WEST SALEM, Wis. (July 26, 2014) – Saturday Night at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway provided a little bit of history repeating itself. One year and one week after Paige Decker became the first female and rookie to win a TUNDRA feature, the feat was restored.
Dean’s Satellite Rookie contender Reagan May captured the 6’10″ trophy from Johnny’s Hobbies on Saturday night in TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Round Five Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes and Habelman Brothers Company Cranberries.
“I’m kind of still in shock,” May said in Victory Lane. “I’m not sure if this is a dream or if this is actually happening.”
What may have been most shocking was how the 20-year-old from West De Pere, Wis., captured the win in her first visit to the five-eighths mile. Not only did she grab the lead at the outset from the top line, May selected the outside groove on two separate restarts, and was able to pull away.
Those familiar with LaCrosse were left with their jaws to drop as the gamble paid off. Eight-time LaCrosse Champion Kevin Nuttleman stopped by May’s trailer after the race to compliment her on her mastery of the tricky outside line.
“Ever since I raced dirt I loved going on the outside groove. I carried the momentum and obviously it worked tonight,” she said. “I hadn’t raced the low line all night, so I figured I would keep taking the high line.”
Earlier in the event May captured a heat race win from the top line. In the feature she was able to get a jump on pole-sitter Brad Keith to nose ahead to an early lead. Keith held on to the inside line for the first two laps, but May was able to clear and begin to build her lead by lap three.
Once May took the top spot Keith was left to fight off the advances of Adam Royle and Ty Majeski. Royle took the second spot on lap six and left the door open for Majeski to slide to third on the same circuit. By this time May had built a lead of nearly 15 car-lengths.
May, Royle and Majeski continued to break away from the rest of the field as Keith was challenged by Bobby Kendall and, eventually, Eugene Gregorich Jr. Kendall slipped past Keith on lap ten and Gregorich took fifth just two laps later. Behind Gregorich, fast-qualifier Brandon Selle began marching toward the top five. He found his way to sixth by lap 15. Unfortunately for Gregorich and Selle, both drivers later experienced ailing machines and fell out of the top ten.
The first caution of the race fell on lap 20. As May was approaching lapped traffic Steve Lichtfeld and Wyatt Blashe came together on the front stretch. Blashe spun and Lichtfeld made heavy contact with the outside wall. He was unharmed, but was unable to continue the race.
When the Barricade Flasher Service TUNDRA Barrel was placed May jumped to the outside line. May’s decision left the inside line open for Royle to take without hesitation. Majeski, who earlier in the night used the bottom line to win in the LaCrosse Late Models, also ducked to the bottom behind Royle.
When the green fell, Royle kept close with May through the first set of turns. May continued to use the open space up top to slide up, grab momentum and get a strong run out of the turns. Two laps after the restart May had put Royle in the rear view mirror.
As May started to rebuild her lead the complexion of the top ten continued to change. Point leader Dalton Zehr started behind the 10-car invert after qualifying 14th earlier in the night. On lap 23 he moved past Gregorich into sixth. Two laps later he moved past Selle into the top five. Two laps after that, he surpassed Kendall for fourth. Just as Zehr was preparing to challenge Majeski for third the caution fell on lap 30 for a Frank Nitzke spin in turn one.
Just as she did on the first restart, May selected the outside line, leaving the inside line for Royle. On this restart Royle was able to hang close with May and even nosed ahead on a couple of occasions.
“[Royle] was coming on fast,” May said. “I knew he was a good driver, a good car, so I knew it was going to be hard at the end, especially with all of those cautions.”
The action picked up with eight to go as May and Royle continued to scrap for the lead. Behind them Zehr worked the outside line on Majeski. The two made contact in turn four and washed up the track. Donny Reuvers, who quietly had moved to fifth, took advantage with a three-wide pass to the bottom. The veteran move gave Reuvers a chance to challenge the top pair.
With just four laps remaining Royle again tested the inside line. Once more May proved too strong on the top line. May pulled away with three laps to go, leaving Royle to try to fend off Reuvers. Although Reuvers got to the inside on the final lap, he was unable to take the second spot from Royle. Majeski finished fourth and Zehr rounded out the top five.
The win put May in the history books as the second female and rookie to win a TUNDRA event. The timing was ironic enough, being exactly one year and one week later. Some of the other similarities are eerie. Decker had also led wire-to-wire starting from the outside pole. Both drivers captured the win at 20 years of age.
As a bonus, May also jumped to the top of the charts in the Dean’s Satellite Rookie chase. She now sits eighth in TUNDRA standings and has a 17-point edge on Tommy Gee, who was unable to start the feature due to mechanical failure earlier in the evening. Mike Lichtfeld is third in the rookie battle, just 19 points behind May.
At the top of the standings another consistent run paid off for Zehr. His fifth-place finish helped him stretch out his point lead to 27 markers. Majeski’s fourth-place finish moved him into the runner up spot by two-points over Gregorich.
Defending TUNDRA Champion Nick Panitzke was able to salvage what could have been a disastrous blow to his title defense thanks to the help of Michael Bilderback. Bilderback gave up his ride so Panitzke could start the feature and attempt to gain points. Panitzke finished 19th. He and Kendall now sit tied for fourth 41 points behind Zehr.
TUNDRA will experience the quickest turnaround between races as the series moves to Marshfield Motor Speedway this Saturday, August 2 for Round Six Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes. TUNDRA will be joined by the Pure Stocks, X-treme 4s and Bandits. Qualifying is scheduled for 6 p.m. with racing to begin at 7:30.
Marshfield Motor Speedway is located at 10853 Cty Road H just outside of Marshfield, Wis. For more information visit www.marshfieldspeedway.com.
The Unified Northern Drivers Racing Association (TUNDRA) Super Late Model Series was formed in 2011 as the Alive For Five Super Late Model Series at Dells Raceway Park. TUNDRA’s business plan is based on a sustainable program for promoters and race teams alike, while still providing high-quality Super Late Model entertainment to fans.
For more information on TUNDRA including news, results and the 2014 standings, archived results and standings, and more visit http://www.tundrasuperlates.com. Also, interact with us on Facebook (facebook.com/TundraSuperLateModels) or Twitter (@TUNDRAslms).