Gabe Sommers has been on somewhat of a tear in 2023, making his name known throughout
the Midwest in the Super Late Model ranks, and taking off challengers from across the country
on his home turf. Only one thing had eluded Gabe and his team in the “Summer of Sommers”
tour rolling into Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s Hawkeye Downs Speedway; a win. While battling for the
lead on a half dozen occasions and building up a large points lead heading into the final five
events on the tour’s calendar, the team had yet to break through for a trophy. Finally, that all
changed at the conclusion of the “Hawkeye 100”.
As one of the furthest commutes to an event that the Midwest Tour will see this season, and the
lack of a weekly Super Late Model division, Hawkeye Downs is unique in the fact that, outside
of the sole constant in local shoe Griffin McGrath, you never really know who you may see at
the top of the speed charts. It makes for a somewhat level playing field for teams, and often the
race is determined by how the driver reacts to a rapidly changing track during the 100 lap main
The first practice kicked off quietly for the GSR No. 15 machine, timing in with a 19.290, just a
hair over two tenths off of the fastest posted time in the session, and in tenth place. That
lackluster result seemed to kick the crew into high gear, and a few changes and a practice
session later found Gabe skip ahead of a few drivers, landing himself in the fourth position in a
sixteen car field. Confidence was beginning to show in the Sommers pit, with the direction found
that the driver and machine meshed with.
Qualifying kicked off hot and heavy, with many competitors timing in with laps mere thousandths
apart from each other, Gabe was able to hit the jets and lay down the fastest lap, earning his
third “Quick Time” of the season with the ASA Midwest Tour with an 18.740 second lap, and
average speed of 96.05 MPH. This would place him into the “Odd Heat”, shotgun on the field.
Sommers was able to roll from seventh to fourth by the end of the ten lap sprint, aware of the
need to save tires for later on in the program.
After a solid invert of twelve, Gabe would roll off from the outside of the sixth row for the
Hawkeye 100. With a couple small changes made before heading on track and a strategy in
place, everyone had high hopes for the No. 15. Starting slow and saving your equipment was
the name of the game, and Sommers played it well. Plucking his way up to tenth by lap 10/100,
he got the itch to pick it up while the field was still close at hand, and spots could be grabbed
without much trouble. On the 27th lap, the No. 15 blinked into the fifth spot on the scoreboard,
with a head of steam behind him.
Just thirty laps later, Gabe had slowly reeled in the No. 81 car for the top spot. Clearing him on
lap 60, it was now time to conserve what was left. A caution soon after saw an intense battle for
the lead between Gabe and Riley Stenjem, but as the field stretched out, the No. 15 poked its
nose ahead and away from the pack. The laps wound down quickly, and with a bubble of seven
tenths of a second to the next closest car, Gabe Sommers crossed the line as a winner for the
first time this season. A great points day, a jubilant crew and driver, and a decisive victory in
Cedar Rapids was exactly what GSR needed, and it appears they have rounded the corner and
gotten over that final hump left in their way.
The momentum and confidence has never been higher for the group, and they look to carry it all
into the hallowed grounds of Madison International Speedway for the Howie Lettow Classic 100
with the ‘Stars and Cars’ of the ASA Midwest Tour, alongside a 66 point lead in the
championship standings. Catch it in person or live on MidwestTour.tv on Friday, August 25 at 6