When you consider that the title sponsor of this race is the Real Yellow Pages yp.com it would seem appropriate to recollect a bygone marketing pitch of “letting your fingers do the walking.” You could say Steve Apel let his fingers and right foot do the walking as he held off a furious late race rally by Travis Dassow to pick up his second feature win of the season in the yp.com 70 at the Slinger Super Speedway.
Apel was amazed at how he had to battle Dassow in the closing laps.
“Travis Dassow ran me down? He came out of nowhere,” said Apel. “He fell back at the beginning of the race, but at the end he was all over me. I gave him the outside and didn’t want to block him. If he had the car to pass me on the outside I was going to give it to him. He tried moving me a bit, but I held on to it.”
Jamie Wallace made his first start of the year at Slinger from the pole with Dassow on the outside. Wallace got the jump at the drop of the green flag, but his lead would be short lived. Brad Keith spun in turn three on lap one and could not get the car fired in time, bringing out the yellow.
The restart would see Wallace and Dassow trade a little paint before Wallace would clear on the inside. While Dassow was stuck on the high side, defending track champion Lowell Bennett and former ASA national tour regular Rich Loch would get around Dassow for second and third respectively.
Two laps later Apel and Jeremy Lepak would get past the suddenly fading Dassow.
Bennett would cling to Wallace’s rear bumper by lap 8 and began to look to the inside to try to take over the top spot. Bennett worked furiously to get underneath Wallace, and finally did so on lap 15. That also opened the door for Loch to move into second place.
A bit further back, points leader Jeremy Lepak would get around Apel for the fourth spot, as teammate Dave Feiler followed. Feiler was a man on a mission, as he would back up the fast time he set in qualifying by getting around both Lepak and Wallace on lap 19 and into third place.
As Feiler got around Wallace, Lepak recovered to bypass Wallace as well. Both Gunderman cars set their sights on Bennett’s lead.
Feiler would make quick work in getting around Loch by lap 25. Four laps later found Feiler right on Bennett’s rear bumper pressuring to take over the lead.
A spin by Austin Luedtke on lap 31 failed to bring out the yellow and the focus returned to the battle for the lead. Two laps later Feiler would get underneath Bennett in turn two to take the lead.
Feiler and Bennett then encountered heavy traffic coming off of turn four. They approached the lapped cars of Randy Schuler and Austin Luedtke on lap 34. Schuler moved high and Luedtke low as the leaders approached. Ordinarily super late models cannot go three wide at Slinger, but both Feiler and Bennett made it work as they both split the lapped cars with no contact.
Just behind this battle, Rich Loch and Jeremy Lepak battled for third place. Lepak may have been a bit overanxious and nudged Loch just enough as he came down in turn three to spin him out bringing out the yellow on lap 37. Both cars were sent to the rear.
Feiler would show his dominance on the restart and quickly jump back into the lead. Feiler would easily pull out to a full straightaway lead, as the cars of Bennett, Apel, Mike Egan, and Jon Reynolds Jr. ran side by side for several laps.
Feiler, who seemingly was headed towards another victory, suddenly showed signs of having problems. Over the next several laps, his lead began to fade, and he believed he may have had a tire going down.
Feiler’s night went from great to catastrophic on lap 56. Rob Braun would spin in turn three bringing out the caution. As the field slowed, Feiler suddenly began to show signs of tire smoke and pulled off the track with a broken shock absorber.
Lowell Bennett inherited the lead for the restart, however when it came time to go, Bennett’s car wouldn’t as a result of picking up excessive rubber on his tires. Bennett’s misfortune allowed Apel to get a huge jump with the resurging Travis Dassow following.
Apel tried to pull away, but Dassow was hanging in there. As the laps were winding down, Dassow put more pressure on Apel and even tapped Apel’s rear bumper for a lap or two. Apel’s car never wavered, and Dassow just couldn’t find the way around. Apel would hold on to capture the win by a scant .417 second margin over Dassow.
Lowell Bennett scored his best finish of the season bringing it home in third, while Mike Egan ran fourth. Jeremy Lepak recovered from his earlier incident and closed out the top five.
Apel’s second win was well earned.
“This is what the fan’s come here to watch,” said Apel. “They want to see a little bit of contact and they want to see a good hard race. He ran me really clean, but I would’ve done the same thing if I was in his shoes.”
Dassow thought the first half of the race was what did him in.
“The first 30 laps of the race sucked,” said Dassow. “We started really low on air pressure and I knew it was going to be a struggle in the beginning. We were bottoming out really bad, and it was just a matter of waiting. I knew we had a car that could win. I contemplated really going for it at the beginning to get the air pressure a little higher, but I said we have to be there at the end.”
The end of the race was where Dassow shined, but came up just a bit short.
“It almost felt too easy,” said Dassow. “I’ve never had a car at Slinger like this. I suck at Slinger. I’ve raced here for like 8, 9 years and have never figured this place out. I can qualify with the best of them but I can’t race, but I think I might have finally figured something out.”
Chris Blawat would get the win in the semi feature holding off Randy Schuler and Rob Braun.