NORWAY, Mich. (July 16, 2022) – It almost looked as Dalton Zehr wasn’t going to be repeating his TUNDRA Super Late Model Series victory at Norway Speedway. But almost doesn’t count when it comes to Super Late Model Racing.
Zehr rebounded late in the race after falling from the Top Three and outgunned defending TUNDRA Champion Riley Stenjem to pick up his 14th career TUNDRA win. It was a repeat performance of the series’ last visit to Norway for Zehr as he captured fast time and the feature win.
“It’s fantastic, it’s great to be in TUNDRA Victory Lane again. It’s been a couple years since that happened,” Zehr said.
The race featured an incredible back-and-forth battle between James Swan and Colin Reffner. Zehr said he waited paitently behind that battle to make sure if anything happened that he wouldn’t be caught up in it. While waiting, however, Zehr was passed and taken out of the Top Three. He showed resurgence after a red flag to clean up fluid with 19 to go and went on to capture the lead for good with five laps remaining.
“I thought the car was too tight,” Zehr said. “During that red flag I had a mental reset, opened up my entries a little bit and, all the sudden, we were a good car again.”
The field was led to green by Lou Goss and Bryan Monday. The duo exchanged the lead through the first two cautions on laps one and two – including an incident that saw Justin Mondeik fall to the tail.
Once the field started to get into motion, James Swan and Colin Reffner flexed their muscle. Swan tailed Monday for seven laps until he was able to make his move, slipping into the lead. Reffner followed swiftly into Second and Monday was left to deal with Brock Heinrich and Chad Butz.
Swan and Reffner started to break away from the field and avoided a near caution when Riley Stenjem went through the grass in turn two and fell to the tail end of the top ten on lap 14. Meanwhile Zehr was picking his way through the field and made his way into the top five just before lap 20.
The top two continued to put on a dazzling display for the lead in the first third of the feature. Reffner muscled his way to the inside of Swan and took the lead on lap 23. He went on to pace the next few circuits until Swan took the inside line and eventually the lead back on lap 27. The battle was far from over, however.
Another yellow fell for a spin on lap 28, restacking the field for a single file restart. Swan got away on the restart until an incident sent Jordan Thiel off the track for another yellow on lap 29. On the restart chaos ensued. Mondeik and Kole Guralski hooked, allowing Stenjem to slip past into Sixth. At the same time Reffner made his move to take the lead back.
On lap 35 Zehr moved past Heinrich into Third and brought both Butz and Stenjem into Fourth and Fifth. Another yellow fell just before halfway as Mickey Schallie stalled off turn four.
Just after the restart Reffner and Swan stepped away again, leaving Zehr to try to fend off Butz and Stenjem. Eventually they would both push past and put Zehr back to Fifth. The field then rode through the next dozen laps until they got into lapped traffic. Two lapped cars then spun as Reffner closed in, leaving everyone to take evasive action. Unfortunately, Heinrich tagged the stalled car of MG Gajewski causing heavy damage on Gajewski’s machine. The result was a red flag to clean up fluid in turn two with 19 laps remaining.
After the restart another altercation involving Monday and Butz slowed the field and, by rule, put the field back to double file restart formation as they had chosen. After the restart Stenjem rocketed into the second spot from the outside and went to work on Reffner for the lead. Zehr slipped by Swan for Third at the same moment.
Stenjem eventually secured the inside line and took the lead on lap 60. Zehr followed quickly into the Second spot. Not far behind, Mondeik was trying to make his moves, securing Fourth on lap 61.
The lead duo stepped away to decide the race. Stenjem furiously looked to hold the inside line as Zehr put intense pressure on the defending TUNDRA Champion. On a couple of occasions Zehr got his nose under Stenjem, but allowed him to straighten his car out. Mondeik then slipped past Reffner with 7 laps to go, but he was a full straightaway behind the leaders.
Zehr found his opportunity as he was able to get inside Stenjem on lap 69. Despite trying to hold his ground, Zehr led by the time they hit the stripe for lap 70. A final caution with two to go set up a green, white, checkered situation, but Zehr proved to be too strong and cruised to the checkered.
Stenjem survived an eventful race to finish Second, Justin Mondeik recovered from the early incident to finish Third, and after putting on a wildly entertaining back-and-forth battle for the lead for most of the race Colin Reffner and James Swan rounded out the Top Five.
The next stop for the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series is the rescheduled Bev Aschenbrenner Memorial at Marshfield Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 30. TUNDRA will be joined by the Xtreme 4s, Bandits, 6-Shooters and Skidders. Qualifying is at 5:45pm and racing is at 7.
Marshfield Motor Speedway is located 3.5 miles west of Marshfield on Hwy H. For more information visit marshfieldspeedway.com