By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., July 22—James Swan scored his first career super late model feature victory by holding off a closing Rich Bickle to win the Old Wisconsin 60 Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway.
“Oh my God, this is awesome, “an obviously excited Swan told the crowd from victory lane, “Rob Braun (car owner) told me a couple of weeks ago I could drive this car and I was like, ‘heck yeah I’m in’…The car is really good and I was really happy with it and ‘Wow’ this is just awesome.”
Dan Jung charged to the early lead from the outside front row starting position as Chris Blawat battled for the top spot on the inside, just ahead of Swan and Mike Egan who raced side by side over third with Rob Braun and Al Schill looking on from fifth and sixth respectively.
The caution flag waved quickly on lap five for a spin by Nick Wagner in turn one with Jung leading over Blawat, Swan, Braun, and Egan. Jung chose the inside line for the restart and a lap after the green flag waved, cleared Blawat for the lead while Swan filled the space on the inside and pulled even with Blawat for second. The cars in the high lane began to struggle and Blawat, Braun, and Lowell Bennett found themselves drifting backwards as Egan, Schill, Steve Apel, Dennis Prunty, and Rich Bickle all advanced forward from the inside. Meanwhile back out front, Swan caught Jung for the lead and despite the struggles of those behind him, took to the outside lane to move alongside for the lead. Jung and Swan battled side by side over the lead for several laps with Swan edging ahead at the stripe to lead lap 16 while working the outside, before finally clearing Jung for sole possession of the top spot while entering turn three on lap 18.
Behind the top two, Egan, Schill, and Apel raced nose to tail and closed in while Rich Bickle held off Lowell Bennett and Dennis Prunty for sixth. As Swan began to pull away out front, Jung clung to the low lane and held off Egan and Apel while Schill and Bickle took to the top groove and eventually drove around all three to claim second and third place respectively. Apel also jumped into the high lane and worked his way around Jung to move into fourth and Egan, Bennett, and Prunty followed suit as all gained positions from the outside groove. With Swan continuing to enjoy a comfortable lead, Bickle went to work on Schill for second, again using the high line to pull even and as they battled side by side, Apel closed in from fourth. Bickle’s persistence in the high groove paid off and he was able to drive around Schill to take second and a few laps later, Apel executed a similar outside lane move to grab third.
After securing second, Bickle began to hunt down Swan for the lead as the leaders began to approach lapped traffic as Apel equally gave chase from third. Swan’s lead began to gradually shrink as he worked his way through the lapped machines as Bickle continued to narrow the gap between himself and the leader. With five laps to go, Swan’s lead was down to three car lengths and Bickle cut the deficit to a car length and a half with three laps to go as more lapped traffic lay directly ahead of the leaders. Swan maneuvered through the traffic flawlessly in the closing laps and denied Bickle a final challenge as he drove under the checkered flag to take the win two car lengths ahead of Bickle. Steve Apel crossed the finish line in third place while Al Schill and Mike Egan rounded out the top five. Dennis Prunty finished sixth just ahead of Lowell Bennett in seventh and Dan Jung in eighth. Rob Braun and Mike Graczkowski were ninth and tenth respectively.
James Swan also won the super late model heat race over Dan Jung and Mike Graczkowski as Gregg Pawelski and Fred Winn rounded out the top five while Al Schill edged Rich Bickle to win the special Old Wisconsin Hot Dog super late model match race. Dennis Prunty took top honors in the super late model fast dash while Rich Bickle was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 11.439 seconds.
Casey Johnson took the lead on lap 21 and went on to capture the win in the 35-lap late model main event over Alex Prunty.
Jerry Mueller and Andy Welter led the field to the green flag with Mueller taking the early lead from the inside. The low groove was the place to be early on as Ryan DeStefano and Alex Prunty used it to advance to second and third as Welter dropped to fourth racing on the high side. The first caution flag appeared on lap three when Justin Poenitsch’s car looped around in turn one with Mueller leading over DeStefano and Prunty.
Mueller chose the inside for the restart and as racing resumed, maintained the lead as the caution quickly flew again when DeStefano tried to fill the gap on the inside entering turn three and was tagged by Prunty, sending DeStefano spinning around in turn four and relegating both DeStefano and Prunty to the rear of the field for the restart. Mueller again held the lead as the race went back to green with Welter holding down second just ahead of John DeAngelis and Casey Johnson who raced side by side for third. As Mueller began to ease away from the field, Welter, Johnson and DeAngelis fell in line single file as Braison Bennett joined the front runners while both DeStefano and Prunty began to slice their way forward as well. Johnson used the outside lane to take second from Welter as DeStefano and Prunty first picked off Bennett and went to work on DeAngelis in fourth.
As Johnson closed on Mueller for the lead, DeStefano and Prunty used the outside groove to pass DeAngelis to move into third and fourth respectively. Johnson tracked down Mueller out front and took to the outside in a bid for the lead, racing side by side for two laps before clearing Mueller for the lead on lap 21. While the leaders were battling, DeStefano and Prunty closed on Welter in third and with Welter racing on the low side, Prunty got the advantage as he used the outside to first pass DeStefano and then Welter to move into third while DeStefano also worked his way around Welter to take over fourth. With Johnson extending his lead, Prunty tracked down Mueller and following a spirited battle, used the outside to grab second, leaving Mueller and DeStefano to dispute third. Johnson would not be denied in the closing laps and he drove to the victory over Prunty while Mueller held off DeStefano for third as the two made contact at the strip, sending Mueller’s car hard into the turn one wall and damaging the front of DeStefano’s machine. Andy Welter finished in fifth.
Jerry Mueller won the late model fast dash while Braison Bennett scored the victory in the late model heat race over Justin Poenitsch and Andy Welter. Alex Prunty was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 12.409 seconds.
Ryan Farrell drove to the lead on lap nine of the 30-lap Midwest Sportsman feature and went to claim the victory over Sonny Schoffen, who drove the car normally piloted by James Swan to a strong second place finish. Crystal Wood led the opening laps of the event before taking the checkered flag with a respectable third place finish while Jimmy Wilson crossed the finish line in fourth ahead of Dave Wastak in fifth. Sonny Schoffen also won the Midwest Sportsman fast dash while Ryan Farrell took top honors in qualifying after touring the speedway in 12.903 seconds.
Ken Schraufnagel passed Tyler Schley for the lead on lap five and went on to hold off Brad Hetzel to win the 20-lap Thunderstock feature. Schley finished in third place while Carl Benn and Rick Schaefer completed the top five. Rick Schaefer was the winner of the Thunderstock heat race over Tim Kreuser and Nick Egan while Carl Benn won the Thunderstock fast dash. Ken Schraufnagel was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 13.680 seconds.
Braison Bennett held off Steve Dickson to win the 20-lap Slinger Bees feature while Brandon Tackes edged Grant Griesbach for third and Ryan Savage was fifth. Steve Dickson was the winner of the first Slinger Bees heat race over Braison Bennett and Grant Griesbach while Jacob Schraufnagel won the second Slinger Bees heat race over Allen Maher and Paul Reagles. Brandon Tackes was the fastest qualifier after turning in a lap of 15.078 seconds.
Willie Van Camp was the winner of the Figure 8 race that featured Roush-Fenway NASCAR Sprint Cup crew member Greg Emmer to close the evening.
Next Sunday July 29 is Round 2 of the Pepsi Challenge Series. See a 60 lap Super Late Model Race along with a full racing program including Late Models, Midwest Sportsman, Thunderstock, Slinger Bee's, Figure 8's and One on One Spectators. Gates open at 4 pm, qualifying at 4:45, opening ceremonies at 6:30 and racing to follow.
This article was posted to the website on July 23rd, 2012