Zehr picks up fifth TUNDRA win in ten starts in Round One at Golden Sands
PLOVER, Wis. (May 27, 2013) - The TUNDRA Super Late Model Series began a new era in a familiar way Monday afternoon at Golden Sands Speedway - with Dalton Zehr in Victory Lane.
Zehr navigated the outside line from his ninth-place starting spot, taking the lead on lap 44 of the Element Mobile 60. He then had to hold off a late challenge from defending race winner Cardell Potter on a restart with five laps remaining.
"I said it wasn't my strongest track," Zehr remarked after the race. "Normally we're thrashing on the car. Today it was a light work day on the car which is uncommon for us. We got the results we should get, because if we didn't work on it, and didn't win it, that means we didn't work hard enough."
It took some time for things to open up for Zehr and the quicker cars in the middle of the pack during the opening circuits of the 60-lap main event. Pole-sitter Rene Scheinoha broke away from fellow front-row starter Mike Egan at the drop of the green. Egan was left to contend with Brady Baldry for the second spot. The tussle allowed Scheinoha to stretch out her advantage and left the rest of the field waiting for space to open.
Lanes finally began to clear on lap five when Baldry snapped sideways and Egan captured second. Potter was quick to capitalize once the outside was free.
"It was a little (congested). I just tried to be patient and work my way through traffic," Potter explained. "The outside was really hooked up early in the race and that was important to get clear right away and take off."
Once he had secured the second spot, Potter closed the gap on Scheinoha. By lap 10 Potter saw his opportunity to attack and tested the top side on the early-race leader. One lap later Potter nosed ahead at the line.
Potter began to pull away with traffic still heavy from second on back. That advantage was erased, however, for a spin on lap 14 by Leo's Upper Dells Bar Gong Show winner Austin Luedtke.
With the decision cone placed, Potter jumped to the outside for the restart, with Scheinoha choosing the bottom lane. After the green Potter was able to fend off Scheinoha and regain the top spot.
Heavy traffic behind Potter again allowed him to break away from the pack. Behind him things began to get frantic. Just two laps after the restart a scrap for fourth saw Billy Mohn and Eugene Gregorich Jr. jump past Mike Egan in a jolting three-wide display. That shake up in the top five allowed some lanes to begin to open in the middle of the field for Zehr and fast-qualifier Brandon Selle.
As the field neared the 20-lap marker, Jeff Weinfurter slid to the second spot past Scheinoha. Weinfurter was followed in the next five laps by Gregorich into third, Selle into fourth. Selle continued his mission past Gregorich into third on lap 28. One lap later Gregorich experienced mechanical issues and slowed. He was unable to coax his machine back to the pit area, bringing out the second yellow of the main.
The field was set to take the green at the halfway point behind Potter (again on the outside) and Weinfurter. The second row consisted of Selle and Zehr.
Weinfurter briefly took the lead from Potter after the restart, but could not show the way for more than one circuit. Potter reclaimed the lead on lap 32 and soon jumped away from Weinfurter. Once Potter was clear Zehr slipped past Weinfurter and set his sights on the lead.
"It was a little bit of side-by-side up front there that just couldn't get settled. When we went to pick-a-lane it opened up some opportunities on the outside," Zehr explained. "I actually chose the outside and fell back a position. It cleared up again and I got to the outside. I passed a couple cars on the outside. It was just a fast race car."
Zehr chewed up the disadvantage and began to challenge by lap 39. After a few peeks to the inside, Zehr sprung to the top on lap 42. After two laps of disputing the top spot, Zehr inched ahead on lap 44. He began to pull away from Potter until the caution flew again on lap 55.
Coming back to the green in single file formation, Potter found one more chance as Zehr spun his tires and broke sideways.
"We picked up a slight vibration under the caution, but I lit the tires up, got off the gas and got back to it and had great forward bite from there," Zehr said. "The vibration went away I think I had a bunch of junk on the the right rear or something like that."
Potter had a brief look inside, but could not find the grip to make the pass.
"I stuck a nose in there but I was just about as loose coming out of the corner as he was and coming out of two I did the same thing," Potter explained.
Over the final five circuits Zehr built his lead. Potter was challenged by Frank Nitzke who quietly, but quickly slipped into the top five over the final 20 laps.
"I needed a little more room to work," said the defending GSS Champ Nitzke. "I think if I would have gotten through traffic a little better the first 20 laps it would have been real interesting there."
Nitzke was unable to make the pass on Potter and settled for third. Selle held on for fourth and Mohn rounded out the top five.
Winning his fifth TUNDRA feature in 10 starts, Zehr kept the bigger picture in mind. After coming up just shy of a title last season in TUNDRA's five-race set at Dells Raceway Park, Zehr seems focused early on in the title hunt.
"This is about as good as you can get for the points to start. We picked up right where we left off last year," he said. "Hopefully we build up a little bit of a cushion so that if the driver has a little foul up we can still contend for the Championship at the end of the year."
If history is any indication, Zehr may be in good standing for Round Two. Wins have come in pairs for Zehr - capturing Rounds Two and Three in 2011 and Rounds Three and Four in 2012.
However, due to passing points Zehr trails Brandon Selle in TUNDRA Super Late Model Series points. Selle has yet to decide if he will chase the full TUNDRA season while both Zehr and Nitzke are committed to the six-race schedule and the title hunt.
American Super Cups – with a field of 12 cars – these small version of the Super Lates, can pull some pretty good times. With tons of passing lap after lap – the feature ended with #4 Brian Baldyga in first, former Super Late Model Driver #12 Joel Schulz in second, and 3 Ken Jones in third.
4-Cylinder Stocks – 7 Dave Harvath had the early lead in the feature but was quickly taken over by 88 Kelly Sankey. By lap 6, lapped traffic became a factor in the top positions. Sankey was able to maintain his lead for the win, Harvath fell back to third, and 75 Dillon Hammond cruised his way up to second.
Vintage Racers – Beautiful old replica cars, and they race eachother hard and fast! Thank goodness there were not any wrecks! Pat Heaney finished first in his 1967 Chevelle “Just Killin Time”. The #4 (no driver information) finished second, and #28 of Jerry Schneider took third.