Nearly 30 drivers from around the country tackled the high-banked, quarter-mile bullring of Slinger Speedway Monday during practice day for the 40th Annual Slinger Nationals. From NASCAR stars to short track aces, there was plenty of talent on display as drivers and teams prepared for Tuesday night’s 200-lap race.
Defending Slinger Nationals champion Ty Majeski broke through for his first win one year ago after coming close in recent editions of the prestigious event. The Seymour, Wisconsin driver feels confident in his team’s ability to get him back in Slinger victory lane for a second straight year.
“I think the car’s pretty good. We got a chance to shake it down yesterday, as well as some today,” Majeski told Speed51.com. “We were just running through some adjustments to see kind of what works and what doesn’t and overall I think we have a really good balance for tomorrow.”
Off to a strong 2019 off the heels of three ARCA Menards Series wins, a second straight Slinger Nationals win would be huge for the Badger State native. He considers the Nationals one of the most important races on his Super Late Model schedule.
“That would be really cool. It’s obviously a big race for our program,” he said. “They put up a lot of money for this race to win and for lap money. The winner could come home with $15,000, which is really, really cool for this area. Slinger puts on a great show and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
While Majeski is comfortable with where he is at for tomorrow, another former Slinger Nationals winner admits his team still has some work to do if they are to compete for the win Tuesday. Despite that, 2017 winner Bubba Pollard is still relaxed and believes he and his team will find the speed necessary to add a second win in three years.
“I feel like we need to be better, we just haven’t had the car to where it needed to be today,” Pollard stated. “We’ve been throwing a lot of things at it and see if we can’t find speed. Speed is hard to find here because everyone is so close, so finding that little bit means a lot, especially come qualifying time and locking yourself in the top twelve. We haven’t really found what we needed today, but we’ll get it. We got a good group of guys that work hard, so we’ll keep working on it and see what we’ve got.”
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie Daniel Hemric is one of several drivers attempting to make their Slinger Nationals debut tomorrow night. The former JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour and Southern Super Series champion said it felt good to get back in a Super Late Model, but he and Wimmer Motorsports have since gotten down to business as they look for speed for Tuesday night.
“It’s cool to be back and what a cool place it is here at Slinger,” Hemric said. “I’ve always wanted to come here and race and mix it up with what I feel like are some of the best racers in the country. It’s cool to have Wimmer Motorsports give me the opportunity to come here. Obviously, Richard Childress had to sign off on it for me to be here, so I appreciate that as well. Having fun, I told (Chris Wimmer) I had fun the first two runs but then it became all back down to business trying to figure out how to go faster. We’ll try to work things out that’ll give me a little more feel to what we’re looking for, but so far so good and I’m having a good time.”
Another driver attempting to make their Slinger Nationals debut Tuesday night is 2017 Southern Super Series and recent Short Track U.S. Nationals winner Stephen Nasse. It was a struggle for the Florida driver to begin practice day, but the Jett Motorsports team made big strides throughout the day to get him close to where they need to be.
“It’s different, I know everyone says it’s real fast but it’s a little more of a finesse track,” Nasse said. “Running with the two barrels makes a different driving style, so I’m trying to learn it myself. We made some big gains on the car. Instead of being almost a second off, we’re right there within a couple tenths. We need a little bit more, we’ve made a ton of gains but we still got a little bit to go.”
Other drivers making laps around the Wisconsin quarter-mile Monday include former Slinger Nationals winners Rich Bickle Jr and Dennis Prunty, former NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter, and defending ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Josh Brock. Several drivers did not hit the track for open practice, most notably 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth who tested at the track last week.
With practice day now in the books, the intensity will rise Tuesday as teams prepare for the all-important qualifying rounds. Only 12 drivers will lock themselves into the show through time trials, while the rest will head to the dreaded qualifying race and semi feature.
Race fans can watch all of the action from the Slinger Nationals on Speed51.com’s pay-per-view broadcast beginning at 4 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. ET. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here. A 100-mile blackout is in effect for Tuesday’s broadcast.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com