By Dan Margetta
Full Results from MyLaps.com
Full Results from SpeedNet
Slinger, Wis., May 3 For twelve years, Randy Schuler towed his super late model to the Slinger Super Speedway, having never left with the big trophy. That all changed Sunday afternoon as the veteran driver from Mequon ran a superb race to capture his first career super late model feature victory in the season opening Miller Lite 120.
"There's going to be a lot of celebrating tonight!" Schuler exclaimed after climbing from his car in Victory Lane. "It's been a great day! This is the start of our thirteenth season...lucky thirteen, I guess"
Rich Loch and Collin Bamke raced alongside each other for the lead in the opening laps before early lapped traffic impeded Loch's progress as Bamke and Lowell Bennett used the outside groove to take the top two spots, leaving Loch to battle with Al Schill and Conrad Morgan for third. Schill worked the inside lane and advanced to second on lap 13, just before the first caution flag waved on lap 14 when Bennett apparently broke an axle and looped around in between turns one and two, collecting Dennis Prunty in the process. Bamke continued to set the pace on the restart and battled fiercely with Schill for two laps before Bamke's machine went around in turn one, enabling Schill to take the top spot as the yellow flag waved again. As racing resumed, Schill held the point, turning back challenges from Morgan while Loch had his hands full with Brad Mueller, who used the outside lane to move into the top five. Another slow-down for a minor spin involving Brad Dahmer and Race McComb brought the field under caution for a third time on lap 31.
Morgan got the jump from the outside on the restart and took command of the event from Schill while fast qualifier Eric Fransen entered the top five to battle with Loch and Mueller. Working the inside line, Fransen was able to dispatch first Loch and then Mueller to settle into third place by lap 43 while Morgan continued to lead over Schill. As Morgan began to inch away, Fransen moved to the upper groove in an effort to take second from Schill, a move that paid off when he grabbed the runner-up spot on lap 51. As the halfway mark approached, Schuler began to advance his way forward, taking the fourth spot from Mueller on lap 58. As the field headed to the scheduled lap 61 halfway break, Morgan led Fransen and Schill with Schuler and Mueller rounding out the top five.
As the second half got underway, Fransen shot into the lead from the ouside, bringing Schuler and Mike Meyerhofer along with him as Morgan's car began to slow with what was later reported to be a loose plug wire. Fransen's car began to slip off the corners and Schuler and Meyerhofer were able to run him down. Schuler dipped to the inside of Fransen on lap 80, but was forced to slide back in line behind Fransen as the leaders approached lapped traffic. Schuler again looked low for the lead on lap 83 and two laps later, was able to clear Fransen for the top spot. Meyerhofer was also able to work his way by Fransen for second with Schill lurking close behind in fourth. Schill made numerous attempts on Fransen for third but each time lapped cars prevented him from completing the pass while Schuler and Meyerhofer began to separate themselves from the field. Schill finally made the inside move stick on lap 110, taking third from Fransen while Meyerhofer began to close on Schuler, whose car appeared to get loose off turn two. Schuler was able to recover however and he held on to score his first career late model feature victory. Meyerhofer finished second ahead of Schill, Fransen, and Josh Wallace, who made a late-race charge to finish fifth. Pete Wiedmeyer and Scott Schoeni were sixth and seventh respectively while Loch, Mueller, and Brad Dahmer completed the top ten finishers.
In earlier super late model action, Meyerhofer was the winner of the fast dash while Fransen took top honors in qualifying with a lap around the speedway in 11.535 seconds.
Brad Keith celebrated his birthday in style, leading the distance in capturing the checkered flag in the 25-lap late model main event.
"It feels good to be down here in Victory Lane" Keith said following the win. "Now, I'm real excited about the rest of the season."
Keith started from the outside of the front row and along with Dave McCardle brought the field to green, but before everyone exited turn two, the yellow light was flashing as gridlock in the middle of the field resulted in the cars of Trevor Dassow, Scott Ascher, and Jimmy Dragich coming to rest against the outside retaining wall. Dassow and Dragich were able to continue for the restart, while Ascher's ride suffered severe damage and was done for the day. As racing resumed, Keith jumped to the lead, leaving McCardle to duel with Chris Blawat and Ryan DeStefano for second. Steve Schulz and Rob Braun also closed in on the battle for second as Keith maintained the point. The action for third place between Blawat and Schulz heated up on lap 12 and the intense racing between them resulted in Blawat's car looping around in turn four and Schulz exiting the speedway, out of contention as the race remained green. Keith was never headed as he drove to the victory while McCardle held off Rob Braun for second while DeStefano and Trevor Dassow rounded out the top five.
McCardle was the winner of the late model fast dash and DeStefano was the fastest qualifier at 12.323 seconds.
Dave Thomas took advantage of a late-race bobble by then leader Tom Elsinger to take the lead in the final laps before going on to win the 40-lap Midwest Sportsman feature.
"I wasn't going to get him (Elsinger) on the outside and I don't know what happened right there at the end," Thomas explained afterward. "He left me enough room to get underneath him and that's all it took."
Elsinger jumped to the lead at the start over Mark Kissinger and Jay Shambeau as Bobby Giers, Thomas, and Mike Graczkowski worked their way forward. Kissinger's car began to get loose as Shambeau, Graczkowski, and Giers all worked their way by around with Elsinger remaining out front. Graczkowski's charge to the front ended on lap 12 as a mechanical issue with his car sent it careening hard into the retaining wall in turn four to produce a caution flag with Elsinger leading over Shambeau, Giers, Mike Borchardt, and Thomas. As Elsinger led on the restart, Giers and Thomas advanced into second and third respectively while Shambeau's car appeared to kick loose off turn four. With Elsinger remaining out front, Thomas went to work on Giers for second, taking over the spot on lap 29. With Thomas tracking down Elsinger at the point, Giers was forced to fend off the challenges of Borchardt for third while Scott Shambeau entered the top five. With two laps to go, Elsinger's car bobbled off turn two and before he could recover, Thomas charged by into the lead. Thomas led the final laps and scored the win over Elsinger and Giers while Borchardt and Scott Shambeau rounded out the top five.
Earlier, Graczkowski appeared unstoppable as he took top honors in the fast dash and was also the fastest qualifier after turning a lap at 12.674 seconds.
Aaron Cain drove to the win in the 25-lap Thunderstock feature over John Daley and Rick Schaefer.
Stephanie Losinecki led the opening laps over Schaefer, Dan Wood, and Jerry Kulas Jr. before the close-quarters racing up front resulted in Losinecki's car spinning in turn one where it was met head-on by the car of Troy Martingilio, producing the caution flag. Schaefer led on the restart as Daley began to challenge Wood for second while Aaron Cain and Ken Schraufnagel sliced their way forward. Daley worked his way into second by lap ten and then used a fine inside move to take command of the race from Schaefer. Cain followed Daley on the inside and was able to take the second spot from Schaefer a lap later. As the leaders approached lapped traffic, Cain was able to track down Daley as he took over the lead on lap 13. Daley was able to keep Cain in his sights but could not put up a challenge as Cain scored the win, leaving Daley to settle for second place. Schaefer finished in third ahead of Schraufnagel and Eric Lingford. Cain also was the fastest qualifier in the division, circling the speedway in 13.680 seconds.
Brian Strane drove to victory in the 25-lap Slinger Bees feature event over Brandon Tackes and Carl Benn. Mike Lang and Brandon Schwai rounded out the top five finishers. Tom Kendrisch was the winner of the Speedway Guest Car event.
Photos By Al Graf
Eric Fransen was fast time of the day
This article was posted to the website on May 20th, 2009