THIEL SEALS THE DEAL AT DRP, ZEHR WINS THIRD TUNDRA TITLE
WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (September 25, 2017) – Even scorching hot, record temperatures at Dells Raceway Park paled in comparison to the hot streak of Jordan Thiel Sunday. Thiel scored his third straight Super Late Model win and first in the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes.
By virtue of an Eighth Place finish Dalton Zehr collected his third TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Championship.
Thiel had waited nearly 11 years to capture his first Super Late Model win. Although the first two in weekly action at Golden Sands Speedway were meaningful, outgunning a powerful field on Sunday in the Country Plumber 75 tops the charts according to Thiel.
“This is as good as both of those combined,” Thiel said in Victory Lane. “I’ve always wanted to win a TUNDRA race and put one of those orange stickers on my windshield.”
With his win, Thiel became the sixth different first-time winner in the six TUNDRA events this season. Included in that is his teammate Wyatt Brooks, who was victorious in Round Three at Jefferson in July. It made for a memorable season for Brooks & Thiel Motorsports.
“It’s been a great year. We ended the year on a high note after starting off a little slow,” Thiel said. “Once we started putting our heads together and hollering at each other a little more, here we are.”
Although Thiel was able to flex his muscle late in the feature, the race was anything but a walk in the park. Mike Lichtfeld looked to be well on his way to a second straight TUNDRA win until a shock mount broke. Thiel then had to fight past Round Two winner Cole Anderson after Anderson captured the lead from Thiel on a late-race restart.
“I have to commend Cole for running me very clean,” Theil said. “I put him into the fence on one of those starts, so I had to thank him for running me so clean.”
Last year’s Dean’s Satellite and Security Rookie of the Year Braison Bennett seized control of the early lead, fending off Collin Slife. After a caution for an incident involving Dan Church and Josh Wallace on lap nine, Slife surged past Bennett on the restart.
While Slife settled at the head of the pack, Lichtfeld, Thiel, and Anderson began to move through the field. Lichtfeld tracked down Slife by lap 26 and grabbed the lead on lap 28. He then went to build a large lead as Anderson and Thiel worked in tandem to secure Second and Third from Slife. On lap 50, Thiel made the move past Anderson into Second.
That move would prove to be one for the lead as Lichtfeld was struck by misfortune just two laps later when his shock mount broke and sent him spinning in turn four. After a botched restart due to a spin in the field, Anderson jumped away from Thiel. Anderson began to build his lead, but Thiel tracked him down as the laps clicked off. On lap 68 Thiel made his move into the top spot by sliding down to the inside.
As Thiel stretched out his advantage, Bobby Kendall and Alex Prunty locked into a furious battle. Initially it was for Third behind Anderson, but both drivers were able to slide past and contend for Second. Eventually Kendall muscled his way to the inside and swiped the spot from Prunty.
By that time Thiel had built a large advantage and set sail to the win. Kendall was Second, Prunty Third, Anderson held on to Fourth, and Wyatt Brooks – who started 18th – rounded out the Top Five.
ZEHR WINS THIRD TUNDRA TITLE
A little early-day adversity didn’t shake Dalton Zehr and his team. However, it did adjust his strategy for the 75-lap feature. Zehr qualified 19th, but made some ground back up on Second Place points-getter and Fast Qualifier John Beale by winning his heat race.
“We had probably a better car than where we finished today, but there was a lot of points talk going into it,” Zehr said. “I didn’t chance a single pass. I just took it easy and took whatever the track gave me, and it was enough. I don’t like racing for points; I like to race for wins, but it’s cool to win another TUNDRA Championship.”
“I was quite disappointed in myself after qualifying. If I would have been higher up in qualifying we could have raced a lot harder. After that we knew we just had to salvage the Championship.”
During the first caution on lap nine, Zehr ducked into the pits and made some adjustments to the machine. Although he surrendered several spots, he gained them back quickly after the green fell again. Zehr patiently worked his way through the field. The most jeopardizing time came when Anderson closed in on the lead while Zehr was still deep in the field.
Eventually things fell into place as Zehr stuck behind Steve Lichtfeld and followed him into the Top Ten. Zehr’s final advantage was 28 points over Anderson and 52 over Beale, who secured the Dean’s Satellite and Security Rookie of the Year title.
The third title comes in a much different fashion for Zehr as he did not win a TUNDRA event for the first time in the series’ seven-year history. It was consistency and resiliency that helped him score the Championship. He now has three Championships and three Second Place point finishes. Zehr said he hopes to tilt the count toward more Championships in 2018.
“I’m already looking forward to next year,” Zehr said. “Now I’ve tied my Second Places. Next year we can go for it again and hopefully have won 50 percent of the TUNDRA Championships then.”
BIRDSILL FLIES TO SPORTSMAN WIN, TRUTE SECURES CHAMPIONSHIP
What looked to be a runaway win for Brandon Birdsill at his home track, quickly became a virtual foot race with an Olympic sprinter to the finish line. Birdsill secured the lead, built it to over six seconds, and then had to hold on as Dave Trute attempted to track him down.
Birdsill’s move into the lead of the 40-lap feature was impressive as he rallied around the outside of Bryce Miller and Daron Fish. As Fish and Miller continued to scrap for Second, Birdsill proved his strength stretching out his advantage to nearly half a lap over the rest of the field. However, once Miller and Fish sorted out Second, the gates opened, and drivers such as fast qualifier Dave Trute and Scott Luck were able to shake free.
Trute made his move into Second on lap 22. By that point Birdsill’s lead was nearly seven seconds. With some free space, Trute started to chop away by half-a-second per lap. Birdsill was able to work cleanly through lapped traffic, not allowing Trute to make up any extra time. The laps ran out on Trute as his closed the gap down to 0.7 seconds on the final lap. He would settle for Second and Scott Luck was Third.
With his Second Place run Trute was able to secure his second TUNDRA Sportsman Championship. His final advantage was 22 points over Greg Back and 53 over Jason Stark.
The TUNDRA Super Late Model Series rolls into the offseason after its most competitive campaign with eyes on 2018. In the coming weeks the series will announce dates for the awards banquet, off-season meetings, and 2018 schedule dates.
TUNDRA would like to thank its fine partners of the 2017 season: Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, Dean’s Satellite and Security, Kroll’s West Restaurant, Wegner Automotive Research, Johnny’s Hobbies, Epyk Media, BrakeOMeter, Circle Track Magazine, Coleman Racing Products, B&B Race Engines, Habelman Brothers Cranberries, RacePal, Wehrs Machine, and FiveStar Race Car Bodies.
The Series would also like to thank the drivers and members of all the Super Late Model, Sportsman, and Midwest Truck Series teams who helped make our events so successful as well as the management and staff of our host facilities – Wisconsin International Raceway, LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, Jefferson Speedway, State Park Speedway, Golden Sands Speedway, and Dells Raceway Park.
Finally, TUNDRA would like to offer its gratitude toward the great short track fans of the Midwest. We look forward to continuing to bring you the Thunder of TUNDRA in 2018!