LEPAK CAPTURES THE WIN IN PEPSI CHALLENGE SERIES ROUND ONE!

All Photos by: speedgraphicscompany.comBy Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., May 22—Jeremy Lepak took advantage of a late race caution to charge around Jeff Holtz for the lead, en route to capturing his first feature win of the season in the 75-lap Pepsi Challenge Series Round One super late model main event Sunday afternoon at the Slinger Super Speedway.

Holtz jumped out to an early lead and paced the first 38 laps, enjoying a comfortable advantage of nearly a half lap before the yellow flag waved for a spin in turn four, allowing Lepak and the field to close in for the restart. As racing resumed, Lepak worked the outside to take command of the race and then held off Holtz’s charges as the leaders worked lapped traffic late in the event.

“He (Holtz) worked me hard there to get by him on the outside and (earlier) he had a really big lead, “Lepak explained from victory lane, “But this car was awesome, I definitely had the hammer down and I was going. This is an awesome show and I love driving up here the two and a half hours I have to drive (from Wausau). I have to thank my guys, I just show up with my helmet and they gave me an awesome race car.”

“My race was really good in the beginning and then once we got that yellow, that was just what I didn’t want to see,” Holtz stated following his runner-up finish. “The carburetor was loading up a little bit during the yellow flag laps and it just didn’t want to go for the first couple laps there. Then it cleared out and we were pretty close to being the same speed as the leader. If we can get this thing figured out, I think we’ll have something for them.”

Fred Winn and Holtz paced the field to the green flag with Holtz diving to the inside entering turn three to take the lead as the field momentarily stacked up behind him, leaving Winn to battle with Randy Schuler, Mike Egan, and Conrad Morgan for second. Schuler worked the outside to grab second place by lap five as Holtz began to stretch his lead while Egan and Morgan raced side by side over the fourth position, with Lepak planted directly behind them. Egan took the outside lane to work his way by Winn for third on lap 17 and both Morgan and Lepak followed in the upper lane to move into fourth and fifth respectively. Behind the top five, Winn found himself racing hard with Steve Apel, Dave Feiler, and Dennis Prunty as Lowell Bennett and Josh Wallace moved up to join the battle. As Holtz remained comfortably out front, Lepak looked to the outside of Morgan on lap 24 in a bid for the fourth spot as behind them aggressive racing between Apel and Feiler resulted in Apel’s car washing wide off turn two, trapping Prunty behind him as both Bennett and Wallace slipped by on the inside. Five laps later, Egan, Lepak, and Morgan all were able to use the outside lane to dispatch Schuler to fifth as Holtz remained unchallenged out front approaching lapped traffic. Lepak caught Egan for second a few laps later and began to make small gains on Holtz as the leader encountered the lapped cars. On lap 38, the caution flag flew as Winn’s car looped around in turn four just after being passed by Lepak and Holtz’s sizeable lead instantly evaporated as the field closed behind him for the restart.

Holtz chose the inside lane as racing resumed, leaving Lepak the outside groove and the two ran door to door as behind them a minor problem for Jon Reynolds Jr. caused him to lose positions on the backstretch before regaining the handle on his car. Lepak remained tough on the high side and he powered his way around Holtz for the lead as Bennett began to challenge Schuler for fifth place. The best battle on the speedway in the closing laps occurred well behind the leaders as Al Schill and Josh Wallace ran several laps side by side without touching while Bennett moved around Egan to take fourth on lap 65. While Holtz could keep Lepak in his sights, he was unable to reel the leader in and Lepak drove to the victory. Morgan finished a strong third just ahead of Bennett while Egan rounded out the top five finishers. Dennis Prunty took the checkered flag in sixth in front of Schuler and Wallace in seventh and eighth place respectively. Reynolds Jr. and Feiler completed the top ten. Steve Apel was the winner of the super late model fast dash and Dave Feiler was the fastest qualifier at 11.539 seconds.

Jake Vanoskey led flag to flag to win the 35-lap late model feature but the run was anything but easy as he turned back numerous challenges throughout the main event.

Vanoskey led Gregg Pawelski and Bill Shavlik on the start with Chris Ratajczyk and Wayne Freimund racing close behind. Shavlik slid wide in turn two on lap three as Freimund and John DeAngelis charged by as Ratajczyk ducked to the inside of Pawelski to take second with Vanoskey still out front. Freidmund also was able to work his way around Pawelski and he along with Ratajczyk set their sights on Vanoskey for the lead. Ratajczyk and Freimund battled for second as they worked traffic just before the caution waved on lap 31 when Shavlik looped around in turn one. Vanoskey led on the restart over Freimund and Ratajczyk while Ryan DeStefano and John DeAngelis held down fourth and fifth. As racing resumed, Vanoskey maintained the lead over Freimund and Ratajczyk while DeStefano and DeAngelis became tangled and pushed wide in turn three allowing cars to race by. Vanoskey was able to turn back all challenges and he drove to the win ahead of Freimund and Ratajczyk. Parker May and Gregg Pawelski rounded out the top five in fourth and fifth respectively. Dave McCardle won the late model fast dash and Wayne Freimund set fast time with a lap of 12.592 seconds.

James Swan drove to his third win of the season in the 30-lap Midwest sportsman feature.

Mike Borchardt led the opening laps as Andy Haver, Dan Church, and Ryan Farrell battled with Swan over the second spot. Church and Swan patiently worked the inside lane and used it to pass Haver and Farrell to move into second and third as Borchardt continued to set the pace. Church and Swan caught Borchardt for the lead with Church trying to get by on the inside and Swan taking to the high line. The outside proved to be the correct choice as Swan charged by Borchardt for the lead a few laps later. Swan then began to pull away from the field as behind the top four, Haver and Jack Stern raced for fifth. The intense racing between Stern and Haver resulted in Haver spinning around in turn one as the race remained under green. Haver righted his machine right in front of Swan and he raced the leader hard in the final laps, racing side by side with Swan. On the last lap, Swan backed off allowing Haver to lead him into turn four which almost proved to be costly as Haver lost control exiting the turn and nosed into the frontstretch wall as Swan drove by to collect the win. Ryan Farrell finished in second followed by Mike Borchardt, Dan Church, and Jack Stern. Mike Borchardt won the Midwest sportsman fast dash and James Swan was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 12.750 seconds.

Nathan Fick scored a hard earned victory in the 20-lap Thunderstock feature after holding off the tough challenges of John Daley. Daley closed to Fick’s rear bumper several times in the closing laps and let him know he was there with a few taps but Fick remained steadfast out front and stayed true to the inside lane to hold off the charges. Fick took the checkered flag to score his first career Thunderstock victory just ahead of Daley while Adam Pescheck finished in third place just ahead of Rick Schaefer and Andy Welter. Carl Benn raced to the win in the Thunderstock fast dash and Andy Welter topped qualifying after turning in a lap at 13.635 seconds.

Nick Wagner worked lapped traffic to edge Braison Bennett for the win in the 18-lap Slinger Bee feature while Brandon Tackes, Marty Tackes, and Erica Knutson rounded out the top five finishers. Wagner also won the fast dash and set fast time at 15.572 seconds to score a clean sweep in the division. Justin Poenitsch joined the Westbury Bank Speedway Guest car race and drove to victory in the event. As the skies grew dark and with severe threatening weather imminent, the Figure 8 race and Gauntlet event were unable to be contested.