BRAUN NETS SECOND VICTORY IN PEPSI CHALLENGE SERIES ROUND 2

By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., July 14—Rob Braun drove to his second super late model feature victory of the season Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway in the 60-lap Round Two of the Pepsi Challenge Series.

Braun charged into the lead from outside the front row at the drop of the green while polesitter Nick Wagner slotted into second ahead of Fred Winn, Lowell Bennett, and Dalton Zehr. The field quickly fell under the caution flag on lap three when Nick Ostberg spun off turn four. Braun edged ahead on the restart as Mike Egan swept into second after choosing the outside lane on the restart, leaving Wagner to settle into third. Behind the top three, Bennett and Winn raced side by side in a tussle over fourth with Zehr, Dennis Prunty, and Steve Apel close behind. With the leaders beginning to draw away slightly, Bennett finally broke through on the top lane and passed Winn for the position, bringing Prunty along with him and into fifth. Apel and Zehr also worked their way around Winn as well while Braun continued to show the way over Egan and Wagner. Further back, Dale Prunty and Dan Jung leaned on each other heavily for the seventh spot, exchanging door dings in the process which led to the caution flag waving on lap 27 when Jung’s car spun around off turn four and came to rest against the frontstretch wall as the result of a cut tire.

Braun once again held off Egan on the restart as racing resumed for one lap before Wagner’s car slowed suddenly off turn two from third causing Dennis Prunty, Apel, and Dale Prunty to all pile into each other accordion-style on the backstretch to draw the yellow flag once again. Dale Prunty and Apel had to leave the speedway for repairs as Dennis Prunty continued while the field formed for the restart with Braun leading over Egan, Bennett, Dennis Prunty, and Zehr. This time, Braun chose the outside lane and it nearly cost him as Egan got a good jump and led two laps briefly at the stripe for Braun was able to power by for the lead off the top lane. Bennett used the low groove keep third place away from Prunty, who was unable to gain ground on the high side. Prunty aggressively dropped to the inside in front of Zehr off turn four, receiving a slight clip in the rear bumper cover from Zehr which drew a hand out the side window from Prunty’s car at the flagstand. When the cars entered turn one, a harder tap from Zehr sent Prunty’s car spinning around, producing another caution flag on lap 35 and sending both driver’s to the rear of the field.

The race went back to green conditions with Braun leading over Egan, Lowell Bennett, Winn, and Braison Bennett who worked his way to fifth after converting his late model to run with the super late model class and starting at the rear of the field. The final caution of the event waved on lap 36 when Dennis Prunty’s car came to a halt in turns three and four and the field once again lined up for a restart. Braun executed a good restart and charged into the lead from the inside as Lowell Bennett also worked the inside lane to take second from Egan. Egan’s car wouldn’t hold on the outside and Fred Winn moved up to challenge him for third while Bennett tried to track down Braun for the lead. Winn took the third spot from Egan and Michael Bilderback also raced by Egan to take fourth as Braison Bennett began to fade back with power steering issues. Bennett was unable to close on Braun over the final laps and Braun drove under the checkered flags to capture his second super late model feature victory of the season. Lowell Bennett finished in second while Fred Winn turned in one of his strongest performances in recent memory by crossing the finish line in third place. Michael Bilderback and Mike Egan rounded out the top five while Nick Wagner and Dave McCardle were sixth and seventh respectively. Dalton Zehr finished eighth while Braison Bennett was ninth ahead of Mike Graczkowski in tenth.

Dave McCardle won the first super late model heat race over Michael Bilderback and Nick Wagner while Lowell Bennett edged Fred Winn and Dennis Prunty to win the second super late model heat. Steve Apel was the fastest qualifier after turning in a lap of 11.521 seconds.

Braison Bennett won the 40-lap late model feature after battling for the top spot with Jerry Mueller.

Mueller paced the first ten laps before Bennett powered by on the outside to lead lap eleven. However, Mueller regained the lead the following lap and he and Bennett battled until lap 19 when Bennett was able to work his way around for good. Once out front, Bennett was never headed and he drove to a comfortable win while Mueller held off Ryan DeStefano for second, leaving DeStefano to settle for third. Mike Lichtfeld advanced his way from deep in the field to finish fourth while Adam Peschek completed the top five finishers.

Justin Poenitsch captured the victory in the first late model heat race over Al Stippich and Jerry Mueller while Braison Bennett was the winner of the second late model heat over Adam Peschek and Mike Lichtfeld. Alex Prunty circled the speedway in 12.735 seconds to claim fast time honors for the late model division.

Kody Hubred held off his teammate Kyle Chwala to nail down the win in the Area Sporstman 35-lap main event.

Michael Gilomen made the long trip from Minnesota to compete at the Slinger high banks and he paced the opening laps of the feature before Hubred was able to race by to take command on lap 16. Kyle Chwala worked his way into second place shortly thereafter and began to pressure Hubred for the lead before the caution flag appeared on lap 23 as numerous cars spun on the frontstretch. Hubred was up to the task as racing resumed and he held off all challenges from Chwala to score the victory. Chwala finished in second place while Mark Fogel charged forward late to finish third. Rick Coppernoll and John Daley rounded out the top five.

Michael Gilomen was the winner of the Area Sportsman heat race, edging Rick Coppernoll and Tyler Schley for the victory. Mark Fogel and Joe Shelby were fourth and fifth respectively. Kyle Chwala was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 13.330 seconds.

Kenny Joosten passed Ryan Gutknecht for the lead on lap 23 and drove to victory in the 30-lap Midwest Sportsman main event.

Jimmie Evans and Scott Shambeau paced the field to the green flag but at the completion of lap one, contact between the two sent Evans spinning off turn four to draw a caution flag and send both the rear of the field. The incident place Brian Holtz and Ryan Gutknecht on the front row for the restart and at the drop of the green flag Gutknecht raced into the lead. Joosten advanced his way forward as the laps clicked off and by the midway point, was in second place. Joosten then raced into the lead on lap 16 with an inside lane pass on Gutknecht after battling side by side for several laps. Joosten drove the final laps flawlessly and scored the win over Gutknecht while Jay Shambeau raced to a strong third place finish. Brian Holtz and Jack Stern rounded out the top five.

Jimmy Wilson took top honors in the Midwest Sportsman heat race, taking the checkered flag ahead of Chris Storey and Cody Erdmann. Jimmie Evans and Scott Shambeau were fourth and fifth respectively. Jay Shambeau was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 12.965 seconds.

Brandon Tackes held off Steve Dickson to win the 35-lap Slinger Bees feature event. Nick Schmidt finished third followed by Dale Kiley-Schaefer and Grant Griesbach. The event was stopped under a red flag on lap four when Nicole Mueller hit the turn four wall. Mueller was assisted from her car by the safety crew and walked to the ambulance for further evaluation. Earlier in the evening, Nicole Mueller won an exciting heat race over Jacob Thomas while Rick Schaefer won the second Slinger Bee heat race over Brandon Tackes. Steve Dickson set fast time for the Slinger Bees after touring the speedway in 15.112 seconds.

Al Roberts was the winner of the Spectator Eliminator race and Ron Schmitt scored the victory in the Figure 8 race. At the intermission, Kari Finco was crowned Miss Slinger Speedway for the second consecutive year.