JEFFERSON, Wis. – Casey Johnson became the first driver to capture fast time and a feature win in a TUNDRA Super Late Model Series event since Corey Jankowski accomplished the feat at Dells Raceway Park on September 10, 2011 (then the Alive For Five Series).
Although Johnson deservingly dominated the headlines with his feature win, plenty of other stories emerged from an adventurous Round Three last Saturday.
Point Lead Tie
The race at the top of the TUNDRA standings closed up in a big way at Jefferson. Eugene Gregorich Jr. and Dalton Zehr exited Wisconsin’s Action Track tied in standings. Bobby Kendall, who led standings after Round One at WIR, is only five points back of the lead duo. Last year’s Champion Nick Panitzke moved to fourth, just nine points out of the lead, and the team of Ty Majeski and Mark Mackesy sit fifth only 16 points back.
New Track Record
The Two-time Jefferson Champion just slipped below the cut line for a new TUNDRA track record in qualifying. Johnson’s quick time of 13.750 was just enough to take those honors from Dalton Zehr. Zehr had set the mark last season at 13.777 seconds.
Majeski Doubles Down
One night after finishing second at Grundy County Speedway Ty Majeski picked up his best career TUNDRA finish by claiming the runner-up spot at Jefferson. Majeski had two restarts to try to hang with Johnson, but claimed his car was too tight to keep up with the eventual race winner. The finish propelled him (and his teammate Mark Mackesy) from tenth to fifth in TUNDRA standings.
Another Rookie in the Top Five
Late in the 60-lap feature at Jefferson Mike Lichtfeld was able to hold off Billy Mohn and record a TUNDRA career-best fifth-place finish. Lichtfeld’s finish marks the third time in three races a Dean’s Satellite Rookie has secured a spot in the top five. Last season rookies recorded only two top fives. Those came in the same race in Round Four at Golden Sands on July 19.
Another Career Best
Jordan Ives continues to improve as his young Super Late Model career progresses. The 16-year-old Upper Michigan native picked up his best TUNDRA feature finish at Jefferson. After spending most of the race near the top five, Ives recorded a seventh place finish. His run put him into 12th in TUNDRA standings.
Not Just Johnson
Two other Jefferson locals and semi-regulars tried their hand with the TUNDRA Super Late Models. Trent Erdman fared the best, grabbing an eighth-place finish. Tyler James finished 16th.
Two melees and a called back start clouded the start of the 60-lap main. No one was more anxious to see the green flag stay out than outside-pole-sitter Mike Lichtfeld. Through the first set of starts Lichtfeld saw three different drivers to his inside. Eventually Lichtfeld got away from Steve Rubeck to lead the first 13 laps of the feature before he was passed by Johnson.
Hauling the Mail Through the Field
In racing bad luck for one means good luck for another. Bad luck for those in the front ended up being beneficial for Zehr and last year’s Jefferson winner Nick Panitzke. Both drivers started behind the 13-car invert, but avoided the early melees and dashed to top five spots.
Panitzke may have had the most eventful feature. About halfway through the event he and TUNDRA point leader Eugene Gregorich Jr. tangled resulting in a spin. Gregorich took the gentelmen’s agreement, giving Panitzke his spot back. Panitzke went on to hold that position and amass the maximum amount of passing points.
Things were hectic even before the green flag fell at Jefferson. During driver introductions Travis Dassow and team noticed a flat right front on his Super Late Model. As other drivers strapped in the team was able to change the tire in the pit area. Just before the command was given to fire engines, Nick Panitzke noticed a malfunctioning radio in his car. He had that quickly swapped and was able to have communications throughout the race.
Bad Luck for Lepak
One team was not able to make a fix before the racing began at Jefferson. Jeremy Lepak experienced troubles with his machine during the first practice session, and needed to be pushed back to the pit area. Even through the rain delay his team worked to fix his machine and salvage the day. Unfortunately the problems were deemed terminal and Lepak was unable to continue the event.
For the first time since the Alive For Five Series at Dells Raceway Park, TUNDRA held heat races as part of the event. Although the heat races were deemed as an extra session of laps for drivers to familiarize themselves with Wisconsin’s Action Track, they weren’t without excitement. Panitzke made a last-lap, last-turn pass on Steve Licthtfeld to claim victory in the first heat. In the second heat Reagan May was greeted by a large round of applause for visiting Victory Lane. Michael Bilderback emerged victorious in the Fast Five Dash.
For the first time in its brief history TUNDRA will exit the borders of Wisconsin and hold an event at Norway Speedway in Upper Michigan. Norway Speedway sits on the Dickinson County Fairgrounds less than two miles over the state line of Wisconsin and Michigan.
TUNDRA will have the honor of being on hand for Norway’s biggest race of every season – the Stateline Challenge presented by Island Resort and Casino. Past winners include Dick Trickle, Scott Hansen, Matt Kenseth, 12-time WIR Champion Terry Baldry and 7-time Norway Champion Jamie Iverson. Qualifying begins at 5:45 with racing beginning at 7 p.m
The Unified Northern Drivers Racing Association (TUNDRA) Super Late Model Series was formed in 2011 as the Alive For Five Super Late Model Series at Dells Raceway Park. TUNDRA’s business plan is based on a sustainable program for promoters and race teams alike, while still providing high-quality Super Late Model entertainment to fans.
For more information on TUNDRA including news, results and the 2014 standings, archived results and standings, and more visit www.tundrasuperlates.com. Also, interact with us on Facebook (facebook.com/TundraSuperLateModels) or Twitter (@TUNDRAslms).
Series PR – (Doug Hornickel photo)