Florida native turned Michigan-based racer Dalton Zehr emerged from one of the tightest Super Late Model points battles in recent memory to win the 2018 ARCA Midwest Tour championship. After scaling back his racing schedule to crew chief for Wisconsin racer John Beale, Zehr will make his first Midwest Tour start of the season this weekend at The Milwaukee Mile (WI).
Zehr has talked about the Father’s Day 100 ever since the announcement that racing would return to the famed Wisconsin oval. He is excited to race at the Mile, and he has been talking to race fans convincing them to make the trip as well.
“I’ve been talking about this race since the beginning of the season,” Zehr told Speed51.com. “Every time I talk to race fans, I’ve been telling them to go to this race because you never know, we might not get the chance to race on it again or go to the races there again.”
Racing on a mile-long track has its challenges for cars that don’t normally race on anything bigger than a half-mile. Zehr plans on taking this race like it’s the first race of the season, as 100 miles can take a toll on a Super Late Model.
“I try to enter that race with as fresh of a car as possible like it’s the beginning of the season,” he said. “At the end of the race, everything’s going to be at its limits, so it’s important to start the race as fresh as possible.”
After finishing runner-up in the Midwest Tour points in 2017 off the heels of his first two career series wins, Zehr emerged on top of a tight points battle within the top five to win his first Tour championship. His only win came at Grundy County Speedway (IL) in late August, but believes he was in contention to win every race.
Zehr’s championship has given him new confidence going to the racetrack. Now seen as one of the drivers to beat come Sunday, he is ready to show what he and his team are capable of.
“It was kind of a roller coaster of a year and to come away with the championship, we had some mechanical failures and we’re very fortunate to have won the championship,” he said. “At the same time, we were a contender at every race. I feel like a lot of people will be watching us come Sunday feeling like we’re a car to beat, and all you can really ask for as a driver is for your competitors to be watching you.”
This will be Zehr’s second start at the Milwaukee Mile, with the other coming back in 2009. He sees Sunday’s Father’s Day 100 as a chance for redemption after struggling in his only start ten years ago. He feels the added practice time on Saturday will help drivers like himself with limited or no experience on a bigger track learn what they need in their cars.
“I’ve been on the Mile once before when I was 18 and I really struggled there,” Zehr said. “It was my first big track and I think I finished as the last car on the lead lap. I’m looking forward to go back there for redemption. That’s the way I’m kind of looking at it.”
“I’ve got some experience under my belt now, we’ll actually have some practice time come Saturday so guys like myself who don’t have a lot of big track experience can get the setup right in these cars,” he continued, “I mean I don’t know where to start. The three hours of practice will make a big difference for the guys that don’t have any experience at these kind of tracks.”
A win at The Milwaukee Mile would be the biggest win for Zehr’s career. With the return of the famous Mile and family making the trip north from Florida, the win would mean everything to the reigning ARCA Midwest Tour champion as he looks to join an exclusive club.
“It would definitely be the biggest win of my career,” he said. “It so happens that I’ve got a lot of family coming in, so it would be pretty cool to be able to win it with them being there, and also to win a race at The Milwaukee Mile. There’s not very many drivers who can say that.”
Race fans unable to make the trip to West Allis, Wisconsin for the Father’s Day 100 can watch the event on Speed51 via a pay-per-view broadcast. Click here to order your video ticket today.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo