Preston Peltier has a knack for going fast, there’s no other way to put it. He proved it again by being on top of the charts when practice ended Thursday for the 4th Winter Showdown at the Kern County Raceway in Bakersfield, CA. The Snowball Derby and Chilly Willy 150 polesitter continued to show speed, no matter where the venue is. Peltier put down a 17.381 second lap on the eighteenth and final lap he ran in practice.
“We tested yesterday and put on a set of stickers when we first unloaded and got everything dialed in. In the end we felt like we had a decent car,” Peltier told Speed51.com. “But, to be honest with you, I didn’t think we had the short run speed. We made a few minor adjustments and went back out on those same tires today. Later, we put on some stickers and I think we only ran maybe ten or twelve laps on those same set of tires, and I ran that .38. I think we got a really good piece. Our guys worked really hard on it, and it shows. Everywhere we go, it seems like we got our stuff together right now and it just feels good to be on top.”
The defending Summer Showdown winner at Washington’s Evergreen Speedway is looking to go back-to-back in the West Coast Showdown races. The only other driver to accomplish back-to-back wins was Bubba Pollard, who swept both races in a single year in 2015.
Another driver who was fast throughout the day was local young gun Buddy Shepherd. The former Kern County Raceway Late Model Champion was in the top five throughout practice and finished with the third quickest lap of the day.
“We’re feeling pretty sporty, that #15 car is really a rocket ship,” said the 18 year-old Shepherd. “The track’s really hooked up right now. It seems like every time the sun goes down, this place really tightens up. We’ve (Shepherd and Wilson Motorsports teammate Daniel Hemric) been working together on our cars and our setups and been basing our ideas from each other. Our cars are really similar right now, so we’re looking for a really strong finish.”
It was a strong day for some of the favorites, while others struggled to find speed. Four-time defending ARCA Midwest Tour champion Ty Majeski finished practice fifth overall. He was followed by defending Winter Showdown winner and SRL Champion Derek Thorn, as well as NASCAR XFINITY Series regular Daniel Hemric.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, both Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers struggled to find speed, with NASCAR Truck Series driver Noah Gragson and 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch finishing the day 19th and 20th, respectively. Another heavy hitter who struggled was last week’s Chilly Willy winner at Tucson Speedway, Chris Eggleston. He ended practice 26th fastest.
The drivers will hit the track again on Friday for final practices and qualifying for the Winter Showdown. The Top 30 cars will transfer to the 300 Lap main event, while the remaining drivers will have to fight their way through a Last Chance race.
Race fans can watch Saturday's Winter Showdown via a live broadcast on the Speed51 Network. With support from PFC Brakes, monthly and yearly subscribers to the Speed51 Network will be able to watch for FREE. Click here to sign up for your membership today.
On-demand Trackside Now coverage from Thursday's practice at Kern County Raceway can be viewed by clicking here.
Story by: Dakota Geyer, Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent - Twitter: @kgeyer3
Photo credit: Speed51.com