LANCASTER, Pa. — Last season’s busiest sprint car driver plans to be even busier this season.
After competing in a nation-leading 99 races last year aboard a 410 sprint car, Buch Motorsports wheelman Justin Peck expects even more seat time in 2023.
“When I was talking to Tom (Buch) the other day, he said he wanted to run 100 races,” Peck told SPEED SPORT. “So, I guess that’ll be the plan, try to hit triple digits.”
Peck is entering his third year as the full-time driver of the Buch No. 13. The partnership has proven to be fruitful as Peck and the Buch team have become one of the strongest combinations in the country.
In 2021, Peck won seven races highlighted by four with the Tezos All-Star Circuit of Champions including a $20,000 score at Lincoln Speedway’s Dirt Classic. The Monrovia, Ind., native also made victory lane visits at a pair of iconic Pennsylvania half miles, Port Royal Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway.
Last year Peck upped his win tally to nine with all but one coming under the All-Star banner. The eight ASCoC victories were enough to equal Tyler Courtney and Anthony Macri for the series lead. A pair of those triumphs came during Ohio Sprint Speedweek, helping him secure his first Ohio Speedweek title. Peck also showed consistency with 31 top-five finishes in 52 starts leading to a runner-up in the All-Star standings.
For Peck, who spent his time before teaming with Buch in search of stability, the journey to stardom has been especially gratifying.
“It’s one of those deals where I was ride hopping, bouncing here and bouncing there,” Peck recalled. “I got to drive for a lot of good car owners there for a short amount of time, but as far as being in a state like Buch Motorsports is at, I never really had that kind of a deal.
“I came into the 13 ride and they had their team already kind of set with everything but a driver. They were wanting to make a driver change after them and Paul (McMahan) split,” Peck explained. “They had Sean (Strausbaugh), my crew chief, and Kurt (Williamson), who works there, and Tom. They’d all been working with that deal for a couple years leading into me getting in the car. It was nice to come into something that was established with guys that had a lot of experience. It made my job a lot easier coming in. We just kind of all gelled right away and started picking off some wins there early, and we all kind of feel like we keep getting better as we go.”
The dynamic between Peck and the Buch crew is often highlighted. Their strong results speak for their compatibility as a team, and they always ensure each night at the track is a fun one. Peck believes their similarities in personality and aspirations have been a catalyst to their success.
“Well, I think a lot of it is I have Sean, the responsible one, and I have Kurt, the fun one,” Peck said laughing with Sean and Kurt sitting nearby. “Nah, I’m just kidding. I don’t know, we just all get along well. Kurt can be fun and outgoing, and Sean is fun, too, but Sean is the responsible one that keeps us all in line. Without him, I don’t think we’d make it as far as we do.
“It just works well,” Peck continued. “All of the personalities kind of gel together. We all kind of have the same goal. We want to win races and win championships. That’s what we all work towards, and when that stuff is over, we can go have fun together. It’s fun, man, when everyone is in high spirits and everyone has a good attitude, it makes the job a lot easier. You enjoy coming to work every day.”
Coming to work as a race team is something they’ll be doing often this year.
While their schedule isn’t finalized, Buch’s hopes of 100 races will have Peck at a race track for nearly a third of the calendar.
The newly created High Limit Racing series will account for a dozen of Peck’s nights as he’s already committed to pursue the inaugural High Limit championship. The 24-year-old even plans to compete in the non-points race in March at Tulare, Calif.’s Thunderbowl Raceway, but he’ll be aboard a Clayton Snow entry that evening. Last October Peck drove for Snow at the Thunderbowl and finished fifth in a NARC race.
“Right now, we’ve committed to the High Limit deal,” Peck said. “We’re going to run all 11 of those and I’ll run that race at Tulare as well, so I think there’s 12 total races there.”
Peck and company are in the process of locking down the remainder of their schedule and hope to have a clearer idea of how they’ll reach 100 later this week.
“We don’t have anything set in stone yet on what we’re going to do outside of the High Limit stuff,” Peck noted. “We have a big kind of master schedule we’re all looking at. I think that’ll be the plan this week is just nail that down a little bit and weed out some of the races we don’t want to run and pick all the ones we do.”
One track that will see the Buch hauler roll in a handful of times this season is Eldora Speedway. Peck has the Rossburg, Ohio, half mile circled as the track where he’s most hungry for a win. There may be no better time for Peck to cross Eldora off the bucket list than mid-July when “The Big E” hosts both the Eldora Million and the $175,000 to win Kings Royal over a stretch of four days.
“I want to get a win at Eldora,” Peck said. “That would be the first goal. We sat on the pole twice for (World of) Outlaw shows there. I feel like we’re 100 percent capable of doing it. We’ve run on the podium there and had a couple top fives. We’ve qualified well. We were quick time at the Kings Royal last year. Realistically, I think that’s the one we’re all looking forward to, and right before the Kings Royal we’ve got the million-dollar-to-win race.”
While they’re still ironing out the details of their schedule, Peck does know that they plan to get 2023 rolling shortly when the All Stars begin their campaign in less than two weeks. It’ll mark one down and, at the least, 99 to go.
With their early success and strong team dynamic, Peck is setting high expectations for the year as he and Buch Motorsports prepare for what they hope will be their busiest season yet.
“Goals would be 15 wins, a High Limit championship and a crown jewel,” Peck said. “That would be what we’re looking for.”