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Ryan Preece '09 Coming Off Best NASCAR Finish

Ryan Preece '09 Coming Off Best NASCAR Finish
Ryan Preece '09 Coming Off Best NASCAR Finish

Ryan Preece is coming off his best finish during his rookie season on the NASCAR Monster Energy circuit.

Preece finished third at Talladega last weekend, his best finish since his first race, when he was eighth at Daytona. He has one other top 20 finish, 16th at Martinsville.

Preece, a 2009 Xavier graduate from Berlin, leads all rookies with 126 points; Daniel Hemric has 97 points and Matt Tifft 80 points.

"It was awesome," Preece told reporters after the race. "I was only here one other time and that was in an Xfinity car in 2016, and I was running third with three to go and went for the hole and got flushed. So, I wasn't going to do that today."

NASCAR's weekly schedule certainly is grueling, so there is little time to celebrate.

Preece's tweet on Monday said as much: "Solid day yesterday for the 47 @kroger @JTGRacing @TeamChevy Camaro. We needed that one. I needed that one. Clock reset at midnight... so back to work for Dover this week."

The race Sunday is at Dover International Speedway in Delaware. The track, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is getting a $5.5 million renovation of its garage area. Work is scheduled to start after this weekend's races.

Preece's parents have been to four races and likely will be at Dover this weekend. Not that it means they will spend much time with their son.

As his father Jeff says, "It's hard to see him much --- he's working. We get to see him a little."

They weren't at Talladega, but they were watching on TV.

"I had visions of victory lane," Jeff said.

He puts nothing past Ryan, but also realizes he's a rookie.

"He's definitely making it exciting," Jeff said. "I think he's getting more and more comfortable. You can't jump in there and just expect to beat these guys, though it would be nice. For him to have run a couple of really good races that's really good."

But not good enough for Ryan.

"He thinks he should be winning," Jeff said.

That's the type of confidence athletes must have when they're professionals.

Once Ryan does get to victory lane, it's inevitable more and more people will stop Jeff when they see him. It happened Thursday morning when he was getting an egg sandwich.

"A guy recognized me and said Ryan had a great run [last weekend]," Jeff said. "It's a little uncomfortable but then again it's a compliment. We try to handle it like Ryan would. He has a lot of fans really pulling for him. I know that."

Xavier is a private, Catholic all-boys high school in Middletown, CT.