“I should probably retire” if scared of Daytona return

Ryan Preece, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang wrecks

It was just last August at Daytona International Speedway when Preece, who drives the No. 41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, got turned exiting Turn 2 on lap 156 of the scheduled 160-lap race.

Preece’s car darted across the track and collected his SHR teammate Chase Briscoe. His car slid on the grass island and asphalt near the entrance of the chicane used on the road course, then onto the larger grass area on the backstretch, where the car went airborne.

The car flipped nearly a dozen times before coming to a violent stop on its wheels. Preece was held in a local hospital overnight for observation but released the next day and raced the following weekend.

Ryan Preece, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang wrecks

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

With Cup season set to begin with the annual Daytona 500, Preece said has no second thoughts about returning to the track of his harrowing accident.

“As a race car driver, I think we all understand the risks that we take,” he said. “I chose this profession for a reason, so if I’m afraid to drive a race car and get the max potential I can, then I should probably retire and just quit.”

Removing grass

There are changes to the 2.5-mile superspeedway since last summer’s race at Daytona.

By early December, the track had paved part of the grass area where Preece’s wreck occurred – beginning in the area to drivers’ left where the grass began entering the chicane to the exit of the chicane.

The “island” and grass at the chicane currently remain but more of that will be repaved following the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

Preece said returning to Daytona does add an element to the race aside from simply trying to win.

“Going back now is going to be something where I get to drive through that tunnel and the goal afterward is obviously to try and win that race and put ourselves in the best position possible,” he said.

“At the same time, I want to be able to drive out of that tunnel on my own at the end of the day.”

Preece, 33, enters his second full-time season with SHR. He joined the organization in 2022 as a reserve driver, doing simulator work while also running a mixed schedule across NASCAR’s three national series – Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

He won his first Cup Series pole last April at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and had a season’s best finish of fifth at Richmond, Va., in July.

While he ended the year 23rd in the Cup…

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