Dalton Zehr Wins ASA National Championship
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In his first full-season of racing at Michigan’s Norway Speedway, Dalton Zehr dominated the late model division.
Zehr won 11 features en route to winning the ASA Member Track National Championship. The announcement was made Wednesday.
At his best, Zehr’s season included a six-race winning streak and he recorded 10 top-three and nine top-five finishes. He paced the ASA Member Track National Championship throughout the eight weeks of standings and finished with a 4.3540 average.
Zehr was born in Middleton, Idaho, grew up in Port Orange, Fla., and now splits his time between Port Orange and Menominee, Mich.. The 22-year-old driver earned his first track championship at Norway after running a part-time schedule the previous seven seasons.
“This is a great thrill for me and our race team,” said Zehr. “We were unaware of our position within the national championship until the halfway point of the season but once we realized we had a shot we stepped up our efforts and kept our noses to the ground and battled our way to the track title and the national championship.
“I really want to thank my team owner Joe Nechodom of Racetech Chassis for giving me the opportunity to run all season long at Norway Speedway and also Gene Adcock who brought Joe and me together last off-season. I also owe a special thanks to Gene Coleman for his years of mentoring. I don’t think I would be a champion without Gene’s guidance.”
It is also the first national championship for Norway Speedway, a slightly banked one-third-mile asphalt oval located at the Dickinson County Fairgrounds in Norway, Mich. The track, originally built as a dirt track in 1942, was blacktopped in 1979.
“This is great recognition for Dalton and all of us at Norway Speedway,” said Caleb Fulcher, the treasurer for the Dickinson County Racing Ass’n. “As a club run venue we are very proud of the great car counts and strong competition we offer race fans each week. It feels good to share this great news with all of our board members.
“It is a pleasure to be a part of the ASA racing family and our association with ASA has made a difference for us as a weekly racing facility.”
“It is always an exciting day when we get to call the ASA Member Track National Champion and this year’s champion, Dalton Zehr, is well-deserved,” said Dennis Huth, ASA president. “I’ve gotten to know Dalton and his family and I know the efforts they have put into racing and supporting the ASA program so I want to congratulate not only Dalton but the entire Zehr family.”
Though he led the ASA Member Track National Championship from its 2013 debut on Aug. 9, he faced a tough battle from Ryan Stiltner (Lonesome Pine Raceway), Jeremy Lepak (State Park Speedway) and Shelby Stroebel (Meridian Speedway) down the stretch.
With Zehr, Stiltner was the only driver to be in the ASA Member Track National Championship standings each week and finished with a 3.7791 average. The four-year veteran at Lonesome Pine Raceway ran 16 times with seven wins, 12 top threes and 15 top fives in the late models at the three-eighths-mile asphalt oval in Coeburn, Va.
Stroebel, who joined the standings in week three, visited victory lane 10 times in 13 races with 11 top-three finishes running the modifieds at the quarter-mile asphalt oval in Meridian, Idaho. The 2012 ASA Member Track National Champion has won 27 of 30 features, including all 14 in 2012, dating back to late in the 2011 season.
Lepak was one of three — Mark Mackesy and Ryan Hinner were the others — State Park Speedway drivers to hold a position in the standings at various times and joined the top five on Sept. 6, week five of the standings. He ran 10 times, earned one win and seven top-five finishes at the quarter-mile asphalt oval just outside Wausau, Wis.
While racing with his family in Florida where they moved when he was 11 years old, Zehr’s skills, talent and demeanor caught the eye of Gene Coleman of Coleman Racing Products. Through the years it developed to a point where Zehr began driving Coleman’s personal race cars and they ran numerous events at what Coleman considers his home track, Norway Speedway.
During the 2012 offseason Zehr was approached by Joe Nechodom of Racetech Chassis to pilot their house car and compete for the 2013 championship.
Although his 2014 plans have not been finalized, Zehr confirmed he will be back at Norway Speedway for select events and he will be running the entire TUNDRA Super Late Model touring series after finishing runner-up in the points the past two seasons.