Preece on return after crash: ‘We’re supposed to be tough’

Ryan Preece © Getty Images

NASCAR driver Ryan Preece understands that others might expect him to sit out Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway after his horrific crash a weekend earlier.

But Preece said he’s healthy and has been ready all week to get back to racing.

“I get what you’re saying, it’s OK to not race, but it’s OK to race, and I think that’s what really needs to be said here,” Preece said on Saturday in taking questions from reporters for the first time since his spectacular wreck at the Coke Zero 400 last Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

Preece, 32, was able to extricate himself from his No. 41 Ford after his vehicle was bumped by Erik Jones, made contact with teammate Chase Briscoe, flew in the air and rolled over 10 times. Preece was placed on a gurney and taken to the track’s infield care center before being transported to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., for continued observation.

He was discharged from the hospital early that Sunday morning, though Preece said he was telling medical staff he was ready to leave before midnight.

“The difference between us and most people who would go and drive a car is this is what we’re supposed to be,” he said at Darlington. “We’re supposed to be tough, and it’s OK to be tough. It’s OK to do those things.

“I feel good. My wife even joked with me Monday morning, she said, ‘You got out of bed quicker than me.’ So, me as a person, my father raised me to be who I am, how tough I am, and how I want to be as a person. It’s OK to be that way.”

NASCAR, which has cleared Preece to compete, begins its playoff run at Darlington on Sunday. Preece is not among the 16 drivers eligible for the championship, however.

NO CONCUSSION-LIKE SYMPTOMS

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver said he has no concussion-like symptoms, and he wouldn’t endanger himself or anyone else by racing with headaches or blurred vision.

“This is my job, this is what I want to do, and I feel completely fine to do it,” said Preece, who took off his sunglasses to show bruising under both eyes which happened as a result of the crash.

“They aren’t bad,” Preece said. “I’m just going to put an end to it right now because what I want you all to know is racing in general, whether you’re racing a sprint car or modified, anything, it’s dangerous. So, there are consequences to everything.

“I’m fine. My vision is perfect; everything about it. They don’t hurt. They look bad to you guys, but you look at a 410 (sprint car) driver after some flips, they get this. It’s from spinning in the air, all 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, I went through all the tests. I feel fine. If I didn’t feel fine, I wouldn’t be in this car this weekend. But obviously, I’m grateful and excited to be there.”

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