2023 High Limit Sprint Series at Kokomo Speedway

Justin Peck's Steadfast Approach Pays Off In High Limit Sprint At Kokomo

Justin Peck's Steadfast Approach Pays Off In High Limit Sprint At Kokomo

Justin Peck captured the biggest win of his career Tuesday with the High Limit Sprint Car Series at Kokomo Speedway an hour from his Monrovia, Ind., home.

Aug 2, 2023 by Kyle McFadden

For Justin Peck, five months of toiling and holding steadfast without a win to his credit yielded his greatest reward as a Sprint Car racer Tuesday at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway.

Winless since Feb. 26’s season-opening event at Lincoln Speedway in Abbottstown, Pa., the 24-year-old rose to the occasion by out-slugging Kyle Larson during the seventh round of the inaugural High Limit Sprint Car Series season.

The $26,023 he pocketed — a $23,023 winner’s share and $3,000 bonus thanks to the DURST Dice Roll when he won from the third-starting spot — is the richest of his Sprint Car career. Beyond the money, winning a race of that magnitude an hour from his Monrovia, Ind., home is meaningful enough.

“I’d put it right up there with a World of Outlaw win, which I haven’t done yet,” Peck said. “This is probably the coolest one, especially since I had to go and pass Larson to do it. It was pretty cool, man.”


WATCH: Highlights from Tuesday's High Limit Sprint Car Series feature at Kokomo Speedway.

The Tom Buch Motorsports No. 13 team, with Peck at the wheel, have altered their philosophy this year.

After traveling with the All Star Circuit of Champions in 2021 and ’22, the Pennsylvania-based team have gone with a pick-and-choose schedule similar to the likes of Brent Marks, last year’s top-grossing Sprint Car driver.

Considering their schedule is tougher than their nine-win campaign a year ago — 20 of Peck’s 50 races this year are with the World of Outlaws — it’s justifiable that wins are simply harder to come by this year.

But, as Tuesday at the Kokomo quarter-mile showed, embracing life as a True Outlaw eventually yields a great reward. Peck’s raced more with the sport’s absolute best this year than any other season before.

“I think it’s made us better,” Peck said. “We’re racing a little bit more. We’re picking a schedule that’s a little more high intensity every night. You have to come in swinging and come out swinging.

“When we’re not — say we go run a local show — it’s still high intensity because they’re usually handicap shows, or non-qualifying shows. So you’re pill drawing, starting in the back. It’s been a lot of fun, man. It’s one of those deals I wish we had more wins, but I think we’re finally putting it all together and start winning a little bit.”

On Tuesday, Peck came out swinging when he not only earned the night’s quick-time honors, but Kokomo’s track record in a winged Sprint Car at 10.927 seconds. Peck’s bustling lap, which he posted as the fourth-to-last car in qualifying, drew most of the packed Kokomo crowd off their feet.

Like a home game in stick-and-ball sports, Peck then leveraged the crowd’s energy to his advantage.

“I feel like I fed off of it a little bit,” Peck said. “You’re just trying to rip harder and harder, man.”

Upon the start of the feature, Peck gradually gained momentum through turns three and four, the one part of the racetrack he had a noticeable edge over Larson.

“It’s like three and four you’re ripping around there at full song,” Peck said. “And there’s a little bit of a hole getting in. The longer the race went it got pushed up over. That’s when I felt like I really got good is where I could four (tires) in it, up above it, getting in (the corner), and be able to turn down a little bit and make a long run. This place is fun, man. Elbows up, cowboy up, you can’t beat it.”

Tuesday wasn’t the first time Peck bested Larson in head-to-head competition. In June 2021, he got the best of Larson at the track’s second Pennsylvania Speedweek race that summer at the three-eighths-mile oval.

Peck said he’s “kind of” caught on to Larson’s tendencies by simply racing him head-to-head and taking mental notes through film study. But then again, that intuition isn’t the strongest.

“He’s the best. But it’s like, you think you know what he’s going to do, and then he switches up on you,” Peck said. “There was a point there where I couldn’t believe he dropped to the bottom. I don’t remember what corner it was, but he dropped to the bottom in traffic and I couldn’t believe it.

“I was able to capitalize on (his) mistake (when he hit the wall off turn two with 10 laps to go). It’s cool, man. I needed this win really bad. My team needed this win. It seemed like we’ve been there all year and struggled to get it done. It’s nice, especially at my favorite track in Kokomo, man. It’s pretty cool.”

Peck’s been to victory lane at Kokomo before in a Midget car and Micro Sprint, but never in a full-sized Sprint Car, whether with or without the wing. As a kid, that was one of his greatest desires. That came true on Tuesday.

“It’s one I always idolized people winning at growing up,” Peck said. “It’s one you always looked at and said, ‘Damn, I want to win at Kokomo some day.’ It’s cool to get it done.’”