JEFFERSON, Wis. (July 18, 2020) – It’s never easy to be victorious when you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox, but that’s precisely what Gabe Sommers did on Saturday night in TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Round Two at Jefferson Speedway.
Sommers wrestled the lead away from fellow front-row starter and hometown racer Riley Stenjem then held off former Jefferson Speedway and defending TUNDRA Champion Casey Johnson to score the win. It was Sommers’ third TUNDRA win in the last five series events.
Although he led from the drop of the green, the 75 lapper didn’t come without its challenges – and not just from other racers.
“It was really good there at the beginning. That first caution kind of threw me for a loop, the car changed a lot. The car came around there depending on which caution it was, I don’t know if the tires were shrinking a little bit or what,” Sommers said. “That last caution, the car was pretty good and it got better and better on the long runs, so that’s all what mattered.”
At the outset Sommers battled with Stenjem for the top spot. Stenjem was able to get to the inside and maintain position on Sommers, but each time the duo crossed the line, Sommers was able to edge ahead. Eventually he left Stenjem behind to deal with Mike Lichtfeld for the runner-up spot.
As Lichtfeld and Stenjem locked into a duel for Second, Casey Johnson and Section 37 Axe House / Club Forest Bar ‘Axing the Competition’ Fast Qualifier Jordan Devoy were moving through the field. Just as the race was to hit the 25-lap mark, Johnson and Devoy caught Justin Mondeik who was running Fifth. As they exited turn two, Johnson swung to the inside of Mondeik as Devoy went high. The trio went three-wide into turns three and four.
Through the daring display, Devoy and Johnson moved past Mondeik and remained side-by-side for Fifth. Devoy surged ahead of Johnson and grabbed the spot, then set his sights on Dale Nottestad in Fourth. Two laps later the duo would sweep past Nottestad.
The first caution of the race fell on lap 30 when Colin Reffner’s left rear went flat. The restart set Sommers on the outside of the front row with Stenjem on the inside. Both Devoy and Johnson elected to take the outside line behind the leader.
Sommers again dashed away on the restart, this time bringing Devoy and Johnson along. Devoy swung to the inside to challenge for the lead, making contact with Sommers in turns three and four on lap 32. After making the save, Devoy lost position to Johnson. The duo went side-by-side for the next lap until Devoy slid into turn one, making contact and sending Johnson for a spin. Devoy invoked the gentlemen’s agreement before heading to the pits to ensure nothing was wrong with his car. Johnson would be sent back to Second.
On the restart Sommers again elected to take the outside and held off Johnson for several laps until the caution again fell for a Mike Lichtfeld spin. With a quick caution, the lead pair had the chance to settle the dispute again. Once more Sommers was too strong. A pair of laps later an incident between Jake Zellmer and Michael Ostdiek which also collected Dennis Schmidt brought out another yellow. All subsequent restarts were single file, allowing Sommers to keep Johnson at bay.
Although Johnson got to Sommers’ bumper to challenge after a lap-60 restart, he was did not have enough steam to charge past him. Eventually Sommers surged away to the checkered flag.
“It means a lot to be at his home track to come out on top,” Sommers said. “This place is really tough and it shows a lot about our group and our car to come and race against the locals here and go home with a win.”
Johnson settled for second, and believed that the earlier incident caused enough damage to sour his chances at a third TUNDRA win at his home track.
“I think it knocked a little toe out or something, it got a little tight and we were just hanging on after that,” Johnson said.
In his series and Super Late Model debut, Stenjem rounded out the podium. He also secured an extra $100 from EPYK Media for being the rookie of the race. Behind the top three, Mondeik held off a hearty challenge from Dalton Zehr to finish Fourth.
Despite finishing Second, Johnson enjoyed a solid points day and grabbed the lead in the standings by a single point over Sommers. The team of Dalton Zehr and John Beale sits just five points out of the top spot.
Earlier in the evening Jordan Devoy captured the Section 37 Axe House / Club Forest Bar ‘Axing the Competition’ Fast Qualifier Award with a time of 13.324 seconds. It was a new TUNDRA series and overall Super Late Model track record. He went on to recover for a Seventh Place finish in the feature.
The next event for the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series takes place on Saturday, August 8 at State Park Speedway in Wausau. More information on this event will be available soon.
State Park Speedway is located at 5711 North Mountain Rd in Wausau, Wis. For more information visit http://www.stateparkspeedway.com