By: Kevin Ramsell
Sunday, October 8, 2023 – Gabe Sommers capped off his 2023 season by capturing the Oktoberfest 200 and the 2023 ASA Midwest Tour championship at the 54th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend at the La Crosse Speedway in West Salem, Wisconsin.
Sommers inherited the lead under caution with 10 laps to go after leader Johnny Sauter pulled off with a mechanical issue.
Sauter inherited the lead when the caution flew on lap 179 when Dalton Zehr and Ty Majeski were battling for the lead in turn four, when the two touched causing Majeski to spin collecting Zehr and Chris Weinkauf in the melee. Dan Fredrickson also sustained damage to the right side of his car, but was able to get it fixed and return to the race. Sommers was able to sneak by unharmed and continue.
Majeski, who is the current point leader in the ASA STARS National Tour, was going for a $10,000+ Ultimate Challenge bonus after starting in the rear of the field.
On the restart on lap 179, Majeski, who restarted third, made a bold move to the inside of Zehr and Sauter for the lead going into turn one. Zehr and Majeski continued their side-by-side battle until the incident occurred in turn four. Zehr said that he takes the full blame for the accident.
The field was one lap away from taking the green when Sauter slowed down and pulled off into the pits. The report was he had a broken axle.
Sommers restarted side-by-side with 14-year-old Ty Fredrickson. Sommers would get the lead while Bryan Syer-Keske would get by Fredrickson for the third position.
Sommers would go on to a 1.43 second victory over Syer-Keske.
“Oh man, its awesome! Finally on the other end of it, and was in the perfect position to win it,” Sommers said in victory lane. “I have been on the other end a quite a few times this year and it really means a lot to get the win and the points championship, it’s crazy.”
Sommers barely snuck by the Zehr/Majeski incident.
“I was really close to getting into that, I’m just lucky I didn’t get into it,” Sommers exclaimed.
Syer-Keske’s second place finish allowed him to claim the 2023 ASA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year.
“I figured we had a decent car coming in here from last year and we struggled,” Syer-Keske said. “It started Thursday and continued into Friday where we didn’t practice at all, had some rear end issues and practiced a little yesterday and got some good long run speed, everything fell in place.”
“Means a lot, I have wanted to be a Rookie of the Year in the Midwest Tour for the longest time,” Syer-Keske said about the accomplishment. “Last year, my big thing was to win the Futures race here at Fest and we got that, and now Rookie of the Year and my first top-five in the Midwest Tour.”
Ty Fredrickson became the youngest driver at the age of 14 to get a podium in the ASA Midwest Tour.
“We would have been good on that restart, but that red flag cooled our tires down,” Fredrickson said in hopes of getting the victory. “We got them warmed up and almost got to Syer-Keske at the end.”
Ryan Farrell finished fourth with Riley Stenjem in fifth.
Travis Volm came home with a sixth place finish with Dan Fredrickson finishing seventh. Kolton Guralski was eighth and Jacob Goede in ninth. Justin Mondeik rounded out the top ten.
You can watch a replay of the race on Midwesttour.tv.