MACON, Ill. — Continuing the trend of parity during the 2017 Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions season, Justin Peck shocked Macon Speedway on Saturday night, leading all but three laps for the biggest payday of his young career.
A two-time Rumble in Fort Wayne national midget winner on the pavement, Peck started sixth on the feature grid and was within striking distance of the top spot by lap three.
Even more impressively, the recent high school graduate transferred into the Arctic Cat All Star main event by winning his heat race — without a nose wing.
Once he got there, however, the Monrovia, Indiana native was lightning on the track.
Peck took the top spot from five-time and defending series champion Chad Kemenah on the fourth round and never looked back en route to his first series win.
“Honestly, this is kind of a shock,” Peck said in victory lane. “I owe this all to my crew; everyone that is involved with this team. This is such an awesome feeling.”
Paul Nienhiser and Kemenah led a 24-car field to green on Saturday night, with Kemenah jumping to the early advantage. But despite getting the early jump, Kemenah’s tenure at the top of the running order was short-lived, as he was soon tracked down by Peck.
The 18-year-old worked his way into the runner-up position by lap three, eventually driving around Kemenah with a high side maneuver through Turns 1 and 2 on the following circuit.
Peck maintained his position at the top of the running order for the remaining distance, surviving a total of eight cautions — two of which drew the red flag — to claim the $5,000 winner’s check.
Nienhiser, who battled inside the top-three during much of the 40-lap program, eventually had the opportunity to use traffic as a pick, driving Chad Kemenah at the entrance of Turns 3 and 4 to take over second on lap 24.
Saturday marked Nienhiser’s second-straight runner-up finish with the All Stars.
Kemenah held on to finish third, followed by Friday night winner Carson Macedo and former NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart.
But the night was all about Peck, who stood in stunned disbelief on the frontstretch taking in a career moment.
“You know, I thought we were really good there at the beginning,” he said. “But once the track started to take a little bit of rubber, that’s when I started to get nervous. When you are out in front like that, you obviously can’t tell what is going on behind you.”
“Paul (Nienhiser) showed me his nose there toward the end, so I had to adjust my line a little bit and move down the track. All you can do is try to run in the rubber where you think it’s the best. It all worked out tonight.”
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…