Nearly a handful of drivers have won in their TUNDRA Super Late Model Series debut. So if Chris Wimmer was going to make some series history at State Park Speedway in Round Four Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes Saturday, he was going to have to do something spectacular.
A clean sweep did the trick.
Wimmer became the first driver to set fast time – which he did with a new TUNDRA SPS track record – win the Fast Five Dash, and secure the feature win in the 75-lap main.
“This was huge. There was such a good group of cars here,” Wimmer, who started 11th on the grid, said in Victory Lane. “This was a big race and [to win] in my first start, it’s pretty cool.”
If not for a caution on lap 27, Wimmer may have had some extra work cut out for him. Just after sliding past Derek Kraus to take the Third spot, a yellow flag allowed Wimmer to erase what was nearly a straightaway deficit to early-race leader Darek Gress.
“The 00 (Gress) got out there in front. He actually ran a really good race. I thought Skylar (Holzhausen) was going to take off on the start and that the top line was going to roll. I just kind of took my time there,” Wimmer said.
Gress jumped out to the lead after a botched start which collected several drivers deep in the field including Brent Strelka, last year’s TUNDRA State Park winner Mark Mackesy, and Round Three winner Wyatt Brooks. Braison Bennett suffered the worst of the ordeal and retired after sustaining heavy damage to the front of his machine.
On the second opportunity Gress again jumped away from the outside-pole-sitter Holzhausen. Gress started to build a healthy lead as Holzhausen was left to defend against the likes of John Beale, Paul Paine and Cole Anderson. By lap ten that trio had worked its way past Holzhausen into Second, Third, and Fourth.
The next grouping brought some more heavy hitters as Kraus and Wimmer stepped in to challenge Holzhausen. Kraus worked his way to Fifth on lap 12 with Wimmer following two laps later. Kraus eventually chased down Anderson. As he did, Wimmer went to the top groove to try to make the pass on both. However, Anderson made his move on Paine for Third, forcing Wimmer to tuck back in line behind Kraus.
Once that trio moved past Paine, Kraus and Wimmer went to work on Anderson. Kraus made his pass on lap 21 and Wimmer on lap 23. By this point Beale was nearly a half straightaway ahead and Gress was off in the distance even further. Wimmer soon challenged Kraus and slid past him using the inside line on lap 25.
Just one lap later the second and final caution of the race fell when Steve Lichtfeld was sent spinning into the infield. For the restart Beale chose the outside line on Gress with Wimmer and Kraus side-by-side in the second row.
Wimmer was able to capitalize and take Second from Beale shortly after the green flag fell. He pressured Gress for several laps until sliding to the inside and making the pass coming back to lap 34.
With Wimmer out front, Kraus and Anderson continued to do battle. Eventually Kraus would pass Anderson, Beale and Gress to secure Second and try to track down Wimmer. At that time TUNDRA point leader Dalton Zehr was hanging just outside the Top Five battling with Minnesota drivers Nick Barstad and Bryan Syer-Keske. Zehr was able to move past Barstad into Sixth on lap 42. Ten laps later he secured Fifth.
Anderson, Beale, and Zehr – three of the top four in TUNDRA points coming into the race – started to settle the score with around 20 laps remaining. Anderson swooped past Beale into Third on lap 57 and brought Zehr to Fourth. Although Zehr was close when the pass was made, Anderson was able to keep his distance.
Up front, Wimmer breezed through lapped traffic over the final ten laps. Kraus made up some ground, but it was clear he would need a caution to contend. That caution did not come. Kraus settled for Second as he did a season ago, Anderson was Third, Zehr was Fourth, and Beale rounded out the Top Five.
The 75-lap main shook up the TUNDRA points with just two races remaining in the 2017 season. Zehr’s lead over Second place grew from 19 to 26. However, it is now Cole Anderson who sits Second after gaining 11 points on Zehr and leapfrogging Beale and Colin Reffner.
Beale is now Third, 42 points back. Reffner, who struggled with a 14th Place finish, is now 46 points back of the lead in Fourth. Beale and Reffner are also chasing the Dean’s Satellite and Security Rookie of the Year title.
CONSISTENCY WINS IT FOR VOLM
The Sportsman division returned for two 20-lap features. Greg Back captured the first 20 lapper and fast qualifier Dave Trute dominated the second. By virtue of two Second Place finishes, Travis Volm was awarded the overall win.
The most dramatic moment of the evening for the Sportsman came with just five laps remaining in the first feature. Back, Trute, and Volm were battling for the lead when contact was made and Back went spinning. Trute invoked the “Gentleman’s Agreement,” taking blame for the incident. He went to the tail of the field and Back retained his spot, which allowed him to secure the win.
For the second 20 lap feature, the field was aligned based off finishing position in the first feature. Because of his misfortune, Trute started on the outside pole. He took off in a hurry and left little doubt. Volm had to pick his way through the field to finish Second. Back remained in Fourth throughout the race, leaving him one spot shy of the overall win.
The TUNDRA Super Late Model Series is back in action Monday, September 4 (Labor Day) at Golden Sands Speedway. TUNDRA will be joined by the Midwest Truck Series and Sportsman. Racing is scheduled to begin at 2 PM. More times and information about the event will be available through the TUNDRA web site in the coming weeks.
Golden Sands Speedway is located on Highway 54 between Plover and Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. For more information visit www.gssraces.com