Preston Peltier flew to Dacono, Colorado last weekend expecting to only turn wrenches, and not the steering wheel of a Super Late Model. But instead he did end up behind the wheel, and even ended up in victory lane at Colorado National Speedway.
Over the offseason, Peltier, who works for Jeff Gordon’s team at Hendrick Motorsports as a body specialist, sold one of his cars to Eddie Vecchiarelli. Peltier explained that Vecchiarelli asked him to fly out to Colorado to make sure that they were getting the best they could possibly get out of Peltier’s former car.
“They requested that I go out there and help get the car dialed in,” Peltier told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Basically they just wanted to see my procedure, so we did that and he qualified the car and finished third in the dash. He did well, but when he got out of the car he felt that he had me come all this way and he really wanted to see what the car was capable of. So right before the main, he decided that he’d stick me in it to see what I could do with the thing.”
Peltier said he and the team didn’t make any changes to the car with the exception of adding lead. He also added that it was a good thing they didn’t make any changes because, “It was on rails.”
As a result of changing drivers, Peltier started the 50-lap main event shotgun on the 26-car field at the 3/10-mile oval.
Peltier said he was instantly a fan of Colorado National Speedway because it suited his driving style perfectly.
“It’s a driver’s track and it doesn’t have a lot of grip,” he said. “It reminds me of a cross between South Boston Speedway (VA) and Hickory Motor Speedway (NC), and you know how successful I’ve been at Hickory.”
As a result, Peltier quickly started to make his way through the field, using the outside groove even though nobody else wanted to venture up there.
“My motto is to go where they’re not,” Peltier said. “Everybody was on the bottom there. Under caution I went up on the top groove and was just trying to clean it off a bit. I just thought that if I could clean the top groove off it could give me a place to go.”
He certainly found a place to go as he used the top side to get to the top 10 with just about 10 laps remaining. At that point Peltier was confident he could get to the lead to take the win.
“I told the guys on the radio that we had a really good car and that I thought we could win this race,” said Peltier. “I think maybe they had their doubts because those guys are no slouches out there. The top five cars were pretty competitive. It’s not like those guys had never raced before. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but that car was so good. I knew we could get it done, even in that short amount of time that we had left.”
Peltier started using both the inside and outside grooves to pass the few cars that remained ahead of him. With the aid of another caution he was able to fight for the win.
“We came down to I think it was one to go and I got the run on Dominic Ursetta to the outside off turn two,” explained Peltier. “He came up the track and he caught my fender. I backed off and gave him the spot. We drove down into turn three and I arched it off real wide. I cut across him in the middle and crossed him up off four and got under him. We drag raced down the straightaway and I pretty much took the race like that.”
While he wasn’t supposed to race, Peltier still managed to come from dead-last to score a win. He’s scored quite a few victories throughout his career, but he said this one was really cool.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be in some pretty exciting races,” he said. “But from just the reaction of the fans, the Vecchiarellis and some of the other racers, it was an exciting show.”
Unfortunately for Peltier, the excitement quickly faded as he was disqualified in post-race technical inspection for having an unapproved motor.
Peltier ran a spec motor similar to the ones commonly used in the Southeast. He explained that the motor was supposed to be approved for use, but apparently was not.
“They were supposed to approve it, but they didn’t,” he said. “When we were in tech they gave the win to Ursetta, but they said they will have that motor approved for the next race. And that doesn’t make any sense to me.”
He explained that Colorado National Speedway officials kept the engine to take it to an engine dyno to test horsepower and torque numbers. Peltier said the results of the dyno test showed that his spec motor had 50 horsepower less than Ursetta’s motor and 20 foot-pounds of torque less as well.
“It’s just all new to them,” said Peltier. “We’ve been racing those motors for years. Those guys out there run a 9:1 touring package. All these engine packages are very competitive with each other.”
Peltier said he uses a spec motor for multiple reasons. One reason is the cost, and the other is longevity, which ultimately ties into the cost of a motor.
“You can spend $40,000 dollars on a 9-to-1 motor, or you can spend half of the money on a Spec motor,” said Peltier. “But the biggest reason I use the spec motor is for longevity. I’ve run those things for 5,000 laps before and I’ve never had a failure.
“It saves the racers money, and ultimately that will save the sport.”
While Peltier said he’s a bit disappointed that the win was disallowed, he’s mostly thrilled he was able to put on a show on-track before the fireworks display lit up the sky above the track on Saturday night.
“My Facebook has been blowing up with guys from Colorado that have said they’ve been going to that track for years and had never seen a show like that,” Peltier said. “We are looking to hopefully get back out there and do it again.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Preston Peltier Facebook