Gabe Sommers Racing made their annual trip to Kaukauna, WI for the Gandrud Auto Group
Dixieland 250 on Tuesday, August 1. Unloading in the pits at Wisconsin International Raceway
with six straight top ten finishes and the points lead with the Midwest Tour thus far in 2023, all
eyes were on the No. 15 alongside some heavy hitters from across North America that made
the haul alongside the co-sanctioning body of the ASA STARS National Tour for 250 laps of
Practice started off well enough for Gabe, timing in fifth on the speed charts in the first practice
in a stacked 27 car field. As would be the common theme for the handling of the car, Sommers
reported a loose racecar on the aged and abrasive track surface. The Travis Sauter led crew
went right to work, making changes to help Gabe become more comfortable and possibly find a
bit more speed. The second and final practice of the day became valuable track time for GSR,
and the changes made to the handling of the car were noticed, as Gabe slid into the third spot
on the leaderboard.
Qualifying was up next on the program, and coming off of a fast time at State Park Speedway in
the prior ASA Midwest Tour race, the team felt as if they had found their groove with their
qualifying package, regardless of the change to four barrel carburetors and the allowance of
grille tape. It was all up to the driver, and with a cool and collected attitude Gabe laid down a
18.844 second lap time, good enough for runner up honors at the end of the qualifying session.
Due to the redraw for the top eight competitors, the No. 15 would roll off from the seventh
position for the Gandrud Auto group 250. After driver introductions and a picturesque four wide
salute to the fans, the green flag dropped and all of a sudden it was “Late Model Showtime” in
Kaukauna, WI. A slow start further up the inside line checked up Sommers and company
heading off into turn one, costing him a few spots as he and the field avoided an accordion style
crash. Now back to tenth, Sommers calmly picked his way forward, making his best effort to
conserve his tires and car for the long race ahead. By lap 37/250, Gabe had rallied back to the
top five running positions, a group he would refuse to fault out of for the remainder of the race.
Stage racing and strategy calls dominated most of the first two thirds of the event, with Gabe in
constant communication with brother and spotter Max Sommers on the whereabouts of other
competitors, all the while giving crew chief Travis Sauter detailed feedback on the handling of
his car. Come the end of the second stage break, the team knew business was about to pick up.
Less than 100 laps to go and a lot of fresh tires created some spectacular battles throughout the
field, and a few crashes involving multiple cars still on the lead lap brought the field back
together as patience and tires faded in the closing laps.
Able to find his way to third, Sommers attempted to catch leaders Luke Fenhaus and Ty Majeski
while also fighting with a free racecar and a hard charging Derek Kraus. An ensuing final restart
saw the third position change hands soon after, and Gabe locked down the fourth position all
the way to the checkered flag, picking up another top five finish and retaining his ASA Midwest
Tour points lead. Patience and strategy played a large role in helping create a positive outcome
for Sommers, and allow the momentum to keep rolling into their next outing with the Midwest
Tour at Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, IA on August 19.