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It was a day of catch-up for Pete Shepherd III in his first start of the 2018 season at Jukasa Motor Speedway in mid-June, and when the dust settled the veteran driver collected a ninth-place finish.
It was a strong finish considering that Shepherd wasn’t able to get the speed out of the car early on in practice and struggled with that throughout the day.
“We battled a loose car on entry during practice, and we could never really make adjustments to help it throughout the day,” Shepherd said. “Our Team did a great job making the car better in the centre of the corner and on exit, but the entry is so important here, and I couldn’t drive the car in hard enough into the corner to carry speed through on either end.”
Shepherd was able to find some speed in qualifying, where he picked up a couple of tenths and settled for 10th on the grid. He was hopeful that the car would come around once tire wear became a factor in the 200-lap event, and in fact Shepherd’s #79 National Exhaust/VRX eSports Ford made up ground and managed to climb to 7th position before the first of two completion yellows.
Crew Chief Ray McCaughey and Pete III agreed that they would stay out and save all four tires for the final 50 lap shootout. When the race resumed Shepherd was able to hold his position until the teams with fresh inside tires made their moves, shuffling him outside of the top 5. Pete was able to find his rhythm and cruise inside the top 10 until the final competition caution.
“It wasn’t the result we were looking for … but we completed all 200 laps without taking any damage, so we can focus on making it faster for the next show,” Shepherd said. “I can’t thank my sponsors enough for getting me back on track, including National Exhaust Systems Inc., as well as VRX Simulators and VRX ESports. Jacobs Racing fields great race cars, and we will surely be back stronger!”
Contributions by Brittany Fitchett (driven4communications)