After an extended delay due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Tundra Super Late Model Series finally started their season on the Fourth of July at Dells Raceway Park. A strong field of 26 cars made up for the late start to the season by putting on a show, with a familiar face back in victory lane.
Three-time Tundra champion and former ARCA Midwest Tour champion Dalton Zehr made his first start with the series since 2017, passing Mike Lichtfield with just six laps to go to take the win.
After starting sixth, he used several long runs to his advantage after getting the short end of the stick on several restarts. Zehr said it was the final 32-lap run to the finish that gave him an opportunity to make the late pass and score his first Tundra win since July 2016 at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway.
“It seemed like I couldn’t get in the right lane for restarts, every time I went low the outside would go and then vice-versa. Once we got single-file I knew I could hold the bottom better than everybody else and that we had good speed down there,” Zehr said. “I just needed laps.”
“I’m just glad this race wasn’t any shorter because we only got it with five to go, I think. Mike just couldn’t hold it on the bottom and we were able to hold it a half car-width lower. It was enough to make the pass.”
The win came as a sigh of relief for the Florida-born driver, who won the Alive For Five Series title at the 1/3-mile oval in 2019 despite not winning a race.
“We usually have success here at Dells, we’ve been strong normally. It was weird last year winning the championship without a win. We don’t have to worry about that this year, we’ve already got the win under us.”
Lichtfield powered past last year’s Tundra runner-up Gabe Sommers on the final restart with 32 to go, but a late charge from Zehr would deny him his first Tundra win since 2018 at Dells. He says his late-race strategy was too conservative and it allowed Zehr to close in.
“We got out to a five car-length lead and I started conserving. I shouldn’t have done that, I should’ve put some distance between us. Anytime you race with Dalton, he’s one of the best in the business,” said Lichtfield. “We’ll learn from it, regroup and get better next time out.”
Race car drivers John Beale & Dalton Zehr are sponsored by Gildan, American Apparel, Comfort Colors, Prim + Preux, Sugar River Pizza Company Verona, AMS, Best Cleaners, TJ Harron Photography & Make-A-Wish Wisconsin.
Photo Credit: TJ Harron