RICHMOND, Va.— Glimpses of momentum became clearer for the No. 41 team at Richmond Raceway as Ryan Preece collected a top-5 finish Sunday.
Preece finished fifth after placing sixth and seventh in the stages. It’s the first time in 137 NASCAR Cup Series starts where Preece earned a top-5 finish on a non-drafting-dominant track.
“My confidence was I’ve seen what Chad [Johnston, crew chief] has given here in years’ past. We talked a lot about what we were gonna need and I said, ‘Man, if you can get me to roll the center, I’ll deal with loose in.’ That’s what he gave me today and this United Rentals Ford Mustang was pretty stout,” Preece said.
“Fifth. If we run more like this we’re gonna have more opportunities to challenge for wins,” he added.
The fifth-place finish is also the No. 41 Stewart Haas Racing team’s first top-5 since Cole Custer’s win at Kentucky Speedway in the summer of 2020.
Preece led SHR’s arguably best race of the season. Aric Almirola finished eighth with Kevin Harvick in 10th and Chase Briscoe in 11th.
“We all did (run well). I think that’s just a product of working hard. Sitting and twiddling your thumbs isn’t gonna get you the results that you really want,” Preece said. “I know that from racing, so we’ve just been working hard and I feel like we’re all trending in that direction.”
Three other Fords finished in the top-12 Sunday: Chris Buescher (winner), Joey Logano (fourth) and Brad Keselowski (sixth),
With only one non-stage caution all day, Preece showed necessary long-run speed against those drivers Sunday.
When a caution fell with nine laps to go, at the end of a 152-lap green flag run, Preece was third. Then, Kyle Busch’s pit crew put him just in front of Preece as they came to the choose.
Busch took the top in row two alongside Preece. Preece pushed Buescher clear of Hamlin on the top. That secured Ford’s first win since Ryan Blaney’s Coca-Cola 600 victory.
Preece now has Michigan and Daytona among the next four tracks. Those are two of the six tracks where he has top-10 finishes.
The NASCAR Cup Series now heads to Michigan for next Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400. The green flag set to drop just after 2:30 P.M. EST.