WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (June 4, 2016) – The rains came, the red flag was displayed and a large pause was put on TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Round Two Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes on Saturday at Dells Raceway Park. At that point, some of the Prunty clan decided to make their way back to a local campground.
“The kids are at the campground waiting for me. I guess it’s better than seeing me finish last,” Prunty joked.
What they missed was another dazzling run by the former TUNDRA Champion at the third-mile. After the rain delay on lap 12 of 75 Prunty methodically picked his way from eighth to second, putting himself in a good position when race leader Mike Lichtfeld’s machine experienced electrical issues.
“We’ve been really strong here over the past couple of years,” Prunty said of his continued success at the venue.
The win was the third in TUNDRA action for Prunty. All three have been at DRP including the Championship clinching feature win in 2012. The last time Prunty appeared in a TUNDRA event at DRP he finished Second in 2014.
Although Prunty was able to claim victory, there were several key moments after the race resumed which put him in position to capitalize. The biggest key could have been his pass on Casey Johnson for Third on lap 48 as Johnson proved to be strong in the late stages of the feature.
Once into Third, Punty went on the attack to take Second from Travis Dassow on lap 51. After Prunty took the spot, it looked as though he would need a monumental run to catch Lichtfeld, who had captured the lead shortly after the race resumed from the rain delay on lap 12. Lichtfeld’s lead was nearly a straightaway, and he was having no trouble picking off lapped traffic.
However, shortly after Prunty had taken Second away, a distinct rumbling sound began under the hood of the 44. Although Lichtfeld continued to nurse the machine, it was clear that he was underpowered and unable to hold off the rest of the field. Prunty caught him on lap 54 to take the lead. Dassow followed back into Second with Johnson right on his bumper in Third.
As Prunty started to build a lead, Johnson tested Dassow. He was able to make the pass on lap 59 and set his sights on Prunty, who was starting to find the thickest lapped traffic. With laps clicking off the board, Johnson continued to make gains and was to Prunty’s bumper with less than ten laps remaining.
After a few challenges in the final five circuits, Johnson was continually turned away. Finally, with two laps to go, Prunty was able to get some breathing room after clearing more lapped traffic.
“We were right there, I don’t know if I would have had enough for him,” Johnson said of the battle with Prunty. “Traffic played a big part in the race.”
Behind the lead duo, reigning two-time TUNDRA Champion Dalton Zehr was making a frantic run to cap a frantic day. He made the pass on Dassow for third with six laps remaining, securing a podium finish after going to the back of the field.
“That’s only half of the day,” Zehr said of his finish. “We showed up with a rear end that was blown out and worked on it throughout all of practice. We started at the back of the pack and had a fast race car obviously. The thing was just awesome in traffic. In open traffic I think the two guys in front of me would have been really hard to pass.”
Aside from the problems during practice, Zehr was also involved in a caution on lap 12, just before the rains came. When the field came out to finish drying the track, he experienced a dead battery, which was changed in time to get him out at the tail end of the field before the green fell again.
Although the defending Champion may have saved his chances to contend again, there is still a gap to make up due to the strong runs of Johnson, Dassow and Bobby Kendall, who sit ahead of Zehr in the TUNDRA standings.
With his second consecutive runner-up finish, Johnson has made an early statement in the TUNDRA points. He leads Dassow by 34 markers. Kendall is just 49 points behind, with Zehr (53 behind) and Terry Schoppenhorst (57 points behind) rounding out the Top Five.
Johnson, who has won a TUNDRA race in his own Super Late Model, was quick to credit the relationship with Chase Motorsports, now in its second season.
“This car has been real stout,” he said. “We’ve finished Second in both TUNDRA races and qualified top two in both of them. Any time I get a chance to sit in here, I’ll do it.”
He’ll get another chance to sit behind the wheel at the next event which is Friday, July 1 at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Johnson finished Seventh in the event last season, one spot behind Zehr. Dassow has had a team driver compete for him at the last two events – his wife Kelsey last season, and Brad Keith two seasons ago. Kendall last competed with TUNDRA at LaCrosse in 2014. He finished Eighth.
KALLAS GRABS SPORTSMAN CHECKERED
The second TUNDRA Sportsman Series feature event provided just as much excitement as the first. Seventeen-year-old Rachel Kallas held off Hall of Fame racer Bill Prietzel to capture the feature win.
It was Kallas’ second career feature win in a Super Stock/Sportsman type car. She has also been competing in the Late Model division at Dells Raceway Park.
With curfew looming and another race to run afterward, the feature length was shortened to 18 laps. Kallas and Jason Thoma led the field to green and remained side-by-side for the first six laps of the race. The incredibly competitive field remained nose to tail behind them.
Kallas was able to clear Thoma on lap six, leaving him to deal with Bryce Miller. As they went side-by-side, Prietzel and Greg Back found enough room to make some passes into the Top Five. On lap 10 Prietzel moved to Third with Back coming to fourth. Meanwhile, it was tough sledding for fast qualifier Dave Trute, who was still bottled up in traffic.
On lap 12, Prietzel caught and made the pass on Miller for Second. Back soon followed. Trute had finally shaken free and was closing in on the Top Five.
In the final five laps Prietzel began to size up Kallas. She was able to fend off Prietzel’s charge just after the white flag fell and dashed back to the line for the win. Back beat Trute by a nose to the line for Third and Kevin Berg narrowly slipped past Miller for Fifth at the stripe.
ECHLIN HOLDS OFF SCHNEIDER IN TUNDRA VINTAGE
A long ride from Dyer, Indiana and a long night of waiting ended up worthwhile for Pat Echlin. He captured the win in the TUNDRA Sportsman feature by holding off a charge from Round One winner Jerry Schneider.
Just like the Sportsman race, the feature had to be shorted due to curfew. Echlin cruised to the front of the field and built a healthy advantage before Schneider attempted to track him down.
Rex Rossier was Third, Ken Lewis was Fourth, and Royce Rossier rounded out the Top Five.
TUNDRA heads to LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway for Round Three Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes on Friday, July 1. The program will feature Super Late Models, Sportsman, Vintage and the Midwest Truck Series. Racing is scheduled to begin at 7:30. More details on the event will be released soon.
LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway is located at N4985 Cty Rd M in West Salem, Wis. For more information visit www.lacrossespeedway.com