WISCONSIN DELLS, WI – The tenth season of the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series began with a familiar face in victory lane, albeit four years and one day since that face had been there.
Dalton Zehr passed fast qualifier Mike Lichtfeld with 6 laps to go and held on to claim the North American Cup Dedicated to Carl Wegner. The win was Zehr’s first in TUNDRA since July 3, 2016 when he was victorious at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway.
Although Zehr pulled away late in the race, he back tracked initially. He surrendered spots to fellow dash cars Jordan Devoy and Mike Lichtfeld, but patiently held himself in the top Five. Despite the mayhem and a fair share of lead changes, Zehr knew he wanted to play the long game. He and his team were sure to have the right strategy coming into the night after a forgettable run at DRP the week before.
“It really paid to race a week ago. We had a really good car, I thought, and went forward in the first 30 laps, but went to the trunk for the rest of the race,” Zehr commented. “We focused on this car today. It might not be great the first 30, but it was good at the end. I think we had the fastest car at the end of the race.”
Jeff Storm captured the lead from fellow-front row starter and EPYK Media Rookie contender Kody Hubred. Storm soon felt pressure from Justin Mondeik and Gabe Sommers. As the duo pressured Storm, the outside line looked to be the preferred line. Devoy set the pace, jumping around several machines and placing himself in the top four.
With the lead trio all but settled, Mondeik went to the high side of Storm. As he did so, Sommers took a peek to the inside. Mondeik was able to get around Storm, forcing Sommers to jump to the high side as well. He followed Mondeik past Storm and began to place some pressure on the leader.
Shortly after the trio of Devoy, Zehr and Lichtfeld found their way past Storm and closed in on the lead duo to effectively make it a five car tussle for the top spot. Sensing the pressure Sommers swung to the outside and grabbed the lead, bringing Devoy and Zehr along into Second and Third. Lichtfeld and Zellmer made their way past Mondeik as well, just as the caution flew for an incident involving Curt Tillman and Darek Gress.
On the restart Sommers used the outside line to escape Devoy. Lichtfeld used the inside line to his advantage, wrestling Third Place away from Zehr after a few laps of side-by-side dispute. Devoy went to work on Sommers in hopes of grabbing the top spot, but could not find the line around him. Lichtfeld took advantage and swung to the inside while Devoy was testing ways to get around Sommers. Lichtfeld swiped the spot from Devoy by .004 seconds at the line before Wyatt Brooks’ left rear tire failed and he spun.
The following restart pitted Sommers and Lichtfeld in the front row. Sommers again chose the outside line. This time Lichtfeld was able to put the move on Sommers and jump away after the green flag fell. Devoy tried to fend off Zehr, who eventually slipped past him on the outside. Just a few laps later, defending TUNDRA Champion Casey Johnson swung past Devoy for Third.
As the laps continued to click off Zehr’s car seemed to be finding more and more speed. He chased down Sommers and zipped past him with 15 laps remaining. In short order he was on Lichtfeld’s tail and made the fateful pass with five laps to go. Lichtfeld returned a challenge to the outside, but it fell short in lapped traffic. Eventually Zehr slipped away.
“We got out to a five car-length and I started conserving. I shouldn’t have done that, I should’ve put some distance between us. Anytime you race with Dalton, he’s one of the best in the business,” Lichtfeld said. “We’ll learn from it, regroup and get better next time out.”
Sommers followed the lead duo to the line to record a second straight podium in series action at DRP. Johnson was fourth, and Devoy rounded out the Top Five.
The win for Zehr came after a two-year hiatus from TUNDRA. His last event was the finale in 2017 at Dells Raceway Park when he claimed his third series title. It was Zehr’s 11th overall series win and fifth at DRP. It was the first time he had won under the TUNDRA banner at the third-mile since August 25, 2012.
Due to his Second Place finish and claiming the Section 37 Axe House / Club Forest Bar and Grill “Axing the Competiton” Fast Qualifier Award, Mike Lichtfeld leaves DRP with a one-point advantage over the team of Zehr and John Beale. Johnson sits just 14 points back heading into his home track for Round Two, Sommers is Fourth just 15 points out of the top spot, and the team of Devoy and James Swan round out the Top Five only 17 markers down.
The next event for the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series is at Jefferson Speedway on Saturday, July 18. The night will also feature the Bandits, Legends, and Bandoleros. The first green flag is scheduled to fall at 7 pm.
Jefferson Speedway is located on Highway 18 between Jefferson and Cambridge, Wis. For more information visit jeffersonspeedway.com