everything I can to win that race. That’s for sure. But I have the utmost respect for pretty much every driver that I’m racing against, so I wouldn’t ever do anything to jeopardize their chances, but at the same time, I hope they respect the fact that I’m going to be racing hard, and this is what my career is going to be living on.”

Where you surprised when JGR asked you to run Kentucky and will you be racing for them in the future?
“It’s always there. My phone is always waiting, man. I’m there. What was the first thing you just asked, man? I was just thinking about 2018 now. Oh, yeah, about Kentucky, I’m sorry. I was actually sitting underneath the race car pulling a drive shaft out when I got the call from Steve de Souza, so that was pretty funny. Yeah, it was really cool to have somebody call you up, and obviously funding is part of this deal right now, so we had some partners come on and help it all make it happen, and Toyota obviously stepping up, also. It’s a huge part of it, but at the end of the day, I’m just really thankful to be here at Kentucky with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing, and to have the teammates that I have, Matt Tifft and Kyle Benjamin. We’re all going to work together and try to pull a top‑three sweep, so that’ll be a good one. When do I shift my focus to 2018? It’s always there, man. Right now I’m thinking about at the same time the Whelan Modified Tour Championship for my car owner because obviously that’s what pays money, so it would be great to get him some money back for what they’re spending. But as far as 2018, I’ve said it multiple times, this is where I want to be, and I’m trying, I’m doing everything I can, everything that I literally can, so we’ll see. I hope to be here next year.”

What do you like about racing at Kentucky Speedway and what are the challenges or the things you like about the repave?
“So I never drove on this racetrack before the repave, but I was just sitting here, so there’s a fine line getting into 1 if you shoot past that little black strip. But I like the throttle time. That’s what I really like about it. 1 and 2 is a really fast corner, and then 3 and 4 is a completely different corner where you’ve got to back up your entry. So it kind of brings the driver, I would think, really back into it. It’s about hitting your marks and making sure you’re not over driving, and that’s what I like about this place.”

What was your reaction and also the reaction of your fans when you found out that Lionel was making your race win car?
“That was awesome. I did everything I could to make people buy it pretty much. I think I wore out Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but luckily, a lot of my fans, competitors, people that live in my hometown, they all bought it and we made the quota. I’m really excited to see my first die cast car. That’s pretty awesome.”

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