Slinger, Wis., April 23—R.J. Braun took the lead from Jacob Nottestad on lap 38 and then held off a hard charging Steve Apel in lapped traffic to win the 100-lap Miracle on the High Banks super late model feature Sunday afternoon at the Slinger Speedway. The event served as the season opener for the ASA Midwest Tour and the Elite Eight Super Late Model Series at Slinger as Braun, Apel, and Nottestad staged a tremendous battle through heavy lapped traffic in the closing laps before taking the top three positions at the checkered flag.
“Running through the field in the beginning was a little difficult and as we were weaving our way through, I was just trying to maintain my pace and save my tires,” Braun told the crowd from victory lane, “In the end I was just trying to hold on and Steve (Apel) was getting on my tail so I was just trying my best to hold him off.”
“I made the mistake of letting R.J. (Braun) early,” Apel stated after his runner-up finish, “I was hoping he would burn his stuff up and I think he did, but I just couldn’t navigate lapped traffic as good as he could. That was the difference between first and second but it was fun.”
“We had a pretty good car and I just needed for the race to stay green longer,” Nottestad said after leading several laps early on before finishing third,” We had a good long run car but we were just a little too snug on the restarts. It was an awesome run for sure.”
Nottestad paced the opening laps while Braun and Apel worked their way forward into the top five. The race was halted under a red flag on lap 36 when fast qualifier Ryan Farrell experienced mechanical problems and spun in turn two, collecting Levan Van Der Geest and Luke Fenhaus in the process. Both Van Der Geest and Fenhaus were able to continue while Farrell’s day was done. Braun challenged Nottestad on the restart and the pair swapped the top spot before Braun took command on his own on lap 38. The leaders once again found themselves in traffic by lap 60 before the caution flag waved for the final time following a soft spin by Barrett Polhemus as a result of the heavy gridlock. Braun and Nottestad once again resumed their battle for the lead as racing resumed with Nottestad edging ahead for a few laps as Apel joined the lead battle. Braun was able to use the inside lane to power by Nottestad for the lead on lap 63 leaving Nottestad to fend off Apel for second. Apel was also able to wrestle second away from Nottestad on lap 67 as the top three stabilized while behind them Dennis Prunty held the fourth position just ahead of Jeremy Lepak in fifth. The race remained green over the final laps which found the leaders once again mired in heavy lapped traffic and Apel took advantage of the situation to close to Braun’s rear bumper. With the handling slipping away, Braun was able to maneuver through the traffic smoothly enough to keep Apel behind him and charge to the victory. Apel had to settle for second place while Nottestad finished close behind the leaders in third place. Dennis Prunty took the checkered flag in fourth followed by Jeremy Lepak in fifth. Gabe Sommers finished in sixth place followed by Justin Mondeik and Brad Mueller in seventh and eighth place respectively. Ryan DeStefano and Riley Stenjem rounded out the top ten finishers.
Luke Fenhaus won the 20-lap last chance race over Rich Loch, Brad Mueller, and Bubba Pollard while Brad Keith was fifth. Ryan Farrell topped the 27 car field in qualifying with a lap time of 11.240 seconds.
Jesse Bernhagen won the 45-lap pro late model feature over Tom Berens and Ryan Gutknecht. Zach Prunty finished fourth and Jacob Vanoskey was fifth.
Mike Sandholm was the winner of the 35-lap modified feature, taking the checkered flag ahead of Justin Okruhlica, Steven Schulz, and Bill Prietzel.
Tom Elsinger Jr. won the 30-lap Slinger Bee feature in a close finish over Brian Stanczyk and Ricky Gebhard. Brandon Mennicke and Jason Clope rounded out the top five.
Mike Rose was the winner of the 30-lap American Super Cup feature over Sean Eurick and Brandon Wind.