The month of May ended Sunday at Slinger Speedway in bitter cold with a full moon coming, but the action heated things up and the program moved along quickly. Nearly thirty super late models were on hand for the first round of the Pepsi Challenge. James Swan returned in a Rob Braun spare car and Ryan Farrell drove the Danny Church mount for the first time this year. The limited late model field had the night off and the Midwest Sportsman field made their debut for the year.
Brad Keith was fastest in the super late models, rolling the die to invert the feature by nine cars. Swan, Farrell and Dennis Prunty claimed heat wins, and Lowell Bennett led the final four from the semi to the 60-lap feature. Another used his one-time provisional to start the contest with 21 cars. Mike Egan and Johnny DeAngelis began ahead of Braun and Conrad Morgan, with Prunty and Gary Lamonte next. The green flag was followed by DeAngelis ahead of Egan. DeAngelis saw his comfortable margin disappear when Bennett’s car spun on unlucky lap thirteen, surprising Morgan and Tim Lampman and ending the day for Dale Prunty.
DeAngelis chose the outer lane for the restart with Brad Mueller challenging on the outside, but held the advantage to the checkered flag. In a cluster of lapped cars, DeAngelis had Mueller alongside at the finish line, with Steve Apel, Prunty, Morgan and Egan crossing the stripe next. Prunty showed his displeasure in the close contest for third place by spinning Apel after the flag and was penalized to eleventh place, the last car on the lead lap. Making another reverse victory lap, the second win for DeAngelis was even sweeter on this night, for the family business hosted employees and friends Sunday. “After I got past Mike (Egan), I went for it,” exclaimed DeAngelis. Asked about his challengers, the second-time winner added, “I knew they were really fast. The car was good.”
The Area Sportsman field saw last year’s champion Kyle Chwala return in his former car to get it ready for new owner Ken Schraufnagel. Andy Welter topped Chwala’s time in qualifying, with heat wins going to double-duty driver Nick Ostberg and Nick Egan. The 30-lap feature inversion placed Egan and Joe Shelby in front of Mark Deporter, Adam Bleskan, Adam Peschek and Chwala. Egan led until passed by Deporter five laps later, but came back to take the point on the fourteenth circuit. Three laps later Shelby’s engine erupted, spewing a wide path of fluid. Caught in the ensuing spin, Peschek and Ostberg also retired from the race. Chwala got past Egan four laps after the restart and showed his car still had it by posting the win. Welter got past Egan at the end, followed by Deporter and Bleskan.
The Midwest Sportsman field began with Bill Prietzel posting fast time and Jay Shambeau staying ahead of Prietzel for the heat win. Rick Tackman Jr. arrived in the former Dennis Eichorst car recently bought by Greg Beebe and began the 35-lap feature on the pole. Shambeau, Brian Holtz, Jimmie Evans and defending champion Ryan Gutknecht were next in order. This contest went from the green flag to the checkers without delay, Holtz making his winning pass on the third orbit. Mishaps and a few lapped cars dotted the action with Gutknecht right behind and Prietzel a close third to Holtz at the end. Holtz commemorated his first win of the season with a reverse victory lap, still emotional when coming to the stage. “It was awesome,” exclaimed the winner, adding, “I didn’t want to look back and see what was in my mirror. It was awesome. I just tried to keep coming forward.”
The Slinger Bees began with Dale Kiley-Schaefer posting fast time. Carl Benn took over the Bill Ostovich Jr. mount and Heather Stark used the spare Nick Schmidt car for the night. Stark, Paul Reagles and Tom Berens won the heat races, and Stark led the final four from the semi. The 25-lap feature placed Isaac Daniel and Zach Braun in front of Jake Schraufnagel, Matt Rose, Berens and defending champion Brandon Tackes. Daniel led the opening laps and Berens took charge from the tenth lap to the finish in the caution-free contest. Leaving several lapped cars in his wake, Berens was followed by Kiley-Schaefer, Schmidt, EJ Waldron and Daniel at the finish line. Berens marked his first win of the season with a reverse victory lap to make it more special.
The Figure 8 frenzy was extended to fifteen laps this week, with Ron Schmitt taking the final checkered flag of the night. It was just 9:30 when we were all released from the chilling wind, but many had warm memories of the night. The nearly full moon loomed coldly overhead, content in the results of the night.
-By Fay Hendricks. Photo Credit: Fay Hendricks