Ryan Preece at Loudon: You can go home again

What Ryan Preece accomplished last year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway helped propel him to unqualified success in a limited run in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series.

Preece didn’t win last year’s race, but his second-place finish opened eyes throughout the sport. And on his very next run, the modified ace won from the pole at Iowa to score his first series victory in his second trip in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

The victory was the payoff from an enormous gamble. Backed by a group of investors, Preece opted for a few races in top-of-the-line JGR equipment versus a full Xfinity schedule in lesser-quality machinery. In four 2017 races with Gibbs, Preece finished second, first, fourth and fifth.

Back in April, Preece scored his second victory, this time in a Dash 4 Cash race at Bristol. In eight Xfinity starts in the past two seasons, he has posted top 10s in all but one. The exception came in his last outing, in July at Daytona, where an overheating issue knocked him out of the race after 51 of 105 laps.

Now Preece returns to New Hampshire for Saturday’s Lakes Region 200 (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Originally, the race wasn’t on Preece’s schedule with JGR.

“A lot of the people that supported me last year to do those two races (New Hampshire and Iowa), they wanted to get involved and do it again,” Preece said on Friday at NHMS. “And so we put it together so we can come back and race here in New Hampshire in front of all their friends and family and my friends and family.

“It was a really big deal last year, so we ended up putting it together, and hopefully we can do one spot better.”

Though it hasn’t happened yet, Preece hopes continued success will lead to sponsorship money and a full-time stint in NASCAR racing.

“Of course I do (want a full-time ride), but I think what needs to be said is sponsors need to come to the team and say we need Ryan Preece or something like that,” Preece said. “So I’m just going to keep doing my job, and that’s trying to win races, and hopefully the sponsors will come.”

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