By AMANDA VINCENT
Among the 44 drivers attempting to make Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon with qualifying runs on Friday were two drivers set to make their Sprint Cup debuts — Ryan Preece and B.J. McLeod.
Both Preece and McLeod claimed spots for their series debuts, with Preece 37th on the starting grid in the No. 33 Circle Sport entry and McLeod 39th in the No. 98 for Premium Motorsports through a deal with Tommy Baldwin Racing. Both were guaranteed starting spots, with only the specific spots on the grid in question. The No. 33 had a guaranteed spot through team owner Joe Falk’s points, while Tommy Baldwin purchased the owner points tally from Jay Robinson Racing for the No. 98.
With the Sylvania 300 on their racing schedules at NHMS, both Preece and McLeod originally were expected to both pull double duty in Loudon, but not the same double duty. In the end, Preece was the only one who did so.
Preece, the 2013, NASCAR Whelen Modified champion and current points leader in that series, competed in the Modified race that followed Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at the track.
Preece has three races of NASCAR national-level competition, coming in the Xfinity Series. Two of those starts came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His career-best finish in the Xfinity Series was a 14th-place showing at New Hampshire last year.
McLeod was on the preliminary entry list for Saturday’s UNOH 175 Camping World Truck Series race at New Hampshire, but withdrew of the event by the time the final entry list was released. McLeod normally races a No. 45 truck that he owns in the Truck Series.
McLeod has made 29-career starts in the Truck Series, with a career-best of 15th coming at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway in 2012. He also has seven starts in the Xfinity Series, all of them in 2015. In that series, he posted a career-best of 25th at New Hampshire earlier this season.
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