WEST SALEM, Wis. (July 29, 2014) – Reagan May’s much-heralded first TUNDRA Super Late Model Series win from Saturday at LaCrosse Speedway was the biggest of many storylines to emerge from Round Five Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes and Habelman Brothers Company Cranberries. However, the plot was much deeper than the rookie grabbing her first TUNDRA checkered flag.
Heat Races May Have Told the Story
Due to starting all 27 cars in the Johnny’s Hobbies 40, TUNDRA officials made the call to run heat races in order to give the drivers some more track time. The two most dominant cars in the heat race turned out to be two of the strongest in the feature.
After LaCrosse local Brad Powell grabbed the dash win the first heat hit the track. Although it looked like 2012 TUNDRA Champion Dennis Prunty was going to cruise to an easy win, Dalton Zehr slowly picked his way through the field and challenged Prunty on the last lap. He made a daring pass exiting turn four and beat Prunty to the line. Zehr later went on to move from 13th to third in the feature.
May went on to dominate the second heat, as well. She was locked into an early battle with Michael Bilderback, but escaped about halfway through to cruise to the win. The heat also saw eventual feature runner-up Adam Royle finish second.
Reuvers Makes a Late Run
Had Donny Reuvers started his charge to the front a little earlier in the race, he may have had a chance to challenge May for the win. In the final 10 laps no car looked more impressive than the one being piloted by the nine-time Elko Speedway Champion. On the last restart Reuvers moved up into the top six. He watched a furious battle erupt between Zehr and Ty Majeski in front of him. Once it broke loose, Reuvers stole third by diving below both scrambling drivers. He went on to challenge Royle over the final circuits, but ran out of time to continue his charge.
Return of the Champ
Dennis Prunty had a strong return to TUNDRA action. The former Champ made his first start of the year as a substitute for Brent Strelka. Prunty started the feature 12th and patiently waited to move into the top ten. He was also able to slide through the pack late and ended up in the sixth position. The strong effort was good enough to move him and his teammate to ninth in TUNDRA standings. Strelka will return for Marshfield and Prunty will round out the season at Dells Raceway Park and Slinger Speedway.
Defending Champ Survives Scare
Last season’s race at LaCrosse served as a jump in momentum for Nick Panitzke to eventually grab the TUNDRA title. This season’s event almost dashed his title hopes completely. After qualifying, Panitzke lost the power plant in his machine. He and his team searched the pits frantically for a ride to keep his title hopes alive.
Enter Round Two winner and a pit member for Panitzke one season ago Michael Bilderback. Bilderback, who has experienced tough luck of his own this year, gave up his ride to Panitzke. Although he was in and out of the pits all race long, Panitzke was able to salvage a 19th-place finish. He fell from third to a tie for fourth, 21 points to 41 points back of Zehr. However, his title hopes remained alive with three races still left in 2014.
More Bad Luck for Top Runners
Panitzke wasn’t the only top point getter to have a rough day at LaCrosse. Just 16 points back Eugene Gregorich Jr. looked as though he was ready to cut away at Zehr’s point lead early in the day. Gregorich qualified third and chopped into the point lead early. After running in the top five through the midway point of the race, Gregorich had troubles and fell out of the top ten. He was forced to settle for 14th.
Sixth-place driver Brandon Selle also was looking to gain some points, and did so early in the day by qualifying the fastest. Just like Gregorich, Selle looked strong early in the race. He jumped up into the top five and looked as though he would keep the streak of strong runs by fast qualifiers alive. However, something was ailing on Selle’s machine and he fell back to 12th late in the race.
Another Shift in the Rookie Battle
Dean’s Satellite Rookie Tom Gee had been leading the standings coming into the event, but was forced to call it an early night with a damaged rear end on his car. Due to this and May’s win, Gee fell to second in the rookie standings. This also allowed Mike Lichtfeld to close in. May holds a 17-point advantage over Gee and a 19-point advantage over Lichtfeld.
Majeski’s Solid Night
The feature portion of the night started off great for Ty Majeski. He charged through the field and grabbed the lead from Cole Howland to take his first LaCrosse Late Model feature win of the year. He got out of the car, gave a quick interview and ran to his TUNDRA Super Late Model. Majeski was able to hang in the top five for most of the race and held on to a fourth-place finish. His effort moved him and his teammate Mark Mackesy to second in standings. They sit 27 points behind Zehr.
LaCrosse Locals Struggle
While Majeski enjoyed a good night at his home away from home, his fellow drivers from LaCrosse experienced bad luck. Just like Panitzke, J. Herbst and Brad Powell were in and out of the pits throughout the 40-lap feature. Both drivers had their strong moments, including Powell’s dash win, but struggled during the main.
Rasmussen Enjoys Best TUNDRA Finish
Morgan Rasmussen picked up his first top ten in his short TUNDRA career with a seventh-place finish on Saturday night. The 19-year-old from Twin Falls, Idaho also qualified in the top ten.
It was a good night for the female drivers of TUNDRA. Kelsey Bauer enjoyed her best career TUNDRA finish by piloting her way to 11th. Her previous best was a 12th-place finish in her TUNDRA debut in Round One of 2012.
Jankowski in the Top Ten
Making his return to the track where he was a Sportsman Champion, Corey Jankowski picked through the field to finish tenth. The colorful Jankowski was all smiles after the event. As he was pulling from his pit stall he stopped his hauler, spotting the 6-foot trophy sitting next to Reagan May’s ride. He jumped out, gave her a hearty congratulations and posed for a picture.
TUNDRA goes back-to-back for the first time in series history as it heads to Marshfield Motor Speedway this Saturday, August 2. Round Six Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes has qualifying scheduled for 6 p.m. and racing slated for 7:30. TUNDRA will be joined by the Marshfield Pure Stocks, Xtreme 4s and Bandits.
Marshfield Motor Speedway is located at 10853 Cty Road H just outside of Marshfield, Wis. For more information visit www.marshfieldspeedway.com.
– TUNDRA Super Late Models Press Release Photo: Eamon Bauman/TUNDRA Super Late Model Series