Peck Is Illinois Micro Sprint Star
MARION, Ill. — Justin Peck drove to victory in the Friday feature of the Keizer Wheels 66 Mike Phillips Memorial, leading all 30 laps in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series race at Southern Illinois Raceway.
The 13-year-old from Monrovia, Ind., locked himself into Saturday’s grand finale feature. It pays $10,000 to win, one of the largest purses in Micro racing in the United States this year and the total payout of $35,000 includes $5,000 for second and $3,250 for third.
“I’m so happy right now,” Peck said.
Friday’s top-four finishers advanced to the Saturday feature. Chris Bell was second, Kevin Bayer third and Daniel Robinson fourth. They’ll be joined by Friday’s top four, winner Chris Andrews, runner-up Trent Beckinger, third-place Scott Sawyer and fourth place Blake Hahn. There will be a dash to determine the top-eight starting positions.
Peck became the youngest winner in POWRi history when he won the Micro feature on June 22 at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway, but his win in the Phillips Memorial may be more impressive. There were 106 entries Friday and getting to the feature required finishing in the top three in one of the eight qualifying races, which had 13 or 14 cars.
Peck won his 20-lap qualifying race on the one-eighth mile track and combined with passing points and a second-place in his heat, started on the outside of the front row next to Ryan Greth.
Peck drove his Sawyer-Yamaha to the front in the first corner and maintained a three or four car-length lead over Greth until the 11th lap. In turn three, Peck stayed on the outside and Greth went inside and tangled with a lapped car.
Bell was elevated to second and challenged Peck for the lead by attempting to slide past him on the restart.
“I knew it (passing attempt) was going to happen sooner or later,” Peck said. “I got on the brakes early to slow down and I was able to get on the throttle early and made a cross-over move.”
Peck faced one more restart, on lap 17, and pulled into a short lead over Bell that he held to the checkered flag.
“Peck was just good,” Bell said. “I was able to hang him, keep five to 10 car lengths from him, and I was able to close in end at the end.”
Bell won the inaugural Phillips Memorial $10,000-to-win feature a year ago. He led the opening 24 laps before a drive-chain failure forced him to drop out.
“Really, I’m relieved to be locked into the (Saturday) show,” Bell said. “Last night was pretty heartbreaking.”
Bayer, 32, ranks third on the all-time list for POWRi Micro wins with 12, but has been racing closer to home in recent seasons. His last POWRi victory was in 2007.
Bayer won his heat and qualifier to start third and ran in the top four for the entire 30 laps.
“It feels great to be in the top four,” Bayer said. “We missed the setup last night we worked hard all day on changing things. We’ve got just a little to go to have an awesome race car.”
Robinson also struggled Thursday, sixth in his heat, 14th in the qualifier, and didn’t make the feature. He asked to trade cars with McCreerey Motorsports’ teammate Jimmy Wells, who agreed. Robinson won his heat and qualifier and started sixth.
“The top four was the goal, the plan all along,” Robinson said. “It’s great to be able to be in the (Saturday) feature and race with guys like Kevin. We grew up racing with each other. I have to thank my teammate Jimmy Wells for switching cars with me.”
Sixteen cars will try to reach the finale Saturday through heat and qualifying races. They’ll start behind the eight who have advanced into it. There’s plenty of prestige and money on the line.
“The $10,000 check would be a nice one to take home,” Peck said.
SPEED SPORT Magazine “digital edition” now available for iPad and iPhone!
Get one year for just $12.99. Single issues (including back issues) are available for $2.99.
Click here to visit the iTunes App Store for details!