MONTREAL, QUE. — In a race where everyone was expected to find trouble somewhere, John Peters got his out of the way early.
But after a spin in the opening laps, Peters drove a clean second half to capture his first NEP SuperTruck Series win in Friday night’s SHIFT North of the Border 45 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Peters capitalized on late-race errors by a dominant Zane Ferrell to slip past and lead the final seven laps en route to victory at the beloved Canadian circuit.
“I figured if I could get close enough, that if he could see me in his mirror, in theory, he would slip up at least one time,” the Westbrook, Me. racer said in victory lane.
“And he did.”
The reigning NEP SHIFT Marketing/Design Grand National Series champion had settled into third behind Zane Ferrell and Austin Boelke after a hectic opening lap, but lost grip in turns six and seven, spinning lazily and leaving him at a ten-second deficit to Ferrell only five laps into the race.
To catch the Pennsylvanian, and with no yellow flags to slow the pace of the timed event, Peters would have to be letter-perfect to the finish. And over the next eight laps, Peters shaved a couple seconds off the gap while Ferrell dodged slower cars on and off the track surface.
With half the race’s 45-minute window complete, Peters peeled off for tires and fuel on lap 14. Ferrell and Boelke dipped down pit lane the next time around, but on fresh tires with open track ahead, Peters was able to slash another few seconds from Ferrell’s lead.
Peters continued to nip away at Ferrell’s advantage, both drivers pushing the limit on open track and tiptoeing around slower trucks. But with 18 laps in the books, Ferrell found the limit, skidding through the hairpin at the north end of the circuit and handing the lead over to Peters.
Peters drove off with the lead, and with Boelke a very distant third, Ferrell opted to settle into a rhythm and ensure his runner-up finish. Peters was nearly six seconds ahead of Ferrell’s Ford at the checkered flag, with Boelke another 23 seconds back in third.
“I came as soon as I saw the halfway mark of the race,” Peters said of the strategy that paved his path to victory. “I knew I could make it on fuel, and figured a set of new tires is probably worth three or four seconds. And it worked out that way, cut [Ferrell’s] lead in just about half, and then put some pressure on, and was able to get the lead, and then not make a mistake myself, which was not easy at this place. What a weird, challenging combination of car and track.”
Peters’ victory was the first top-five finish for FPY Motorsport, following two weeks of frustration to open the six-week NEP SuperTruck Series schedule. Peters’ sixth-place finish at Las Vegas had been the high-water mark for the Toyota operation prior to the trip to Canada. “Thanks to Michael Bennett for drafting me and putting me on this team,” he said.
“I saw Austin and John battling it out, and then it looked like they had an accident, and I pulled ahead and I started taking it easy,” Ferrell said. “But after that pit cycle there, I started messing up, every corner I went into. And especially the next-to-last corner, the hairpin. I kept downshifting, it kept wheelhopping. I think I screwed up three laps in a row in the same spot, and the third time was a charm, I finally spun out.”
Ferrell was disappointed with second, but satisfied to come home with the best showing for FieldFillers Motorsports on a track that proved to be a challenge. “It really was a handful,” he said. “You had to be on the wheel every lap, and if you gave it a little too much on the throttle on your throttle pickup, you were spinning out regardless.”
Boelke, a newcomer to NEP competition with the SuperTruck Series, has steadily improved with each outing, culminating in his first NEP podium at CGV.
“I saw [Beaulieu] getting quite a bit bigger in the last couple laps,” he said. “I was checking the relative pretty frequently to make sure I still had a good gap to him at the end. Lapped traffic was a huge factor, I got held up pretty bad a couple times. But they’re running their own race, there’s not much you can do about it.”
With teammates Ryan Posocco and Ryan Libby on the sidelines, Boelke turned in a team-best effort, one he hopes to beat in the next two races. “Libby set a pretty high precedent last week when he won,” Boelke said, “so hopefully we can bring home another one for Team BBY.”
The field was scrambled behind Boelke with only a few minutes remaining, when a truck several laps down got off track and rocketed back into the path of fourth-place runner Evan Beaulieu, cleaning out the Martinsville winner. Brent Roy slipped through the carnage unscathed to steal fourth and maximize team points for a shorthanded Team BBY operation.
Kenny Kibbey rebounded from early struggles to finish fifth, best among the 4 Wide Weaponry entries. Mike Hopkins clung to the lead lap after a few close calls of his own, crossing the line sixth for Team Student Driver. Beaulieu limped around the track after his crash and was scored seventh at the end, one lap down.
Hopkins’ teammate Brandon Yuhouse was eighth, with Charles Lewandoski ninth and Cory Casagrande rounding out the top ten.
Peters’ win will be a shot in the arm for FPY Motorsport, last in the team standings after last week’s event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 4 Wide Weaponry led the standings over WAP Motorsports by nearly 40 points entering the event, but with an early exit for team captain Ryan Salvatore and the absence of teammate Wyatt Alexander, plus a strong outing for FieldFillers Motorsports, the points race is far from decided.
The next scheduled event for the NEP SuperTruck Series is next Friday, February 5, when the Trucks tackle the high-banked iRacing Superspeedway. Vidane TV will have live coverage starting at 9:00pm EST.