There may be no better way to turn around a racing season than getting your first career win.
That was the case for Fergus Falls Midwest Modified driver Sam Zender. After six years of racing in the B mods, he picked up his first career dirt win on Aug. 24 at Viking Speedway.
Did it turn around Zender's year?
"Big-time," he said. "It's huge."
To sum up how his season had gone prior to that night -- it was
his first top five feature finish of the 2019 season. His best feature finish prior to the win was eighth. Not to mention, his primary car, a 2017 GRT, was in a bad wreck at I-94 Speedway in June and was sidelined for three weeks, forcing him to use his backup car, 2011 Shaw.
"No, it hasn't been (a good year)," Zender said. "This one was wrecked really bad midway through the season...(winning) it's a huge relief."
Zender got involved in racing by helping Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls.
"I was helping out Brock Gronwold and I just decided I was going to try it," Zender said.
Six years later, he is a mainstay in the midwest mods at I-04. Despite missing two nights this year, he was eighth in the point standings at the track.
"It's the competition," Zender said. "You're always having fun. Everybody around has been so great helping out."
It was a bit ironic -- the car that was chasing Zender during the Aug. 24 win was Gronwold, the driver he use to help out prior to hopping into a race car.
"I was just mainly breathing. I had to breathe and hit my marks," Zender said. "When I looked up and seen the 2G was behind me I knew he was going to race me clean."
This week, Zender is one of the 80-plus midwest modifieds competing at the Wissota 100 at I-94 Speedway. Trevor Saurer will drive Zender's backup car this week. And, Zender will hop behind the wheel of Saurer's backup super stock this week.
"Hopefully we can get this one in the show and then have fun with the super," Zender said. "It'll be fun."
Wissota Midwest Modified #7S
Residence: Fergus Falls, Minn.
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