Ryan Preece knocks Kyle Larson out of Bristol dirt race in apparent retaliation: ‘Just got loose’


Emotions reached a fever pitch between Kyle Larson and Ryan Preece on Sunday night in the Food City Dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Preece pushed Larson’s car into the wall, knocking the No. 5 out of the race and fueling questions about what is and isn’t an acceptable response to racer frustration.

The contact occurred on Lap 174 of the 250-lap race. Preece slid his vehicle into Larson’s as Larson tried to pass on the outside. The two got together on two separate occasions; the second resulted in Larson’s car spinning out before hitting the wall coming out of the straightaway on Turn 2.

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Larson, who was racing near the back of the pack after an earlier spin, was unable to continue. It was another disappointing result for the driver widely viewed as the best dirt racer in the Cup Series.

While the crash happened in the final stage, the seeds were planted much earlier. It appeared to start in Stage 1 when Larson blocked Preece coming off the corner in Turn 1. The two made slight contact, a seemingly innocuous moment at the start of the race.

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Preece didn’t take it that way, however. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver pulled up next to the No. 5 car under caution and appeared to flip a middle finger at the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion.

The whole interaction seemed to leave a sour taste in Preece’s mouth. Communicating with crew chief Chad Johnston and spotter Andy Houston, Preece indicated that he was through taking his lumps on the track.

Although the contact between Preece and Larson seemed fairly insignificant, the No. 41 car did have trouble in the turns after that.

It seems Preece neither forgave nor forgot about what Larson did in Stage 1. Two stages later, he got payback.

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Preece told reporters after the race that the contact with Larson was incidental, just the result of Preece’s car being loose and Preece racing hard as he tried to move to the high line on the track.

“Just trying to run the top, it was real slick,” Preece said. “Just got loose and we both ended up in the fence.”

Two weeks at the Circuit of the Americas, Preece was vocal about his frustrations with some of NASCAR’s bigger names after being taken out of the race. Later, he told Frontstretch:

Yeah, I got wrecked by a bunch of hacks. Well, you want to know what this is? This comes down to a lack of respect. Some pay their way, and they don’t respect cars. What happens going into Turn 1? They just run into everyone, and they ruin days, so someone needs an a— kicking, that’s for sure.” 

It was Larson who appeared to catch it on Sunday. Suffice to say, he wasn’t too pleased.

“It’d been probably an hour and a half, I would have to guess, since (the first incident), so I figured we could just be grown-ups and get the f— over it, but I guess not,” he said.

(Note: Video contains NSFW language.) 

Larson indicated that he and Preece had nothing to say to each other. He also rebuffed the notion that NASCAR should get involved in the conflict, as it did when Denny Hamlin wrecked Ross Chastain at Pocono last year and again after Hamlin admitted wrecking Chastain at Phoenix this year.

“I mean, who is to say he intentionally wrecked me?” Larson said. “Only he knows.”

“By no means was that intentional,” Preece told reporters.

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