Preston Pardus didn‘t have plans to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity race at Portland International Raceway on June 3.
He does now.
The three-time sports car national champion will drive for SS Green Light Racing team owner Bobby Dotter, himself a former Xfinity Series competitor and 1992 race winner.
Dotter said that the opportunity for Pardus to drive the No. 08 B2B Casuals Ford at Portland was something the 26-year-old Floridian has earned.
“I‘ve been friends with his dad (Dan Pardus) since he drove” in NASCAR and ARCA action, Dotter said. “We helped each other out some through the years, and I‘ve kept an eye on Preston. He‘s a very good road racer. I had an opening for a driver in Portland and was looking for someone with some road-course expertise.”
All but one of Preston Pardus‘ 20 Xfinity starts have been on road courses in a family-owned car. He has racked up three top-10 finishes, including a career-best seventh on Charlotte Motor Speedway‘s “roval” in 2021. Interestingly, he has finished on the lead lap in each of the 14 races in which he‘s seen the checkered flag.
Saturday‘s 75-lap headliner at PIR, which is owned and operated by the city of Portland, offers a new challenge to Pardus. And while he‘s a rookie on the 12-turn, 1.967-mile layout, he‘ll be on the same page with his peers during race-day conditions. Last year‘s inaugural NASCAR visit to Portland was run in wet conditions, and this time the forecast is for sun and high in the mid-80s.
“I wanted to race out there last year, but it just didn‘t work out — so we watched the race on the couch and stayed dry,” Pardus said with a laugh. “So the only notebook those guys have so far is from a torrential downpour.
“Still, you can pick up on a lot of things. I‘ll definitely go back this week and study video to see braking and shift points they were using. And I‘ll rely on some knowledge from fellow racers who will help me — to a point.”
Dotter scored his first win as an Xfinity team owner last year on the West Coast when Cole Custer was victorious at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. That‘s not the type of expectation he‘s placing on Pardus this weekend.
“If we can fire off and we‘re good enough to be somewhere near that top 10, I‘d like to say that we go for some stage points,” he said. “But ultimately the goal is to get a good finish. That car‘s 31st in owner points, and 30th place gets bonus money each race from NASCAR. That‘s important for me as a team owner.”
The track, Pardus said, “doesn‘t have that many high-speed sections — it‘s really super tight, super narrow. The race turned into chaos multiple times last year, but the rain probably amplified that. Keeping the nose on it throughout the day is really important so you can have a good car at the end.”
Pardus‘ lone Xfinity start this season was in late March at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. He was sidelined just 16 laps into the event by suspension failure.
The Pacific Office Automation 147 on Saturday marks only the second time Pardus has raced on the West Coast in any type of car. Pardus will hit the track Saturday morning for a 30-minute practice session, which will be immediately followed by qualifying.
On-track action includes the ARCA Menards Series West plus SCCA Northwest Region competition in the Spec Miata ranks. Pardus has secured a ride for the latter race, too.
Race-weekend attractions include two concerts. Brothers Osborne — winners of a 2020 Grammy for “Younger Me” and the Country Music Association‘s Vocal Duo of the Year the same year — will perform Friday. Five-time Grammy nominee Sam Hunt takes the stage Saturday.
— Preston Pardus Racing —