Preston Peltier knows how to win big races. The Concord, North Carolina driver’s resume includes wins in prestigious Super Late Model events such as the Easter Bunny 150 and World Crown 300. But this weekend Peltier will make his way to Washington’s Evergreen Speedway hoping to cash in on the biggest payday of his career in the $25,000-to-win Summer Showdown.
Peltier recently filed an entry for the Summer Showdown and will drive the No. 48 Super Late Model owned by Eddie Vecchiarelli. The car is the same one that he drove to a seventh-place finish in the 2015 Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway (FL) and competed in during the 2016 Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park (CA).
“A couple years ago I had planned on coming and it just didn’t work out,” Peltier told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “At this time last year I didn’t really have a solid deal with the guy out of Colorado and I didn’t own a car at the time. So it just was one of those deals where it didn’t work out. This year everything was lined up, and hopefully all the stars and planets are in line too and we can get a win.
“I felt like we had the car to beat out at Kern. We had some issues in qualifying and in our qualifying heat we went from close to last and almost won the heat. We had problems in the race and kept going to the back and coming back up through. They know there’s potential there, we just need a little bit of luck on our side. That’s kind of what we’ve been missing here lately.”
When Peltier arrives at the track this week it will be the first time he has even seen Evergreen Speedway. That doesn’t have him too worried, though. The 38-year-old racer explained that he has a history of doing well at tracks that he’s never raced at before.
Coincidentally enough, Peltier earned his current ride with his performance at a track he had never turned a single lap at.
“Last year, this is how I got this ride with the 48 guys,” stated Peltier. “I sold them the car and went out to CNS (Colorado National Speedway) and I was working on it and trying to set it up to help Ed get it dialed in. He ended up practicing it and qualifying and ran a dash. After the dash he got out and said he wasn’t comfortable in it and wanted me to get in it to see what I could do. I started at the rear and won the race. It got tossed because of the motor, the spec engine wasn’t legal at that time out there, but I put on a good show. That’s what got me where I am right now. It was just one of those things that they thought it was awesome.”
Peltier’s performance at Colorado National Speedway isn’t the only example of him being able to adjust quickly to a new race track.
“I’ve had a lot of experience where I’ve gone somewhere the first time and been successful,” he said. “You think back to 2008, the first time I went to Mobile, I won down there. I’ve had that happen at a few different race tracks, so I’m not so worried about it. I’ve got some people helping me that have some experience here and know what kind of direction to go, so the rest is up to me just wheeling it.”
One year ago, Peltier saw what Georgia driver Bubba Pollard did on his way to claiming a $25,000-plus check at the Summer Showdown. As the lone East Coast representative currently on the entry list for this year’s version of the race, Peltier is eager to back up what Pollard did in 2015.
“Bubba did a good job last year coming out here and showing these boys how to get it done, so I kind of feel like the bar has been set,” said Peltier. “If I did anything less I think everybody would be disappointed.”
If he is to win the race, Peltier said that he’ll cherish it in Victory Lane. Not just because of the impressive $25,000 paycheck, but because it would be a win against a very tough group of competitors.
“Man I’ll tell ya, any time you can win a big race I don’t care where it’s at it feels good,” stated Peltier. “To be honest with you, with the way things have been going it’s not easy to win a local show. You have to work a little bit harder and make sure all your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted when you go to one of these things. But like I said, even local races these days are tough to win because the people who are racing can afford to do it for the most part and they know what they’re doing; they’re not out there just wasting their money. I don’t care where you’re at, winning main events is tough.”
If he is to win Saturday’s 200-lap main event, Peltier doesn’t plan to do anything crazy with the money. Well, unless more racing falls under the category of crazy.
“Get on a plane, fly home and get back to work,” Peltier joked when asked what he’d do with the $25,000 winner’s check. “To be honest with you, we’re thinking about leaving all the stuff out here, flying home and then coming back in a couple weeks. There’s another big race, the Montana 200, that we’re thinking about running as well.”
Practice for the Summer Showdown kicks off Thursday at Evergreen Speedway with qualifying taking place on Friday afternoon. The 200-lap Summer Showdown will see the green flag at approximately 7 p.m. PST on Saturday.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com