More than eighty entries filled Slinger Speedway’s pits Sunday for a night of fast cars and fireworks on Memorial Day weekend. There were several visitors among the divisions, and one entry who missed the show after his tow vehicle broke down on the way here. There were many more surprised before the night was done.
Gary LaMonte topped the super late model field in qualifying and rolled the die to invert the feature field by eight cars. Point leader Dennis Prunty was not in the fastest fourteen, who were separated by one-tenth of a second. Brad Keith led the four transferees from the 30-lap semi, and Prunty used his one-time provisional to join the 75-lap feature. Heat winners were Danny Church in Larry Epright’s car, Prunty and rookie Mitch McGrath. The nineteen cars were led by Ryan DeStefano and McGrath in front of Fred Winn, Chris Blawat, Paul Wagner and Conrad Morgan.
DeStefano was ready at the start, leading the thundering field for seven laps when a car slipped a bit and righted itself. The chain reaction collected some cars in the aftermath and forced the first caution flag of the race. The drivers chose their lanes for the double-wide restart with DeStefano inside Winn at the green flag. Winn’s car did not come up to speed and several cars were caught by surprise. The next start found Wagner outside DeStefano, and Wagner became the next race leader. Before two dozen circuits were complete a spun car brought out the yellow flag again. Wagner chose the inner lane with DeStefano alongside. Wagner’s car rode up on the backstretch wall after the green flag, several others damaged in the aftermath to bring out the red flag. Fluid spills were cleaned up and the disabled mounts were removed.
There were a dozen survivors left as DeStefano found Morgan on the outer lane for the next green. The battle for fifth place between Prunty and Steve Apel ended with Prunty spinning on lap thirty-five. Both went to the back of the field with DeStefano and Morgan repeating their positions. Two laps later Morgan gained enough ground to lead the next half of the race without incident, while behind him much was happening. Alex Prunty found new energy and challenged in the closing circuits, while Apel and Dennis Prunty moved up to the front again. At the final stripe Morgan was ahead of Alex Prunty, Jeff Holtz from the back of the pack, Apel and Dennis Prunty. Despite turning 67 years old Friday, Morgan knows he can still win in his fiftieth year of racing, quipping, “It’s fifty times harder than it was fifty years ago.” The hall of fame racer continued, “Unbelievable. There’s some good guys coming up in the future. It’s just awesome to run with them.” Alex Prunty should be shopping for a bridesmaid outfit after his third consecutive runner-up finish.
Jordan DeVoy topped the limited late model field in qualifying, with Al Stippich and Jakob Hassler the heat winners. Hassler was also competing in the Slinger Bees, aiming to win in both divisions. The 40-lap feature inverted the top eight in time, placing Kyle Chwala and Hassler in front of Justin Poenitsch, Ryan Gutknecht, Ty James and Brian Holtz. Something broke on Holtz’s car and it went to the wall before the start. Chwala led after the green flag, met with the yellow one after six orbits for a spun car. The field regrouped with Chwala ahead again until DeVoy worked his way past on lap twelve. At the halfway mark another spun car regrouped the field again, with DeVoy still in charge.
Four laps from the finish Jack Stern’s mount spun to the wall and spewed flammable fluids that caught fire. Stern climbed out of the flaming car as the safety crew battled the blaze, complicated by fuel still pouring out as they doused the fire. The safety team has trained for just such a scenario and mastered the blaze. The remaining cars waited for track cleanup before resuming their places for the finish. DeVoy earned his second victory of the season followed by James, Mike Held, Mike Meyerhofer and Stippich. Asked how it felt on the final restart, DeVoy exclaimed, “I was excited, man. That was cool. My whole family is here, my sponsors are here. Everybody gave me a lot of room That was very cool.”
Andy Welter was fastest of the area sportsman field and Adam Bleskan won the heat. The 30-lap feature began with Joe Shelby and Ken Au ahead of Jake Schraufnagel, Paul Wagner, Scott Hoeft and Welter. Shelby charged into the lead and quickly stretched out his advantage as the others vied for position. This event went to the checkered flag in a hurry and Shelby was a quarter-lap ahead at the finish line. Welter got ahead of Schraufnagel and Wagner, and Au completed the top five. This was the first win for Shelby in four years, and he was very happy to have it.
Kyle Stark paid a visit to the Slinger Bees in the mount he built for Nick Schmidt, posting quick time in the process. Heat wins were earned by Steve Zoromski, Nicole Mueller and Schmidt, and Zoromski led the final four feature transferees from the semi. The 25-lap feature field was paced by Kyle Sikora, Schmidt, Matt Rose, Heather Stark, Jared Deming and Tom Berens at the green flag. Without a caution to slow the pace, the entire race was led by only one car number, albeit in two different mounts. Schmidt led the opening laps and Kyle Stark took the point for the final six laps. At the checkered flag Hassler surged ahead of Schmidt from his eighth place start. Defending champion Berens was next, with Deming celebrating his seventeenth birthday with a top five.
The fireworks show was great, and the evening’s finale was won by Willy Van Camp in the Figure 8 field. It was past ten-thirty when the program was complete, and fans flocked to visit their favorite drivers afterwards. There will be brisk business at the suppliers this week, but we will all be back for more.
-Story and Photo by Fay Hendricks