The talk throughout the pits leading up to the 35th Annual SUPERSEAL Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger, Wisconsin was that Steve Apel was the one to beat. But in the end, it was Chris Wimmer becoming the 15th different winner of the historic event while Apel finished sixth.
So what happened? Apel looked very strong as he worked his way up to second with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Matt Kenseth right behind him. But all of a sudden, Apel started to fall back.
“The car felt great and we flew to the front and all of a sudden the engine just bogged down and was running real lean,” Apel told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We got bounced back to about fifth or sixth and was just holding on until the break. We had no idea what was going on. We got a backup carburetor and ignition box ready to change.”
During the break, Apel asked the tech officials if they could change the carburetor but was denied that request because the carburetor wasn’t approved prior to the race.
“We felt it was best to ask before, and not get in trouble afterwards,” Apel said. “Really didn’t want to get disqualified two years in a row.”
Apel would go back out and finish a disappointing sixth.
The next day, the team unloaded the car and started to take the car apart to diagnose what happened.
“George Forge, our engine builder from Motor Masters, started to take apart the carburetor. He pulled the main jet and there was our problem,” Apel recalled. “A small bug got stuck in the jet.”
Yes, Apel literally had an insect that caused his motor to slow down and halt his chance at winning the Slinger Nationals.
“It blocked about half to three-quarters of the passageway in the jet,” Apel said. “George looked at me and said, there is our problem.”
Apel returned to Slinger Super Speedway this past Sunday and to make sure there were no other bugs causing an issue in his car.
“We got there a little early and as soon as I hit the track, the car was back to normal,” Apel said. “We went out and got fast time, but started 11th in the feature and only got up to fourth.”
Apel, his crew, sponsors and friends are taking the bug situation with a good sense of humor. He stated that one of his sponsors offered to buy bug spray to prevent bugs getting hear his pits, to everyone asking him if he got the bugs worked out of his car.
Even one person, Dave Behling, posted a picture to Apel on Facebook with a large beatle near a jet telling Apel they had the same issue.
“We have come to learn that with the Slinger Nationals, anything can happen.”
– Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Midwest Editor. Twitter: @KevinRamsell
Photo Courtesy: Speed51.com