The Big 8 Late Model series was the headlining division in its inaugural event at the Slinger Super Speedway. A total of thirty one cars were on hand for the Old Wisconsin Smokehouse King of The High banks 88. When the dust had finally settled and the checkered flag fell, it was Driver X Jon Reynolds Jr. capturing the win in a convincing fashion.
Reynolds Jr., who had earlier set fast time in qualifying, had to start ninth with the invert. It didn’t take long for him to work his way to the front and once he got there, he would keep it there.
“No it didn’t take long,” explained Reynolds Jr. “We came here with used tires, the same tires we ran on at Rockford Speedway last night, and I just have to congratulate everybody from Hoosier Tires, Slinger Speedway, Rockford Speedway and the Big 8 Series for going to this tire. It was the best thing they ever did.”
Having a great set of tires is one thing, but being able to battle the best late models in the Big 8 as well as the Slinger Speedway regulars, and win in convincing fashion also takes skill and just a little bit of luck.
Steven Schultz and James Swan would lead the field of twenty four cars to the green flag. Schultz would get a jump off the inside and take the early lead. Jeff Holtz would follow Schultz and get inside of Swan on lap 3 to take second place. Schultz quickly stretched his lead out to half a straightaway as the field sorted out behind him.
Reynolds Jr. quick rise to the top would be temporarily thwarted when the yellow flag flew on lap 15. The cars of John DeAngelis, Rob Meyer, and John Baumeister Jr. made contact in turn 4 causing DeAngelis to have his right front tire go flat and go off the track in a shower of sparks. Meyer and Baumeister Jr. both suffered slight damage but were both able to continue.
When racing resumed Schultz once again took control of the race, and Reynolds Jr. was able to get around Holtz and take over second. Reynolds Jr. opened a hole for James Swan and Rob Braun to get through. Before Holtz could get back to the low side, Bobby Wilberg and Chris Blawat were also able to get by.
Lap 23 would see the race’s first lead change as Reynolds Jr. was able to pass Schultz on the outside. A lap later another yellow would fly, this time for the spinning car of Jacob Vanoskey. Vanoskey spun off of turn two, and as he came down the banking, the car of Rob Meyers clipped him as he went by pushing his right side door in.
Reynolds Jr. would get the jump on this restart and this time it was Schultz’ turn to be stuck on the high side. James Swan would sneak past Schultz to reclaim second place, Bobby Wilberg worked his way into fourth.
The yellow flag would fly once again on lap 30 for an incident involving Kyle Shear and Wayne Freimund. Shear suddenly slowed coming off of turn four and cars began to take evasive action. Shear’s car then bounced off of the front stretch wall right into the car of Freimund. As he did, that turned Freimund’s car backwards as they both slammed into the wall before coming to rest in turn one. Shear lost the right front wheel, which flew high into the catch fence, but luckily stayed well short of going into the crowd. Shear was done for the evening, but Freimund was able to continue after removing most of the front body work on his car.
The subsequent restart had Reynolds Jr. get another good jump, and now it was Swan getting stuck on the high side. Schultz was able to get by Swan on the inside, but Swan quickly got down low and began to pursue Schultz. Swan would drive deep into turn one and bump Schultz hard enough to get him loose, but Swan backed off allowing Schultz to save it. A lap later the yellow would come out once again.
Rob Meyer slammed hard into the turn one wall causing the caution and bunching the field back up. Meyer’s car suffered more damage than his first incident, but still continued.
On this restart, Schultz tried to get the jump on Reynolds Jr, but was only able to get a nose in front. Reynolds Jr. would clear him a couple of laps later, and Swan was also able to get by. Swan was able to keep the momentum going and drove to the inside of Reynolds Jr. in the turns, but Reynolds Jr. had more power down the straight-aways. The pair would trade the lead over the next several laps with both drivers barely making it across the line ahead of the other.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Miller, who started twelfth, began to make his presence known by climbing into the top five.
Another yellow came out on lap 43 when Bill Shavlik spun in turn one and got clipped by the car of Jimmy Ganski.
Once again Reynolds Jr. showed his skill on restarts and jumped out to the advantage. The back and forth duel between Schultz and Swan resumed with Schultz reclaiming the second spot. With Swan now stuck on the high side, Jeremy Miller would get past Swan and into third place. Tanner Whitten would also capitalize on the opportunity and get into fourth. That would be short lived, however, as Whitten would bring out the next caution a lap later.
Whitten thought he had cleared Swan coming off of turn two and tried to move back in front of him. Trouble is he hadn’t quite cleared Swan, and got turned into the backstretch wall.
Reynolds Jr. continued to get the jump on restarts and it would be Schultz’ turn to get stuck on the outside. This time there wouldn’t be any reprieve, as Schultz would get freight trained on the high side. The cars of Miller, Rob Braun, Jeff Holtz, and Bobby Wilberg would all get by, along with Kris Kelly, Chris Blawat, and Jeremy Lepak.
Reynolds Jr. appeared to be cruising to an easy victory, and would open up his lead to over five car lengths.
Then it nearly all ended on lap 64. The car of Bill Shavlik spun off of turn two, right in front of Reynolds Jr. They just missed making contact, but the caution was out yet again.
Having his series rival Jeremy Miller alongside for this restart, Reynolds Jr. wanted to make sure he got a good jump again. Although he was a master of the restart all evening, on this restart, he may have got away with one.
As cars entered turn three, Reynolds Jr. car took off and apparently caught Miller napping. Even though Reynolds Jr. was a full car length ahead at the line, the green flag stayed out. However, that would quickly be proven to be a moot point, as Reynolds Jr. quickly stretched his lead to over a full straightaway and won convincingly.
“It wasn’t easy at all”, explained Reynolds Jr. “Whatever happened on that caution when Swan got next to me there was something down there in the middle of the track and I hit it. Swan caught me and got under me and then it was a race. That was for the win, we both knew that and we raced each other clean.”
Reynolds Jr. could hardly contain his excitement when asked about this race being added to the Big 8 schedule.
“Nothing against the Deery family (owners of Reynolds Jr. home track of Rockford Speedway), (Slinger) is the best race track in the world, man. When they did that added the Big 8 I was jumping up and down!”
Miller who made a strong run from twelfth into second knew he never really had anything in trying to catch Reynolds Jr.
“I was really happy with the run,” said Miller. “At the start there we got hung out on the outside went back, I felt like I was back to 30th. I don’t know if we even started that many cars. We got back to the bottom and started digging and I just want to thank my guys. We had this car destroyed Friday night and worked until 9 o’clock last night, we worked until 2:30 in the morning really after Friday night and was back in the shop on Saturday and worked ‘til 9 o’clock and got this car back together. It was spot on, but we were a little free in qualifying and practice and I didn’t tighten it up enough. I had something for Jon for about a lap, that was about it. I could roll in there and cut the wheel underneath then the next lap once we got some heat in the brakes and tires it just got a little too free.”
Rob Braun was either first in class as the highest finishing Slinger regular or third place overall. Bobby Wilberg, driving Braun’s other car came home in fourth while Kris Kelly rounded out the top five.
James Swan did double duty and showed his dominance in the Mid-American Sportsman cars, by capturing their feature event.
Jack Stearn appeared headed for his first career victory until a late race yellow allowed Swan to restart alongside. Swan would be able to clear Stearn and hold on for the win.
Did Swan think he could have caught Stearn without the yellow?
“I don’t think so. You have to give Jack Stearn credit,” said Swan. “He has been running fantastic lately. I didn’t think I would be able to catch him and when I did I didn’t think I could pass him.”
Stearn held on for his career best second place finish, while Danny Church made a strong run starting shotgun on the field to come home in third. Mike Lange and Austin Leudtke rounded out the top five.
Al Stippich held off teammate Ken Schraufnagel to capture his second feature win of the year in the Thunderstocks. Eric Lingford finished in third, while Ryan Farrell and Jake Larson were fourth and fifth respectively.
Alex Prunty notched his fourth win of the season in the 4 Cylinder Slinger Bees. Nick Wagner wound up in second with Braison Bennett in third. Fast qualifier Erik Long came home in fourth despite starting dead last and Russ Lorbiecki ended up in fifth.
Erle Hoth scored an exciting win in the American Super Cup feature. The half scale stock cars put on an exciting race sometimes going 4 and 5 wide on the Slinger high banks. Hoth used the outside to get to the lead by lap 2 despite starting seventh. Hoth went 4 wide to take the lead and would stretch his lead quickly. However, the lapped car of Theresa Udelle would almost cost him the win, yet help him steal the win in the end.
Hoth came up fast on Udelle and had to slow, allowing several cars to get by. Ken Jones would assume the lead and appeared headed for the win until the last lap. Udelle would force Jones to alter his line and allow Hoth to dive inside and beat Jones to the line by a nose. David Cerer, Mick Ellis, and Dakota Potts were your top five.
Willy Van Camp picked up his third feature win in the Figure 8 division holding off Scott Goetzke. Rick Bruskiewicz finished in third, while Justin Poenitsch and Brandon Wolf completed the top five.
Charlie Blackmore won the Spectator Eliminator feature.
While Jon Reynolds Jr. is affectionately known as Driver X, apparently Driver Y won the Speedway Guest car feature. All we know is that Driver Y is with Westbury Bank, the sponsor of the Guest Cars.