ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – Through a testing 34-race winless stretch, Justin Peck never considered altering his approach or driving style.
On Saturday night with the All Star Circuit of Champions at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa., Peck’s steadfast demeanor finally reached pay dirt.
Peck tactfully ran down and passed race-long leader Zeb Wise with three laps to go to win the track’s Crown Jewel event, the Dirt Classic, and bank the $20,000 prize.
The 22-year-old’s last win actually came on the property when he won round four of Pennsylvania Speedway on June 28.
“I love coming here to Lincoln Speedway,” Peck said. “Especially coming here to big races like the Dirt Classic, and racing with a guy like Zeb.”
Wise and his Indiana upbringing looked unbeatable all race along the top side of the three-eighths-mile clay oval.
Peck, however, found the bottom groove to his liking in the 40-lap event, even though he wasn’t making a lot of ground. Like his near three-month drought, he didn’t alter his approach.
“The top was so treacherous,” Peck said. “I knew one misstep would cost me that race.”
Sure enough, with five laps to go, Wise smacked the turns one and two wall. Peck powered alongside as the two barreled down the backstretch, and unleashed a slide job in turn three to trigger his winning move.
“The way I look at it, we’re two young guys in the sport, we’re giving it everything we have,” Peck added. “I can’t believe he did 40 laps on the fence like he did without messing up, so hats off to him. He was giving it everything he had, and I was giving it everything I had, too, just maybe in a different way.
“It just prevailed for us,” Peck continued. “Luck hasn’t been on our side the past couple months. It’s nice to have it on our side for once.”
Wise regrouped to lead lap 37, but Peck held his positioning on the bottom to put the 18-year-old away and race to his seventh win of the year.
Freddie Rahmer charged from 11th to second and Wise faded to finish third. With five laps to go, Wise started running out of fuel, his car sputtering and not carrying the speed it previously did.
The loss of momentum played a role in Wise hitting the wall in turns one and two. Still, Wise thought he’d still have enough for his fourth win of the year and second this month.
“I was fine until about halfway down and it started spitting and sputtering,” Wise said. “Justin got by me, and I figured if I kept sliding him and tried to break his momentum that he wouldn’t get too far away, maybe I could sneak back by. It just wasn’t quite enough.
“I was lucky it didn’t die before I took the checkered, but it’s unfortunate the way it ended,” Wise said.
Brent Marks and Lance Dewease fell out of the top four midway through with mechanical issues.
Anthony Macri finished fourth and Cory Haas charged to fifth from the 17th-starting spot.
Robbie Kendall, Alan Krimes, Gio Scelzi, Danny Dietrich and Gerard McIntyre rounded out the top 10.
Justin Peck, Freddie Rahmer, Zeb Wise, Anthony Macri, Cory Haas, Robbie Kendall, Alan Krimes, Gio Scelzi, Danny Dietrich, Gerard McIntyre, Bill Balog, T.J. Stutts, Devon Borden, Tyler Courtney, Rico Abreu, Aaron Reutzel, Ryan Smith, Tyler Ross, Spencer Bayston, Brent Marks, Skylar Gee, Lance Dewease, Chase Dietz, Cory Eliason, Brian Brown, Jim Seigel, Brandon Rahmer, Hunter Schuerenberg