Mechanical Woes Ruins Custer’s Day At Mid-Ohio

Cole Custer

Date: Aug. 12, 2017

Event: Mid-Ohio Challenge (Round 21 of 33)

Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series

Location: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington (2.4-mile road course)

Format: 75 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/35 laps)

Start/Finish: 9th/35th (Running, completed 54 of 75 laps)

Point Standing: 6th (505 points, 258 out of first)

 

Race Winner: Sam Hornish Jr. of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Blake Koch of Kaulig Racing (Chevy)

Stage 2 Winner: Sam Hornish Jr. of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):

● Started ninth, finished 40th.

● Due to Custer making contact with the grass in qualifying, he started the Mid-Ohio Challenge with his backup Haas Automation Ford Mustang.

● On lap two, a mechanical failure forced Custer to the pits.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):

● Started 40th, finished 37th.

● After repairs, Custer entered the field 22 laps down at the start of Stage 2.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 41-75):

● Started 37th, finished 35th.

● Custer gained one lap during the final stage.

● Due to multiple accidents, Custer gained two spots before the conclusion of the race.

 

Notes:              

 Nine cautions slowed the race for 27 laps.

● Sam Hornish Jr. won the Mid-Ohio Challenge to score his fifth career XFINITY Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Mid-Ohio.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Sam Hornish Edges Hemric For The Victory At Mid-Ohio

Sam Hornish,Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr. dominated Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge, but his victory was anything but certain until the waning laps of a caution-filled race.

Hornish, driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang, earlier had eclipsed his own qualifying record at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and edged series rookie Daniel Hemric by 1.335 seconds when the event ultimately went green for the final time with five circuits remaining in the 75-lap distance.

The victory was the fifth in the series by Hornish, whose last win came in June of 2016 at Iowa Speedway.

Hornish, who led four times for 61 laps, traded the top spot with Hemric’s No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro four times over the race’s third and final stage. He took the point for the last time on Lap 62, on a restart following the seventh caution.

Veteran Brendan Gaughan advanced to the second after Justin Allgaier and James Davison slipped off the track in Turn 3 at Lap 63, setting up a final restart battle that ended prematurely when Gaughan’s No. 62 RCR Chevrolet Camaro was forced off the track by Hornish shortly after the green flag.

“I finally got the win (at Mid-Ohio),” said Hornish, who finished second here a year ago. “We had a smart, almost flawless day but I feel bad about the 62. I didn’t want to beat him that way.”

Rookie Matt Tifft finish third in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, improving his best NASCAR XFINITY Series finish from a fifth-place at Kentucky Speedway last September. Davison, an international racing star and Indianapolis 500 competitor, took fourth in the No. 20 JGR Toyota, followed by sports car veteran Andy Lally, whose No. 07 Chevrolet Camaro team posted their first top-10 finish in the series.

Twenty-four of the race’s 40 starters completed all 75 laps. Five drivers, Hornish, Hemric, Blake Koch, Ryan Reed and Elliott Sadler, traded the lead nine times.

NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader Sadler spotted the field an early spin and a green flag pit stop to change a flat tire, but he ultimately took sixth, ahead of Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Justin Marks and Dakoda Armstrong.

Koch won the race’s first stage when Hornish elected to pit with three laps left and leader Sadler was spun in Turn 1 by Poole.

Hornish quickly went back to the front of the field after Stage 1 pit stops, claiming Stage 2 over Hemric and Davison.

Saturday’s race left the playoff picture unchanged with no bubble drivers able to bump their way into the standings. Sadler holds an 81-point lead over William Byron, who appeared headed for a top 10 until being caught up in a late accident relegating him to a 25th-place finish.

Check out the unofficial results of the Mid-Ohio Challenge.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Blake Koch Scores 5 Stage Points At Watkins Glen

Blake Koch
Kaulig Racing driver Blake Koch finished 22nd on Saturday at Watkins Glen International (WGI) in his 200th career NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) start. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native tied his track-best starting position of 14th and captured stage points in the first two stages before getting tangled with a lapped car near the end of the Zippo 200.

“We had some positive things come out of today, despite not taking home the finish we deserved,” said Koch. “We scored stage points in the first two stages, which is something we haven’t done yet this season and were in a great position until we got twisted up with a lapped car as the green-flag pit stops were cycling through. Our No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy was mostly uninjured so that’s great news heading into Mid-Ohio next week.”

The team made significant improvements to the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro during Friday’s two practice sessions, eventually posting the 15th-fastest time in the final practice session. Koch noted the improvement during his qualifying run Saturday morning, securing a 14th-place starting spot for the Zippo 200.

After the drop of the green flag, Koch reported that the car was a bit loose as he settled into the 17th position. The team did not pit during the Lap 4 caution period, allowing Koch to restart 16th on Lap 7. The caution was again displayed with three laps remaining in Stage 1 as several drivers had begun to pit. Koch was scored 10th as the stage ended under caution on Lap 20, earning him one stage point to be added to his race total.

The team made their first pit stop of the day under caution on Lap 21 for fresh tires, fuel, track bar and air pressure adjustments. Koch restarted 20th on Lap 23 when Stage 2 began.

The race was slowed by caution for the third time on Lap 34 as Koch had raced his way up to the 10th position. He restarted ninth with two laps remaining in Stage 2. In the closing laps of the stage, Koch rocketed past two more cars, taking the stage flag from the seventh position and earning three stage points.

The team opted not to pit under caution to conserve track position. Koch reported that the car was handling much better as he was told to save fuel. He restarted seventh to begin the final stage of the event on Lap 43.

The team made their only green-flag pit stop of the day on Lap 51 for new tires and fuel. As stops continued to cycle through in the next two or so laps, Koch had a dust up with a lapped car, impeding his progress through the field. With no damage, Koch soldiered on and was scored 19th when the caution was displayed with five laps remaining in the race. The team pitted for the final time under that caution for fresh tires and fuel, putting Koch 24th for the restart with three laps remaining.

In the closing laps, Koch avoided chaos around him to gain two positions and cross the finish line 22nd.

Koch and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team leave WGI 10th in the NXS championship standings. The team returns to racing action Saturday, August 12, 2017 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Let Their Presence Be Known At The Zippo 200

Joey Logano
Track:                     Watkins Glen International

Race:                      Zippo 200

Date:                      August 5, 2017

 

No. 12 Snap-on Ford Mustang – Joey Logano

Start:  1st (33rd career pole)

Finish: 2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 82/82

Laps Led: 0

 

Recap: Joey Logano started first and finished second in the No. 12 Snap-on Tools Ford Mustang in Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. Logano, who was seeking his third-consecutive victory on the historic circuit, claimed his 33rd career pole earlier in the day in qualifying. On the initial start, Logano dropped into the second position and rode there until the end of the first stage. Crew chief Brian Wilson called for a track bar adjustment on the first stop, attempting to help Logano with the tightness in turn 1 and through the carousel. The changes helped, but only incrementally as Logano reported he had a great short run car, but struggled to maintain forward turn over the long run. The pit stop also shuffled the team back to the 13th position as numerous cars had pitted prior to the end of the first stage. On the ensuing restart, Logano made quick work of the cars in front, moving to the top-five on the first lap, then into the top-three by the next lap. Logano continued forward, ultimately moving into the second position by the end of the second stage. The team would opt to remain on the track, continuing under green flag conditions until lap 49 when Wilson called Logano back to the pits for the final time of the afternoon. Over the final run, Logano reported the car was loose on the left turns and slightly tight on the right-hand corners. Unfortunately, the final caution only allowed four laps of racing so track position became too important to pit the Snap-on Tools Mustang so Logano was left to fight from the third position. On the final restart of the day, Logano was able to battle teammate Brad Keselowski for the second position, where he ended the afternoon.

 

Quote: “It’s fun. Dang, I wish it was for the win and not for second. I had such a good short run car, just in the wrong position to start that last run. I feel like if I was second I could have won the race. I just had a really good short run car. Our long run speed was off a bit and that’s when the 18 and 22 would drive by us and we were a third-place car on the long run but probably a winning car on the short run. By time I cleared the 22 the 18 was gone. If we had another four or five laps (he would have drove off again). I needed a caution”

 

 

No. 22 REV Group Ford Mustang – Brad Keselowski

Start:  5th

Finish: 3rd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 82/82

Laps Led: 6

Owner’s Points Position (behind leader): 1st (+101)

 

Recap: After starting Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International from the fifth position Brad Keselowski fought his way to a third-place finish on the 2.45-mile road course. The 2013 winner of this event, Keselowski raced his way into the lead at lap 17 and would go on to win the first, 20-lap stage that ended under the caution flag. Following a four-tire pit stop during the break the No. 22 team won the race off pit road and line up fourth on the restart, behind drivers that made their pit stops before the end of the stage. The REV Group Ford was very loose at the start of the second, 20-lap stage, but Keselowski was able to hang on to it to finish third in the stage. Crew chief Greg Erwin left his driver on the racing surface during the break between stages as their strategy was to make the end of the race on two pit stops. After racing back into the lead at lap 47, Keselowski made his final pit stop of the day on lap 49. He would cycle to the second position after all pit stops had been completed, behind eventual race winner Kyle Busch. A lap 77 caution gave Keselowski another shot to win but he could not make his way around Busch and would cross the finish line in the third position behind Busch and his teammate, Joey Logano. The finish is Keselowski’s fourth-consecutive top-five finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

 

Quote: “Probably needed a little bit everywhere. I gave it all I had. Joey and I were racing for best in class and he did a good job. It was a heck of a race there at the end.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Busch Logs NXS Victory Number 90 At The Glen

Kyle Busch & Brad Keselowski
With a victory in Saturday’s Zippo 200, Kyle Busch continued to tick items off his bucket list.

Recovering from a wheel-hop and spin in Turn 1 on Lap 17 of 82 along with a penalty for driving through too many pit boxes, Busch claimed his first NASCAR XFINITY Series win at the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International road course, beating polesitter Joey Logano to the finish line by 1.049 seconds.

“The cars have really been working for me here and it just feels so good to finally win an XFINITY race here,” said Busch, who won last week at Pocono for the first time in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car.

“We’ve been so close so many times. One of my favorite runs here was in a Zippo car (in 2008) and being in the Zippo race today that’s kind of ironic – I guess they sponsor it every year — but being with (owner) Eddie D’Hondt and the Zippo car, I remember we were really, really fast and wish we would’ve got that one.”

In winning for the fourth time this season and the 90th time in his career, Busch grabbed the lead when Brad Keselowski and Logano came to pit road together on Lap 49.

Busch gained time by staying on the track for five more laps, and by the time he exited pit road on lap 55, he was 1.2 seconds ahead of Brad Keselowski and more than 10 seconds ahead of Joey Logano, who had a lengthy pit stop because of a stuck lug nut.

“Pit road was pretty good for us,” Busch said. “We stayed out long on that one run, and we were able to cycle back up to the lead. It worked two weeks in a row that way. I don’t know how much longer we can do that before they figure it out, but it’s been working for us, so we’ll take it.”

Busch held the top spot the rest of the way, surviving a restart with three laps left after Casey Mears ran out of fuel and stalled on the track to bring out the fifth and final caution of the afternoon. Busch chose the inside lane for the restart to control the preferred line into Turn 1.

The restart brought Logano back near the front of the field, and on the next-to-last lap, he passed Keselowski, his Team Penske teammate, for the runner-up spot.

“Dang, I wish it was for the win and not for second,” Logano said of the battle with Keselowski. “I had such a good short run car, just in the wrong position to start that last run. I feel like, if I was second, I could have won the race. I just had a really good short-run car.

“Our long-run speed was off a bit, and that’s when the 18 (Busch) and 22 (Keselowski) would drive by us, and we were a third-place car on the long run, but probably a winning car on the short run. By the time I cleared the 22, the 18 was gone. If we had another four or five laps, (he would have drove off again). I needed a caution.”

Check out the unofficial results of the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Cole Custer Fought Some Handling Issues At The Glen

Cole Custer
Date: August 5, 2017

Event: Zippo 200 at The Glen (Round 20 of 33)

Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series

Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (2.45-mile road course)

Format: 82 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/42 laps)

Start/Finish: 9th/12th (Running, completed 82 of 82 laps)

Point Standing: 6th (503 points, 229 out of first)

 

Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Paul Menard of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-20):

● Started ninth, finished seventh. Earned four stage points.

● Custer battled his Haas Automation Ford Mustang in the top-10 for the majority of Stage 1, noting loose-handling conditions.

● At the conclusion of the Stage, crew chief Jeff Meendering radioed Custer to stay out of the pits.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 21-40):       

● Started second, finished 16th.

● During the first lap of Stage 2, Custer and teammate Kevin Harvick were involved in an accident resulting in minimal damage.

● On lap 25, Custer pitted under green-flag conditions for four tires and fuel after telling Meendering he smelled smoke.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 41-82): 

● Started 16th, finished 12th.

● Custer made his way just outside of the top-10 before pitting on lap 50 for four tires and fuel.

● On lap 71, Custer battled his Haas Automation Ford back into the top-10.

● Meendering called Custer to the pits during a caution with six laps to go for four more fresh tires and fuel.

● He restarted in the 16th position before battling just outside of the top-10 at the conclusion of the race.

 

Notes:              

The Zippo 200 was Custer’s first NASCAR XFINITY Series start and fourth-career start at Watkins Glen International.

● Five cautions slowed the race for 15 laps.

● 17 of the 40 cars finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Busch won the Zippo 200 to score his 90th career XFINITY Series victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Watkins Glen. His margin of victory over second-place Joey Logano was 1.049 of a second.

 

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We started out loose and got tighter as the run went on, but when we were by ourselves we passed a lot of cars and had top-five lap times. We just got set back a little there. We were going to have a pretty good day, but had a terrible restart there at the end.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Harvick Logs A 6th Place Finish In The Zippo 200

Kevin Harvick

Date: Aug. 5, 2017

Event: Zippo 200 at The Glen (Round 20 of 33)

Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series

Location: Watkins Glen International (2.45-mile road course)

Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/42 laps)

Start/Finish: 10th/6th (Running, completed 82 of 82 laps)

 

Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Paul Menard of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Ends on Lap 20):

●  Started 10th, finished 12th.

●  Kevin Harvick battled a loose-handling condition at the start of the 200-mile race, but pitted during the first caution to correct the issue.

●  The No. 41 FIELDS Ford Mustang team made an early strategy play as they were the first team of the race to come down pit road.

●  Harvick restarted 31st on lap seven, but by lap 12 had already made his way into the top 20 though he was still battling a loose condition.

●  The FIELDS Ford crosses the line 12th at the conclusion of Stage 1.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Ends on Lap 40):  

●  Started third, finished 27th.

●  Harvick restarted third after electing to stay out after Stage 1, but spun getting into Turn 1 on lap 24 falling back to 18th.

●  The FIELDS team continued to battle a free-handling car through the majority of Stage 2.

●  On lap 35 Harvick pitted for tires fuel and adjustments, but due to an uncontrolled tire the team received a pit road penalty forcing Harvick to restart from the tail of the field. Thus, he pitted twice more to top off with fuel prior to the restart.

●  Came to pit road for fuel only following Stage 2.

 

Final Stage Recap (Ends on Lap 82):           

●  Started 29th, finished sixth.

●  The FIELDS Ford came to pit road for fuel only on lap 51, while scored in the 14th position.

●  Harvick and the No. 41 team returned to the top 10 on lap 58.

●  He raced his way up to the seventh position with 10 laps to go.

●  Harvick was racing in the seventh position when the caution flag waved on lap 76.

●  The No. 41 FIELDS team restarted sixth on lap 79 and Harvick maintained his position until the checkered flag.

 

Notes:                   

●  Harvick scored his eighth top-10 finish in seven NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International

●  It is his 255th top-10 finish in 340 XFINITY Series starts.

●  This is Harvick’s fifth XFINITY Series start for Stewart-Haas Racing.

●  The race featured eight lead changes among five drivers and five cautions for 15 laps.

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 41 FIELDS Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It was an eventful day for sure. We were just way, way, way too loose to start the day. We were able to get it better but restarts weren’t better for us. The longer we ran the better we were. We were just lacking a lot of rear grip out there today and that was our undoing.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Cole Custer Logs A Top 5 Finish At Iowa

Cole Custer
ate: July 29, 2017

Event: US Cellular 250 Presented by American Ethanol (Round 19 of 33)

Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series

Location: Iowa Speedway in Newton (.875-mile oval)

Format: 250 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/130 laps)

Start/Finish: 5th/5th (Running, completed 254 of 254 laps)

Point Standing: 6th (474 points, 233 out of first)

 

Race Winner: Ryan Preece of Joe Gibbs Racing in overtime (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Preece of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

● Started fifth, finished seventh. Earned four stage points.

● Custer ran in and around the top-five noting tight-handling conditions throughout Stage 1.

● Was the highest finishing rookie of the stage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):     

● Started fourth, finished eighth. Earned three stage points.

 Custer ran just outside of the top-five throughout Stage 2.

● Custer pitted for four tires and fuel at the conclusion of Stage 2 to correct tight handling conditions.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-254):          

● Started sixth, finished fifth.

 Custer ran as high as third during the final stage.

● After a caution on lap 234, Custer opted not to pit and restarted in the third position

● Custer battled inside of the top-five until the conclusion of the race.

 

Notes:              

● This marks Custer’s fourth top-five of 2017 and the fifth top-five of his XFINITY Series career.

● This marks Custer’s ninth top-10 of 2017 and the 11th top-10 of his XFINITY Series career.

● Custer was the highest finishing rookie.

● Seven cautions slowed the race for 40 laps.

● Ryan Preece won the US Cellular 250 to score his first career XFINITY Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Benjamin was .054 of a second.

 

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

 

“We had a really solid Haas Automation Mustang this week. We kind of struggled a bit last time we were here and wanted to improve on what we had, so we brought something completely different and it really paid off. The team did a great job bringing something new. We had bad restarts today mostly because we started on the bottom. I think we had at least a third-place car this weekend. It was fun to be good at a short track this year and, hopefully, we can keep that going. I can’t thank everybody enough – Tony Stewart and Gene Haas for the opportunity and Ford for another fast racecar.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Blake Koch Snags A Career Best 8th Place Finish At Iowa

Blake Koch

Kaulig Racing driver Blake Koch tied his career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) finish of eighth on Saturday at Iowa Speedway, which also was a track-best finish for the driver of the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy Camaro. Koch started seventh in the US Cellular 250 on his way to score his second top-10 finish of the 2017 season and advance to 10th in the NXS Championship standings.

“It was awesome to have such a great weekend at one of my favorite tracks, said Koch.” “We unloaded with speed on Friday, which really gave us confidence for the rest of the weekend. I can’t thank my team enough for their hard word and for preparing such a fast LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy for this weekend. We look forward to carrying this momentum to Watkins Glen next week.”

Koch posted the 15th- and fifth-fastest practice speeds, respectively, in Friday’s two practice sessions at Iowa Speedway. The team was pleased with the speed and handling of the No. 11 Camaro and made few changes before Saturday morning’s group qualifying session.

Koch advanced to the final round of group qualifying before eventually securing a seventh-place starting position for Saturday afternoon’s event, his best at Iowa Speedway.

After the drop of the green flag, Koch had settled into the 10th position by Lap 25 and was quiet on the radio. He reported later in the run that his forward drive was good, but he needed to be freed up on center and exit. He crossed the finish line for Stage 1 in the 10th position on Lap 60, earning one bonus point for his race total.

Under the caution, crew chief Chris Rice brought Koch down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The West Palm Beach, Fla. native restarted 12th when the field returned to green to begin Stage 2 on Lap 67.

A quick caution flag on Lap 73 gave Koch time to tell the team he started off a little free in that run, but that the balance was coming to him. He restarted 11th on Lap 78.

When Stage 2 ended on Lap 120, Koch crossed the line in the 14th position. He reported to the team that the track conditions seemed to be changing as more rubber was laid down and that he needed more forward drive. He came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment under the caution period for the end of Stage 2 before restarting 14th when Stage 3 began on Lap 128.

A nearly 50-lap green-flag run came to an end on Lap 170 when the caution was displayed. Koch, who was running 14th, told the team he thought he was overdriving his entry into Turn 3. Rice brought Koch down pit road under the caution period for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. He restarted 12th on Lap 177, conscious of his drive into Turn 3.

Koch continued to work on his line around the track for the middle part of Stage 3 as he ran 13th. With 25 laps remaining in the event, the field fell under the first of four caution flags in the final laps of the race. The originally scheduled 250-lap event was extended by a green-white-checkered finish to Lap 253. On the final restart, Koch powered from the 12th position all the way up to eighth to record a track-best finish at Iowa Speedway and his second top-10 finish of the 2017 NXS season.

Koch and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team leave Iowa Speedway 10th in the NXS championship standings, a gain in one position over last week. The team returns to racing action Saturday, August 5th, 2017 at Watkins Glen International.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Ryan Preece Wins The US Cellular 250 In Nail Biting Fashion

Ryan Preece
Ryan Preece’s short-lived, but ambitious 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule began three weeks ago at his de facto home track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It ended Saturday in the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway — as confetti swirled and soared to highlight his first career series triumph in Victory Lane, fulfilling a whirlwind dram!

Preece, held off a hard-charging Kyle Benjamin in a green-white checkered finish that came after the third restart in the race’s final 17 pulse-quickening laps.

“I thought this race would never end, that’s for sure,” an emotional Preece told the NBCSN after finally slowing his fast Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 car to a stop. “But man, nothing’s going to beat today.”

No one could beat Preece, who ran full-time in 2016, but chose to funnel his 2017 XFINITY Series resources into this two-race stint with JGR.

That high-stakes gamble clearly paid off — as Preece beamed and raised his arms, his season over, but his future visibly brighter!

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Preece, who owns 17 career NASCAR Whelan All-American Modified Tour wins, including two this season. “I’ve got to thank everybody.”

So he did.

Benjamin settled for second, which also is his best career finish. Veteran Brian Scott took third in his first start of the season.

“I was very nervous,” said Benjamin, who also runs part-time for JGR. “I wanted to make it happen right there.”

Preece did just that, from start to finish, with a slight hiccup in between.

He earned his first career Coors Light Pole Award earlier Saturday, powering to a lap of 24.072 seconds at a top speed of 130.857 mph. That dominance carried over into the first stage, which Preece led in its entirety.

He dropped to sixth off pit road, however, which allowed Justin Allgaier to surge to the front. Allgaier would narrowly hold off Preece to win the second stage and gain a coveted playoff point, but a later gamble would reap misfortune instead of reward.

Drivers faced a dilemma when Spencer Gallagher hit the wall, drawing the caution flag with 80 laps to go. Every top contender eventually dove onto pit road. Everyone except Allgaier, that is, whose team hoped another caution would help the decision pay off.

That didn’t happen, as Allgaier swiftly dropped from first to seventh, then to 15th — and finally,  to a green flag pit stop that came with 25 laps to go. That longed-for caution finally flew shortly after Allgaier returned to the track when Sam Hornish Jr.’s No. 22 Ford hit the wall.

Allgaier’s second bad break in as many weeks preceded that nerve-fraying — and caution-filled — finish.

Points leader Elliott Sadler raced near the front most of the day, but ended up 12th. He maintains a 54-point lead over William Byron, who finished ninth.

Preece clearly wasn’t racing for points. He was there only the win!

And he edged Benjamin by a mere .054 seconds — a fitting margin to conclude a sprint-sized season that ended in happy incredulity.

“I’m so at a loss of words right now,” Preece said. “I don’t know what to say. This is what emotion is, I can tell you that.”

Check out the unofficial results of the US Cellular 250 at the Iowa Speedway.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!