“I just need one chance.”
That’s the mindset of most race car drivers when they think about the possibility of moving into the highest levels of NASCAR. Dalton Zehr, the 2014 TUNDRA Super Late Model Series champion, may be getting that one chance during the early stages of the 2015 racing season.
Zehr will be racing the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) on February 15 for Ted Marsh and Marsh Racing. Zehr will be behind the wheel of the No. 36 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet.
“We’ve been good friends with Teddy for a long time,” Zehr told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’re always getting together. This deal came up and they offered me the ride to run that race and I was excited to get the opportunity to drive a K&N car again.”
This is not the first time that Marsh and Zehr will have raced together. Zehr ran Marsh’s car in the inaugural Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway (FL) in 2013. Zehr ran strong in that race before a flat tire derailed his good run and left him multiple laps down to the leaders.
“Last time we kind of had some issues during the race that put us a few laps down and we were just never able to recover from that,” said Zehr.
Zehr, who just recently turned 24, said that as of now this is just a one race deal with Marsh racing, but he’s hoping it could turn into more down the line.
“We are starting out with the one race and then going from there,” said Zehr. “I’d love to go K&N racing full time just to keep climbing that ladder.”
Zehr thinks this could be the race where he proves he should be in this series. He grew up in Port Orange, just a few minutes away from New Smyrna Speedway, and has logged a bunch of laps at the fast half-mile oval. Though, he’s quick to admit that the track is now very different from how it was when he raced there frequently.
“That track has changed a lot since the last time I was down there,” he said. “The groove has moved all over the place. But the track is still familiar. I still know the basic line of how to get around there. That’s an advantage.
“Any time a track is familiar to you it makes a significant difference. And the K&N Series has only raced there once I believe so it’s not like there’s going to be any K&N teams that are extremely dialed in.”
Zehr said he isn’t expecting to arrive in February and win the race. He just wants to have a smooth race to show that he belongs in this series.
“I’d be satisfied with a top five,” he said. “I’d be ecstatic with a podium finish. I’d like to put up a good mark just to say that I belong there. I’m ready for the next level.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Eamon Bauman Photo