Gabe Sommers Racing headed to Wausau, Wisconsin’s State Park Speedway for the 2023
edition of the Larry Detjens Memorial this past Saturday, July 22. A technical quarter mile hidden
at the base of mountainous backdrop, SPS is well known for its aged and abrasive surface, one
that puts the ability to find speed just as much on the driver’s ability to conserve tires as the
setup in the car.
The winner of the 2019 edition of the Midwest Tour’s Larry Detjens Memorial 125, Gabe rolled
onto the speedway grounds with fifteen previous starts at State Park Speedway between the
Midwest Truck Series and multiple Super Late Model touring series, with five Top 5s, and
thirteen Top 10s. Always one to find himself working through the tight traffic that the track
creates, he was ready for what laid ahead in the program.
Sommers kicked off the first practice of the day in sixth place, getting notes and data for the
team’s baseline setup. As soon as the No. 15 got back to its pit slab, the GSR crew, led by
Travis Sauter, got right to work on their machine, listening carefully to Gabe’s feedback in order
to make handling improvements and find more speed. The second and final practice of the day
saw Gabe climb up one notch on the speed charts and into the top five, running just seven laps
in preparation for qualifying.
Ready to roll out for qualifying, GSR had a good feeling about both the driver and car’s abilities
to tackle the field and track for their fastest two laps of the night. The feeling of confidence was
confirmed and turned into jubilation, with the No. 15 laying down an absolutely blistering lap of
13.531, taking top honors in qualifying by over a tenth of a second.
The heat race was uneventful for Sommers, starting shotgun on the field with no intentions of
using up his four Hoosier tires by racing hard with no consequences for his feature starting spot
later on in the night. A quiet sixth place was taken as a result with GSR already focusing on the
125 lap feature later in the program.
Rolling off from the outside of the sixth row after a hefty invert roll, Gabe started his race at a
modest pace, slowly picking his way up the order through tight side by side traffic, making sure
to conserve tire. By lap 15, Sommers had managed to crack the top ten spots, and slightly
elevated his pace as the field worked themselves down to a mostly single file procession around
the quarter mile bullring. Just 25 laps later, the No. 15 had already made its way up to the fifth
spot in the running order, still without a caution to aid a strung out field.
The race continued on in this fashion as Gabe worked up to second place before the first
caution came out on lap 117/125 for leader John Beale spinning the lap car of Rayce Haase.
The field stacked up and went back green as Sommers went to work on the No. 5 of Beale for
the lead. With a car that was able to come through the field and track down the leader from well
over a second deficit during the 117 lap green flag run, Sommers was able to stick the nose
under off of turn two with just four laps to go. Slight contact was made, and the No. 5 went
around on the backstretch. The resulting call was both cars being sent to the back for the
incident. With the No. 15 back in the rear of the field, and chances dashed at a win, Sommers
was forced to accept a ninth place finish as the checkered flag.flew.
Despite the end result, the team and driver did everything in their power to bring home a trophy,
coming just a few laps short of the win. They’ll take the momentum and points lead over to
Wisconsin International Raceway on Tuesday, August 1 for the ASA STARS National Tour’s
Dixieland 250, live on Racing America and MidwestTour.TV.