One of the West’s great short track outlaws is getting ready to gallop east to once again make Late Model racing’s greatest heist, that is claiming the Tom Dawson trophy. Preston Peltier is always on the watch list come December for the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway, bringing in stone cold focus for victory.
But, in the turmoil of 2020 Peltier has not had many opportunities to race. Following a tremendous start to the season way back in January with a win in the Chilly Willy 150 at Tucson Speedway (AZ), followed by a runner-up at Irwindale Speedway (CA) in February, the West Coast racing scene has been stagnant.
Peltier did make the ride to Florida Panhandle for a Five Flags Blizzard Series start in the summer, only to be bitten by the bad luck bug then. For the most part, he has stayed home in Las Vegas, readying his chariot in the shop.
“I haven’t been racing a lot, spent more time working on my welding skills. I’ve only raced about four times, hard to keep track these days. We ran one of the races in Pensacola, also ran Kern and Colorado, that’s about it,” Peltier told Speed51.
Despite the immense shop time, even turning down an opportunity for early testing at Five Flags, Peltier has learned by now that even the most prepared team in the world is never truly ready to take on rigmarole that is Derby weekend.
“You never got plenty of time to get ready for the Derby. You can have everything 100 precent ready to go and you’re never fully prepared. It’s that tough of a race. We considered going early for testing, but decided not to. We got too much prep work still to do, plus we got Thanksgiving coming up, it’s just too hard to fit in to the schedule.”
Having faith in his team and Super Late Model, Peltier feels that the one piece of the puzzle that might be behind is the organic bit behind the steering wheel. His main goal for the first practice day on Thursday, December 3 is to re-hone his reflexes.
“There’s plenty of practice time to get the car ready. The disadvantage with not racing much comes down to me, with muscle memory and repetition. I find you tend to lose a little bit when you’re away for so long. You think a little differently, you don’t think as quickly as you do when you run 25 times a year. So, you got to be more deliberate and more thoughtful. But, if you surround yourself with good people, then you can get away without being 100 percent.”
Even if he can check off all of the boxes, Peltier is well aware that the 300-lap race itself on Sunday, December 6, will ultimately be the decider on who has the opportunity to go for the grand prize in the late laps.
“I’ve had some really cars, but some really bad luck. If we can build on the really good finish we got last year, then I think we got something. Every year I go there, I think we got the best chance we’ve ever had, and this year is no exception even not being in the car much. We got as a good a shot and it won’t be for lack of equipment, help, or resources. It’ll be down to preparedness and luck.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51