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Preece wins reopened Nashville’s first NASCAR race in 10 years

LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) — Ryan Preece won the first NASCAR race at Nashville Superspeedway in a decade by scoring a victory in his first career Truck Series start.

Preece got in a truck for the first time to get bonus track time ahead of today’s Cup race, the first ever for NASCAR’s top series at the track. Nashville closed after the 2011 season when it couldn’t land a coveted Cup date.

It’s reopening Friday night was the first act in a three-day show that concludes with the Cup Series’ return to the Nashville-area for the first time in 37 years. But very few current drivers have raced at Nashville Superspeedway, which hosted 21 Xfinity Series race, 13 Truck Series races and eight IndyCar events before it closed after only 10 years.

Preece, Ross Chastain and William Byron all entered the Truck Series race to get an early start on learning the track. The rest of the Cup field wasn’t scheduled to be on track until a Saturday afternoon practice.

Preece already has 150 race laps and a win on the competition.

Preece passed Grant Enfinger with six laps remaining to become just the fifth driver to win their Truck Series debut. He celebrated in victory lane with a Gibson guitar, the traditional trophy Nashville awarded its winners during its first run.

Todd Gilliland drove from the back of the field to a second-place finish that gave DGR-Crosley a 1-2 finish and rebound from a terrible start to the day. The Ford trucks of Gilliland and teammate Tanner Gray both failed pre-race inspection and their crew chiefs were ejected.

Gilliland’s father, David, owner of the team and a former driver, took over as crew chief and guided his son to the finish. Gray finished 19th.

Enfinger was third in a Toyota and followed by Zane Smith in a Chevrolet. Stewart Friesen in a Toyota was fifth.

Preece’s win snapped a two-race winning streak by John Hunter Nemechek, who finished 10th.

Austin Dillon won the last Truck Series race at Nashville, a 1.33-mile, D-shaped, all concrete oval located about 30 miles outside the city. Carl Edwards won the final Xfinity Series race in 2011.

Byron, like, Preece, tried to get early track time alongside his Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Rudy Fugle in Hendrick deal with Rackley W.A.R. But Byron’s engine failed in the closing stretch of the second stage for an early exit.

“It’s a bummer but I learned some things,” Byron said.

___

More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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