MONROE — Time after time, someone took a run at Preston Peltier. Time after time, Peltier shut those runs down. And as a result, Peltier is taking home yet another Summer Showdown trophy.
Peltier claimed his third straight Summer Showdown as he won Evergreen Speedway’s premier race for Super Late Models on Sunday afternoon.
The eighth annual Summer Showdown was an exciting race that featured plenty of action at the front of the field. That action continued right up to the final lap of the 200-lap race as Peltier somehow managed to fend off a hard-charging Jason Fraser to win by a car length and claim the $25,000 winner’s check.
“It feels good, especially because I don’t feel I had the best car here today,” Peltier, who hails from Brighton, Colorado, said about winning for the third straight year. “It was the best short-run car, but on the long run, this is a 200-lap race and you have to be there at the end. Thank God for circumstances and cautions falling the way they did. It kind of helped us out.”
Peltier came into the race as the favorite. In addition to being the two-time defending champion, he was the pole sitter. But unlike the past two years, this one didn’t come easily for Peltier. Fraser was all over Peltier’s back bumper throughout the final 27 laps of the race. Fraser, an Issaquah resident and former Evergreen Speedway regular, made pass attempts on almost every lap from 174 to 182, and in turn four of 182 Fraser was just about past Peltier on the inside when the two bumped, causing Fraser to spin out.
The spin appeared to take Fraser out of contention, but a caution on lap 192 created a restart where Fraser was able to get himself back into second, and he again tried to pass Peltier on almost every turn. But Peltier gave Fraser no passing room on the inside and held on for the victory.
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) July 1, 2019
“It was pretty intense,” Peltier said about the final eight laps. “Those last eight laps, you’re up on the wheel and every bone and muscle in your body is tensed up and you’re just anticipating, thinking, ‘Where do I need to get back to the throttle, where do I need to roll a little better?’ My spotter is telling me to expect a bump because he’s right there, so I was waiting to get hit pretty good and get knocked sideways. It was very intense, those last eight laps were good.”
Fraser’s second-place finish was his first podium at Summer Showdown.
“(Finishing second) is disappointing, honestly,” said Fraser, who was racing a Super Late Model for the first time this year and racing at Evergreen for the first time in four years. “We came here to win. I should have won this thing so many times, and I just didn’t get it done, truthfully. I felt he was the better driver today. We had a better car, I did the best I could, but I would have had to use him up pretty good to win. I’d have had to make some contact, slow him down and I just don’t feel good about those kind of wins.”
Garrett Evans finished third to round out the podium. It was the Northwest racing legend’s third podium at Summer Showdown. He finished second in both 2014 and 2015.
Fraser wasn’t the only driver who nearly had Peltier’s number. Derek Thorn was considered Peltier’s greatest challenger coming into the race, as the Lakeport, California, resident has twice been on the Summer Showdown podium and was leading the SLR Southwest Tour in points — indeed, Thorn skipped an SLR race in Bakersfield this weekend and surrendered his points lead in order to race at the Summer Showdown.
Thorn and Peltier traded the lead throughout the first 100 laps prior to the mid-race break. They did the same following the break, with Thorn regaining the lead on lap 152 and creating separation. But four laps later, Thorn lost power and was forced to pit. He never rejoined the race.
“Something broke, maybe in the engine or drive train somewhere, but we lost power and that was the end of our day,” Thorn lamented.
“We’ve been here a lot, five or six times, and by far this was the best car we had,” added Thorn, who was second in 2016 and third in 2015. “I thought this was our best chance to win, and then we have something out of our control happen. We’ve had the speed, we just have never had the luck here. One of these days maybe we’ll have both.”
Evergreen points leader Tyler Tanner, who won four of the previous five Super Late Models races at the track this season, started from the No. 5 position, but lost ground right from the beginning. He headed to the pits on lap 44 and never returned.