Written By: Gregg Paul
Dale Prunty got the jump on his brother Dennis Prunty on a restart with just four laps remaining to steal the victory on Harley Nike Night at the Slinger Super Speedway. Although the Prunty brothers were running strong all race long, they capitalized when race leader Steve Apel suddenly slowed to a stop in turn four causing the yellow flag to come out with just those four laps remaining.
It was Dale Prunty’s first victory in over three years at Slinger.
“Yeah, it’s been about three years,” said Dale Prunty in Victory Lane. “Actually to win those last two were against Dennis too. I love racing with him. I love racing with all the guys here. I know Steve (Apel) pretty much had us covered but the car’s got to make it to the end to win.”
Getting to the end seemed to be hard on a number of drivers on this night.
Brad Keith and James Swan led the field to the green, but that would only last one lap as Nick Wagner would spin in turn two to bring out the first caution of the race. Wagner might have had a little help from Conrad Morgan, but Wagner was extremely loose up until the point of contact. Mike Egan, Corey Funk, and Mike Borchardt each spun to avoid Wagner’s car in the middle of the turn.
On the restart the field stayed two by two for several laps before the caution would fly again on lap 5 for a spin by Tommy Hromadka.
Keith would get the jump on the next restart and bring Lowell Bennett past Swan and into the second spot. However just as the field started to get single file, another yellow would fly on lap 10 when Chris Blawat spun in turn two. Mike Egan and Corey Funk again were there spinning to avoid, and this time Fred Winn joined in on the spinning action.
During this yellow, second place Lowell Bennett pitted due to a flat left front tire and had to restart at the tail end of the field.
Steve Apel was the first car to jump to the outside when the cone came out and restarted the race alongside Brad Keith. Apel took off like he was shot out of a cannon and grabbed the lead coming off of turn two. Apel immediately stretched out his lead over Keith by several car lengths. Keith had his mirrors full of Dennis Prunty, with Dale following close behind.
Dennis Prunty got to the inside of Keith for the second spot on lap 16 and opened up the door for brother dale to follow into the third spot. The Pruntys then set sail for Apel and slowly began to reel him back in.
Apel’s lead would evaporate on lap 23 when Fred Winn spun in turn two to bring out yet another caution. This bunched the field, and set the stage for another battle between Apel and Dennis Prunty, when Dennis chose the outside when the cone came out.
The first attempt at a restart was aborted when the field failed to stay aligned coming to the green.
The second attempt saw Apel show his strength yet again by powering his way past Prunty and into the lead. Dennis quickly ducked in behind Apel, and Dale followed in Dennis’ tire tracks. Apel began to stretch out his lead again to 3-4 car lengths until he ran into lapped traffic on lap 41.
The Prunty’s got back close to Apel one they caught the traffic, but Apel was able to negotiate the traffic a tad bit better and opened up his lead once again. In fact, once Apel cleared the lapped cars it appeared he would be well on his way to yet another victory.
However the electrical gremlins that have plagued Apel all season long reared its ugly head once again as Apel suddenly slowed coming off of turn four on lap 55. Apel lost power and coasted to a stop in turn four setting up a four lap shootout for the win.
During the yellow there was a constant flame visible emanating from under Dennis Prunty’s car by the tailpipe. Even under the slower speeds of the caution, the flames wouldn’t extinguish themselves.
As the cars lined up for the restart it would once again be Prunty vs Prunty with Dennis on the inside and Dale on the outside at the drop of the green flag.
When the green flag flew the Prunty’s raced side by side for two laps before Dale would slide past Dennis on the outside of turn two and clear his brother for the lead. Two more circuits around and Dale would pick up his first feature win in over three years.
“Tonight I was the car on top and I love the outside of this place,” said Dale Prunty. “When Dennis chose the bottom I knew I could beat him coming off of four. Me and Dennis race real good together so we kind of know where we both pick up the gas. We’ve played this game in practice and everything else so I knew I could get him, I just didn’t know if I could do it for three laps.”
The ironic thing is that Dennis was driving the car the Dale last won a feature in. However, Dennis wasn’t taking it all that well afterwards.
“We’re not happy about this at all,” said Dennis Prunty. “We made some dumb adjustments, things that Dale told me to do because it was his old car. He did that on purpose so I am really irritated right now. The car was loose all night and I thought that I couldn’t go to the outside if I am loose and sure enough I got tight.”
All Steve Apel would say about his misfortune was that the car simply shut off.
Ryan Farrell picked up his first ever career victory in a late model when he held off Greg Pawelski after a five lap dash to the checkers. The yellow was caused when Mike Lichtfeld got loose off of turn two and slid up into points leader Alex Prunty, who made hard contact with the backstretch wall before the pair slid to a stop in turn three.
Farrell would get the jump on Pawelski on the subsequent restart and inch away to the checkers for his first career victory.
Jack Stern picked up the win in the Midwest Sportsman feature holding off Ryan Gutknecht for the win. Stern might have felt the heat from Gutknecht chasing him, but not the same kind of heat that Gutknecht felt earlier in the race. Gutknecht pulled towards the infield during a caution when there was a fire underneath his car. The safety crew quickly extinguished the fire and Gutknecht was able to continue.
Kyle Chwala came from deep in the field to score the win in the Area Sportsman feature despite a strong run by Joe Shelby. Shelby would lead the first nineteen laps of the feature after taking the lead form his front row starting spot, but Chwala moved up from his seventh starting spot and methodically picked off the competition in front of him.
Steve Dickson scored the win in the Slinger Bees, while behind him the battle for second between Nick Schmidt and Dale Kiley Schaefer was almost too close to call. Schmidt beat Schaefer to the line by a mere .007 seconds to claim the runner up spot.
Russ Lorbiecki was declared the winner of the Figure 8 feature when the caution came out midway through the race for a crash by Ron Schmitt and the subsequent rain shower that made the track too slick to continue.
This article was posted to the website on July 29th, 2013