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THOMPSON, Conn. -- Ryan Preece's pit stop strategy pushed him back in the field. But the Berlin, Connecticut, driver wasted no time in driving to the front en route to Wednesday night's NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in the Thompson 125 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
The win was the second of the season for Preece and 17th of his career.
Preece pitted with many of his lead challengers on lap 70. The No. 6 TS Haulers Chevrolet was forced to restart outside the top 10 behind a number of cars including Rowan Pennink and Bobby Santos, who pitted earlier. A late charge through the field by Preece culminated with a move to the inside of Pennink for the lead with just 18 laps to go.
From there, Preece pulled away from the field and clicked off some of the fastest laps he ran all night while out in front of the pack. He finished 2.106 seconds ahead of second-place Pennink.
"All of my guys work really hard," Preece said. "Our guys live in Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island, so it can be hard for them. As long as the car is good and I can drive forward, it's my job to get myself back there. I shouldn't have to depend on them."
Preece, who won the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Connecticut's Stafford Motor Speedway on April 30, missed the last tour race on May 13 to get married.
Back on the race track, he had an early hiccup when he missed the final minutes of the only practice session of the day because of a broken driveshaft. Once they got to the race, though, there was no issue.
Pennink followed up his Thompson win in April's Icebreaker 150 with another strong run on the .625-mile oval. He pitted under caution at Lap 50 and inherited the lead 20 laps later when the lead pack came down pit road.
Santos, who pitted for tires on lap 33 and stayed out for the remainder of the race, held on for third. Santos was the defending race winner.
"Our strategy definitely worked in his favor," Santos said. "We weren't spectacular to start the race but we made a good adjustment and put tires on and we had a good car overall tonight."
Four-time tour champion Doug Coby qualified second and finished in fourth spot, with Eric Goodale rounding out the top five.
Jon McKennedy, Ted Christopher, Timmy Solomito, Andrew Krause and Max Zachem completed the top 10. Donny Lia won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day but got caught up in an early wreck and finished 23rd.
Pennink cut Solomito's lead to two points after five of 16 championship events, while Goodale is 17 points back of Pennink in third. Despite missing a race, Preece is 10th in points -- seven behind ninth-place Coby and 47 out of first.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday, June 24.
Ryan Preece won Wednesday's Thompson 125 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Matthew Thomas/NASCAR