IT’S MUELLER OVER APEL IN A THRILLER AT SLINGER

By Dan Margetta - Slinger, Wis., May 5—Tire smoke and sliding race cars shrouded the Start/Finish line as the twin checkered flags swirled to signal the end of the 60-lap super late model feature Sunday afternoon at the Slinger Super Speedway and when the dust settled, Brad Mueller eked out the win by the slimmest of margins over Steve Apel.

“I don’t even know what to say about that,” an excited Mueller told the crowd from victory lane after holding on for the win by a mere .049 seconds as his car appeared to struggle in the final laps. “My car was jumping out of gear the last ten laps, “Mueller explained, “I drove the last ten laps one-handed and I love racing Steve (Apel), we race really good together.”

Mueller and Apel fought intensely for the win in the closing circuits with Apel drawing alongside as the white flag signaled the final lap. The pair raced door to door down the backstretch and into turn three before Apel’s car washed up slightly in turn four, turning Mueller’s machine sideways. With both drivers fighting for control with the checkered flag in sight, Mueller was able to edge ahead at the stripe to take the victory in a photo finish.

“That’s what the fans come here to see…good hard racing, “Apel stated afterwards, “Brad (Mueller) did a good job. I hit some water coming out of (turn) four on the last lap and had a four-wheel drift into him and those last laps, I don’t know if something happened to his car because he backed way off.”

For most of the race, it appeared Conrad Morgan was on his way to victory after first battling tough with Al Schill and then grabbing the lead from early pacesetter Michael Bilderback following a lap 31 caution flag for an incident between Mike Graczkowksi and Jerry Eckhardt in turn three. Once out front, Morgan cruised away to a comfortable lead but fate intervened with just nine laps to go when Fred Winn spun off the frontstretch following a nudge from Jamie Wallace and when Winn’s car came back onto the track in turn one, Morgan clipped it while leading. During the ensuing caution period, Morgan left the speedway, handing the lead off to Brad Mueller and when Steve Apel moved to the outside lane courtesy of the new cone restart rules, the classic battle to the finish was set in motion.

Rob Braun worked his way through the field to finish third while Travis Dassow and Michael Bilderback rounded out the top five. Al Schill took the checkered flag in sixth place followed by Brad Dahmer and Nick Wagner in seventh and eighth respectively. Lowell Bennett and Fred Winn completed the top ten finishers.

Mike Graczkowski, Jake Vanoskey, and Al Schill each scored victories in the super late model heat races and Brad Mueller was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 11.413 seconds.

Dan Jung used the inside groove to grab the lead early and then turned back a late charge by Alex Prunty to win the 40-lap late model feature. Prunty tried to use the outside groove to get a run on the leader following the only caution flag of the race on lap 27, but fell short in his bid as Jung proved to be too strong, taking the checkered flag for his first feature win of the season. Prunty held off a strong charge by John DeAngelis to finish second, leaving DeAngelis to settle for a close third. Ryan DeStefano crossed the finish line in fourth place and Braison Bennett was fifth.

Pat McIntee won the first late model heat race over Dan Jung and Al Stippich while Dan Church held off Ryan Farrell and John DeAngelis to win the second late model heat race. Alex Prunty set fast time with a lap of 12.522 seconds.

Kenny Joosten led the final fifteen circuits to win the 35-lap Midwest Sportsman feature event over Jack Stern and Chris Ratajczyk while Brian Holtz and Jay Shambeau rounded out the top five finishers.

Jimmy Evans took top honors in the first Midwest Sportsman heat race over Chris Storey and Jimmy Wilson while Brian Holtz scored the victory in the second heat race over Eric Lingford and Ryan Gutknecht. The Midwest Sportsman division was paced by Jack Stern in qualifying after he circled the speedway in 12.851 seconds.

Kyle Chwala made a successful trip to the Slinger highbanks as he won the 30-lap Area Sportsman feature event over Bill Prietzel and Kody Hubred. Ken Schraufnagel crossed the finish line in fourth while Adam Bleskan finished fifth.

Rick Coppernoll was the winner of the Area Sportsman heat race over Joe Shelby and Adam Bleskan. Kyle Chwala was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 13.274 seconds.

Brandon Tackes scored a clean sweep in the Slinger Bees division, winning the 25-lap feature, his heat race, and setting fast time with a lap of 14.869 seconds. Nick Schmidt finished second in the feature event followed by Steve Dickson and Jacob Schraufnagel. Russ Davison was fifth.

Justin Thomas was the winner of the Slinger Bees semi-feature over Nicole Mueller and Ryan Lovald while Slinger Bee heat race wins also went to Ryan Lovald and Brandon Berens.

Brian Baldyga won the American Super Cup feature, by holding off Earl Hoth at the finish. David Cerer took the checkered flag in third followed by Ken Jones and Steve Wilson. The race was red flagged momentarily when Michael Fredrichs’ car turned upside down in turn one after colliding with the car of Greg Harlow. Fredrichs was not injured in the incident.

American Super Cup heat race wins were scored by David Cerer and Ken Jones while Earl Hoth was the fastest qualifier at 15.127 seconds.

Willy Van Camp charged to the win in the Figure 8 event over Shane Becker and Paul Williams to close out the afternoon.