MORRIS, Ill. — Dalton Zehr became the fifth different winner of the ARCA Midwest Tour season on Saturday night as he won a wild Wayne Carter Classic at Grundy County Speedway.
Zehr held off a late charge from Jonathan Eilen to get his first victory of the season and third overall.
Zehr took the lead on lap seven from Andrew Morrissey and led the last 93 laps en route to the checkered flag. After he took the lead, he had to fend off restart challenges from Andrew Morrissey, Eilen and Anthony Danta as the race was slowed ten times for cautions during the event.
On each of the restarts, Zehr would get a good jump out to the lead and would not be challenged for the top spot, including the final 42 laps that went green flag as Eilen was only able to get within a couple of car lengths as they both weaved through lapped traffic at the finish.
“We were fortunate enough to get a good initial start, and on the second re-start, we were second row outside and inherited second and it was just Morrissey ahead of me and we were able to get by him before the next yellow,” Zehr said. “We got the lead on lap seven, which was a great place to save tires and be prepared for that long run at the end.”
As top two drove past the lapped cars near the end of the race, Zehr wasn’t worried about Eilen catching him.
“It was hard to pass the lapped cars at the end there. My right rear was pissed off, it wasn’t hooking up as good, and I looked in the mirror knowing I was doing better through traffic,” Zehr explained. “The only way Eilen could catch me was if I got racing the lapped traffic. So, I just let them stay single file and let them turn their best lap, knowing I would stay ahead.”
Eilen was hoping to chase down Zehr and challenge for the win but was satisfied with his finish.
“The car was really strong on the long runs, but those cautions killed us and the lapped cars at the end,” Eilen said. “All in all, second is not bad, but when you got a car that good, it just hurts because these races are hard to win.”
Andrew Morrissey held off fast-qualifier Paul Shafer Jr. for third.
“The car was free all night. If I didn’t start up front, I probably would not have finished up there,” Morrissey said. “I held on to it the best I could and keep the tires on it to finish third.”
Shafer was fourth with Anthony Danta rounding out the top five.
For Zehr, he is proud to have his name on the list of winners, which is a who’s who of short-track racing, of the Wayne Carter Classic.
“You know…it’s really cool,” Zehr said. “Now that I have my name on the winner’s list for a signature event like this one, I really want to go out there and get my name on the other ones.”