By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., May 15— Two familiar combatants dueled for the win in the 24th annual Alan Kulwicki Memorial super late model feature Sunday night at the Slinger Speedway as Dennis Prunty edged Steve Apel in yet another photo finish.
After battling intensely over the closing laps, Prunty’s outside lane to the checkered flag was just enough to score the victory as Apel’s inside groove charge fell just .068 seconds short at the finish. The victory was Prunty’s second in the prestigious super late model event named in honor of the late 1992 NASCAR Cup Champion.
“Steve (Apel) was fast and he was tough,” Prunty told the crowd from victory lane, “I had a tight car and I was doing everything I could just to hold him off and I think we did pretty good.”
“I drove it in there and was able to get alongside off the corner and I thought I was going to have a shot, “Apel said afterwards, “It was close but I just came up a little short. All in all it was a good night and we’ll get them next week.”
Rich Loch paced the opening laps from his outside front row starting spot as Travis Dassow slotted into second just ahead of Gary LaMonte, Ryan DeStefano, and Brad Mueller. Dassow dogged Loch for the lead in the early going and contact between the front runners produced the first caution flag on lap seven when Loch looped around, scattering the field behind him. Brad Mueller assumed the lead for the restart as Loch and Dassow were sent to the rear of the field and LaMonte exited the speedway to repair front end damage from the incident. Rob Braun, DeStefano, Duke Long, and Dennis Prunty filled in the top five positions behind Mueller as racing resumed. Mueller maintained the lead while Prunty and Steve Apel began to work their way forward, picking off positions one by one. By lap 19, Prunty had advanced all the way to second and began to challenge Mueller for the lead while Apel closely stalked the lead duo from third. Behind the top three, DeStefano, Lowell Bennett, and James Swan battled for position while both Loch and Dassow joined that group as they recovered from their earlier incident. Prunty passed Mueller for the lead on lap 20 and Apel used a similar move to get around Mueller for second a few laps later. A spin off turn four by Dassow while battling with Brad Keith on lap 32 produced another caution flag and Keith took the blame for the incident, allowing Dassow to regain his spot for the restart with Prunty leading over Apel, Mueller, Bennett, and Swan. Prunty kept the lead as racing resumed but he was pressured heavily by Apel while Mueller kept them in sight from third. Behind the leaders, Rob Braun spun off the front stretch and into the infield while racing with Tim Lampman on lap 41 and the caution waved once again. Prunty and Apel renewed their battle for the lead as the race went back to green while Mueller remained in their tracks and Bennett, DeStefano, Swan, Dassow, and Loch battled in tight formation behind them. Loch briefly kicked loose off turn two and lost positions as he edged through the infield grass on the backstretch just before the race fell under the red flag when Brad Keith slammed the turn four wall on lap 51, setting up a nine lap dash toward the finish. Keith emerged from his wrecked machine uninjured as Prunty lined up in the outside groove for the restart with Apel alongside. Apel tried everything he could in the final laps to get around Prunty, even drawing alongside numerous times, only to see Prunty remain out front with a strong run off the outside lane. On the final lap, Apel muscled his way alongside Prunty exiting turn four but Prunty’s outside run off the corner was just enough to score the win by inches over Apel. Brad Mueller finished third while Travis Dassow and Ryan DeStefano rounded out the top five finishers. James Swan finished sixth just ahead of Alex Prunty in seventh while Lowell Bennett, Mark Eswein, and Duke Long completed the top ten.
John DeAngelis won the 30-lap super late model semi-feature over Lowell Bennet and Mark Eswein as they along with fourth place finisher Mitch McGrath all transferred to the main event. Fred Winn finished fifth. Super late model heat races were won by Lowell Bennett, Josh Wallace, and Brad Mueller while Dennis Prunty was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 11.226 seconds.
Mike Held turned back the challenges of Jordan DeVoy to win the 40-lap late model feature.
Kyle Chwala led the opening laps over Ryan Farrell, Brian Holtz, Ryan Gutknecht, and Jack Stern. Mike Held and Jordan DeVoy began to work their way forward through the field, bringing Al Stippich along with them while Chwala continued to lead. The first caution flag of the race flew on lap nine when Farrell’s car kicked loose in turn four after receiving a tag from behind from Holtz. Farrell’s car first turned to the inside and then quickly back outside, making hard contact with the outside wall. Chwala maintained the lead on the restart for a few laps, turning back the outside lane challenges of Mike Held. Eventually Held moved to the lower groove and was able to edge to the inside of Chwala to take command of the race and Jordan DeVoy also used an inside move to grab second a few laps later, leaving Chwala to battle with Al Stippich for third. With Held and DeVoy out front, Chwala and Stippich fought side by side for third as the laps wound down. A spin off turn four by R.J. Braun produced the caution flag on lap 37 leaving a three lap shootout for the victory. As racing resumed, Held kept the lead as DeVoy began to close quickly. DeVoy could only get to Held’s rear bumper though as Held hung on to score the win while Stippich edged Chwala in a fender rubbing battle for third at the stripe. Ryan Gutknecht finished fifth.
Late Model heat race victories were recorded by Justin Poenitsch and Ryan Farrell while Jordan DeVoy set a new track record in qualifying with a lap of 12.018 seconds.
Andy Welter won a wild Area Sportsman 30-lap feature despite suffering damage in an earlier incident.
Adam Bleskan led the first two laps before Eric Schuetz paced the field from lap three to six. Ken Au moved to the head of the field on lap seven while Jacob Schraufnagel began to close on the leader after starting deep in the field. Schraufnagel worked his way to second place by the halfway mark and he began to challenge Au for the lead while Scott Ascher, Paul Wagner, and Joe Shelby raced close behind the lead duo. On lap 16, Schraufnagel’s car broke loose off turn four and bounced off the side of Au’s car, sending Schraufnagel into the front stretch wall where his car turned on its side before landing back down on four wheels. Au led on the restart over Ascher as Shelby and Wagner battled for third. On lap 21, with Au still leading, Wagner and Shelby got together off turn two and by the time both cars settled, Andy Welter received damage and Scott Hoeft became collected in the incident. Once again Au led on the restart but the field was back under the yellow flag again two laps later when Ascher slid sideways in turn two after trying to pass Au for the lead on the inside entering turn one. Au chose the inside lane for the restart as did those behind him except for Welter who moved all the way to the outside of the front row, as the only driver to choose the outside. Welter took advantage of his decision and he was able to pass Au for the lead and then drive to the victory. Au finished second while Brad Hetzel was third. Paul Wagner and Joe Shelby rebounded from their incident to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Paul Wagner and Joe Shelby won the Area Sportsman heat races and Scott Ascher set a new track record in qualifying with a lap of 12.833 seconds.
Tom Berens nipped Jared Deming to win the 25-lap Slinger Bee feature in a photo finish. Jerry Lyons finished third ahead of Matt Rose and Jacob Hasler in fourth and fifth respectively. Marty Tackes won the Slinger Bee semi-feature over Nicole Mueller and Dale Kiley-Schaefer while Slinger Bee heat race wins went to Dale Kiley-Schaefer, Dave Schmidt, and Jerry Lyons. Tom Berens was the Slinger Bee fast qualifier with a lap at 14.508 seconds.
Al Roberts won the Spectator Eliminator races in his 1975 Chevy Monte Carlo and Willie Van Camp won the Figure 8 race.
This article was posted to the website on May 16th, 2016