LOUDON, N.H. - Berlin native Ryan Preece finished second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in his first event as part of the Joe Gibbs Racing team.
He placed behind new teammate Kyle Busch, who dominated the race to win for the third time this season and 89th time in his career in the second-tier series.
Busch wasn't challenged much late after an early-race duel with fellow Cup regular Brad Keselowski. Keselowski led 102 laps but had nothing for Busch down the stretch.
Preece held the lead in the race just once for one lap about a quarter of the way through the race. He finished about 10 seconds behind Busch.
Joe Gibbs Racing announced earlier this month that Preece had be added to its stable of drivers to run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for at least two races in the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old is currently running full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, in which he has won several races. Preece is known as an accomplished short track racer, with 17 NWMT victories, 61 top-five and 87 top-10 finishes, and was crowned the 2013 season champion. In addition to the NWMT, he has three wins in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
He debuted with Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20 Toyota Camry at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, considered his home track. He will race again with Joe Gibbs Racing in the July 29 race at Iowa Speedway.
According to a press release from Joe Gibbs Racing, Preece started his racing career in Quarter Midgets in 1998. In 2008, he captured his first career win in the NWMT and won the championship in 2013. He made his debut in the NXS in 2013 at New Hampshire, and ran 36 races in the NXS from 2013-2016. In 2015, Preece made his NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“I am really excited about the opportunity to race for Joe Gibbs Racing and my crew chief Chris Gabehart and the whole 20 team,” Preece stated when signed by the team, according to a release. “It seems like a great group and they obviously have a great team. I am looking forward to being a part of the 20 team and having a winning car. Now I need to put in the time, the effort, the work and get it done. I’m very excited.”
Busch's was one of just six cars that finished on the lead lap in Saturday’s race.
Preece was followed William Byron, Kyle Larson and Keselowski. Larson was scheduled to start Sunday's Cup race from the pole until his car failed inspection and forced him to the rear of the field.
Series points leader Elliott Sadler was seventh in a race that included a 58-minute rain delay. He has a 45-point lead over Byron.
Associated Press report included.