SWAN EDGES BRAUN IN SLINGER’S ALAN KULWICKI MEMORIAL

By Dan Margetta

Slinger, Wis., May 19—Driving a car sporting the same #97 that the late Alan Kulwicki raced at the Slinger Super Speedway years ago, James Swan edged Rob Braun in a thrilling finish to the 21st annual Alan Kulwicki Memorial super late model feature Sunday night.

“I think I just got fired,” Swan quipped from victory lane after denying his car owner Braun a first-time victory for the second time this season. “I could see his front tire so I thought I had it,” Swan continued after nipping Braun by a mere .05 seconds to score the win, “I figured I would just hang on and then when he (Braun) got to my door it loosened him up just enough that I got there before he did.” Following the victory, Swan performed Kulwicki’s signature “Polish Victory Lap” and then later paid tribute to the legendary Dick Trickle who passed away just days before the race.

Travis Dassow and Dave McCardle led the field to the green flag and Dassow immediately charged to the lead as the inside groove proved to be fast early on with Jeff Holtz, Rich Loch, and Rob Braun all advancing behind the leader. Dassow continued to lead while Loch and Holtz battled for second just ahead of Braun and Brad Mueller. Loch was able to wrestle second away from Holtz and with Holtz shuffled off the inside line, Braun, Mueller, and James Swan all worked their way past as Dassow maintained his lead. A few circuits later, Braun dispatched Loch for second and began to hunt down Dassow for the lead, closing the gap as the race neared the halfway point. Braun caught Dassow and made his move for the lead, taking command of the event on lap 28 with an outside move. A spin by Michael Bilderback off turn four while racing with Nick Wagner on lap 36 drew the first caution flag of the event with Braun leading over Dassow, Loch, Swan, and Steve Apel who edged Mueller for the spot a few laps earlier. Braun was ready on the restart and he quickly established himself as the leader as racing resumed while Loch, Swan, and Mueller worked their way around Dassow, who dropped into a battle with Apel. The race for position between Dassow and Apel came to an abrupt end on lap 50 when Apel’s car was sent spinning off the nose of Dassow’s machine exiting turn two, necessitating a caution flag with Braun leading over Loch, Swan, and Mueller. Braun once again maintained his lead on the restart as Loch fell back from the outside lane, allowing Swan and Mueller to move into second and third respectively. As the leaders raced toward the final lap, a cut tire on Loch’s car sent him hard into the turn three wall, setting up a green-white-checkered finish between Braun, Swan, and Mueller. Swan chose the outside on the restart and was able to maintain momentum and hold his line alongside Braun. As the leaders took the white flag, Swan entered the corner harder than Braun which gave him a strong run off turn two just enough to edge ahead down the backstretch. As the two entered turn three, Braun battled back and the two made door contact in turn four which loosened up both cars, allowing Mueller to make a charge from third. Braun and Swan maintained control and with a straighter shot toward the finish line, Swan edged Braun for the victory. Mueller finished a close third while Jeff Holtz and Dennis Prunty rounded out the top five.

Jake Vanoskey won the 20-lap super late model semi-feature while Jerry Eckhardt made a last lap final corner charge to barely beat Curt Tillman for second place and the final transfer spot into the main event. Mike Grackozwski and Tommy Hromadka were fourth and fifth respectively. Super late model heat race wins were recorded by Curt Tillman, Lowell Bennett, and Jeff Holtz while Conrad Morgan set fast time at 11.550 seconds.

Ryan DeStefano won the 40-lap late model feature over Dan Church in another green-white-checkered finish. DeStefano and Adam Peschek raced side by side for the lead with Church, Alex Prunty, and John DeAngelis all in two by two formation behind them for most of the race until Peschek looped his car while trying to outgun DeStefano into turn three with two laps to go. DeStefano then held off Church for the final two laps to take the victory as Alex Prunty edged John DeAngelis for third. Steven Schulz finished fifth.

Tim Lange and Steven Schulz each scored victories in the late model heat races while Alex Prunty set fast time with a lap of 12.635 seconds.

Brad Hetzel raced to the lead just past the halfway point of the Area Sportsman feature and then held off fast closing teammates Kody Hubred and Kyle Chwala for the victory. Tyler Schley and Joe Shelby rounded out the top five finishers. Earlier Schley scored the win in the Area Sportsman heat race and Brad Hetzel was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 13.356 seconds.

Steve Dickson captured the win in the 25-lap Slinger Bee feature, taking the checkered flag ahead of Marty Tackes and Brandon Tackes while Nick Schmidt and Ricky Heinan finished fourth and fifth respectively. Dave Lembke took the checkered flag first in the 15-lap Slinger Bee semi-feature over Dale Kiley-Schaefer and Nicole Mueller but later failed to pass post-race technical inspection. Slinger Bee heat race wins went to Dave Lembke, Grant Griesbach, and Steve Dickson. Brandon Tackes was the fastest qualifier at 15.012 seconds.

Willy Van Camp won the Figure 8 race as he spun across the finish line with Ron Schmitt in a wild finish.