Jeremy Lepak couldn’t ask for a better season at the Slinger Super Speedway. Or perhaps he could. Despite capturing his third straight feature win and sixth overall, Lepak joked that it still wasn’t good enough.
“I’m greedy. I wish that I had the four wins that I didn’t get,” said Lepak. “I think it could be a lot better. We’re sitting in the right position, we just have to finish out the year.”
Apparently it no longer what position Lepak starts a race in, as he somehow manages to finish with the win. Slinger has a rule where the previous week’s feature winner starts behind the qualifying invert, and tonight that stood at six cars.
Mike Egan and Rob Braun led the field of eighteen cars to the green flag. Egan got the early jump and it looked like he just might get the high finish that he was denied at the end of last week’s race. Egan quickly jumped out to a full straightaway advantage by lap 15.
Braun and Greg Pawelski each took their turn in second position, while Lowell Bennett and Jeremy Lepak made their way around them both. Steve Apel, who had set fast time, and Dennis Prunty back in his own car #42 followed.
Lepak would duck underneath Bennett on lap 21 and began to chase down Egan. Egan’s straightaway lead would vanish when the first caution flag flew on lap 28. Pete Weidmeyer and Mike Held tangled in turn four and came to rest just off the high groove.
Lepak made short work in getting past Egan with a great restart. Lepak began to pull away and stretched his lead to five car lengths. Apel and Egan battled side by side over the next fourteen laps before Apel was finally able to clear on lap 44.
Six laps later another caution flew when Driver X Jon Reynolds Jr. spun and slammed the backstretch wall coming off of turn two. Reynolds Jr. had something break in the rear suspension and the car snapped around and hit with the left front of the car.
Apel restarted on the high side of Lepak, but it was Lepak who got the advantage coming off of turn two. That would not last long as on lap 53, Conrad Morgan spun in turn four bringing out another yellow.
Apel once again started outside of Lepak, and at the drop of the green, appeared to get the jump. Lepak proved too strong on the inside, and pulled clear heading down the back stretch. As the cars came off of turn four, the engine in Mike Egan’s car expired in a huge cloud of smoke.
When Egan slowed with smoke billowing out the exhaust pipes and the radiator overflow, the field bunched up behind him on the high side. Through all the smoke the cars began to bump each other like an accordion, when suddenly the car of Fred Winn emerged through the smoke after hitting the front of Dennis Prunty’s car before turning hard into the front stretch wall. The impact was extremely hard and tore the right front off of the car as it erupted into flames. The Slinger Safety Crew was on the car before it even came to rest to put out the fire. Prunty suffered a flat left front tire, but was able to get back into the action.
The race was red flagged as the safety crew did their cleanup work, and we awaited for Winn to emerge from his car. That wait would not be long, as although perhaps slightly dazed, Winn crawled out of his car unhurt and walked back to his hauler.
Once the cleanup was complete, there were still seventeen laps to decide the outcome.
Apel had his third chance at restarting next to Lepak, and for a brief instant it looked like the third time would be the charm. Apel got a great jump on the restart and actually cleared Lepak heading into turn one. However, Lepak had his car handling awesome, and pulled right back alongside Apel as the exited turn two.
Lepak, who last week said the red #40 handled so much better on the high side, used his more comfortable low groove to get back around Apel and cruise to the win.
Jeff Holtz would work his way around Lowell Bennett for third place, with Rob Braun recovering to round out the top five.
Despite his dominance, Lepak was wary of all those restarts.
“The car was really good until those last couple of cautions,” said Lepak. “The thing just didn’t come back around after we went green. We never would’ve lasted another restart with the heat cycles on those tires.”
Apel had his opportunities, but just could not capitalize and seal the deal.
“We had a second place car by far,” said Apel. “The restarts helped, but then they also hurt at the end. Every time we had a restart the car got tighter and tighter. That first restart, once Lepak got out there it helped me get back to him. It takes a while to use the outside and it’s really tough out there. Especially when you’re racing against a guy like Lepak.”
Mike Lichtfield made his second ever appearance at Slinger a memorable one, as he captured the Late Model Feature win, holding off John DeAngelis and Dave McCardle.
Lichtfield, who races regularly at the Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin Dells, led all but one lap of the 35 lap feature in recording his first ever win at Slinger.
“We just came down here on a whim today,” explained Lichtfield. “My dad couldn’t make it so on the way down here I got some buddies to come. We adjusted on the car all day in practice and the car was a rocket.”
Lichtfield started on the pole alongside Dave McCardle. The two raced side by side for a few laps with McCardle being credited with leading one of those laps. Lichtfield then cleared McCardle and opened up a full straightaway lead.
Lichtfield had to survive a couple of restarts, including one with just two laps to go. He would start inside of John DeAngelis, and get the jump once the green flag waved. Lichtfield would be able to hold of DeAngelis for the win, while Dave McCardle would wind up in third. Points leader Wayne Freimund came home in fourth place, while Brad Keith would complete the top five.
James Swan hit double digits when he picked up his tenth win of the season in the Mid-American Sportsman division. Swan’s tenth win out of fifteen races was just another sign of his complete and total dominance in this division.
Swan started the feature from the fifth spot, but by lap 7 took over the lead from Mike Borchardt Jr. From that point on, not even a couple of hard impacts and the subsequent yellow flags could keep Swan from yet another win.
The first hard crash occurred on lap 4 when the car of Justin Kane climbed the turn one wall and actually put a hole in the fencing. The fence did keep the car on the racing surface, but it did take several minutes to repair the damage to the fence. Kane was uninjured in the crash.
The other crash occurred on lap 10 when the cars of Brian Holtz and Chris Storey came to blows down the backstretch. Ironically, both drivers came to blows directly after their cars came to rest.
Storey and Holtz got together going down the backstretch, and Storey rode Holtz up into the turn three wall. Holtz’ car slammed hard into the wall and spun backwards before climbing the wall and damaging one of the billboard signs that circle the back side of the track.
Once racing resumed, Swan easily pulled away from the rest of the field to capture his tenth victory of the year. Ryan Farrell came home in second place, while teammate Danny Church finished in third. Andy Haver, who had set fast time finished in fourth, while Mike Borchardt Jr. rounded out the top five.
Ken Schraufnagel took the checkers for the second time this season in the Thunderstocks as he held off Brad Hetzel and Andy Welter for the win. Nate Fick and John Daley finished in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Third generation driver Braison Bennett, son of seven time super late model champion Lowell Bennett took home his fifth feature win of the season in the four cylinder Slinger Bees division. Bennett, who started deep in the field, made a daring three wide pass around Marty Tackes and a lapped car, before hunting down Allen Maher for the lead.
Bennett would then hold off Maher for the win with points leader Nick Wagner finishing in third. Wagner was impressive in making his way through traffic after starting shotgun on the field. Brittiny Helmers finished in fourth place, while Dave Schmidt rounded out the top five.
Alan Kesich, who is the cousin of Braison Bennett, took home the trophy for winning the Spectator Eliminators.
Tanner Neuwendorff won in the Speedway Guest Cars.
Scott Goetzke held off Willy Van Camp to win the Figure 8 feature. Shane “The Shark” Becker finished in third place, with Dan Lighthart and Brandon Wolf in fourth and fifth place.
Results of the Netwurx Frozen T-Shirt 70
1 40L Jeremy Lepak 70
2 16A Steve Apel 70
3 38H Jeff Holtz 70
4 2B Lowell Bennett 70
5 98B Rob Braun 70
6 72S Randy Schuler 70
7 22P Dennis Prunty 70
8 21D Travis Dassow 70
9 45D Brad Dahmer 70
10 92M Conrad Morgan 70
11 3H Tommy Hromadka 70
12 68J Dan Jung Jr. 58
13 89E Mike Egan 53
14 75W Fred Winn 53
15 10R Jon Reynolds Jr. 50
16 17G Gregg Pawelski 43
17 72H Mike Held 27
18 22W Pete Wiedmeyer 27