Tiebreaker Decides Last Car to Lock Into Slinger Nationals

Grant Griesbach will lead the field to green Tuesday night in the 42nd Annual Slinger Nationals at Slinger Speedway.  If he had qualified even the smallest fraction of a second slower, he would still be trying to make tonight’s feature field.

WATCH LIVE: Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway

Griesbach and Brad Keith set identical lap times of 11.277 seconds around the Wisconsin quarter-mile during qualifying on Tuesday afternoon, placing them in a tie for 12th on the time charts.  With only 12 cars locking into the Slinger Nationals field through qualifying, the tie was broken by which driver recorded his qualifying effort first as determined by the random qualifying draw order.


Thus, Griesbach placed 12th, locking into the show and becoming the ultimate beneficiary of an invert of those 12 cars to start Tuesday’s 200-lap main event, while Keith still has some work to do to join him in the big show.


For much of the qualifying session, Griesbach wasn’t even sure if he’d be in contention of a top 12 spot, with many heavy hitters such as Keith and Steve Apel left to qualify.  As it turned out, he was just fast enough to do so.

I wasn’t really worried about those last few cars.  I was worried about the 48 [of Keith] and 51 [of Steve Apel].  Those guys are regulars who have gotten fast times here countless times.  I was pacing back and forth through the pits before the 48 car went out.  I got in my car because I thought it was over. – Grant Griesbach

“It’s kind of a relief to go from all the way back to now starting up front at the Slinger Nationals.  I have to give a huge shoutout to Casey Johnson for setting up this car.”


While Griesbach thanked the heavens for his good fortune, Keith was looking towards the heavens in frustration.  After setting fast time during Tuesday’s practice session, Keith believed sunshine peeking through the clouds late in the qualifying session prevented him from backing up that effort on the stopwatch.


“I wish the sun would have stayed away,” said Keith.  “The sun didn’t do us any favors.  Everybody at the end there had the sun come out.  The track just got hotter and slowed down a ton.”


He’s still confident his car has the speed necessary to make the Slinger Nationals through the qualifiers.  However, he wonders how much that will hurt him in the long run.

With the top 12 drivers locked in through single-car qualifying, the remainder of the Slinger Nationals feature will go through qualifying races to determine the remainder of the 200-lap feature lineup.

“The car is good.  It’s just unfortunate we have to race our way in and burn up some tires.  I think that might hurt us in the end, with it only being a six-tire race.”


Meanwhile, Luke Fenhaus set fast time during the qualifying session, circling the quarter-mile in 11.133 seconds.


“We had a really good car on our mock run in practice,” said Fenhaus.  “I thought I missed a little bit on my mock run in practice, so I didn’t want to miss anything going into qualifying.  Since last year, we’ve hit on this place, just tuned a little here and there each week.  Now, we’re fast time.”


While Fenhaus’ spot in the Slinger Nationals is secure, his attention now turns towards pacing himself in tonight’s 200-lap marathon.


It’s going to be a long race, so we’ve got to be patient.  We’ll choose who we pass wisely and how we pass them.  It’s a long race, it’s going to cool off and the track’s going to tighten up.  It’s going to be interesting. – Luke Fenhaus 


Alex Prunty was second-fastest in qualifying, providing a breath of relief for the 2018 track champion.  He and his team worked late into the night last night preparing for Tuesday, and found themselves rushing to the track for any kind of practice time they could get after a shuffling of the schedule.


“It’s more of a relief than anything.  We came here knowing we were making our bed coming with what we had.  I was faster in the FURY car, but I didn’t have the feel I was looking for.  We spent all of practice trying to get the feel I’ve been so good with, and we found it this morning.


“We changed everything from practice yesterday, working in the garage until midnight.  We were about to leave the garage at five after 10 this morning to get here for 11:30 practice and we got a text saying practice starts at 10:30 now.   It’s kind of a whirlwind.  You go from massive panic to, okay, we’re going to be alright and we’re locked in.”


Qualifying races will commence at approximately 6:45 p.m. CT/7:45 p.m. ET for Super Late Model and Late Model teams to round out feature fields for Tuesday’s racing at Slinger.  Fans unable to attend the event at Slinger Speedway can click here to watch live on Speed51.TV pay-per-view.


-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans

-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo

Tiebreaker Decides Last Car to Lock Into Slinger Nationals