By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., July 17—James Swan led the final 26 laps and held off heavy hitters Steve Rubeck, Zack Riddle, and Jeremy Miller to capture his first career Big 8 Late Model Series victory Sunday night in the Old Wisconsin King of the Highbanks 88 at the Slinger Super Speedway.
“The first couple of laps the car was really good then it started getting loose, then it would come right back to me and I would reel those guys in,” an exhausted Swan told the crowd while sitting on his car in victory lane following a hot night, “Then the yellow would come out and we had to go through the whole process again over and over and over, then finally when it counted I was there.”
“I was tight in the center (of the corners) and loose off,” Rubeck said following his runner-up finish in his first trip to Slinger, “Jeremy (Miller) had me a couple times and Zack (Riddle) did a good job, everybody had a better car and I should have been fifth or sixth.” “with it being tight in the center I figured I could go to the outside, “Rubeck continued explaining his move to choose the outside groove for the final restart, “I’m happy with second for the first time ever being here, this place is like Rockford (Speedway) on steroids.”
Rubeck and Eddie May led the field to the green flag and battled side by side for the lead before the caution flag quickly waved on lap two for a minor spin by Steve Dobbratz in turn one. As racing resumed, Rubeck again led May as those behind them scurried to get to the bottom groove with Travis Dassow, Jeremy Miller, and Swan all using the low line to work their way around Bobby Wilberg and into third through fifth respectively. Dassow bobbled momentarily in turn two which opened up the door to the inside for Miller, who immediately seized the opportunity to grab third with Swan right behind him to take fourth. Jon Reynolds Jr. was the next in line to try to fill the inside gap and he raced with Dassow and Wilberg while Rubeck continued to lead over May. Reynolds had his car working well down low and within a few laps he not only prevailed in the battle with Dassow and Wilberg but also passed Swan to move into fourth as Miller closed in on Rubeck and May out front. The caution flew on lap 18 when Kyle Shear spun in turn two while racing for position with Ryan Miles and during the slowdown, May suddenly exited the speedway with power steering issues, leaving Rubeck leading over Miller, Reynolds, Swan, and Wilberg. As the field doubled up, Reynolds decided to take a chance on the outside lane at the restart cone and with the green flag waving he issued a strong challenge to Swan for third, allowing Rubeck and Miller to ease away slightly. Reynolds hung tough on the outside for a few laps but eventually began to fade as Swan and Wilberg both got by on the inside before Reynolds could get back in line just ahead of Zack Riddle. While this was sorting out, Miller closed to Rubeck’s rear bumper, actually touching it in the middle of the corners but each time Rubeck maintained the lead as they exited the turns. Reynolds’ run to the front came to an abrupt end on lap 27 when a broken panhard bar on the frontstretch caused him to slow down dramatically, drawing the caution flag as he exited the speedway with sparks showing under his car.
This time for the restart the top five of Rubeck, Miller, Swan, Wilberg, and Riddle all chose the inside lane while Travis Dassow and Ty Majeski took their chances on the high side and once again the upper groove held tough for a few laps before both Majeski and Dassow eventually fell in line behind Swan and just ahead of Wilberg and Riddle. Behind the leaders, Alex Prunty’s car got loose off turn four after contact with Dale Nottestad and as Prunty regained control on the far inside, Nottestad and Davey Pennel both tried to pass him, setting up a three-wide situation on the frontstretch. As Nottestad and Pennel cleared Prunty entering turn one, contact between them sent Pennel spinning around as Nottestad and Prunty bounced off one another but kept going while Chris Ratajczyk spun to avoid the melee with the caution flag waving on lap 31. Wilberg and Riddle chose the high lane for this restart which paid off when the field went back to green as they both were able to slot into fourth and fifth respectively just in front of Majeski and behind Rubeck, Miller, and Swan. As was the case earlier, everyone tried to get to the bottom groove and in the shuffling around, Wayne Freimund’s car suffered damage as the hood bowed up off the right side. As cars desperately tried to get around him, contact with Nottestad’s car sent Freimund spinning off turn four to produce another caution on lap 39. The top three remained on the bottom for this restart as Riddle took to the high side bringing Mike Ehde along with him and both were able to slide in place in front of Wilberg, dropping him to sixth as Rubeck still led over Miller and Swan. Wilberg was able to pass Ehde a few laps later and as Majeski tried to fill the hole on the inside to pass Ehde as well, side contact between them on the front straight popped Majeski’s tire and he left the track in a shower of sparks as the race remained under green.
Rubeck, Miller, and Swan ran nose to tail as Miller made numerous looks to the inside for the lead but each time he had to be careful not to open the door for Swan to challenge for second. On lap 47, Swan was able to just get the edge of his nose under Miller as the raced down the backstretch and as Miller tried to defend the position entering turn three, he was unable to clear Swan who had his nose inside his rear fender, forcing him to relinquish second to Swan. Miller quickly fell back in line behind Swan as Riddle and Wilberg joined them, all chasing Rubeck for the lead. Swan caught up to Rubeck in a few laps and after making a few attempts to get to the inside, suddenly moved to the high line, pulling alongside Rubeck just as the caution flew again for a spin by Kyle Shear in turn one on lap 54. During the caution period, Miller’s car came to rest on the speedway as the shift knob broke, leaving his car stuck in high gear. Miller left the speedway and the crew hastily made repairs, getting him out of the pits before the field went back to green to keep him on the lead lap. As racing resumed, the top three pulled ahead all racing around the bottom of the speedway with Rubeck leading Swan and Riddle. Swan kept Rubeck in his sights and when Rubeck couldn’t keep his car down entering turn one on lap 62, Swan pounced on the opportunity, taking the lead down the backstretch. Riddle also took advantage of the situation to grab second before Rubeck regrouped to settle into the third spot. Swan held about a three car length lead over Riddle as Rubeck fell into a battle for third with Wilberg and Nottestad, who rebounded from his earlier issues to challenge for a top five spot. Also, behind the top five, Miller was slicing his way through the field after dealing with his earlier problems. Miller narrowly avoided disaster again on lap 70 when Ryan Miles spun directly in front of him while racing with Alex Prunty to draw the seventh caution flag of the event.
Swan led Riddle and Rubeck on the restart while Wilberg and Miller each tried the top side in an effort to gain track position with the laps winding down. Swan and Riddle pulled away out front while Wilberg was able to fall in line ahead of Rubeck for third, leaving Miller to settle in fifth just ahead of Nottestad. Wilberg had difficulty keeping his car low and Miller charged by into third as Swan led over Riddle while Rubeck and Nottestad rounded out the top five when the final caution flag waved on lap 77 when Ryan Miles sent Alex Prunty sailing through the infield grass off turn two. As the field approached the restart cone, Rubeck took his chances on the outside while Riddle, Miller, and Wilberg all remained in the low groove as Swan led them back to the green flag. Rubeck was able to clear Riddle for second which allowed Swan to pull away in the final laps. The fight over second gave Swan all the advantage he needed and he drove under the checkered flag for the win while Rubeck held off Riddle for second. Miller and Wilberg completed the top five finishers. Dale Nottestad finished sixth and Wayne Freimund was seventh while Travis Dassow, Ryan Miles, and Jason Hicks rounded out the top ten.
Ryan Miles and Darren Wolke each scored wins in Big 8 qualifying races while Rob Braun won the Even Dash and Steve Rubeck won the Odd Dash. Jon Reynolds Jr. was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 12.520 seconds.
James Swan also won the 30-lap Midwest Sportsman feature, scoring his eighth main event win in the division this season.
Crystal Wood and Jack Stern raced for the lead at the start before Stern was able to take the lead from the outside groove as Brett Widdis and Scott Shambeau raced for positions behind them. Shambeau’s car suddenly washed up the speedway and he exited the event as Stern continued to lead while Swan and Brian Holtz began to work their way forward. Swan and Holtz caught Stern by lap nine and after getting position on the inside, both Swan and Holtz raced around Stern and into first and second respectively. Once out front, Swan was never challenged and he drove to the win over Holtz while Stern finished in third. Brett Widdis and Jay Shambeau were fourth and fifth respectively. Scott Shambeau won the Midwest Sportsman fast dash and James Swan set fast time with a lap of 12.984 seconds.
Andy Welter held off Brad Hetzel to win the 20-lap Thunderstock feature while John Daley finished third. Rick Schaefer crossed the finish line in fourth after leading the first two laps and Nick Egan finished fifth despite slamming the frontstretch wall and getting airborne at the finish. John Daley was the winner of the Thunderstock fast dash and Brad Hetzel was the fastest qualifier in the division after lapping the speedway in 13.694 seconds. Brandon Tackes won the 18-lap Slinger Bee feature over Allen Maher Jr. and Braison Bennett. Marty Tackes finished fourth and Misty Benn took the checkered flag in fifth. Brittiny Helmers won the 10-lap Slinger Bee semi-feature over Zach Clarke while Braison Bennett won the Slinger Bee fast dash. Nick Wagner once again set fast time with a lap of 15.317 seconds. Aaron Moyer scored a clean sweep in the Legends division, winning the feature, the heat race, and setting fast time with a lap of 13.776 seconds. Mike Gramzow was the winner of the Westbury Bank Speedway Guest Car race and Willy Van Camp won the Amber Inn Figure 8 race to close out the night.
This article was posted to the website on July 18th, 2011