(Slinger, WI) – Slinger Speedway was packed with action Sunday as the holiday weekend came to a close. The super late models ran the second round of the Pepsi Challenge Series, which has a separate championship format besides the weekly point tally. Unfortunately, we were told engines expired during practice for seven-time track champion Lowell Bennett and Dave McCardle. Bikini-clad women showed up for the Miss Slinger contest, with smiling drivers taking their time to vote on the finalist.
Michael Bilderback made his first appearance of the season to post quick time in the super late model field, rolling the die to place himself in the third row. Heat wins were claimed by Braison Bennett, Dale and Dennis Prunty. The semi saw young Bennett suddenly pit with problems, and Chris Blawat led the four transferees to the 60-lap feature. Dennis Prunty and Matt Kocourek shared the front row ahead of Johnny DeAngelis Jr., Conrad Morgan, defending champion Steve Apel and Bilderback. To no one’s surprise, Dennis Prunty shot into the lead at the green flag and began lapping the back markers. Just as the contest reached the halfway mark a spun car brought out the caution. Choosing his preferred outer lane, Prunty found Steve Apel inside him for the restart.
Apel was able to take the point away, leading the way as Prunty followed and saved his tires for the end. That ploy worked perfectly, as Prunty drove past Apel with four laps remaining to win the race. Apel was followed by Pepsi Challenge point leader DeAngelis, Morgan and Dale Prunty from the seventh row to fifth place. Asked about his restart, Prunty remarked that starting in the front row doesn’t always work out, and tire management was important. Prunty added, “We had back luck this week. We lost a valve, took the motor out and had it fixed. We’re ready to go.”
Jordon DeVoy posted quick time in the limited late model field, with heat wins taken by newcomer Shaun Scheel and Kyle Chwala. The 40-lap feature invert was ten cars after the die roll, placing Jack Stern and Chwala in front of Ricky Heinan, Corey Funk, Al Stippich and newcomer Brandon Pendleton.
Chwala was ready at the start, leading the pack until unlucky lap thirteen when the first caution flag flew. Choosing the inner lane, Chwala found Alex Papini outside him after starting from the fourth row. Papini got ahead the next time around, greeted by another caution for a spun car. With ten laps remaining a pair of spun mounts brought out the yellow flag again. It was announced that if this field had more than three slowdowns they would have to start single file instead of choosing their lanes. The ensuing restart ended with that fateful yellow banner when Chwala’s car suddenly slowed. The field took the final green in one long line.
Papini kept the point for the final ten circuits, making his first visit of the year a good one. A bit of bumping changed the order in the closing laps. Alex Prunty came from the fourth row to second place with Funk, Heinan and Stern completing the top five. “People really don’t know what we go through just to get here,” stated Papini, continuing, “We were terrible in the heat race. We worked to get it better,” thanking racers Tim Sargent and Danny Church for their help. Papini added, “Kyle Chwala is a hard racer, but we came here to win.”
Nick Egan posted fast time and won his heat in the Area Sportsman field, but was foiled in his clean sweep. The 30-lap feature began with Adam Bleskan and Joe Shelby in front of Andy Welter and Egan. Bleskan led the first three orbits but Shelby got ahead for two laps before Bleskan claimed the point again. Just before a dozen laps were scored Welter drove past and led the way as the laps wound down. With ten laps remaining Shelby’s car erupted in smoke, forcing a restart. Welter chose the inside and found Egan alongside at the next green flag, with Egan getting ahead three laps later. Welter tried every trick he knew to wrest the point away from Egan, forcing Egan high with two laps left. Bleskan got past for second place as Egan recovered for third, followed by newcomer Jim Taylor and Paul Wagner.
Tom Berens topped the Slinger Bees in qualifying, and heat wins were posted by Carol Ostovich, Jared Deming and Heather Stark. Marty Tackes led the four finalists from the semi to the 25-lap feature. Dale Kiley-Schaefer and E. J. Waldron began in front of Brandon Tackes, David Schmidt, Jake Schraufnagel and Berens at the green flag. Kiley-Schaefer took the lead right away in the nonstop event, with Berens taking charge just before the midway mark. Berens left a string of lapped cars behind him at the finish line, with Kiley-Schaefer hanging on for second place, Brandon Tackes, Schmidt and Schraufnagel completing the top five. Berens may have missed a clean sweep, but took a reverse victory lap with joy.
The Figure 8 race had a red flag period when Ryan Lovald’s wheel rolled off his car. At the end of the race Scott Goetzke posted the final win of the night. With everything complete before ten o’clock, there were many fans flocking to the pits to visit their favorite drivers. We found Johnny Sauter sitting near us watching the races Sunday, making mental notes before returning for the Nationals on July 14. He will be joined by many more hopefuls, all lured by the big money as well as the elusive title.
By Fay Hendricks