A brisk day October afternoon set the stage at Dells Raceway Park for the final race of the 2023 Alive For 5 Super Late Model season. Coming off of a solid practice day on Friday, Saturday’s festivities looked to be bright for Gabe Sommers and his No. 15 team.
Sporting the fan favorite “KT Car” for the Falloween 150, Sommers’ mission was to stay as hot as the livery on his racecar, fresh off of a successful Oktoberfest weekend, which saw GSR take home the win on Sunday and the 2023 ASA Midwest Tour Championship.
A mild forecast that kept the air temperature under 50 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the day would mean the fans would be treated to a chilly seat in the stands, but the action on track did plenty to heat up the ⅓ mile bullring. Starting off the morning with a lengthy practice, a busy track kept most drivers on their toes and on the bumper of some slower cars. Gabe was able to make it on track a couple of times, simply
working on the balance of his No. 15, in an attempt to work on race pace. He would finish up the only practice session of the day in the 15th spot of 33 cars. Next up came a quick scuff, a final opportunity to see what car and driver had to give before qualifying. Gabe would drop one spot on the time charts from his previous standing in the morning’s practice. The crew would immediately get to work on the car, looking to gain some pace for qualifying.
As qualifying kicked off, it became apparent that the flurry of adjustments made on Gabe’s car had helped him gain raw speed. He was able to take the 7th position in the 33 car field, locking him into the Falloween 150. He would be set to roll off from the fourth row at the start of the feature.
The support divisions of the Midwest Truck Series and 602 Late Models soon wrapped up their respective programs, and it was time to throw the green flag on the Falloween 150. A pair of early cautions before Lap 15 slowed the field, and allowed Gabe to get his bearings as he adjusted to the car’s needs in the opening laps. Quickly after racing resumed, Sommers went to work. By Lap 20 he had cracked the Top 5 in the running order, and set his sights on the front of the pack. With great long run pace in the first half, Gabe laid down his fastest lap on his 53rd circuit around Dells Raceway Park. When the yellow waved on Lap 75 for pit stops, he had worked his way into the third position.
With the race halfway down, and only 75 laps to go, Gabe put the pedal to the metal, dicing through his competition to emerge in the lead on Lap 108/150. He had successfully worked his way to the top, but the task would become more difficult as the laps wore down. A hard charging Casey Johnson had entered the fray in the battle for the lead, and the two drivers engaged in a spirited war of skill and wit. With less than five laps to go, Johnson was able to sneak a nose in
going into turn three. Gabe tried his best to defend his position, but ultimately would have to settle for second at the finish.
“The car was pretty good”, Gabe said. We just lacked a little bit of speed on corner entry all day long, and when we packed it full of fuel at the break it tightened up the car. Maybe we should have gone a little more on the adjustment we made, but overall it was a great day”.
GSR will now look towards the 39th All American 400 Weekend at Nashville Fairgrounds
Speedway on November 3-5 with the ASA STARS National Tour. The No. 15 will battle for 300 laps on that Sunday, against the best Super Late Model Drivers in the country. Fans can watch at home via MidwestTour.tv or Racing America.