BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kyle Larson was confused. Ryan Preece said he didn’t intentionally wreck Larson.
Larson and Preece made contact multiple times in Sunday’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the second occasion leading to Larson’s car suffering enough damage that it could not continue.
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Issues started on Lap 79 of the 250-lap race when contact between Larson and Preece sent Preece into the wall. Preece expressed his dissatisfaction during a caution a few laps later, running alongside Larson’s car and shaking his hand at Larson.
After the incident, Preece said “game over” on his radio. He explained what he meant after the race.
“I think you just get mad getting run in the fence,” Preece said. “There was no meaning, it’s just from inside that race car you’re like, ‘I’m not gonna lift.’ When it comes to being run into the fence, every time you lift, if guys see you lifting when you’re at the right rear corner, they’re just gonna keep running you up in the fence.
“I think when I meant game over, I meant just not gonna keep lifting and giving that respect of, ‘Hey, I’ll give you this room.’ It comes down to that.”
Larson’s perspective on the incident: “It was a tight clear off of (Turn) 4. Obviously, I’m looking in my mirror and it didn’t seem as if he was to my right rear yet. I don’t know if he got into the wall, but he had a pretty short temper, obviously. He tried to crash me, I think, after that. He was sort of mad at me under yellow.”
Contact from Preece sent Larson into the wall nearly 100 laps later. They hit off Turn 4 and continued down the frontstretch before contact from Preece sent Larson into the Turn 1 wall. He finished 35th. Preece went on to place 24th.
Larson was shocked at what happened.
“I assumed it had been an hour and a half or so since that happened,” Larson said of the initial incident with Preece. “It wasn’t my fault why he ended up spun out in the back. I thought he would chill out. Obviously, he didn’t and rammed me into the fence and ended our day. It is what it is.”
Said Preece: “I was trying to run the top. It was real slick. Got loose and both ended up in the fence.”
Told that some would view his contact as intentional after the earlier incident, Preece responded: “I don’t race dirt. I don’t know. I tried running the top. I’m the guy that runs the bottom. I know (Larson) was making speed up top. I tried to move up there and we were just too loose.
“I still agree that a lot of people are going to stand their ground, but by no means was that intentional. I was just trying to get all that I could.”