Dalton Zehr and Casey Johnson have made massive marks in the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series record books. In season ten they may end up putting a few marks on each other as they battle for a fourth series Championship.
The next step on that journey to title number four comes this Saturday at Wisconsin’s Action Track Jefferson Speedway. Although it is Johnson’s home track, that doesn’t mean Zehr will be at any kind of disadvantage.
“I really like racing at Jefferson,” said Zehr, who won the TUNDRA opener at Dells Raceway Park on July 4. “From the first time I raced there we’ve run strong. I believe the first time was a rained-shortened race, but we were racing Casey through the field.”
The first time TUNDRA visited the quarter-mile was 2013. It was Zehr’s first time at Jefferson and Johnson’s series debut. Shortened and called complete at lap 37 because of the rain, Zehr finished Third with Johnson right behind in Fourth.
Since that time Johnson has grabbed two wins (2014 and 2016) and Zehr visited Victory Lane in 2015 at the venue. Both know they may encounter each other again if they’re going to be victorious this season.
“I always make sure to keep an eye on what kind of speed the 119 has, but our main focus is to make sure we’ve covered everything on our program to give us the best shot to beat those guys,” Johnson said.
For Johnson, the TUNDRA race at Jefferson is always circled in red on his calendar. It’s a chance to go back home and show his home fan base just how far he’s come. Many see Johnson, much like Zehr, as a top racer in the Midwest – and perhaps in the country.
But, more so than anything, it’s a chance for Johnson to turn laps at his favorite track.
“I love the amount of grip and the different grooves you can run there. It makes it different than any other track in the area,” Johnson commented. “I’ve got a lot of laps around that place, so I think that still helps a lot, but I think a lot of guys are starting to feel pretty comfortable there as well.”
Zehr has seemed to find his groove at the tricky track, although it doesn’t take him long to figure out new venues (as shown by his early success back in 2013). But Zehr also knows that it’s likely he’ll see Johnson if he is to find his way to the front, or if Johnson is to find him there.
“We will have a stopwatch on Casey just to see what we need to run for speed,” Zehr said. “That being said we will focus on making our car work the best we can whatever that is we will live with.”
A strong run at Jefferson could go a long way for both drivers. After Round One at Dells Raceway Park, both sit toward the top of the point standings. Both drivers know, however, that it won’t just be a two-car showdown.
“The competition is always top notch in these TUNDRA races, so you always just have to focus on winning the race and let the points play themselves out,” Johnson said.
Saturday’s running at Jefferson will be have an interesting underlying story line the typical fan may not know. Zehr will be running his Gildan Racing entry out of the John Beale camp. Johnson was Crew Chief for Beale in 2018 when he took the checkered flag during TUNDRA’s visit to Jefferson. Johnson will be piloting Dennis Chase’s 47 car. Zehr picked up a win in the Chase car at Wisconsin International Raceway in 2014.
In the short track racing world of twists and turns, both drivers seem very happy with where their paths have taken them now.
“It has been a lot of fun crew chief-ing for John these past two years,” Zehr said. “John as a car owner has been awesome as well. I am really looking forward to the future success we will have working together.”
“Dennis and I have had some extremely strong cars at Jefferson and we’ve gone through all our past notes to come up with what we think will produce a pretty strong car,” Johnson said.
Johnson, Zehr and the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series roll into Jefferson this Saturday, July 18 for what promises to be a 75-lap, gloves-off, action-packed affair. Nearly 30 entrants are expected for the event. TUNDRA will be joined by the Legends, Bandoleros, and Bandits. Qualifying is set for 5 pm with racing at 7.
Jefferson Speedway is located at W8135 US Hwy 18 just outside of Jefferson, Wis. For more information visit http://www.jeffersonspeedway.com