Nearly 18 months have passed since the last time Jeff Choquette climbed behind the wheel of a Super Late Model, when he finished 14th in the 2019 Snowball Derby as one of several drivers collected in an incident on a late-race restart.
That time away ends on Friday night at Five Flags Speedway, as Choquette enters this weekend’s Blizzard Series opener at the Pensacola, Florida half-mile. He will be behind the wheel of Larry Blount’s No. 21 for his return to Super Late Model racing.
“Larry Blount called me and asked if I was interested,” Choquette told Speed51. “I said sure, I was. There’s not very many times that an opportunity like this comes a driver’s way. You certainly don’t pass up on them. I’ve been lucky in my career to have this happen a few times. It doesn’t happen very often, so when it comes your way, you have to take this advantage.”
For now, Choquette plans to compete in all of the Blizzard Series events in 2021, as well as the 54th Annual Snowball Derby on December 2-5. With nearly 30 entries including some of the top Super Late Model racers in the country making the trip to Pensacola Friday night, it will be a daunting welcome back.
“So far, with Larry, we have got the Five Flags races and the Snowball Derby. It’s always exciting. A little bit nerve-wracking after being in retirement for a year and a half. The first race out of the gate, the first time in a car since the Snowball Derby a year and a half ago. You’ve got to put your big boy pants on and try to get it done.”
Choquette admits he has not been spending time at the track while he was “in retirement.” Even in the virtual world, he has spent more time playing in the dirt than with cars like the Super Late Model he will race Friday.
The most that I’ve done since then is some iRacing with my buddies. We’ve mostly ran dirt cars, Big Block Modifieds, Dirt Late Models. My involvement has been absolutely zero. I’ve been spending time with the family, working for a family business. The Florida economy is strong and going, so we’ve been working hard and spending time with family.
The Florida racer knows he will have a strong car on Friday, and an equally strong team helping to prepare it in the form of Jett Motorsports.
“It’s with a good group of guys. I’ve known Larry for a while, and Larry’s always been very good to me. Before Larry, it was Pat Jett, and Jett Motorsports is preparing the car for Larry. You couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. I just hope for them guys, I’m able to do my part and get them the finish the car deserves and not be the weak link.”
Choquette’s primary goal for the weekend is to keep the No. 21 clean and not create any extra work for the team. If he’s able to do that, he hopes his experience around Five Flags Speedway will put him in a position to win.
"It’s easy to go out there and go fast. In practice, everyone can lay down a lap time. When it comes to qualifying, you only get two laps to do it, and then in the race you’re around other guys. Hopefully that’s when my experience over the last 20-plus years and instinct take over at that point. I am 34 years old, so I’m not the young guy anymore.
“Keep it clean, get some good notes, and hopefully run up front. Any time I’ve shown up at the track since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to win. That’s still the same today. Hopefully I can keep the car clean and bring it home in one piece.”
Race fans unable to attend Friday’s race can watch live on Speed51.TV by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo