Portage, WI — There is something to be said about home track advantage. But when it comes to the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series events at Wisconsin International Raceway, no one seems to have a leg up, except Dennis Prunty, of course.
The top runners of WIR are looking to change the course of history this Saturday, May 15 when TUNDRA heads to their home track for Great Lakes Testing Round One. With the likes of 2020 Thursday Night Fox River Racing Club Champion Bobby Kendall, 2020 Red, White and Blue State Champion Jesse Oudenhoven, 2017 track Champion Andy Monday and others in the mix, there should be plenty of local flavor up front.
“We want to keep the trophy here, first and foremost,” Monday said. “We feel we should be able to beat all of those guys because we’re here 15 nights a year and they only come once or twice. That should give us the upper hand, but it is nice racing with some different guys who have a lot of experience around the Midwest, that have won multiple Championships and features.”
Monday fared the best of any regular in TUNDRA’s visit to WIR last September. He qualified Second behind Riley Stenjem and rounded out the podium behind Dennis Prunty and Justin Mondeik. Although he was carrying the torch for the locals, he was surrounded by outsiders in qualifying and the dash.
The last WIR regular to score a win in the race was the Chase Motorsports machine in 2014, piloted by TUNDRA regular Dalton Zehr. Ty Majeski, Steve Apel, and Dennis Prunty have visited victory lane since. Having seen the trophy leave town, the WIR regulars are more focused on the prize and are closer to a win, says Monday.
We’re coming out here to win. We’ve had a Top Five car the last few times,” Monday said. “Now it’s time to get the monkey off our back and get the win. It’s going to be a stout field of cars, and with it being the season opener everyone is going to have fresh stuff.”
Perhaps one of the two WIR Champions from a season ago will be the ones to finish the task. Neither Kendall nor Oudenhoven were able to compete in the event last season, but they’re ready to be up front come Saturday.
“We like to run this TUNDRA race every year. The TUNDRA series puts on a really great show, and the competition gets better and better every single year,” Oudenhoven said. “You’ve got guys like Casey (Johnson), (Colin) Reffner, Jordan Thiel, and all these guys that are knocking on the door. We have the speed now and have no reason to believe that we’re not going to be the favorite coming into the race.”
Oudenhoven has shown tremendous improvement and speed the last two seasons. He claimed his first Red, White and Blue title in impressive fashion last year and was a threat every Thursday night.
“We had a part-time year a couple years ago. We maybe needed to take that step back and try some different things,” Oudenhoven said. “As far as the Red, White and Blue Series last year, it was just mostly consistency. The car was really fast those nights and for whatever reason the longer races, the car stays very consistent. We eat up a lot of guys late in the race, and that’s exactly what you’ve got to do to be fast and Championship caliber.”
Oudenhoven said he’s hoping to find success at his home track and carry it into Marshfield, which is also cemented into his schedule. Success at those races may turn him into both a WIR and TUNDRA regular.
“I love running Kaukauna with the high speeds; you have a high braking, high acceleration,” Oudenhoven said. “When it comes to Marhsfield, it’s totally different where you have long, sweeping flat turns, three-wide racing all over the place, so it’s two different animals. They’re nice big tracks. If we do well at both of them, you’ll probably see us at the rest of the TUNDRA races.”
Kendall, who tows to WIR each week from Montello, is no stranger to success in the Red, White and Blue series and longer races himself. He dominated the White Race last season and is a two-time RWB Champion himself. Last year he and his team put together a memorable season on their way to the title.
“I think our biggest improvements came in the off seasons, the team and myself put a lot of work into the car to get the results we wanted during the season,” Kendall said. “We also got up here to test a little more and I was able get more involved in the suspension part of it and figure out exactly what I wanted.”
Kendall may be the most familiar with TUNDRA action having run a total of 26 series events since it began in 2011. He set fast time and cruised to a Second Place finish the first time TUNDRA visited WIR in 2014.
“It’s going to be a little tougher competition than a weekly field, although we have a very tough field of super late models here on a Thursday night,” Kendall said “But I feel like we did what we had to do to improve on last year. We had a really good test up there this last weekend and I feel good about the car, so I expect us to be up there competing for the top spot.”
Although the TUNDRA regulars are a threat themselves, many eyes of the locals are on Dennis Prunty. Prunty competed in just one TUNDRA event last year, which was his third straight win in the event.
“It’s always a fun race and good battle, and we’ve got to get that 42 car out of Victory Lane,” Moday said. “What is it, three in a row for that guy? Chuck Norris, we’re taking the trophy from you.
Monday, Oudenhoven, Kendall and their fellow WIR regulars welcome TUNDRA into town this Saturday, May 15. Qualifying takes place at 12:30 pm with racing to follow at 2 pm. TUNDRA will be joined by the WIR ¼-Mile Late Models, Wisconsin Sport Trucks, and Midwest Dash Series.
-TUNDRA Press Release
-Photo Credit: Ricky Bassman