ASHLEY ASKS….Pete Shepherd
In 2006, Pete Shepherd III had everything going his way, signed to a development contract with Roush Fenway Racing. However, following seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and a best finish of 15th at Memphis Motorsports Park, circumstances resulted in his truck series career being cut short. Shepherd returned back to Canada, racing in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, scoring five victories over the past four years.
Following a fifth-place finish at Delaware Speedway in his APC United Late Models of Ontario Series debut, Shepherd took some time to discuss his plans for 2017, and reflect on the truck series experience with Popular Speed’s Ashley McCubbin
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts on how things went at Delaware?
PETE SHEPHERD: It was good. It took some time to get used to the car. I think even in the race, I was still learning things – the tires, the car itself. Overall, it was good. I think it was a good experience going into our next race.
AM: For your first time racing in the series, how would you rank the level of talent?
PS: It’s extremely high all the way through the first half of the field, even behind that. Coming back through after an early pit stop, there wasn’t a single easy car to pass. And it wasn’t because they were blocking or chopping anybody off; it was just everybody had a fast car. There’s a good bit of skill level, car control, and talented drivers – every single one of them is great.
AM: Your next APC start is at Jukasa Motor Speedway, as part of their big re-opening. What are your thoughts going into that?
PS: We’re going to run the super late model, and the (APC) pro late model so that’ll be a challenge in itself getting used to both cars. I’ve done it before with the ARCA Series and truck series, so I don’t mind switching from one to the other. At the same time, it takes a lot of concentration in figuring out what car needs what to do well. So it will be a challenge for sure, but definitely something to look forward to. The most fun events in racing come when you can run more than one division.
AM: Back when Jukasa was known as Cayuga Motor Speedway, what was your most memorable moment there?
PS: I remember racing in the ALSTAR Series there. That was a great event. Also, my first ever CASCAR (now NASCAR Pinty’s Series) was there and I remember Sterling Marlin being in the field, and a lot of other Cup guys there. That was one of my most memorable there. I think we ran 10th in a Dave Whitlock car. I learned a ton. We weren’t very fast, but the track time was great. I think after that we sat on the pole at Cayuga. So there’s been a couple great moments.
I didn’t get a lot of track time at the place, but overall it’s always been a big show there, and I think it will be once again now.
AM: You got the opportunity to run some truck races for Roush awhile back. How was that experience back then?
PS: It’s not very often that you get the chance to run in a top series for a top team in NASCAR and get big track experience. There’s no substitute for what you learn. Regardless of the outcome, that’s an experience that you can never give up getting for anything. The car control, learning to drive while running shoulder-to-shoulder with the NASCAR stars learning stuff from them is an experience that you can never duplicate. Definitely the biggest part of my entire racing career in racing.
AM: What was the most memorable moment from that time?
PS: The most memorable thing for me would be when my dad and I were actually driving down to Daytona right after I signed my contract in July. So it would’ve been about six months after that. We were going down to just watch some of the truck races and the Cup race at Daytona. We get a phone call, and it was actually Carl Edwards that called me. I didn’t believe it was him; I thought it was one of the PR representatives at Roush playing a trick on me.
He asked me to test his USAC Silver Crown car – it was like a spur of the moment thing. It was at Homestead, so we had to keep driving further south, past Daytona to Homestead, and I got to test his USAC Silver Crown car. That was probably the biggest moment that stands out because it was like, ‘Wow, I finally arrived. This is where I want to be.’ It was a big wake-up call knowing that I was just a phone call away and some of these big Cup stars had your phone number. That was a pretty neat experience.
AM: If there was something that you could go back and change in your time in the truck series, what would that be?
PS: In terms of going back and trying to do things differently, I don’t know that I could. I think the biggest thing is how much better you get as you mature. I think just the age of 17, 19-years-old and going down and trying to do that kind of stuff is a big challenge. There are some that can do that and have success – obviously, Kyle Larson is an exceptional talent. Joey Logano and Chase Elliott, too – there are some guys that you can see how well they’ve succeeded at that age. But it’s such a rare thing to be able to get into those cars and keep up at that age, because everybody is so good.
So getting into a truck series race and competing against guys like (Ron) Hornaday and (Jack) Sprague and running 18th doesn’t sound great. But when you get out and think about it as an 18-year-old racing against these guys with a lot of experience and having the truck in one piece with an 18th. It’s just a different level. If anything were to be changed, I wish it would’ve happened a little later when I was more mature and had more experience driving cars. I think that’s the only thing – timing wise it would’ve been better.
AM: Working with your driven 4 communications, what’s the biggest advice you would have for a driver trying to market themselves?
PS: The biggest advice is always try hard, and get out your name. Take things even if they’re small because you never know what they could lead to. Even if just your face on a poster, or anywhere, is big. Make sure you’re getting your name out as much as you can, and never turn down opportunities. The more your driving and opening up your market to other divisions and a different group of people, the more you’re exposed the better it is for you. Any experience, no matter what it is, is a bad experience. So the key is to make sure and jump all over it.
AM: With that said, that is all the questions that I have. So thank you very much for your time, and look forward to catching up with you later on this year.
PS: Thanks. Just a heads-up, I will also be running the Gold Rush at Flamboro in a super late model, so I’m really excited for that, too. That’s going back to my roots at Flamboro as that’s where I grew up racing being my home track. So going back there – it’s been about 15 years since I’ve raced there, so that’ll be huge for me in a big homecoming. So excited to go back and see some old fans & friends.
For race fans in Ontario, be sure to head out to the Gold Rush at Flamboro Speedway on Monday, August 21.
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