Bristol, TN– Ryan Preece in the No. 18 Rheem Toyota took the checkered flag in the 2018 Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s Preece’s first win of the season and only his 2nd ever win in the Xfinity series. A bit of luck played in for Preece at the end as a late caution would erase Brandon Jones lead in the No. 19. Jones elected to take two left side tires and Preece took four, the rest was history.
The race did not lack excitement on Saturday afternoon, coming just one caution shy of tying the race record for most cautions, with 13 total during the race. We also saw 17 total lead changes between seven different leaders.
The first stage of the day was won by Christopher Bell in the No. 20. However, shortly after, Bell’s day would come to an end in a rough incident in turn three that saw him get sideways and slam passenger door first into the back of the No. 01 of Vinnie Miller and the No. 74 of Cody Ware. This incident ended the day for both Bell and Miller.
Preece would take the green-white-checkered flag to capture stage two of the race. The final stage stayed green most of the way, with Brandon Jones leading the pack. Jones would lead the most laps in the day with 106 laps led. However, a final caution with just 17 laps left to go as Shane Lee in the No. 3 blew a left front tire and slammed into the wall in turn two.
This would set all the leaders up with one last chance to get fresh tires and make a dash for the finish. Brandon Jones’s team elected to just take two left side tires, while the rest of the leaders behind Jones elected to take four tires. This would pay off in the short term for Jones as he kept his top position coming out of the pits. However, as the green flag dropped with just 12 laps to go it was easy to tell that Jones had his work cut out for him.
Jones battled to hold off his teammate Preece, but it would only take three laps for Preece to get around Jones to take the lead. No one would challenge Preece for the lead in the final nine laps. Jones would fall back to 6th place and finished the race 3.441 -seconds behind the winner, Preece.
In addition to capturing the famous Bristol sword, Preece won the $100,000 check in the Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash. It was something that meant a lot to him, as he took a chance on himself last year, and will use the money to get out of debt.
“Really good! I don’t think you can say winning $100,000 isn’t good. I know what it is going to do for me and my life. I can officially say I’m going to be paid off with everything that I risked last year. This is a big day for me. One thing I want to point out to everybody right here, this guy right here,” said Preece looking at his crew chief Eric Phillips and patting him on the shoulder, “He gave me a real, real great set of matched tires right there at the end and they came through for me.”
The Dash 4 Cash continues next week as the Xfinity Series takes to Richmond Raceway Friday night in Virginia for a race under the lights. After the race in Bristol, it was announced that Daniel Hemric in the No. 21, Justin Allgaier in the No. 7, Elliott Sadler in the No. 1, and Spencer Gallagher in the No. 23 qualified for the Dash 4 Cash at Richmond. However, after post-race inspection, it was announced that Hemric’s No. 21 failed post-race inspection, and he would be replaced with the No. 19 of Brandon Jones in Richmond.