Two-time Orange County Speedway track champion Timothy Peters spent most of the Old North State Nationals biding his time and waiting for the right moment to charge up to the front and take home the $30,000 paycheck.
Peters found that opportunity through pit strategy during the second half of the race, but he would ultimately finish the 200-lap main event behind the wall in 16th after blowing a tire with 13 laps to go.
“We started bottoming out, and then the car started getting tighter,” Peters said. “It bottomed out the lap before, but it really gave no warning, and then it went down right there and that was all she wrote. We had a good car and we had a good strategy, but I was doing all I could to hang on to it there and try to get a Top 3.”
Peters’ #12 Castrol/AutosbyNelson.com Late Model showed speed off the trailer in practice, but his qualifying time was only good enough to land him the pole position for the third heat race on Saturday. Peters proceeded to lead every single lap of the 30-lap feature to easily clinch a spot in the Old North State Nationals main event.
Despite pulling away with the heat race win, Peters would not be as fast when the green flag dropped on Sunday, as he found himself in the back half of the Top 10 through the first 100 laps of competition.
A caution would fly shortly after the halfway point when Jacob Heafner, Carson Kvapil and others collided in Turn 4, which motivated Peters and his teammate Bobby McCarty to go off strategy and enter the pits for adjustments.
“Track position is everything here,” Peters said. “It’s hard to pass, but we knew that if we got track position that we would be OK.”
On the ensuing restart, both Peters and McCarty fell to the rear of the field to save the fresh tires that had been put on their cars, but they were forced to pick up their pace slightly when leader Josh Berry rapidly approached the tail end of the lead lap. A competition caution would fall on Lap 151, which put the Nelson Motorsports duo at the front of the field with Trevor Ward and Adam Lemke on the front row.
McCarty would sustain damage on his car after Lemke missed a shift on the restart, but Peters managed to find a hole underneath Ward to take his first lead of the race, with Berry and Lee Pulliam following closely behind him.
Peters did everything he could to hold off his fellow Late Model veterans, but a restart on Lap 170 gave the Pulliam the opening he needed to pass Berry and Peters, which enabled him to pull away with the race lead.
Berry dispatched Peters a few moments later as he was attempting to take care of his equipment over the final few laps. Unfortunately for the Late Model veteran, the right front tire would give way as he was trying to hold off Taylor Gray for third, which sent his Late Model into the outside wall and brought his race to a premature end.
Peters’ accident capped off a miserable day for Nelson Motorsports, as McCarty was forced to limp home in 13th following his restart accident while Ty Gibbs fell victim to a cut tire in the same corner on Lap 77. Peters thanked his crew members for all of the hard work that they put in on all three cars for Nelson Motorsports, but he was disappointed that they were unable to see their efforts were not paid off with a victory.
“Everyone at Nelson Motorsports has worked hard the last two weeks,” Peters said. “Now we’re going to have to work harder to get these cars back together. We can’t help blown tires, but we are working hard. I have to give a big thanks to Marcus Richmond, David Triplett and all of the guys within, as well as Castrol, AutosbyNelson and Solid Rock. I just hate it for all the guys because of all the hard work they put in, but now it’s on to the next one.”
Peters admitted that he does not know when or where that next will be, as he believes that his current Late Model was damaged beyond repair in the accident. Nelson Motorsports will regroup for the next CARS LMSC Tour race on May 3 when the series travels to Ace Speedway for the Race at Ace 125.