Q&A With Alive For Five Super Late Model Standout Dalton Zehr
WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (August 10, 2011) – Since Frank Kreyer flexed his muscle in Round One of the Alive For Five Super Late Model Series presented by Advanced Engine Concepts at Dells Raceway Park a new driver has reigned over the division.
Dalton Zehr, a 20-year-old Daytona Beach, Fla. native has gone from being an obscure figure to DRP fans to being the man to beat when the Super Late Models return this Saturday, Aug. 13.
Zehr recently took time for a brief phone interview to answer some questions about where he has been, where he is going and his success at DRP.
Tell me about your racing career since you’ve started working with Gene Coleman.
Zehr: “I started racing for Gene five years ago. I ran the ASA Late Model Series Southern Division. I’ve been jumping between Florida and here the past three years, running here and there with his cars and I’ve been all over with him – Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.”
What’s the biggest difference between racing here and racing in the south?
Zehr: “Down south there isn’t as strong of a car count, so with the higher car count up here the competition is higher. Usually, in the past, we haven’t had near the cautions we’ve had this year. This year has been pretty rough across the board at all of the Midwest tracks. Between Norway (Mich.), Kaukauna (Wisconsin International Raceway), DRP and Sands Speedway (Marquette, Mich.), the tracks I have been at there have been more cautions this year than I have ever seen in the area. It’s equivalent to Florida at that point. Florida is known for that. There are usually less wrecks in the Midwest – so the quality of racing is better.”
At 20 years of age what is your five year plan?
Zehr: “Obviously I would like to make (racing) my career and my profession. My life’s goal would be to become a NASCAR driver. I’m content running Late Models as well. Few 20 year olds have the opportunity that I have in the Coleman car. That’s a hell of a car to be driving.”
How have you liked racing at Dells Raceway Park?
Zehr: “You’re always having fun when the racing is going your way. So far we’ve been very successful there and I’ve always enjoyed the track. I ran there a few years ago and even when we weren’t as strong as we are now; it’s still a fun track to run.”
You’ve said the Outside line has been the key to your success. Why is that?
Zehr: “The Outside line has worked for us for a couple reasons. We’ve been in the top five in qualifying both times we’ve been there, so our car is fast to begin with, but there have been faster ones. Fortunately we’ve been able to get to the outside early in the race while there are still the 12th-place qualifiers up front. You can run the outside a lot easier with the slower traffic up front.
The key is getting out front early. We’ve been getting out front early and avoiding the cautions because we’re out in the open track. By the time the faster competitors get behind the back bumper, obviously we’re harder to pass because we’re up to speed. In getting out front early we also aren’t running side-by-side which burns up your tires or passing more cars than you need to. When you did it once and you’re out front (you’re at an advantage) when some other guys get sent to the back for rough driving or being involved in a caution which makes them have to do it all over again.”
What is your prediction for Saturday?
Zehr: “The last two races have gone extremely well, but our tire program is going to start catching up with us. I believe the competition is probably going to pass us, if not in this event, in the next event. Everybody there has been changing left rear and right front tires which is a disadvantage for us because we have been doing right side tires the last two events, so obviously our right side tires have been fresher. The last race of the year, or the last two races of the year, they’re going to go to a sequence where they change right side tires only, which very well could be the only reason why we’ve been as strong as we have. On any given night you can give the last-place car four tires and he’ll blow right through the field to the front. Tires are crucial. We’ve been on a better tire program for the last two races, and for the next two we’re going to be giving up on the tire program a little bit. (Note: DRP Super Late Models are allowed two new tires per race. It is the drivers’ and teams’ choice which two tires they replace).
As for a prediction? It’s going to be a good race. Hopefully we get a race without any rain involved and it’s a good clean, hard race. If we can get a long green flag run I’m pretty confident our car can get to the front. Our car seems really good in long runs. But the scenarios could be reversed where I’m the one getting involved in cautions and someone else gets out front early which makes them awfully hard to beat later in the race.”
Qualifying for Alive For Five Super Late Model Series Round Four at DRP is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. with racing scheduled to begin at 6:30. The Super Late Models will be joined by the RacingOnline.com Sportsman, Schultz Small Engine Pure Stocks and Fire Rescue Supply Bandits. Normal ticket pricing applies – $10 for adults, $7 for youth (ages 10 to 15) and seniors (62+) and children 9 and under receive free admission.
Dells Raceway Park is located at N1070 Smith Road, five minutes north of downtown Wisconsin Dells, Wis., off highway 12-16. For more information including the latest news, the 2011 schedule and more visit www.dellsracewaypark.com.