Ty Majeski scored his second Slinger Nationals win Wednesday night in dominating fashion, leading 146 of the 200 laps. While his performance was the talk of the town, we take a look at some of the other storylines from the 41st Annual Slinger Nationals.
A New Wisconsin Star in the Making
Luke Fenhaus was impressive in his Slinger Nationals debut in 2019, qualifying second and finishing in the top ten in his first start in the event. The 16-year old topped it this year, setting fast time in qualifying and finishing third after hanging around Majeski for most of the second half.
“It was good, I thought. We put ourselves in good position at the break and we did what we needed to move forward,” Fenhaus told Speed51. “After the break, a small adjustment was what put us in a good spot to run with the No. 91, it just wasn’t enough at the end.”
If last year’s Nationals performance wasn’t his coming out party, Wednesday night’s race was. With some of the country’s top drivers in attendance, he drove through the field for a podium finish.
“They’re the best in the country for sure. Sammy Smith, Stephen Nasse, Bubba Pollard, Ty, those guys were tough. We had to be at the top of our game and we kind of were, we just missed it a little bit. It was a lot of fun and it gives us a lot of motivation to go forward.”
Only five drivers finished on the lead lap Wednesday night, thanks in part to a 103-lap run to the finish. All five of those drivers were from the Badger State.
NASCAR Truck Series rookie Derek Kraus finished fourth behind Fenhaus, his best finish in the Slinger Nationals in four attempts. The top-five came after getting sent to the tail on lap 21 for an incident involving he and Bubba Pollard.
“I knew right away we had a really good car. I picked my way through the field early and then got into Bubba a little bit. I thought it was a racing deal but he thought otherwise,” Kraus said. “We went to the back and got back through the field and got to seventh or so for the break. I passed a few more cars and finished fourth, we needed a caution there like many other probably did.”
It marks his second consecutive top-five finish in the Super Late Model, after finishing second in the Flip Merwin Memorial at State Park Speedway close to three weeks ago.
“We have pretty stout competition up here in Wisconsin. I feel like we have some of the best competition here in the United States. It’s always good and fun and it makes me happy to run top-five here at Slinger.”
John DeAngelis Jr backed up his third-place performance one year ago with a fifth on Wednesday night. However, he was left wondering what could’ve been after a pre-race adjustment backfired.
“I think we could’ve had a top-three car for sure, if not a winning car. We practiced earlier on today and I made the call to make an adjustment that I probably shouldn’t have made. It hurt us in the first half with track position. I’ll take blame for that.
“For the second half, I think we started 11th and finished fifth. At one point in the race we were all the way back in 15th or 16th,” DeAngelis added. “To come back and finish fifth in a strong field of cars, it feels really good.”
DeAngelis considers Slinger his home track, but he doesn’t get to compete at the high-banked quarter-mile very often as he looks to expand his racing schedule even further.
“We don’t get back here too much, we’re more focused on the bigger races and traveling races. To get back here and finish fifth again after finishing third last year, I wish we could’ve finished better than what we did last year but I’ll definitely take a top-five.”
Points Leaders Have Issues
Current Slinger weekly points leader Alex Prunty saw a promising run falter after contact from Carson Hocevar sent him out of the top-five and to the tail in the first half of the race. He was never fully able to recover, ultimately finishing ninth. It was his worst result in the race since he finished 21st in his first start back in 2016.
“It was everything we had there at the end once we lost the track position and got spun. Track position was so key there and everything got so loose once Brad (Mueller) dumped oil all over the track,” Prunty stated. “It sucks, I hate it but we’ll come back here next week and try to put together a good run.”
Despite not getting the result he wanted, Prunty led several laps early in the going and earned a decent amount of lap money. However, the extra cash was no consolation for the night his team had.
“We came here to win and not run ninth. We battled for the lead there and I kind of wanted to ride because I knew the right rear was getting hot. I don’t know what happened with the No. 14, that sucked. But track position is so key here, going to the rear with 28 cars is hard to come back from.”
His main points counterpart did not have it so fortunate. Just after losing the lead, reigning track champion Steve Apel was taken out of the race on lap 54 after Dale Nottestad suffered a mechanical issue in turns three and four and slid right into Apel, sending him into the wall.
“From what I’ve seen, I’m pretty sure a rim or something broke on the No. 2 car (Nottestad) and it was the wrong spot at the wrong time,” Apel said of the incident. “It’s unfortunate, I think we could’ve had a car that could have competed with Ty. Sometimes it’s not your night and tonight wasn’t our night.”
A winner of three out of the five local features so far in 2020, his focus returns to winning more races and going after a fifth track championship.
“Typically we don’t points race until about two or three nights to go. Our goal is just to come out here and win races. That’s what we’ve done so far this year, we’ve won three of the first five races and we were hoping to get more momentum tonight. We’ll come back stronger than we’ve ever been and try to put it back in victory lane here in a couple weeks.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo