A QUICK HISTORY OF TUNDRA AT WIR
PORTAGE, Wis. (April 13, 2018) – The TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes will visit Wisconsin International Raceway for the fifth time in series history on Saturday, May 12. If history is any indication, Kroll’s West Round One will provide plenty of intrigue.
The original question loomed large when the race was first announced before the 2014 season. Would the TUNDRA Travelers be able to keep pace with the local favorites? Or, would some of the top drivers from the area be able to take the trophy out of the Fox Valley?
What transpired was a perfect combination of both. Eventual 2014 TUNDRA Champion Dalton Zehr visited Victory Lane in the series debut at the D-shaped half-mile. However, he did so in the locally-owned Chase Motorsports ride. Local race car, traveling driver. Zehr went on to win multiple features and claim Rookie of the Year honors in that car at WIR in 2014, adding to a tremendous season which included his first TUNDRA title.
Claiming the win was no easy task. Bobby Kendall – who was in his early years as a full-time racer at WIR – set fast time for the event and marched through the field. Kendall moved to Second late in the race and challenged Zehr with seven laps remaining. Just as he had done on two previous restarts against Tom Gee Jr., Zehr chose the outside lane and slipped away at the drop of the green.
The 2015 season brought a new challenger to the forefront – an upstart racer by the name of Ty Majeski. Majeski, from nearby Seymour, had competed weekly at WIR a few seasons prior. After teaming up with Toby Nuttleman, Majeski began to see more and more success.
Round One of 2015 was a who’s who at the front of the feature field. Majeski had to battle Zehr, Casey Johnson, and Steve Apel. Initially, Zehr and Johnson scrapped up front for the lead. Zehr was in his familiar Coleman 119, while Johnson was now piloting the Chase Motorsports machine. The two put on an incredible battle with Johnson charging ahead.
Just past the midway point Majeski stormed past Johnson on a restart. Not too long afterward, Apel slid into Second and set his sights on Majeski. The duo engaged in a 15-lap, back-and-forth battle. Ultimately Apel was on the tail of Majeski at the checkered flag but could not make the move. Johnson settled for the Third and another podium for the Chase Motorsports car.
The story was eerily similar in 2016, except this time it was Majeski who was the predator. Apel led early from a front-row starting spot and paced the field until Majeski caught up. With seven laps to go Majeski made his move to the inside of Apel to capture the lead. Apel kept close but was unable to make the move back around Majeski. He would settle another podium. Behind them, a hard-charging Casey Johnson closed the gap on the leaders but ran out of time once he moved past Apel into Second, securing yet another podium for Chase Motorsports.
As part of the 2016 version, the TUNDRA Sportsman division was introduced. Two standout Sportsman racers put on a dazzling shootout at the front of the field. Dave Trute and Bill Prietzel battled late in the feature which pit Street Stocks versus Sportsman versus Mid-American Stock cars for the first time. Trute made a late-race pass of Prietzel and secured the first victory.
The 2017 season brought Kroll’s West on board as the title sponsor. Once again, it was a memorable event and one that featured Zehr, Apel, and the Chase Motorsports entry – this time with Travis Sauter behind the wheel.
Zehr – now driving Wayne Brevik’s 711 – set the tone early in the day with a new track record. It looked as though he would be heading to Victory Lane, as well, as he secured the lead before lap 20 by battling past Apel. However, Apel continued to keep pace and Zehr eventually fell off when a sway bar bolt broke on his racer. The timing was just right for Apel to track Zehr down and slip past him exiting turn four on the way to the checkered flag.
A Second Place finish for Zehr would prove to be crucial as it helped propel him to last season’s Championship. It also marked the third time in four TUNDRA races that the fast qualifier finished Second in the feature. And, once again, the Chase Motorsports entry finished on the podium as Sauter secured Third.
The Sportsman returned, but the story was virtually the same. Trute won the overall by sweeping two 20-lap feature wins. While Trute was able to cruise to victory in the first 20, he had to fight off Jason Stark to grab the second 20.
With the 2018 version of Kroll’s West Round One just on the horizon, the story looks to be shaping up to involve the same players.
Steve Apel plans to return to defend his win from last season. Zehr will be back in his familiar 119. Casey Johnson will be piloting either his Beale Motorsports #5 or the Chase Motorsports #47, but will have Car Owner Dennis Chase in his corner either way.
Bobby Kendall and a host of WIR standouts such as 2017 Champion Andy Monday, former Round One fast qualifier Maxwell Schultz, and five-time WIR Champ Jeff Van Oudenhoven will be on hand trying to seal a win for the locals. Out-of-towners Dennis Prunty and Travis Dassow also have stated their intent to join in the fun. Many more names are expected to be added to an incredible field for May 12.
Only time will tell how the fifth version of the story is written.
TUNDRA Kroll’s West Round One Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes will feature the Super Late Models, Sportsman and Fox River Racing Club/WIR Late Models. The event has been moved to the evening hours with qualifying scheduled for 5:15 p.m. and racing to begin at 6:45 p.m.
Wisconsin International Raceway is located just past Highway 55 and KK outside of Kaukauna, Wis. For more information visit www.wirmotorsports.com