Choquette Back in a SLM Seat as Blizzard Series Gets Underway with Southern Super Series SERF 100 

Choquette Back in a SLM Seat as Blizzard Series Gets Underway with Southern Super Series SERF 100 

 

By Chuck Corder 

Even for the most veteran of drivers, time away from the racetrack has a way of sowing doubt. 

Jeff Choquette has won both Super Late Model and Pro Late Model races at Five Flags Speedway. There was his famed duel with Bubba Pollard for the Allen Turner PLM Snowflake 100 crown in 2017. He finished second and third, respectively, at the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Snowball Derby. Choquette was in the mix for the 2019 Derby, leading laps, before Travis Braden captured short-track racing’s crown jewel ultimately.  

But that was the last time the 34-year-old Choquette raced on asphalt. Until this Friday night at Five Flags.  

“I’m looking forward to it,” Choquette said. “It has been a while, so there will be some nerves. Did I forget how to drive these things? Do I know what I’m doing? It’s easy to go fast, but can I find that little bit more to get us a win. All that stuff is always in the back of your mind.”  

The West Palm Beach native is replacing Pensacola driver Jeremy Pate in the Larry Blount-owned No. 21 SLM car and will be in the seat as the Deep South Crane Rentals Blizzard Series opens its season at Pensacola’s high banks with the Southern Super Series SERF 100. 

“I just want to do my job and do my part,” Choquette continued. “You never wanna be the weak link. I hope I can produce and give the team and the car the finish it deserves.” 

He hopes to produce in a car that contended for the Southern Super Series championship up until the season finale with Pate and Blount experiencing an unprecedented and unexpected dream season. Choquette and potentially more than 30 Blizzard Series SLMs will share the famed half-mile asphalt oval Friday night with The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks. Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday with Blizzard Series qualifying set for 7. Racing starts at 8 p.m. and admission is as follows: $20 adults; $17 seniors, military, and students; free children ages 11-and-under. 

While the driver change happened abruptly—Pate had a pair of top-10s in three SSS races this season and sits ninth in points—Blount has his man in Choquette, a battle-tested hotshoe who long ago earned the respect of his peers and drivers beyond short-track racing. 

He went toe-to-toe with Kyle Busch at the 2017 Derby before finishing runner-up and claimed the final podium spot the following year when Noah Gragson hoisted the Tom Dawson Trophy. 

“Pensacola is a tough track, one of the toughest,” Choquette said. “It took me a long time to get used to the place. In those last years we raced there, it was a place that was good to us. I figured out what (the track) likes, and what I needed to do.” 

Choquette experienced most of his success driving Jett Concrete Late Models. While Blount owns the No. 21, the Jett team works on the car’s setup throughout the week. 

“It should be the same motors, same deal as what I’ve had before,” Choquette said. “I’ve known Larry for a long time. I have the utmost respect for Jeremy. But when Larry asked if I was interested, I said sure.  

“You don’t pass up on those opportunities. A lotta people sitting at home probably would not be happy with me if that was the case.” 

Pate, a local Late Model favorite, will have a ride this weekend when he gets behind the wheel of a Fab Specialties SLM. 

Choquette’s passion for racing never waned, but he was missing family milestones. He took last year off to spend time with his wife, three-year-old daughter, and infant son, who recently turned 1. 

“I’m able to spend time with my two young kids and watch them grow up,” Choquette said. “It has been a lotta fun. Certainly, I miss racing. We’ve been a racing family for a very long time with my grandfather driving in NASCAR in the ’50s. It’s in my blood, and one of those things I itch to do.”  

Choquette also continued his day job with his family’s land development business, MJC Land Development, down in south Florida. 

“My brothers, my mom, wife, sisters-in-law—the whole family does this for a living,” he said, speaking as he drove through a job site. “Right now, the housing market, especially in Florida, is super crazy. We’re taking advantage of that and get in while it’s hot.” 

Choquette hopes to find some heat this Friday night at Five Flags and take advantage of the opportunity Blount has presented him with. With his children so young, it makes it difficult for the family to make the eight-hour drive to the Panhandle. Instead, it should feel like old times for Choquette, who will be accompanied by just his father. 

“My dad has been involved in my racing all the way back to when I was 8. I know he has missed racing a lot, too,” Choquette said. “A good weekend for us would be for me to do the best I can from behind the steering wheel, come out with a clean nose and the body panels on it, and notes for the next race. The goal is always to show up and win. We’re gonna go out and give 100 percent.”