By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., May 1—With ten laps to go in the Miller Lite 120, Steve Apel’s car was airborne with its front wheels off the ground, but by the time the checkered flag flew, it was parked in Victory Lane with Apel celebrating a victory in a wild season-opening event super late model feature Sunday afternoon at the Slinger Super Speedway.
“That was insane,” a noticeably excited Apel beamed afterwards, “That was the hardest race I’ve ever raced…I wasn’t sure if the car was still in one piece after I got up in the air…it was rough but it paid off.”
The late race drama was set up when Apel began to close in on leader Jon Reynolds Jr., who had dominated the event until that point, holding the top spot for 96 of the event’s first 109 laps. Apel was able to close to Reynolds’ rear bumper and edged the nose of his car to the inside of the leader as they crossed the stripe with ten laps to go. As they entered the first turn side by side, Reynolds’ car skated loose and upon the exit of turn two, both cars came in contact with one another as Apel’s front drove over Reynolds’ left side, launching it into the air. Apel’s car returned to the ground on all four wheels as he managed to avoid hitting the backstretch wall while Reynolds also straightened his car out as third place Jeremy Lepak streaked by both of them to take the lead. Both Apel and Reynolds recovered quickly enough to latch onto Lepak’s rear bumper as Mike Egan also closed in from fourth.
With just seven laps to go, Lepak’s car suddenly slowed with mechanical problems, turning the lead back over to Apel with Egan battling Reynolds for second. Egan was able to work his way around Reynolds for the runner-up position and quickly closed on Apel, whose car’s handling appeared to suffer from the earlier contact with Reynolds. While Egan closed to Apel’s bumper, his car also washed loose in the turns and he was unable to make a charge at the finish as Apel drove under the checkered flag for the win. Reynolds finished a close third while Dalton Zehr made his Slinger Speedway debut a successful one with an impressive fourth place result. Defending race winner Eric Fransen was fifth followed by Lowell Bennett and Mike Graczkowski while Al Schill, Rob Braun, and Fred Winn rounded out the top ten. Lepak was credited with an eleventh place finish while early race contenders Conrad Morgan, Dennis Prunty, and Dave Feiler all failed to finish with various issues.
Dalton Zehr won the 35-lap super late model semi-feature as both he and second place finisher Mike Graczkowski transferred to the main event. Chris Blawat finished third ahead of Robert Maynor and Al Stippich. Steve Apel was the winner of the super late model fast dash and Dave Feiler set fast time with a lap of 11.329 seconds.
Chris Ratajczyk paced the opening laps over Jake Vanoskey and Dahmer before being forced to leave the speedway after his car began to drop fluid on the racing surface. Vanoskey took over the point from there and held it over Dahmer until lap 30 when a mechanical failure on the left front bent the wheel under the fender, producing a caution flag while ending his race. Dahmer held the lead in the inside lane for the restart with Freimund to his outside with Pat McIntee, Dave McCardle, and Gregg Pawelski in formation behind them for the final five laps. Dahmer was able to lead into turn one as the green flag waved and he moved ahead of Freimund while McIntee battled with McCardle and Pawelski. Dahmer drove the final laps smoothly and took the victory just ahead of Freimund and Pat McIntee as Pawelski edged McCardle for the fourth spot.
Pat McIntee won the late model fast dash and Gregg Pawelski was the fastest qualifier in his first outing in the late model with a lap of 12.449 seconds.
James Swan took the lead on lap eight and drove to victory in the 30-lap Midwest Sportsman main event.
Jeff Holtz led the opening laps while Swan charged into second place by lap four. A spin by Scott Shambeau produced the caution flag with Holtz leading over Swan, Andy Haver, John Janssen, and Dan Church. Swan was able to work up momentum on the outside as racing resumed and he was able to clear Holtz for the lead with a run off the second turn while Haver held off Janssen for third. Once out front, Swan was never headed while Haver and Holtz staged an impressive battle for second as both cars broke loose in the late laps before both drivers saved them. Swan drove to the win while Holtz held off Haver for second. Jimmie Evans finished fourth and John Janssen was fifth.
James Swan was the winner of the Midwest Sportsman fast dash and Ryan Farrell turned a lap of 12.667 seconds to become the fastest qualifier for the division.
Andy Welter took command of the 18-lap Thunderstock feature on lap six and raced to the win for his first feature victory of the season.
Nathan Fick paced the first five laps before Welter made the pass for the lead on lap six. Fick found himself in a battle with Ken Schraufnagel and Carl Benn for second as Welter began to ease away. Schraufnagel’s car began to get loose off the corners and on lap 14 as he regained control of his car, it made contact with Benn’s car sending Benn spinning to the grass as the race remained under green. Welter charged to the win while Schraufnagel held off Fick for second while Bernie Leonard and Rick Schaefer completed the top five finishers. Nathan Fick was the winner of the Thunderstock fast dash and Andy Welter set fast time after circling the speedway in 13.596 seconds.
Mark Johler won the 18-lap Slinger Bee feature over Nick Wagner and Cody Kippenhan. Steve Dickson and Carl Benn were fourth and fifth respectively. Dan Russ was the winner of the Westbury Bank Speedway Guest car event while Rick Bruskiewicz won the Figure 8 race, leading the final five laps after a hard crash in the X involving Shane Becker and Mike Meyerhofer drew a red flag. Neither driver was seriously injured in the incident.
This article was posted to the website on May 1st, 2011