By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., July 15—During opening ceremonies for the 35th SuperSeal Slinger Nationals Tuesday night, Chris Wimmer’s crew placed the inaugural Nationals trophy won by his late uncle Larry Detjens during the 1980 event, on the trunk of his car presumably for good luck. Hours later, having that trophy on hand paid off as Wimmer held off a closing Matt Kenseth to capture his first SuperSeal Slinger Nationals crown at the Slinger Super Speedway.

“This is unbelievable,” an emotional Wimmer told the crowd from victory lane,” to tell you the truth, I didn’t even look in the mirror (at Kenseth), my right foot fell asleep so bad I could hardly feel the gas pedal and I was just hanging on at the end.”

Hanging on was just about what every driver in the field was doing as a dominant Dennis Prunty nearly pounded them into submission, leading all but six laps when with a healthy lead his car suddenly came to a halt on lap 176, the victim of a faulty ignition box. That opened the door for Wimmer as well as Casey Johnson and Matt Kenseth as suddenly with just 24 laps to go, all three turned up the wick to battle for the coveted Nationals crown. Kenseth was the first to make his move, charging his way around Johnson for second with just six laps to go and then closing on Wimmer for the top spot as the leader caught lapped traffic. Kenseth closed to Wimmer’s bumper on the final lap, but fell just short at the checkered flag and crossed the finish line in second place.

“Everything changed when the ‘22’ (Prunty) broke, he was gone and I was trying to save a little bit of the rear tire in case there was a caution at the end and when the ‘22’ dropped out that kind of changed everything,” the NASCAR Sprint Cup star stated afterward, “I had a real good run there at the end and I was hoping to get to the bottom and try to race him back to the start-finish line but just didn’t quite have enough.”

Casey Johnson was the only driver other than Dennis Prunty to lead the event up until Prunty’s misfortunes, and after Kenseth got around him for second, settled for a strong third place result.

“I ran out of brakes there at the end when I was trying to run down Chris (Wimmer) as hard as I could,” Johnson said, “When I saw that ‘22’ car (Prunty) go to the infield, I thought, ‘Man, there’s a chance.” “It’s not every day you get to battle with Matt Kenseth when you go to these big races, so it was a lot of fun.”

Earlier in the day, Conrad Morgan stated he was as ready as he ever was for the SuperSeal Slinger Nationals and the 65-year old veteran proved that thoroughly with a strong and impressive fourth place finish. Dalton Zehr took the checkered flag in fifth place to round out the top five finishers.

Defending Slinger super late model track champion Steve Apel finished in sixth ahead of Andrew Morrissey and Lowell Bennett in seventh and eighth respectively. 2005 Slinger Nationals winner Nathan Haseleu and Austin Luedtke completed the top ten.

Conrad Morgan won the 30-lap super late model qualifying race over Brian Johnson Jr. and Nathan Haseleu as those three along with fourth place finisher Mike Egan transferred to the main event. Braison Bennett captured the super late model semi-feature to punch his ticket to the big show along with second place finisher Rob Braun who also advanced to the main event. James Swan took the checkered flag in third ahead of Ryan DeStefano and Dale Prunty. Jeff Holtz won the super late model consi over Jerry Eckhardt and Robert Maynor while Andrew Morrissey topped the 42 car field in qualifying by blistering the speedway in 11.257 seconds.

Steven Scheel drove to his biggest win of the season to date in the 35-lap late model feature.

Alex Prunty and Dan Church battled for the lead throughout the event along with Zack Riddle as Scheel and others raced behind the top three. With just three laps to go, Prunty and Church made contact in turn three which carried their cars up the track off turn four, allowing Riddle to take advantage of the inside opening and attempt to take the lead. As Prunty and Church tried to regain control of their cars, they came side by side to Riddle’s rear quarter panel and as all three entered turn one, Prunty and Church’s car caromed hard off the wall to draw the caution flag. As racing resumed, Scheel swept around Riddle for the lead and drove to the victory. Riddle finished second ahead of Wayne Freimund in third while Al Stippich and Shaun Scheel finished in fourth and fifth respectively. Gregg Pawelski was the fastest qualifier after touring the speedway in 12.486 seconds.

Kevin Knuese won the Midwest Truck Series feature that ended on lap 24, six laps short of the scheduled distance due to a rain shower. Blake Brown finished in second place and John Beale was third. Gerry Wood and Kurt Kleven rounded out the top five finishers. Camden Murphy was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 11.964 seconds.