Matt Kenseth held off a hard charging Eric Fransen to capture the win in the 200-lap 30th Annual Miller Lite Nationals presented by SuperSeal Wednesday night at the Slinger Super Speedway, his record-setting fifth overall victory in the prestigious super late model event. Not to be outdone, son Ross Kenseth followed up his father’s performance by scoring his first Slinger Speedway win in the 35-lap late model main event.
“It’s fun to come back and race these guys,” Matt Kenseth stated after becoming the event’s first five-time winner,” These are some of the best drivers you’ll find anywhere and the competition is really tough, but it’s always a lot of fun,”
After starting 13th in the event, that was resumed on lap 19 after persistent rain showers halted the race the night before, Kenseth nudged by Brad Mueller to take the lead just before the halfway mark, a position he would not relinquish despite a valiant late race charge by Fransen that saw the West Bend driver close to Kenseth’s rear bumper at the checkered flag.
“He (Fransen) ran me down there at the end and that was all I could do, “ Kenseth explained, “Two or three more laps and the race was his and I just barely had enough time.”
Fransen clearly drove the quickest car in the late stages and despite being caught up in lapped traffic, erased a straightaway deficit between himself and the leader in the closing laps, before falling just short of the victory at the finish line.
“The car was great and was just super consistent the whole race, “Fransen said, “We didn’t make any adjustments at the halfway point and I just needed a few more laps. It really was probably the lapped traffic that cost me the win. I was so much quicker than he was in the center of turns one and two.”
Dave Feiler took the green flag from the 20th starting position and after methodically slicing his way through the field, raced into third on lap 98 and ten laps later, charged into second place as Kenseth extended his lead in traffic. Feiler cleared the traffic on lap 161 but couldn’t close in on Kenseth as five laps later, Fransen rocketed around on the high side. Feiler held his ground in the final laps and took the checkered flag with a respectable third place result. Al Schill ran with the leaders the entire event and finished fourth while Matt Kocourek crossed the finish line in fifth.
Dale Prunty finished in the sixth position while Brad Mueller charged forward in the opening stages to lead for 20 laps before handling issues late relegated him to seventh. Conrad Morgan, Josh Bauer, and Michael Bilderback rounded out the top ten finishers while Collin Bamke, who led the event for the first 79 laps, finished eleventh.
Brad Dahmer grabbed the lead on the third of the thirty-five lap semi-feature and ran away to take the victory. Tommy Hromodka ran the high line to at the drop of the green, leading the first three laps, but Dahmer battled back down low. Once in front Dahmer padded his lead, leaving Hromadka to race for second with Burton Brown. Brown took over second place just prior to the only caution period of the race, for a spin in turn two by Rich Loch. When the field again took the green, Dahmer sprinted to the lead and never looked back. With ten laps remaining, Brown slipped in turn two and Mike Egan moved in to battle side by side for second. Five laps later Egan dropped in front of Brown to take over second. Dahmer motored on to take the semi feature win wth Egan hanging onto second over Brown. Race McComb and Hromodka rounded out the top five.
Ross Kenseth raced to the lead on lap 19 of the 35-lap late model main event and drove to his first Slinger Speedway victory, taking the checkered flag as his proud father watched from the infield.
“The car was great tonight and I was real pleased with the way the race went on,” Kenseth said from victory lane, “It was awesome having me win and my dad win tonight.”
Rob Braun took the lead at the drop of the green flag as Dan Jung, Pat McIntee, and Josh Bauer raced behind him. The caution flew early as Jake Vanoskey and Trevor Dassow tangled in turn three and as racing resumed, Braun maintained his lead over Jung and McIntee. Behind the top three, Bauer and Kenseth contested fourth place with Kenseth taking the position on lap 14. A lap later, Jung and McIntee tangled to draw another caution flag with Braun now leading over Kenseth, Bauer, and Ryan DeStefano. Braun used the inside to keep his lead while Kenseth worked the outside as farther back, Dan Heying and Wayne Freimund entered the top five in fourth and fifth respectively. After looking to the outside a few times, Kenseth was able to edge to the inside of Braun, taking the lead off turn four on lap 19. Once out front, Kenseth began to drive away and despite another caution flag on lap 23, was able to hold off Braun for the win. Braun finished a strong second while Heying took the checkered flag in third. Dave McCardle advanced in the closing laps to finish fourth while Wayne Freimund completed the top five.
Kenny Joosten tracked down Austin Luedtke to take the lead in the final laps en route to victory in the 30-lap Midwest Sportsman feature. Luedtke ran a solid race and turned in a respectable performance with a second place finish while Bobby Giers was third. Andy Haver and Mark Kissinger rounded out the top five.
30th Annual Miller Lite Slinger Nationals
Slinger Speedway (WI)
102MMichael Bilderback200 1276JBrian Johnson Jr.198
Mike Strupp 1-3
Collin Bamke 4-78
Brad Muller 79-97
Matt Kenseth 98-200