HAMPTON — After helping the Camping World Truck Series make history Wednesday, Timothy Peters will make some personal history Saturday.
Peters will compete Wednesday in the Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio — the first NASCAR national touring series event on dirt in almost 43 years — then will race in the Hampton Heat Late Model 200 Saturday at Langley Speedway, his first competitive stop at the 4/10ths-of a mile track in Hampton.
Peters enters the week already having achieved a first that increases his marquee value. He won the most recent Truck race July 13 in Iowa to become the first driver in the series to win more than once at that track.
“We’ve definitely had a tough start to the (Truck Series) season,” said Peters, who missed winning the Camping World title by just six points in 2012, but is in eighth place after the Iowa win. “We’ve gained on the truck in the last month, and getting to Victory Lane in Iowa is a good sign.
“We made a move (of two places) in the points standings, and we’re going to try to keep climbing the ladder and get back in the fight. When we get to Pocono (Aug. 3), there’s still more than half of the season left (12 of 22 races) — a lot of racing.”
Peters, a 32-year-old Danville native, seems to make sure there’s always a lot of racing left. When he’s not on national television in the Truck Series, he runs a handful or more of Late Model races per season.
His visit to Langley is part of his quest to win the state Triple Crown, which encompasses the biggest Late Model races at South Boston, Langley and Martinsville. Even with his success in NASCAR’s upper echelons, he takes Late Model racing very seriously.
In May, he won his first Late Model race since 2004 at South Boston, the weekly track where he cut his teeth. He sounded every bit as enthusiastic about the win as he did after Iowa.
“It was very cool,” Peters said. “To be honest with you, as much as Late Models have changed since I ran them regularly, it’s hard to come back, do a partial deal and be competitive.
“I was honored to come back and get the win. Late Model racing is still a passion and I still have a lot of friends there.
“It’s where I came from.”
So when he fails to excel, as he felt was the case with his sixth-place finish in the first Triple Crown race July 4 at South Boston, he takes it as hard as a bad night in the Truck Series.
“They split the (200-lap) race into two segments, and I adjusted my way out of contention during the break,” Peters said. “We had better than a sixth-place car.
“We’re coming to Langley to win. Second place is not an option.”
But finding the setup for a top-two finish is notoriously difficult for out-of-towners on Langley’s almost-flat surface. Peters takes some solace in Matt Bowling’s Heat win a year ago.
“Matt’s a good friend who lives nearby (in Martinsville),” Peters said. “He sat on the pole and won the race, so that gives me inspiration that someone (from out of town) can come in and conquer the racetrack.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Hampton Heat and I’m looking forward to it.”
Considering Peters’ profile in one of NASCAR’s upper-echelon series, Langley Speedway brass are looking forward to his visit, which begins with practice for the Heat on Friday.
“This is a good way to bring a top-tier driver back to grass-roots racing and get him in the grind with our guys,” Langley promoter Chuck Hall said of the Heat. “There’s lots of interest in him with his recent win at Iowa, so it’s a real good deal having him here rubbing elbows with our guys.”
Langley owner Bill Mullis said, “I think it’s really cool that he’s coming. I think with his win at South Boston, he’s still on top of his (Late Model) game and he just wants a piece of Langley.”
Hampton Heat at Langley
WHAT: 200-lap Late Model race.
WHEN: Card starts at 7 p.m. Saturday.
NOTEWORTHY: Three other Langley weekly divisions will be in action prior to the Heat — Winged Champ Kart, Legends and Super Street.
TRUCK SERIES ON TV: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora will be televised 9 p.m. Wednesday on Speed Channel.