Sunday’s car count was down at Slinger Speedway, as is usual following the Tuesday Nationals. Making it worse was the practice spin and crash that removed super late model Dave McCardle before things began. Back in the battle for the championship, Dennis Prunty was prepared to gain more points on defending champion Steve Apel. No matter where the pair start at feature time they seem to rise to the top every week. The dynamic duo was overshadowed by 67-year old Conrad Morgan in qualifying, the six-time track champion showing he still has it. Heat races were won by Mike Egan and Apel, and everyone made the feature this week.
The invert placed Rob Braun and Apel in the front row for the 60-lap contest, followed by Johnny DeAngelis, Tim Lampman, Morgan and Prunty. To no one’s surprise, Apel quickly took charge and began lapping cars after the halfway mark. Morgan and DeAngelis kept up and were soon joined by Prunty as Apel stretched out his lead. That advantage disappeared when a car spun on lap 36, giving the field a choice of lanes for the restart. All eyes were at the front of the field on the restart as Morgan made his move for the lead and spun, but the caution flag was actually for the spun mount of Brian Holtz in the opposite turn, making his first super late model start. Morgan then returned to choose a lane for the ensuing green flag. Apel was ready for the double-wide restart, again leading the way, but Morgan spun again after contact with Danny Church’s car, and both restarted at the rear of the field.
With twenty laps remaining, Apel fended off Prunty and DeAngelis at the final restart and the pace picked up towards the finish. Prunty shadowed Apel lap after lap, but the outer lane didn’t offer enough footing this night. Apel didn’t bobble as the race neared the finish, so Prunty caressed Apel’s rear bumper a bit, but that didn’t move Apel out of the groove. A nudge, a poke, and finally a jolt from Prunty off the corner did the deed, forcing Apel to keep from spinning with three laps remaining. Prunty had his way, taking his second win of the week at Slinger, with Apel right behind. DeAngelis and Dale Prunty followed, and Morgan recovered for sixth place. The winner declared, “It’s great. It was so greasy out there,” adding thanks to his parents, who joined him for victory photos. Asked about his duel with Apel, Prunty stated, “I know I got into him a little bit, but we were racing hard for the win.”
It was nephew Alex Prunty who posed for victory photos in the limited late model field Sunday. Mike Held posted fast time, and heat wins went to Jake Vanoskey and Corey Funk. Both Prunty and Funk decided to replace their door numbers with speed tape using Roman numerals instead of buying more decals this week, and wonder if this brought better luck. The 40-lap feature invert started Dan Jung and double-duty Brian Holtz in front of Funk, 13-year old Grant Griesbach, Kyle Chwala and Prunty. Jung had the advantage at the green flag, which was replaced with the yellow banner on the second lap when Funk’s car was one of six in a tangle. The next start found Jung followed by challengers in both lanes, but his car drifted just enough to block both grooves. After a few warnings from the flagstand, Jung gave just enough room for Prunty to get past just after the halfway mark.
Prunty led the rest of the way, but was faced with three more restarts in the final ten circuits. A spun car brought out the yellow with six laps remaining, and again with three laps left. Slinger’s rules state that after the third caution in this division the field would start single file instead of having lane choice, but there was a bit of confusion before the next green flag. When the race got up to speed again Prunty was spun after contact from Mike Held, who had worked his way up from seventh place. Held rolled in front of the flagstand and tapped his roof to take the blame, going to the back of the pack and allowing Prunty to keep his position. Prunty happily did so, seeing the green, white and checkered flags in rapid succession. Jung stayed ahead of fifth-row starter Jordon Devoy, Al Stippich and Holtz at the finish line. After spinning donuts in the frontstretch, Prunty celebrated his win with a reverse victory lap.
Nick Egan led the area sportsman field in qualifying, and Paul Wagner won the heat race. Scott Ascher returned after a year’s absence to start the 30-lap feature on the pole. Joe Shelby, Egan, Andy Welter, Wagner and Adam Bleskan were next when the race began. The green flag stayed out until the end in the nonstop contest, with Ascher leading every lap. Behind him things heated up as Egan worked his way to challenge in the closing circuits. Unable to get past the leader, Egan settled for second ahead of Welter, Wagner and Bleskan. Ascher told the audience, “This is the first time back at the track. It’s awesome. I was kind of nervous leading, but it all worked out.”
Tom Berens extended his point lead by posting fast time in the Slinger Bees. Heat winners were Jakob Hassler, Nick Schmidt and Heather Stark, who had just won the previous night at another track. Dave Lembke led the final four transferees from the semi and the rest became spectators. The 25-lap feature began with Zach Braun ahead of newcomer Devon Dixon, Isaac Daniel, Jacob Schraufnagel, Berens and Stark. Dixon had never been to Slinger before, but knew what to do when the green flag waved. Jumping into the lead, Dixon led every lap as the race ran caution-free. Dixon left a long string of lapped cars behind as Berens caught up to him at the checkered flag. Schraufnagel, Daniel and Stark completed the top five.
The Figure 8 field provided the final thrills with several near collisions, and Ron Schmitt was the final winner of the night. It was not yet 9:30 when the pits filled with fans in search of their favorite drivers on a perfect summer night.
-By Fay Hendricks. Photo Credit: Fay Hendricks