After a completely vicious crash, where he barrel rolled more than 11 times on the backstretch in the closing laps of last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Ryan Preece returned to the track Saturday at Darlington Raceway.
The driver agreed to participate in an availability with the media outside of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team hauler to address the crash and how he is feeling.
“I’m good. I’m okay. I have no broken bones. I’m not sore. I wasn’t sore after it. A little bit of bruising, but nothing too crazy,” Preece explained to open the chat.
In vicious barrel roll style accidents, a lot of the time, drivers will suffer bruising and bloodshot eyes as a result of the intense g-forces being pulled in the wild flipping. Preece, who had been wearing sunglasses every time he had been seen since the accident was asked how were his eyes looking.
— Toby Christie (@Toby_Christie) September 2, 2023
“I figured you were going to ask,” Preece said as he peeled his sunglasses off his face to reveal his eyes, which were blood red behind his steely blue iris, and under his eyes was significant bruising due to busted capillaries.
“They aren’t bad,” Preece quipped, as the gallery of media was in shock. “I’m just going to put an end to it right now because obviously, people, what I want you all to know is that racing in general, whether you’re racing a sprint car, a modified, or anything — it’s dangerous. There are consequences to everything. But what we do as race car drivers, is we respect one another to not put ourselves in positions to be like that. I’m fine. My vision is perfect. Everything about it. They don’t hurt. They look bad to you guys, but if you look at a 410 [sprint car] driver after some flips, they get this. It’s from spinning in the air, all of that, the blood flow, whatever, I don’t know. I’m not a doctor, and a lot of other people out there aren’t either.
“What I can tell you is that I went through all of the tests. I feel fine. If I didn’t feel fine, I wouldn’t be in this car this weekend. Obviously, I’m grateful and excited to be here.”
Preece spent Saturday night, and Sunday morning in the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida before he was finally released to head back home to North Carolina on the Sunday morning following the Daytona race.
Preece, who says he felt fine after the crash and has continued to feel fine since says that getting back into the car was the primary objective for him this week simply because he’s a racer.
When asked if there was any harm in taking a week off after the massive crash, Preece sharply pointed back by saying, “Yeah, but why? As a racer, why? You go talk to a guy that is racing a 410, or a modified, and we love to race. And I feel perfectly fine, so why stop? It’s completely — I get what you’re saying. It’s okay to not race, but it’s okay to race, and I think that’s what really needs to be said here.”
Preece says that had he experienced any concussion or vision issues in the wake of the crash, he for sure would have stepped aside. But with no complications following the crash, he has a job to do this weekend.
“I have no concussion-like symptoms. If I had headaches, or blurry vision, or anything that I felt that I would be endangering myself or anybody here racing, I wouldn’t be racing,” Preece explained. “Especially, because I have a family at home that I have to worry about as well. This is my job, this is what I want to do, and I feel perfectly fine doing it.”
Preece has had a few big crashes this season. Another big one that stands out was his hard t-bone impact into the side of Kyle Larson’s car at Talladega Superspeedway a few months ago. Preece says that while the crash at Daytona looked more spectacular, he felt more pain from the Talladega crash.
“From a safety standpoint, I feel like I’ve kind of been the test dummy so to speak with the frontal impact, and then with the rollover. Joking obviously, but I feel fine. To be honest with you, I was a lot more sore after the frontal impact than I was this one. I just look, from an optics standpoint, worse today than I did after the frontal impact,” Preece explained.
While the overall impact was less severe with his flip at Daytona, ideally, you still would love to remove cars flipping from the equation altogether. When asked for input on how to fix that issue, Preece stated that he isn’t an expert in that field.
“I’m just a race car driver, that loves racing, loves competition, loves adrenaline, and wants to be here at the race track.”
Preece has officially cemented his status in racing lore as a badass. And he says while it seems odd to the normal person for him to want to get back into the car a week after one of the most violent-looking crashes we’ve seen in some time, Preece says race car drivers are supposed to be tough.
“The difference between us, and most people that would go and drive a car, this is what we’re supposed to do,” Preece said. “We’re supposed to be tough. And it’s okay to be tough. It’s okay to do those things. I feel good. My wife even joked with me on Monday morning, and said, ‘You got out of bed quicker than me.’ Me as a person, my father raised me to be the way I am, how tough I am, and how I want to be as a person. It’s okay to be that way.”
Preece, who is one tough customer, will roll from the starting grid from the 34th position in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.