MONROE — It seemed like every driver in the Summer Showdown field took a run at Preston Peltier at some point during Sunday’s race.
But none of them could prevent Peltier from becoming the first ever two-time champion of Evergreen Speedway’s premier event.
Peltier defended his championship, controlling the race from start to finish to claim the seventh annual Summer Showdown.
Peltier, who hails from Brighton, Colorado, led 167 laps of the 200-lap race for Super Late Models, including the final 127. He withstood being passed by Monroe’s Lex Johnson for seven laps during the first half of the race, then fended off challenges from Tayler Riddle, Jeremy Doss and Chris Davidson during the race’s second half. But from lap 74 on no one was able to nose their way past him.
“Any time you win, it’s special,” said Peltier, who took home the $25,000 first-place check. “I don’t care where you go in the country, if it’s a main event and you’re winning that race, those things are tough to come by.”
Davidson, who’s from Pearland, Texas, finished second. Lake Stevens’ Robb Touchette took third.
The race was rescheduled from Saturday night, when rain forced a postponement. All 41 cars entered raced the main event as the weather forced the cancellation of the last-chance qualifier, which would have pared the field down to 38.
Peltier was the favorite coming into race. Not only did he win comfortably last year, two years ago he was leading when a battery failure with six laps remaining snatched victory from his fingertips.
Starting on the outside of row two Sunday, Peltier bided his time before grabbing the lead on a restart on lap 27. He briefly relinquished the lead to Johnson, last year’s runner-up, on laps 67-73. But Peltier retook the lead on another restart on lap 74, a lead he carried into the mid-race break, which happened following 91 laps because of a yellow flag.
Peltier and his crew made no changes to the car at the break, and that proved to be the right decision as he held off every other driver who moved into second place and tried to apply some heat.
“The car ran excellent,” Peltier said. “Man it was just incredible. That thing was on a rail.
“I never felt pressure,” Peltier added of the variety of drivers who took a run at him. “This was one of the most relaxed weekends I’ve ever had at a racetrack.”
Davidson was the last one to challenge Peltier. Davidson, who finished third last year, had a spotty first-half of the race. But changes made at the mid-race break improved his car’s performance as he moved into second on lap 163. A crash involving Johnson and Garrett Evans on lap 175 created a restart on lap 185, giving Davidson one last crack at Peltier. However, Peltier created separation right off the start and was never threatened the rest of the way.
“I actually thought we were catching Preston a little before the yellow,” Davidson said. “Whether he was riding or saving a little, I don’t know. We had a fair shot, side-by-side with 15 to go, didn’t get it done.”
Touchette was the survivor among the local drivers attempting to become the first Evergreen regular to win the Summer Showdown. Tyler Tanner of Auburn grabbed the lead for two laps early in the race, but almost immediately his car suffered a mechanical failure and he was forced to withdraw. Johnson was Peltier’s biggest challenger throughout the first half of the race, but his car couldn’t maintain its speed following the mid-race break, and he was well back in the pack at the time of his wreck.
“(The third-place finish) feels awesome,” said Touchette, who returned to racing this year after an 11-year hiatus and was coming off a victory in the Galloway 150 at Evergreen on May 25. “In practice we just didn’t feel like we had a one-lap speed car, I just don’t know what that’s like to have a car that stays consistent. I feel like if I can’t lay down a lap with one fast time, how am I going to hang with the guys who are really fast at this thing? It turns out we could, we had a car that was consistent. It wasn’t super fast, but it didn’t fall off a lot.”
Pole sitter Owen Riddle, who led the first 20 laps before gradually falling back, did not return to the track following the mid-race break because of mechanical issues.