Kyle Larson wasn’t sure why Ryan Preece was mad at him on Sunday night on the Bristol dirt. Preece ran Larson into the fence but said after the race that he did nothing intentionally, claiming the series of events was hard racing.
Larson’s night ended on lap 176 of the Food City Dirt Race. Running side-by-side off Turn 4, Larson, on the outside, and Preece, on the inside, collided, sending Larson bouncing off the wall. Down the frontstretch, the two collided again, and it sent Larson spinning to the right and hitting the outside wall on the driver’s side.
It appeared retaliatory, at least Preece not cutting Larson a break after contact earlier in the race. Preece expressed displeasure over the radio when the two ran into each other, which he and the No. 41 team didn’t think was an accident.
“We were just racing hard trying to get all we could,” Preece said after the race.
“I haven’t seen the contact from earlier in the race,” Larson said. “It was a tight clear off of (Turn) 4, and obviously, I’m looking in my mirror and didn’t see that he was to my outside yet, and 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 and was swerving at me under yellow.”
“I assumed it’d been an hour and a half since that happened,” Larson said of the contact that then ended his race. “It wasn’t my fault why he ended up spun out and in the back, so I thought he would chill out, but obviously didn’t and ran me into the fence and ended our day. It is what is.”
Larson and Preece both agreed they’d never had a previous issue with each other. Larson said there was nothing to talk about with Preece, and Preece didn’t see the need to initiate a conversation with the 2021 Cup Series champion.
“I honestly haven’t raced with him that much,” Larson said. “He’s been out of the Cup Series a little bit for the last couple of years. He wasn’t in the best stuff when he was Cup racing before, so I haven’t spent too much time around him.
“But I don’t remember if he’s been mad at me before. I’ve never been mad at him, but everybody saw his comments after COTA (about respect). So, I’m sure he’s standing his ground, I guess, right now.”
After the contact with Larson on lap 176, Preece said over his team radio he got loose. After the race, Preece again said that was what happened.
“I tried running the top – I’m a guy who runs the bottom, and I know he was making speed, and I tried to move up there, and we were too loose,” Preece said. “Ultimately, 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 I could.”
Neither said this would be an issue between them going forward.
“I’m mad at a lot of stuff (but) I’m mostly mad at myself,” Larson said. “I shouldn’t have been out there; I spun out. I shouldn’t be in here (the infield care center) right now, but it’s just racing.”
However, he was still a bit surprised at what happened.
“Because it’d been so long, and like I said, it wasn’t my fault why he was back there,” said Larson. “I think something happened to him off of (Turn) 2 earlier, and he ran into the back of somebody and spun out. Like I said, it’d been probably an hour and a half, I would have to guess, since then, so I figured we could just be grown-ups and get the (expletive) over it. But I guess not.”