WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. (September 25, 2022) – Although rain may have interrupted the 2022 TUNDRA Super Late Model Championship story line, it couldn’t spoil an intense plot.
Dalton Zehr cruised to victory in the Carl Wegner 100 on Sunday afternoon and evening at Dells Raceway Park. Behind him Justin Mondeik made a furious late charge to take Second with three laps remaining in the race. The move secured Mondeik’s first TUNDRA title.
It was the second season in a row that a late race pass netted the Championship by three points.
“It feels really good to be a TUNDRA Champion. We’ve been so close over the last few years,” Mondeik said. “I felt like we had a good game plan coming in. I knew with the bonus points we needed that last position.”
The table was set for the Championship battle earlier in the day during qualifying. As Zehr – who was team driving for points with John Beale this season – had predicted, qualifying provided a big impact. Zehr went on to qualify outside of the dash, while Mondeik qualified Fourth and gained a little more breathing room.
Some afternoon sun shined on the field during the beginning of the Carl Wenger 100 with Zehr starting on the inside of the second row behind Max Kahler and Jacob Nottestad. Kahler led the first couple of circuits before Nottestad assumed the top spot. Zehr was in hot pursuit.
As the laps clicked off, a storm was closing in quickly on the facility. Zehr caught Nottestad in lapped traffic on lap 38 and began to size up his options. One lap later Zehr forced his way to the inside and grabbed the lead. Behind him Nottestad looked to fend off defending race winner Jordan DeVoy with Mondeik not far behind.
The rain finally consumed the facility on lap 47. After three separate rain showers and a two-hour delay, the drivers unanimously voted to finish the second half of the race. Once track drying was completed, the lights shined on what would be another title battle to remember.
Zehr restarted in the lead with Nottestad, Mondeik, Casey Johnson and fast qualifier Mike Lichtfeld in the mix. Zehr escaped at the drop of the green leaving Nottestad to deal with Mondeik and Lichtfeld.
One back under way, it was Lichtfeld who was on the move. Lichtfeld snuck past Mondeik on lap 60 and brought Johnson along for the ride. One lap later Ryan Farrell stole the Sixth spot. Although Mondeik was down, he was far from out.
Lichtfeld and Johnson continued to cruise in the next ten laps, securing Second and Third. However, they were nearly a straightway behind Zehr. Just as Mondeik was about to make a move back into the Top Five, something went awry on Ryan Farrell’s machine and he skated into the outside wall on lap 74.
As the field came back to green behind the front row of Zehr and Lichtfeld, Nottestad ducked off the race track. Johnson then wresteled Second away from Lichtfeld as Zehr ran away from the field again.
Mondeik held close to the battle of Lichtfeld and Johnson. On lap 82 Lichtfeld found an opening and stole Second from Johnson, Mondeik immediately followed into Third. Mondeik remained within striking distance and started to size up LIchtfeld.
The battle for Second remained furious and almost hit a breaking point when Mondeik bottomed out with 11 laps to go. He quickly gobbled up the space he lost and went back on the attack with seven laps to go. Mondeik found his way to the inside with four laps to go and after a side-by-side battle, surged ahead at the line on lap 97. It proved to be enough as Mondeik pulled away to claim Second and the Championship.
Meanwhile, Zehr had built up an insurmountable lead, proving to be extremely strong on the day. He was happy to capture the win, and knew that he was in the thick of a remarkable Championship hunt.
“If we would have made the adjustments we made before the race before qualifying, we might have won the overall,” Zehr explained. “But Mondeik did what he was supposed to do, drove to the position he needed, and you can’t take that away.”
Behind Zehr and Mondeik, Johnson nipped Lichtfeld at the line for Third. Jordan Thiel rounded out the Top Five after starting 13th.
The Championship was something special for Mondeik, who has burst onto the Super Late Model scene over the past few seasons with Championships at State Park Speedway, Golden Sands Speedway, and Norway Speedway. Now he can say he’s done it on a traveling circuit, as well.
“This is definitely number one. It feels great to win three in a row at our home track and two other tracks, but to be a touring Super Late Model Champion is big for us. We’re really happy,” Mondeik said.
The EPYK Media Rookie of the Year battle was also left to be settled in the event. Texan Barrett Polhemus finished 11th in the Carl Wegner 100 and took the honors. Polhemus scored three Top Ten finishes in his first three races of the season and finished Eighth in the overall standings.
TUNDRA would like to thanks its fans, drivers, sponsors, and partner tracks for the 2022 season. An awards banquet will be announced in the coming weeks, as well as plans for the 2023 season.