Slinger Speedway was race ready Sunday, having cleaned up from the previous night’s SlamFest. Fans got free T-shirts and sausage samples and were treated to Happy Hour during qualifying. This was followed by kids getting rides in race cars, and a pair of ticket holders were chosen to enter a booth to capture gift and cash coupons blown around inside. After the races were complete, fans were treated to free beer and soda to cap off the night. And then there was the racing. Last-lap passes, nonstop features, and winners spanning four decades in age.
The super late model field was topped by Dennis Prunty in qualifying, but Mike Egan and Rich Loch never posted one lap. Egan’s engine blew up during practice, and Loch’s engine problems delayed him until race time. Heats were won by Ryan DeStefano, Dale Prunty and Steve Apel, who just edged out Lowell Bennett off the last turn. Tim Lampman and Conrad Morgan led the 60-lap feature lineup, followed by Bennett, Apel, Rob Braun, Johnny DeAngelis, Dennis Prunty and Brady Bennett. The green flag waved and Morgan took charge of the race.
Without a caution to help the others catch up, Morgan soon began lapping the back of the field. Lampman was passed by several as the laps sped by, and in the late stages only Apel could provide a challenge to Morgan. Bennett, Dale Prunty and Braison Bennett followed in quick succession as the checkered flag flew, and Morgan captured his third win of the season at age 66. Morgan told the crowd, “By eight o’clock this morning I know something wasn’t right with the car. I called Dave (crew member Behling) and we changed some things on the car. I can’t thank this crew enough for working on the car.” Apel had to accept second place, but looks forward to another chance next week, while Bennett commented, “I’m 56 now. When I’m 66 I only hope I can win three features.”
Kyle Chwala had his first experience in a late model the previous night before returning to the Area Sportsman field Sunday. Setting fast time, Chwala followed up by getting past the others to win the heat. The 30-lap feature began with Chwala behind Rich Wagner, Nick Egan, Andy Welter and Joe Shelby. Wagner took the lead at the drop of the green, but Egan was the leader the next time around. As Egan was looking to capture his second win of the season, Chwala had moved up to challenge. Trying to get past, Chwala bumped Egan in the closing circuits, but Egan would not cede the inner lane.
Chwala then moved up to the outer lane to challenge in the final circuits of the nonstop contest. With the checkered flag in sight, Egan was about to capture his second win of the year when Chwala edged ahead off the final turn to complete his clean sweep. Chwala stated, “What an awesome race. I didn’t mean to get into him (Egan). I hope we put on an awesome show. That was a blast.”
Danny Church topped the limited late models in qualifying and heats were won by Tim Lange and Wayne Freimund. The 40-lap feature began with Steven Schulz, Tyler Schley, Mike Held, Freimund, Al Stippich and Ricky Heinan all ahead of Church. Schulz took charge of the race right away, but just before a dozen laps were complete a controversial incident saw a brief three-wide situation. Alex Prunty had moved up from the fourth row to challenge outside Schulz at the same time Church dove underneath. Prunty came out ahead and enjoyed the view from the front as the race sped along. With four laps remaining, Schulz and Heinan tangled to force the only caution flag of the night. Choosing their lanes for the restart, Prunty picked the lower lane and Church was on his outside.
The pair roared around the oval with Prunty ahead of Church, who was trying to find extra speed on the outside. As the white flag was in the air, Church gained that extra footing and nosed ahead for the final lap. Prunty could only follow to the checkered flag, with Heinan, Freimund, and Stippich completing the top five. The championship battle is still tight with three weeks remaining, Church ahead of Prunty by a narrow margin. Later Church told me he didn’t know if his car would work on the outside or not, but had to try. Even Church was surprised when he gained ground before the checkered flag, a very happy surprise.
The Slinger Bees were topped by Carl Benn in qualifying and heats were won by Tristen Dorzok, Jake Schraufnagel and T. J. Graczkowski. Nicole Mueller led the four transferees from the semi and the 25-lap feature field was set. Zach Braun and Paul Reagles began in front of Nick Schmidt, Matt Rose, Brandon Tackes and Benn. This division also ran a caution-free race, with Reagles leading the opening circuits and Tackes ahead for the final twenty laps. At the finish line Tackes was followed by a string of lapped cars before Benn, Schraufnagel, Dale Kiley-Schaefer and Reagles completed the top five. With Schmidt dropping out with problems, the point chase gives a bigger lead to Tackes over Schmidt.
The spectator eliminations ended with former racer Trevor Dassow the winner in a car that was soon to be sold. Ron Schmitt topped the four survivors in the Figure 8 contest, and the race program was complete before 9:30. Before heading out the gate or to the pits, fans flocked to the lower beer stand to get their free beverages, and thanked their hosts. We join them in thanking Todd Thelen and Rodney Erickson for all they do. The chill in the air tells us the end of the season is near, coming to conclusion the first Sunday in September.