NASON AND HOLTZ VICTORIOUS AT PRELUDE TO THE NATIONALS

By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., July 13—Austin Nason drove to his first career Big 8 Late Model Series victory after a hard fought battle with Casey Johnson and Jon Reynolds Jr. in the King of the High Banks 68 while Jeff Holtz topped the Mid-American Stock Car Series 48 lap main event Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway.

“This is amazing!” an obviously excited Nason exclaimed from victory lane, “Especially to win here and with Jonny (Reynolds) and Casey (Johnson), we might have ran a little rough but it all comes down to who is going to win.”

Casey Johnson and Kevin Knuese led the field to the green flag and Johnson worked the low groove to charge out to the early lead as Knuese tried to ward off Jesse Bernhagen, John DeAngelis Jr., and Gregg Pawelski in second. Beyond the top five, Dale Nottestad, Jon Reynolds Jr. and Steve Dobbratz began to move their way forward. The caution flag waved early when Ricky Heinan clipped the front stretch wall on lap five and spun backwards into the turn one barrier. Johnson led on the restart over Bernhagen and Pawelski with DeAngelis and Austin Nason in tow while Nottestad, Dan Church, and Reynolds battled three wide for position behind them. With Johnson and Bernhagen out front, Nason and DeAngelis began to pressure Pawelski for third as they began to encounter lapped traffic. Pawelski was able to use a lapped machine to maintain the position while Nason muscled his way between the lapped car and DeAngelis to grab the fourth spot. Lapped traffic came into the mix a few circuits later when J. Herbst’s car looped around in turn two on lap 30 following slight contact with the third place running Pawelski. The incident sent Pawelski to the rear of the field and eventually off the track leaving Johnson leading over Bernhagen, Nason, DeAngelis, Nottestad, and Reynolds. Johnson eased out to the lead once again as racing resumed while Nason took to the outside to take second away from Bernhagen while Reynolds shot forward to battle with DeAngelis over fourth. Reynolds took the position just before the caution flag waved again on lap 31 for Tyler Schley’s spun car on the frontstretch. With Johnson leading, Bernhagen chose the outside lane for the restart and it proved detrimental as both Nason and Reynolds were able to race by on the inside and into second and third respectively. Within a few circuits, Nason was able to edge to the inside of Johnson for the lead and the two raced side by side for the lead as Reynolds closed in from third. Nason and Johnson swapped the top spot for five laps before they drifted high off turn four, allowing Reynolds to sneak into second from the inside, door to door with Nason as Johnson dove to the bottom to make a three wide attempt to pass both of them off turn two. Johnson was forced to back off as the trio entered turn three, leaving Reynolds and Nason side by side out front and after several hard fought laps, Nason was able to turn back Reynolds to keep the lead. With the lead momentarily sorted out, Bernhagen went to work on Johnson for third just before the caution appeared on lap 54 for Mike Meyerhofer’s stalled car. Nason maintained the lead over Reynolds on the restart but the field was quickly placed back under the yellow flag when hard racing in the middle of the pack sent Alex Prunty’s car around in between turns three and four which stacked the field as cars scattered behind them. Once the incident was cleaned up and racing resumed, Reynolds appeared poised to challenge Nason for the lead but two laps into the run he suddenly slowed and exited the speedway with mechanical issues. That left Nason to fend off Johnson in the closing laps and he did just that en route to his first career Big 8 Late Model Series victory. Johnson finished a strong second followed by Jesse Bernhagen, Dale Nottestad, and Jerry Eckhardt in third through fifth respectively. John DeAngelis finished sixth ahead of Jeff Holtz in seventh and Dave Edwards in eighth. Tyler Schley rebounded from his earlier spin to finish ninth and Grant Griesbach took the checkered flag in tenth after earlier becoming the youngest driver to start a Big 8 Series event at 12 years old.

Jerry Eckhardt and Wayne Freimund each won Big 8 Series qualifying heats and Casey Johnson and Kevin Knuese were the winners of the Big 8 Fast Dashes. J. Herbst was the winner of the Big 8 Last Chance race and Jon Reynolds Jr. set fast time with a lap of 12.375 seconds, establishing a new track record in the process.

Jeff Holtz held off Brad Keith in a green-white-checkered finish to win the 48-lap Mid-American Stock Car Series main event.

Brian Holtz and Kenny Joosten traded the lead in the early laps as Lyle Nowak, Brad Keith, Ryan Gutknecht, and Jeff Holtz followed. The side by side battling from third on back allowed the leaders to scoot away a bit from the rest of the field. The event quickly fell under the red flag on lap 13 when Eric Lingford’s car climbed the frontstretch wall near the flag stand and slid upside down into turn one where it came to rest on its roof in the infield. Lingford was not injured in the incident and when racing resumed, Joosten was quick on the button and he charged by Holtz on the outside to take the lead. Brian Holtz’s car then wobbled severely on the front straight and by the time he regained control, Nowak, Keith, and Jeff Holtz all raced by, dropping him to fourth. The caution flag waved again a few laps later for an incident between Jeremy Spoonmore and Rick Tackman in turn three. Joosten hung onto his lead on the restart as Jeff Holtz slotted into second while Keith and Nowak battled for third. After numerous attempts on the inside, Jeff Holtz took to the high side and pulled alongside Joosten for the lead. Holtz and Joosten raced door to door for several laps before Holtz was able to prevail using the upper groove of the speedway. Keith also took to the high side in an effort to get around Joosten and like Holtz earlier, was able to complete the pass after several laps. Jeff Holtz appeared to be on his way to a comfortable victory until the caution waved with seven laps to go when Brian Holtz looped his car in turn two. Jeff Holtz was up to the challenge as racing resumed and he kept Keith at a distance as the laps began to wind down. Lyle Nowak spun around in turn one with two laps to go after contact with Jack Stern and the ensuing caution flag set up a green-white-checkered finish. Stern “tapped out” during the slowdown, admitting fault in the incident and allowing Nowak to receive his spot back for the restart. Once again, Holtz was up to the task and he held off Keith’s challenges to drive to the victory while Keith settled for a strong second. Kenny Joosten finished third ahead of Ryan Gutknecht and Lyle Nowak. Cody Erdman finished sixth while Danny Gilster and Scott Dunning finished seventh and eighth respectively and Jeremy Spoonmore and Erik Pierce rounded out the top ten.

Eric Lingford, Jeremy Spoonmore, and Scott Dunning all were winners in Mid-American Stock Car Series heat races while Jimmie Evans was the winner of the Last Chance Race. Bill Prietzel was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 12.773 seconds.

Kyle Chwala raced to his fourth feature win of the season in the Area Sportsman main event.

Brad Hetzel led the opening eleven laps before Chwala tracked him down to take the lead on lap 12. Once out front, Chwala could not be caught as Hetzel was forced to settle for second place. Joe Shelby wrapped up a strong run with a stout third place result while Jay Kalbus and Andy Welter rounded out the top five.

Terry Wangsness won the first Area Sportsman heat and Joe Shelby took top honors in the second heat race. Kyle Chwala set fast time with a lap of 13.046 seconds.

Nick Schmidt won the Slinger Bee feature over T.J. Graczkowski and Dale Kiley-Schaefer. Brandon Tackes finished fourth and Heather Stark took the checkered flag in fifth. Jayden Buckley won the Slinger Bee semi-feature over Phil Malouf and Tristan Dorzok. Slinger Bee heat race victories were recorded by Rick Schaefer, Heather Stark, and T.J. Graczkowski. Brandon Tackes was the fastest qualifier at 14.989 seconds.

Ed Christ won the Spectator Eliminator races in his Mustang but then failed to collect the bounty on Al Roberts and his pick-up truck. Rick Bruskiewicz closed the evening with a win in the Figure 8 race.