Eugene Gregorich Jr. had stepped away from Super Late Model racing for almost two seasons. But when an opportunity to join forces with Wisz Racing presented itself, he accepted. He capitalized in a big way.
Gregorich dominated the Bev Aschenbrenner Memorial Presented by River Valley Bank and A&A Lock Service at Marshfield Motor Speedway Saturday night. It was Gregorich’s second win with the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes at the venue.
“It’s special to win this race because of Bev,” said an emotional Gregorich in Victory Lane. “But I’d much rather she was here to celebrate this with us.”
Slicing through the field, Gregorich wasted little time getting to the lead from his Seventh Place starting spot. He was to Fourth by lap six, Third two laps later, and grabbed the lead by lap ten. Gregorich then went on to survive several restarts and build healthy advantages.
Front row starters Darek Gress and Chad Butz battled for the lead at the outset, with Butz taking the top spot away early. However, Gress came back to life and surged to the lead on lap eight. It was at this time Mike Lichtfeld and Gregorich were working their ways to the front.
Gregorich kept his machine pasted on the bottom line and awaited his openings – first past Lichtfeld, then past Gress. He would leave the Top Five to sort themselves out until a spin on lap 17 brought out the first caution.
On the restart Gregorich quickly jumped away from Gress, who was left to deal with a blazing-fast Justin Mondeik. Mondeik, who had started 11th, cruised past Gabe Sommers on the restart, then past Lichtfeld two laps later to find himself in Third. His charge was cut off, however, by another spin on lap 20.
This time Gregorich found himself alongside Mondeik, who elected to take the high line after Gress selected the inside line for the restart. The story was much the same as Mondeik held on briefly, but Gregorich proved to be too strong.
At this point three cars started to show some life in moving toward the front of the field – Sommers, Casey Johnson, and John Beale. They would find themselves in the Top Six when a spin on lap 27 brought out the final caution.
This time Sommers had the opportunity to go to the outside of Gregorich for the restart. Although he couldn’t make the pass for the top spot, Sommers was able to secure Second by lap 35. Meanwhile, Johnson and Beale were scrapping for Fourth with Gress. Beale found a seam to get through first and Johnson would follow into Fifth on lap 40.
Eventually both Beale and Johnson caught Mondeik and took Third and Fourth by lap 48. Later in the race Rich Schumann would make a charge from Eighth to clip Mondeik late and round out the Top Five.
All this happened well behind Gregorich and Sommers, however, as they rolled into the top two finishing spots of the evening. Gregorich was then greeted with a shower of adult beverages and Bev Aschenbrenner’s famous cheesecake bars in Victory Lane.
Gregorich had won TUNDRA’s first appearance at Marshfield in 2013 in very similar fashion.
Being the second event of the season, Round Two for the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series set the tone for the points race. Johnson continues to lead with Beale slicing into his point lead (22 points back). The team of Dennis Prunty and Neil Knoblock is Third (26 points back), Chad Butz is Fourth (47 points back), and Gabe Sommers rounds out the Top Five (48 points back).
Other storylines on the day include a hard-luck day for Colin Reffner – his second in a row. Reffner set fast time but developed a miss in his machine. It was his second DNF to begin 2018.
On the flip side, Jake Zellmer enjoyed one of his best TUNDRA events to date by making the fast dash and finishing Seventh. Zellmer was unable to start the race date at WIR due to mechanical issues and lost his engine in another race. The team’s tireless effort paid off with a solid day at Marshfield.
The next stop for the TUNDRA Super Late Mode Series Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes is Dells Raceway Park on Saturday, July 6. The birthplace of TUNDRA will host a special event dedicated to Carl Wegner. More information will be available through the TUNDRA web site soon.
Dells Raceway Park is located at N1070 Smith Road just north of downtown Wisconsin Dells. For more information visit www.dellsracewaypark.com