Dalton Zehr told the crowd at the second 10-minute break in the Thunderstruck 93 at Elko Speedway that he felt he had the fastest car out there. He backed up what he said when by passing Ty Majeski with 17 laps to go and become the fifth different winner of the ninth annual event.
Majeski settled for second and that was enough to clinch his fourth consecutive ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment championship.
The 125-lap event was broken into three segments with two 10-minute breaks at lap 39 and 93, the car numbers of the late Dan Ryan, whom this event was in honor of after losing his battle to ALS in 2009.
With the event broken into three different segments, Zehr and his team used a tire strategy that helped him work his way to the front.
Zehr started 12th and worked his way up to third by the first break on lap 39. Zehr was actually challenging Jacob Goede for the second spot when the caution flew for the break.
Up front, it was Jonathan Eilen leading the way as he led the first 66 laps of the event.
Eilen would lose the lead on a restart from a caution where Dennis Prunty and Ricky Baker made contact going into turn one, causing Baker to make hard contact with the wall. Baker went off on the hook and Prunty was sent to the rear.
On the restart, Majeski started on the inside of Eilen and jumped to the lead coming out of turn two.
Majeski held on to the top spot until the final break on lap 93 with Zehr chasing him down for the top spot.
On the restart, Majeski jumped out ahead of Zehr going into turn one. On lap 102, Zehr started to peak to the inside of Majeski for the lead. The two drivers raced side-by-side until Zehr put his car out in front of the new four-time champion.
Zehr’s run to the checkered flag came to a halt with six laps to go after Chris Weinkauf and Dan Fredrickson made contact in turn two while battling for third. The contact caused Fredrickson to spin and bring out the caution. Both drivers were sent to the rear of the field.
On the single file restart, Majeski gave it the old college try to get the lead back, but Zehr protected his line and then some in turns three and four slowing Majeski’s progress to the front.
Zehr would get a car length lead with two laps to go and go on to capture his second ARCA Midwest Tour victory in the last three starts.
“It was a good battle. I felt like I had the quicker car. Ty could beat me on the first four laps and then I was faster from there to about 15 laps in and it felt like he was gaining back on me until that final yellow came out,” Zehr said in victory lane. “On the last restart, I knew I had to hang on for three laps, but after that we were able to pull away and get the win.”
Zehr respected Majeski on the close, clean battle the two had for the lead.
“When I was racing him, and trying to pass him, it was tight, he ran me tight a couple of times,” Zehr explained. “Ty and I have raced each other a lot and we really know how to race each other without boogering each other up.”
Majeski agree with Zehr after the race.
“His car definitely had more forward drive, it was a little tight on the beginning of a run. I kind of peaked under him in turn two, but he did a pretty good job of pinching me down. He was giving me about three-quarters of a width of a car when I was underneath him, but I would have done the same thing to try to win the race. I didn’t want to spin him or anything like that, he had the better car tonight. We tried to make something happen, but he had the better car tonight.”
Eilen was able to hold on to finish third.
“It was definitely a good run, obviously it wasn’t a win, but we came close and we are gaining on it,” a smiling Eilen said after the race. “We had a slump coming into Elko, especially with this race, but it was great to have a finish like this in front of the home crowd.”
Billy Mohn had a great run to finish fourth and Goede rounded out the top five.
Zehr joins Fredrickson, Goede, Majeski and Andrew Morrissey as winners of this event.
For Majeski, wrapping up his fourth consecutive title was a huge tribute to his team.
“This is just a testament to my whole team, they do a great job back at the shop. Races are always won back at the shop and I can’t thank all of those guys enough, they bust their butts for me,” Majeski said. “It means a lot for me to come back here and also try to bring them with as well. Toby (Nuttleman, crew chief) is part of our XFINITY stuff and he tries to come to every single race. It’s been a really cool last few months for us and moving my career forward.”
The season finale for the ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment will take place at the 48th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend at the La Crosse Fairground Speedway in West Salem, WI. The ARCA Midwest Tour will be on track on October 7-8.
Make your plans now to be a part of this annual event that runs from October 5-8. More details can be found at oktoberfestraceweekend.com.
Visit midwesttour.racing for the full schedule and be sure to follow the ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment on Facebook (/midwesttour) and Twitter (@midwesttour).