Cambridge, WI. – On a night where more laps were turned in an effort to dry the racing surface than in actual competition, the portion of the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series event Mother Nature did allow was overflowing with action.
John Beale dashed to the lead from his fifth place starting spot on lap 27 of the rain-shortened feature to claim his first TUNDRA win in Round Four Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes Saturday night.
The win came just one year and one day after Beale challenged Wyatt Brooks to the very end of the 2017 main event. Although the feature only made it to the halfway point before another persistent rain brought an ending, Beale was pleased finally to visit victory lane in a TUNDRA event – especially at his de facto home track.
“It’s special to win one here after coming so close last year,” Beale said. “Everyone works so hard within this team. This was a long time coming.”
Brief but heavy showers swooped through the Jefferson area on several occasions. Just as it appeared the feature would start after a concerted track-drying effort, another rain shower chased teams back to the pits. Finally, the feature began after a third drying of the track.
Rookies Collin Slife and Gabe Sommers led the field to the green flag. Slife quickly secured the lead as Sommers engaged in battle with Jake Zellmer, Carson Kvapil, and Beale.
As Slife began to break away, Beale followed Zellmer on the inside line. In a brief moment on the backstretch, Beale, Kvapil and Dennis Schmidt were three wide, with Schmidt backing out to elude danger. Shortly after, Zellmer took second from Sommers and brought Beale to third.
On lap ten Beale swept to the inside of Zellmer to wrestle away the second spot. The move opened the inside line for Sommers to challenge, as well. Behind them and Schimdt, Dennis Prunty made a move around the outside of Justin Mondeik to take sixth. One lap later he rocketed past Schmidt into fifth.
After Beale had chased down Slife, he surveyed the inside line on several occasions, finally making his move to pull even on lap 22. Once it appeared Beale had taken the lead, Slife put the nose to the backside of Beale’s machine and was able to take the lead back. Another dazzling side-by-side battle would see Beale emerge with the top spot on lap 27.
The dispute between the leaders allowed Prunty to close the gap once he had taken third from Sommers. He found his way to the inside of Slife to grab the second spot by lap 30. Three laps later the lone caution fell for a spin, leaving a single-file restart and a showdown between Beale and Prunty.
At the drop of the green Beale was able to escape Prunty and maintain about a car-length lead. Deeper in the field cars were beginning to lose traction as another bout of precipitation fell on the track. The race had gone to the halfway point and officials decided the track surface was in no condition to continue. The checkered was displayed and the race considered complete.
Beale kept Prunty at bay – although Prunty jokingly challenged Beale to a one-on-one in victory lane despite the track conditions. Slife held on to third to pick up his best-ever TUNDRA finish. Sommers did the same with his fourth place finish. Fast qualifier Casey Johnson had charged through the field from 12th to round out the top five.
The Hobby Stocks and Road Warriors joined the Super Late Models to round out the program. Brandon Riedner of Waunakee had a huge evening, setting a new track record for the Hobby Stocks and capturing the 25-lap feature event to cap it off.
Jon Benninger and John Janssen led the pack to green with Janssen taking the early lead on lap one. Dan Snyder followed up to second with Jim Tate Jr in tow for third. Tate quickly drove to the high side of Snyder, grabbing second on lap four and bringing Philip Wuesthoff along for third. As Riedner entered the top five, Tate made his move at the front, diving under Janssen and looking to lead. After a brief battle, Tate positioned himself on the point while Riedner took to the high side looking for second. With Wuesthoff on the bottom and Janssen in the middle, Riedner made it a three wide fight for second on lap 12. A lap later, Riedner was alone in the runner up position, setting his sights on Tate at the front. Continuing to use the outside groove, Riedner drew even with Tate on lap 15. While they battling for control, the sole caution of the race appeared with nine laps remaining. Riedner was scored the leader, thus restarting the race on the point with Tate filling up his rear view mirror. As racing resumed, Riedner remained in control while Tate tried to hold off Wuesthoff for second. As the checkers flew, it was Riedner for the win followed by Tate, Wuesthoff, Brandon Angileri and Janssen.
Watertown’s Bill Reynolds claimed the 12 lap Road Warrior feature event. Chad Olds grabbed control of the top spot on the opening lap with Reynolds quickly up to second. Reynolds chased Olds around the quarter mile speedway until lap eight when he got under the leader entering turn one. Reynolds powered into the lead exiting turn for to complete that lap with Mark Dewey trying to follow past Olds. Dewey managed to clear for second on lap nine, bringing Bill Sweeney along for the ride. But Reynolds had the field covered, cruising to the checkers to secure the win. Dewey finished second with Sweeney, Olds and Rodger Stephenson rounding out the top five.
Next Saturday, July 28, is a full program of racing presented by Harley Davidson of Madison. Time trials begin at 5pm with racing at 7pm sharp. Jefferson Speedway is located halfway between Jefferson and Cambridge on Hwy 18. Please visit jeffersonspeedway.com for more information.
-Jefferson Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Mark Melchiori