TALLADEGA, ALA. – When contact turned to chaos on the last lap of Monday’s Yuhouse Racing Designs 50 at Talladega Superspeedway, John Peters and Zane Ferrell exited turn two with clear race track ahead and behind, leaving them to settle the race amongst themselves.
But for a second straight week, Ferrell had to settle for second-best.
Peters juked his way to the lead in the final corner and held his ground to the checkered flag to win his seventh race of the NEP SHIFT Marketing/Design Grand National Series season.
“Unreal,” Peters said in victory lane. “Zane and I again, racing back for a win at the end of the race, just insanity.”
Peters started deep in the field after several drivers suffered miscues in time trials. But the Westbrook, Me. driver parlayed the error into strategy, working closely with his fellow Maine drivers to stay at the rear through the race’s opening laps. While Evan Beaulieu and recent NEP SuperTruck Series winner Brent Roy battled with Dylan Kopec out front, Peters was content to ride at the back.
A lap-23 crash collected both Beaulieu and Roy and brought out a mid-race caution, With several cars needing repair, Peters found himself in sixth for the restart with enough fuel to go the distance. And with championship rival Ryan Libby at the head of the pack, Peters’ strategy shifted from avoiding the inevitable wreck to being ahead of it.
Working with Beaulieu, Peters pushed Roy to the lead, the three-car tandem holding off a challenging train of Charles Lewandoski, Ferrell and Scott MacDonald. Just behind the leaders, Cory Casagrande and series newcomer Joey Coulter made contact, turning Wyatt Alexander across the field and setting off another multi-car incident down the backstretch, slowing the race with twelve laps left in regulation.
Roy brought the field to green for the restart, but as drivers jockeyed for position to find their drafting partners, Lewandoski turned the Canadian into the backstretch wall, setting off another incident and earning a penalty for the contact. Zane Ferrell inherited the lead, with Peters alongside, a reversal of the late-race restart a week before at Myrtle Beach.
The field was still in side-by-side formation a lap later when Ryan Libby and Joey Coulter got together in turn one, setting off another incident that left Libby’s car damaged and ended the evening for a hopeful DJ Girard. Peters took the lead by inches, bringing the field to green for a final restart in overtime.
Peters quickly received assistance from a surprising MacDonald while Brandon Yuhouse moved in to push Ferrell forward. As Peters took the white flag, a bump from Anthony Aiello turned Yuhouse into the frontstretch wall, with Kenny Kibbey moving in quickly to assist Ferrell. Only a few hundred yards later, Libby’s repaired car and Evan Beaulieu made contact, catching Kibbey and MacDonald and collecting the rest of the field in their wake.
Ferrell caught a side draft from Peters down the backstretch, sliding in front of the Runtal Radiators machine to take the lead half a lap from the finish. But despite Ferrell’s best efforts to block, the reigning Grand National Series champ caught enough of a draft to swing to the outside, pulling alongside in turn four.
Peters glided to the inside through the tri-oval, and while Ferrell was able to get back to Peters’ door, he was unable to stop Peters’ victory drive.
“Figured I’d say out back, stay out of trouble,” Peters said of his approach to the race. “We were able to do that, and then played a little pit strategy there, got track position. I’ve got to thank Brent Roy and Evan Beaulieu, we were working real well together.”
Cory Casagrande threaded the needle in the final wreck, rebounding from two incidents of his own to finish a strong third.
Jason Ricker found his way through the carnage to post a strong fourth-place run, with Lewandoski coming back from his late penalty to finish fifth. Kenny Kibbey was sixth, with Matt Kentfield improving on his Myrtle Beach outing with a career-best seventh-place finish. Brent Roy was eighth after leading 14 laps on the evening, while Anthony Aiello and Dylan Kopec rounded out the top ten.
Ryan Libby finished 12th, helping the victorious Peters to extend his point lead to 18 markers over Libby with three races remaining. Kibbey’s sixth-place finish moved him back ahead of Beaulieu for third, with Cory Casagrande in fifth.
The next NEP SHIFT Marketing/Design Grand National Series event on the calendar is next Thursday, February 18, with the first stop of a two-race West Coast swing at Auto Club Speedway in California. Vidane TV will have live coverage starting at 8:15pm EST.