By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., July 1—Matt Kenseth outdueled Kyle Busch on a late restart and drove to the victory in the 200-lap Miller Lite Nationals feature Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway to capture his record-setting sixth title in the prestigious super late model event.
“We were really good on long runs in the last half and I could see Kyle’s car was fast but at the end of the longer runs, we were really running him down,” Kenseth stated from victory lane, describing the event which quickly became a two car battle for the win between the visiting NASCAR Sprint Cup stars. Kenseth and Busch occupied the top two positions from lap 50 forward with Kenseth leading early before Busch charged by to take the lead on lap 88.
Kenseth chased Busch for the lead through the scheduled break at the halfway mark and for most of the second half, catching somewhat of a break on lap 153 when the lapped car of Jeff Holtz spun out of turn four following contact with Kenseth as the leaders worked race traffic. After briefly contemplating sending Kenseth to the rear of the field, track officials ruled he would remain in second place for the restart as the move-over flag was displayed to the lapped machines for several laps.
“The lapped car switched lanes at the last minute and I couldn’t get off of him and he spun out, “Kenseth explained, “It was the last thing I wanted because I didn’t want the caution as on the longer runs I thought we were a little bit better and I could see Kyle (Busch) was fading a bit.”
Busch continued to work the outside groove on the restart and he maintained the lead for several more laps with Kenseth hot on his trail before the final caution flag waved on lap 176 after Dennis Prunty spun on the frontstretch while racing with Ryan DeStefano, setting up a critical restart with 24 laps remaining. As customarily was the case all night, Busch chose the outside lane for the restart, leaving the low side to Kenseth who was on his marks and maintained an even pace with Busch for a lap before squeezing out front for good. Once out front, Kenseth began to drive away and took the checkered flag nearly a second ahead of Busch, who was forced to settle for second despite leading several laps.
“I got a good restart and got through turns one and two really fast, “Kenseth told the crowd, describing the winning pass for the lead, “I kept even into turn three and the car was really strong getting off turn four tonight.”
Busch left the speedway without commenting on his runner-up finish on a night in which he was the fastest of the 32 qualifiers and led 87 laps of the event, second only to Kenseth’s 88 circuits out front.
Ross Kenseth battled within the top five positions all night before rallying late to cap off the evening with a strong third place result at the finish.
“Nobody in this pit area works harder than us and we’ve been really getting after it lately and now we’ve got something to show for it,” Ross Kenseth stated afterwards, “We were really good at the end and I wish we didn’t have that yellow, if it would have stayed green we might have had something for them.”
Michael Bilderback also used a late race charge to drive to an impressive fourth place finish after struggling in the early going.
“We were all sorts of sideways and had no brakes, “Bilderback said describing his early race issues, “The car wouldn’t turn but the crew worked their butts off during the (halfway) break and they made this car a rocket.”
Dennis Prunty recovered from his lap 176 spin to charge back up to fifth place at the finish while Rich Bickle took the checkered flag in sixth after being sent to the rear of the field for an early caution and then charging his way back to the front to challenge the leaders. Rich Loch finished in seventh place and Josh Wallace was eighth while Al Schill completed a strong run in ninth place after challenging both Kenseth and Busch for the top positions in the early going. Rob Braun finished tenth after racing with the leaders all night before spinning down the backstretch on the final lap while battling over fifth place with Dennis Prunty.
Other notable finishers included Becca Kasten in fourteenth after racing as high as third place before mechanical issues ended her night 24 laps from the finish while mechanical problems also ended Brad Mueller and Lowell Bennett’s night prematurely in fifteenth and sixteenth place respectively. Steve Apel, the most recent weekly super late model feature winner, led the field in the opening laps before mechanical issues sidelined him very early on lap 19 with a twenty fourth place finish.
Rob Braun won the 25-lap super late model qualifying race over Dennis Prunty and Jeff Holtz as all three transferred to the main event along with fourth place finisher Mike Egan while Dale Prunty won the 35-lap super late model last chance race to transfer to the feature along with Matt Kocourek who finished second. Randy Schuler, Tommy Hromadka, and Jerry Eckhardt rounded out the top five. Kyle Busch was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 11.394 seconds.
Braison Bennett edged fast qualifier, Alex Prunty in an extremely close finish to win the 40-lap late model feature to capture his second Slinger main event victory of the season. Behind Bennett and Prunty’s battle to the checkered flag, Ryan DeStefano finished third while Casey Johnson and Nick Wendt rounded out the top five finishers.
This article was posted to the website on July 2nd, 2012