Gabe Sommers goes into Saturday’s ARCA Midwest Tour opener at State Park Speedway for the Larry Detjens Memorial as a recent winner in two different ways. Not only did he win last Saturday’s TUNDRA Super Late Model Series race at Jefferson Speedway, he is also the defending champion of the Detjens Memorial.
Over two months after the ARCA Midwest Tour season was set to begin at Madison International Speedway, their season will finally commence at State Park. Sommers has managed to stay busy behind the wheel during that time with some success. To go along with Saturday’s win, he finished third in the TUNDRA opener at Dells Raceway Park and also finished second in the Trickle 99 at Golden Sands Speedway on Memorial Day.
The Plover, WI driver joined Speed51’s “The Bullring” to talk about Saturday’s Detjens Memorial.
“I don’t think it’s hurt us too much, we’ve been working in the shop and got the cars pretty much perfect for each racetrack. I’m doing as much as I can on my part and Chris Wimmer’s been helping me in the shop,” Sommers said. “We’ve got the cars working really good and when we go to the track we’re really well-prepared.”
Sommers was the 2019 Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year off the heels of his win at State Park, while adding two wins and a runner-up points effort with TUNDRA. While racing season in the upper Midwest is still relatively young, 2020 is looking like it could be a breakout year for the 17-year-old. He currently leads the points standings in TUNDRA and is looking to start strong with Midwest Tour action.
“The car’s been really close, we’ve got to execute there at the end and put the setup together like we did here this last weekend. We worked on the car throughout practice and communication with us and Chris has been working very well this year.”
With a consolidated season due to COVID-19, Sommers expressed the importance of making each start count during the year. That includes Saturday’s Midwest Tour opener, where he looks to make it two straight in the Detjens Memorial.
“I think just being able to come out and knowing we have a limited amount of races and making the best of it is what’s important. We won that race last year and it would be cool to make it back-to-back this year and be able to win a Larry Detjens Memorial again.”
State Park Speedway takes its own character in a state filled with historic short tracks. The facility features a 1/3-mile flat track that puts on racing not seen anywhere else in Wisconsin. Sommers talks about what makes the racetrack unique from other tracks in the state.
“It’s a really small place, really low grip, really bumpy, not much banking. You’ve got to really race with a light pedal there or else your tires will be gone in like 50 laps. Setup means a lot there, and if you can try to get as much grip as you can there before the feature and save your tires until the last 20 laps, we should be able to be there at the end.
“The bottom is pretty preferred, trying to get the most grip coming out of four with the little bit of new concrete that there is. For restarts, you pretty much want to be on the bottom. You can race two-wide to maybe go for the lead but when you’re in the lead you want the bottom.”
As he starts his ARCA Midwest Tour championship chase Saturday, points will be on the back of his mind. The goal for 2020 is to win as many races as he can, and let the points work themselves out after Oktoberfest.
“I don’t really try to race for the championship, I just take it race-by-race and try to win. If you try to win each race you’ll be there at the end. I just race for the win every week.”
The ARCA Midwest Tour Larry Detjens Memorial at State Park Speedway will be live on Speed51, free for premium subscribers as part of Summer Thunder TV. Click here to subscribe today.
Click here to watch a replay of Monday’s episode of “The Bullring.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: ARCA Midwest Tour