In the midst of a fast-paced couple of days at the Kansas Speedway, Timothy Peters pulled into life’s slow lane early Thursday morning.
Just a few hours before he was scheduled to practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night, he was relaxing in the beauty of Riss Lake, a private body of water just 20 minutes from the racetrack.
His goal for the moment? To catch a big bass, not to turn a fast lap.
“Our schedules can get pretty hectic at times,” said Peters, who drives the No. 17 Toyota for Red Horse Racing. “That’s why it’s great to get a few hours away from everything and just go fishing.
“My life has always been anything that has to do with four wheels. But when I’m not at the racetrack or the garage, I love to go fishing.”
Part of it is the relaxation in the midst of days filled with media interviews, practice runs and fan festivals. But part of it is the same adrenaline rush as he gets on the racetrack — only this one when a big bass crushes his bait.
That’s what happened Thursday morning, as Peters fished with a Kansas City Star reporter.
Moments after Peters had cast a small plastic worm to a rocky bank off a point, he felt a tick at the end of his line. When he set the hook, a big bass immediately shot out of the water.
The fish landed with a loud splash, then strained to get free. But Peters held on and won the fight.
“Now that was fun,” Peters said as he admired his 3-pound catch. “On an ultralight rod and light line, that bass put up a good fight.”
With that, he eased his catch back into the water and cast for more.
From the start, it was obvious he was comfortable with a rod and reel in his hands. He caught two bass in the first five minutes of the trip. He added another five or six before it was time to rush off.
For Peters, who lives in Danville, Va., it was yet another fishing trip to remember.
He got started when he was just a little guy, fishing with his dad at the ponds behind their house in North Carolina.
“We caught mostly bream (bluegills), but it was always fun,” said Peters, 33. “My dad and I were close. I started go-kart racing when I was 8, and he was my right-hand man.
“When we weren’t racing, we loved to fish together.”
As Peters grew older, his fishing progressed. He began to hang around with a neighbor, who had a pond that was full of big bass. Peters remembers days when he would catch some of those fish on plastic worms.
In recent years, he and his friends have turned their sights to even bigger fish, flathead catfish. They slip down to the banks of the Dan River near Danville and fish at night.
“We’ll go from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., and we’ll have a good time,” said Peters, who enters Friday’s race as the co-points leader in the NASCAR truck series. “When we start tellin’ lies, that’s when the big ones will hit.”
Peters didn’t have to tell fish stories about one catfish he caught last summer. He landed a 39-pound flathead.
That’s not the only fishing moment Peters remembers fondly, though. He still talks about the day he was paired with legendary bass fisherman Kevin VanDam for a Toyota promotional event on Lake Norman in North Carolina.
“Everything was so natural for him,” Peters said. “It’s like me getting in my race truck.
“You could tell that it was second nature for him. I learned a lot about bass fishing that day.”