As he exited his car in victory lane, the first thing Chris Wimmer said was that this was the biggest win of his career. On Tuesday night, he held off NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth to win the 35th Annual SUPERSEAL Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin.
Wimmer took over the top spot on lap 176 of the 199-lap event after early leader Dennis Prunty fell out of the race with ignition problems. From there, Wimmer was just looking for the finish line.
“I was just trying to get to the end of the race. I kept shouting over the radio, asking how many laps to go,” Wimmer told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.com. “When the flagman showed five laps to go, I knew I just had to hang on there, run the same laps and not screw up.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet; this is a neat deal. I grew up coming here to watch it as a kid and also watch my brother, Scott, race in it. He should have won it a couple of times. But to come here and win it on my second or third try is cool. Scott was in the spotters stand helping me tonight.”
Over the course of the last five laps, Wimmer encountered heavy lap traffic, which allowed Kenseth to close in and challenge for the win.
“We just caught him at the wrong time. If a lapped car would have lifted down the backstretch, we may have had a shot in three and four,” said Kenseth, who was looking for his record-setting seventh win in this race. “Wimmer and Casey Johnson were slipping back, but we weren’t all that great either.”
Dennis Prunty started on the pole and had a dominant car all night. Wimmer didn’t believe he had enough to challenge Prunty for the win but when Prunty fell of the pace and parked his No. 22 machine in the infield, things changed.
“I didn’t have anything for him,” Wimmer said. “But once he broke, my eyes lit up and it was go time.”
Prunty said after the race that, while leading, he just knew something would change the outcome of the race.
“The whole time I felt this was too easy, something was going to happen,” Prunty said. “There was going to be a caution or something else. I stopped pressuring the lapped traffic because I didn’t want those guys to get nervous on going a lap down and crash each other. I just took it easy. My crew was telling me how far back Wimmer was, and I said really? Then with about 25 laps to go, we were done.”
Casey Johnson battled with Kenseth for the second position late in the race and came home with a third-place finish.
“I’m pretty happy with my finish. I thought we had something for Wimmer at the end if the brakes didn’t go away, but the car was pretty quick,” Johnson said. “With 25 laps to go, the brake pedal was pretty much going to the floor.”
The entire race only had two cautions, both of which came in the first half of the race. The second half of the event went caution free.
“I wasn’t surprised that the last 100 laps went caution free,” Kenseth said, when asked about the long run. “With the Hoosier tire they used, along with them grounding the track, it was real sticky out there.”
Former Slinger Nationals winner Conrad Morgan was fourth and Dalton Zehr completed the top-five.
Along with the check for $9,999.99, Wimmer also took home the Larry Detjens Memorial trophy. The trophy was named in honor of Wimmer’s late uncle, who won the first Slinger Nationals 35 years ago. Roughly one month after winning the race, Detjens sadly lost his life in a racing accident at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.
“This is cool that we are finally able to bring this trophy home to the family,” Wimmer said. “The trophy means a lot more than many think for all of us.”
By Kevin Ramsell @kevinramsell – Midwest Editor, Speed51.com
35th Annual SUPERSEAL Slinger Nationals Results
1. Chris Wimmer
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Casey Johnson
4. Conrad Morgan
5. Dalton Zehr
6. Steve Apel
7. Andrew Morrissey
8. Lowell Bennett
9. Nathan Haseleu
10. Austin Luedtke
11. Brad “JJ” Mueller
12. Steve Dorer
13. Travis Dassow
14. Brian Johnson Jr.
15. Rob Braun
16. Tim Lampman
17. Dennis Prunty
18. Michael Bilderback
19. Ross Kenseth
20. Mike Egan
21. Braison Bennett
22. John DeAngelis
23. James Swan
24. Paige Decker