By Dan Margetta
Slinger, Wis., May 4— “The dude is old enough to be my grandpa and he beat me on the racetrack,” was how defending Slinger Speedway track champion Steve Apel summed it up after finishing second to 65-year old Conrad Morgan in the season opening Miller Lite 75-lap super late model feature Sunday afternoon at the Slinger Speedway.
“I hope he was thinking that when he was trying to catch me,” quipped Morgan from victory lane after holding off Apel’s charge amidst heavy lapped traffic to capture the win, “And again when he saw the checkered flag and then saw my bumper.”Morgan started outside of pole-sitter Brad Mueller as the green flag waved and he quickly used the upper groove to edge out an advantage while Austin Luedtke and Apel raced for third ahead of Rob Braun and Travis Dassow. An early caution appeared on lap six for a Tim Lampman spin in turn three and on the restart, Morgan and Mueller chose the inside lane while Luedtke and Apel selected the outside line as the race resumed. Luedtke held tough in the upper groove and he and Morgan traded paint as they contested the top spot before Luedtke was able to edge ahead entering turn three on lap ten to take sole possession of the lead. Behind the lead duo, Apel also used a strong outside run to grab third place from Mueller while Lowell Bennett followed Apel’s line to overtake Dassow for the fifth spot. With the top three racing nose to tail, Bennett continued his outside charge to move around Mueller in fourth as Dassow and Rob Braun closed in. Farther in the pack, the most intense racing was occurring between Al Schill, Rich Loch, Dennis Prunty, and John DeAngelis and while attention was focused there, Morgan slipped by Luedtke on the inside to take the lead on lap 28. Apel also worked the inside on Luedtke and took second place a few laps later as Morgan began to drive away out front. Morgan soon began to catch lapped traffic and he bobbed his way inside and outside of the lapped machines as Apel and Luedtke did the same about ten car lengths behind the leader. As Morgan continued to negotiate the traffic, Apel began to slice into his lead gradually erasing the gap to Morgan’s rear bumper. Behind the leaders, Rob Braun advanced his way into the fourth spot while Dennis Prunty drove his way into fifth, passing Bennett, Dassow, and Mueller along the way. In the waning laps, Morgan’s car began to get loose off the corners and Apel closed to his rear bumper as the white flag was displayed but on the final circuit, Apel was unable to unseat the 65-year old veteran as Morgan held on to take the victory by a car length. Apel had to settle for a close second place result while Austin Luedtke finished a strong third. Rob Braun and Dennis Prunty rounded out the top five finishers while Jeff Holtz was sixth ahead of Brad Mueller in seventh. Travis Dassow, John DeAngelis, and Lowell Bennett completed the top ten.
Chris Blawat won the 30-lap super late model semi-feature over Tim Lampman as those two drivers advanced to the main event. Dale Prunty finished third while Randy Schuler and Dave McCardle took the checkered flag in fourth and fifth respectively. Super late model heat race wins were recorded by Conrad Morgan, Mike Egan, and Braison Bennett. Travis Dassow was the fastest qualifier after turning in a lap at 11.320 seconds.
Dan Church survived a hard fought battle with a determined Alex Prunty to win the 40-lap late model feature, sliding the checkered flag after contact on the final lap.
Justin Poenitsch and Church led the field to the green flag and Church used the outside lane to grab the early lead while Ryan Miles followed suite from the outside to take over second, leaving Poenitsch to battle Jerry Mueller and Wayne Freimund for third. The caution flag appeared on lap two for a spin by Ricky Heinan in turn three and on the restart, Church chose the inside lane and maintained his lead for a lap before Miles muscled his way to the inside of Church, setting up a side by side battle for the lead. Behind them Poenitsch and Jerry Mueller also raced alongside each other for third and when Poenitsch grabbed the spot, Mueller ran out of room off turn two, brushed the wall and came down the track, collecting Al Stippich and Eric Connell in the process as the caution flag waved. Church and Miles resumed their battle for the lead as racing resumed until Miles slipped and faded a bit on the outside in turn four, allowing Freimund to move into second while Alex Prunty raced forward to challenge Poenitsch in fourth. Poenitsch’s car began to get loose and both Prunty and Mike Held drove by as Freimund held off Miles for second while Church began to extend his lead. Miles began to drift back on the outside and both Prunty and Held raced around him and into third and fourth respectively. Prunty was the driver on the move as he dispatched Freimund a few laps later for second and began to close on Church for the lead when the caution waved again on lap 21 when Poenitsch hit the turn four wall. Church held off Prunty’s challenges as racing resumed through caution periods on lap 27 for an incident between Miles and Held and on lap 31 when Held hit the turn four wall hard. In the final laps, Prunty did everything he could to unseat Church from the lead while Freimund sat close by in third. On the final lap, Prunty muscled his way to the inside of Church off turn two and when Church held the inside lane, the contact between the two turned Prunty’s car into Freimund’s as the top three fought for control on their way to the checkered flag. Church held onto his sliding car to cross the line first for the win over Prunty while Mike Meyerhofer charged into third at the stripe, leaving Freimund to finish fourth ahead of Ryan Zielski in fifth.
Al Stippich and Ryan Zielski were the winners of the late model heat races while fast time was set by Alex Prunty at 12.486 seconds.
Kyle Chwala took the lead early in the 30-lap Area Sportsman feature and drove to the season opening victory.
Adam Peschek and Nick Egan led the field to the green and Egan took the early lead before Kyle Chwala used the outside lane to grab the top spot on lap four. Brad Hetzel raced his way into second place by lap ten. The caution appeared on lap 22 for a minor spin by Egan with Chwala leading over Hetzel and Ken Schraufnagel. Chwala was able to hold off the challenges of Hetzel in the final laps and he raced to the win. Hetzel finished second while Schraufnagel was third. Adam Peschek and Joe Shelby finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Kyle Chwala was the winner of the Area Sportsman heat race and he also set fast time at 13.120 seconds.
Ryan Gutknecht won the 35-lap Midwest Sportsman feature after taking the lead in the closing laps. Mike Borchardt finished in second place but later failed post race technical inspection and was disqualified. Scott Shambeau crossed the finish line in third place ahead of Jeff Holtz and Jack Stern.
Midwest Sportsman heat races were won by Jay Shambeau and Cody Erdmann. Dave Thomas was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 12.751 seconds.
Nick Schmidt was the winner of the Slinger Bee 25-lap feature, holding off Jacob Schraufnagel for the win. Brandon Tackes and Marty Tackes finished third and fourth respectively while Dale Kiley-Schaefer finished fifth.
Dave Lembke won the 15-lap Slinger Bee semi-feature over Jayden Buckley while heat race wins were recorded by Nick Schmidt, Heather Stark, and Matthew Urban. Brandon Tackes was the fastest qualifier with a lap of 14.888 seconds.
Ken Jones was the winner of the 15-lap American Super Cup feature over Erle Hoth and Brian Baldyga. Mike Ellis finished fourth and Derek Doerr finished fifth.
American Super Cup heat races were won by Derek Doerr and Erle Hoth while fast time was set by Erle Hoth at 15.261 seconds.
Al Roberts was the winner of the Spectator Eliminator races and Rick Bruskiewicz won the Figure 8 race which ended early after a hard collision in the X between Russ Lorbiecki and Tyler Rupp. Rupp was alert and conscious but was transported to a local hospital for further observation.