A day earlier found Lowell Bennett in a hospital emergency room coughing up blood. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and seriously contemplated not racing at the Slinger Super Speedway this week. However, as is so often the case, despite being sick, people tend to turn in a stellar performance. Such was the case on this occasion, as Bennett somehow summoned up the strength to race and found a way to pass Jamie Wallace on the last turn of the last lap to win the Leroy Meats 60.
Wallace probably feels as sick as Bennett, having led 59 & ¾ laps before slipping up in the last corner, allowing Bennett to duck underneath and beat him to the checkers by a mere .036 seconds.
Apparently a victory is just the medicine Bennett needed to feel better.
“That’ll help, we’ve been under the weather pretty bad the last week,” explained Bennett from Victory Lane. “Last night we started coughing up blood and ended up in the ER overnight and they told me I had pneumonia. So I had to decide what to do to come here or stay at home. I come here for some medicine. Thanks for all the prayers everybody.”
While I am sure that Wallace wouldn’t wish any ill will towards Bennett, I am equally sure he half heartedly wishes that Bennett had stayed home.
Wallace and Fred Winn led the field to the green flag with Wallace getting the early lead. A lead that wouldn’t last long as the caution would fly after the completion of lap one. Brad Dahmer got loose in turn two, and as the field bunched up behind him, several cars suffered the accordion effect as well as some damage. The cars of Dahmer, Austin Luedtke, Tommy Hromadka, Terry Patnode, Mike Egan, and Dennis Prunty suffered some degree of body damage with Dahmer being the only car to retire for the night.
Once racing resumed, Wallace again got the jump and began to pull away from the field. Steven Schulz got around Winn for second place, while Bennett quickly jumped into third. Winn was stuck on the high side and was being freight trained. The cars of Bennett, Conrad Morgan, Steve Apel, and Dennis Prunty all got around Winn.
The fans were anticipating a little retribution when Prunty got right behind Apel, considering the outcome of last week’s feature when Apel took out Prunty coming to the checkers, but at least for this night that retribution would have to wait.
Wallace quickly pulled away to a six car length advantage. This was Wallace’s first appearance driving at Slinger this season, and his four new tires may have played a small part in that. Slinger has a tire rule limiting new tires in a cost saving measure to the teams, but with this being Wallace’s first time driving he was allowed to use sticker tires.
Wallace is a long time veteran of the high banks of Slinger, and has been focusing on helping his son Josh further his racing career. The elder Wallace, who has several feature wins at Slinger finally got the itch to drive himself, and he put on a hell of a show.
As the laps were winding down, it seemed the only thing hindering Wallace was the slower traffic. Bennett began to slowly cut into Wallace’s lead lap after lap. By lap 27, Bennett clung to Wallace’s rear bumper. Five laps later Bennett dove deep into turn one and pulled alongside Wallace. The pair would race side by side for several laps with Wallace maintaining his lead at the line.
Bennett appeared to be much better getting into the corners, while Wallace seemed to come off the corners that much better.
Ron Ragan spun into the infield on lap 39, but that did not bring out a caution. However, as Ragan got back up to speed the leaders were bearing down on him on lap 41. Wallace on the high side, expertly used Ragan as a pick and was able to clear Bennett.
Traffic began to wreak havoc with Wallace as her simply caught them at the wrong time. Bennett, not wanting to allow Wallace to get away too quickly, squeezed in front of Conrad Morgan to avoid running into the back of a slower car on lap 48. The result was the top four cars were now running nose to tail as the laps were winding down.
Wallace worked his way around traffic and was able to keep Bennett in his rear view mirror. When Wallace took the white flag, it appeared he was headed for a certain victory.
That is until they reached turn three
Inexplicably, Wallace’s car suddenly drifted high in turn three and Bennett pounced on the opening and ducked underneath Wallace. Wallace tried to fight back, but it was too little too late, as Bennett just barely beat him to the checkers.
“Jamie put on a heck of a race there,” said Bennett. “It was a lot of fun just like we have had in the past. What a driver! He just slipped up a little bit there and I had my car under control and I had him pegged and it was just what we needed.”
Wallace apparently disheartened having led the whole race up until the final corner, abruptly left the track and could not be reached for comment.
Conrad Morgan made it a close three car finish in third, while Dennis Prunty survived the early incident with some minor fender damage to finish in fourth. Steve Apel was a distant fifth.
The win was Bennett’s fifth of the season and also clinched his record breaking seventh track championship.
Pat McIntee picked up his fourth Late Model feature win of the season by leading flag to flag.
McIntee held a few car lengths advantage when the yellow would come out on lap 24. Second place Travis Dassow got clipped by John Reynolds Jr. in turn three and forced Dassow hard into the turn four wall. As Reynolds Jr. slowed, the car of Chris Blawat climbed up over the back of Reynolds Jr., buckling up the body work and ending both driver’s evening early.
Rob Braun survived an early race incident Ryan DeStefano and being sent to the rear to come home in second. Dave McCardle Jr. finished in third place, with the mangled car of Wayne Freimund finishing fourth. DeStefano rounded out the top five.
James Swan picked up his sixth feature win of the season in the Mid-American Sportsman division.
Swan got around pole sitter Jack Stern on lap two and led the final 28 laps. Michael Lange made an impressive run through traffic to finish second. Jay Shambeau finished in third place with Brian Holtz and Scott Shambeau in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Al Stippich notched his fourth Thunderstock feature win of the season holding off a valiant effort from Eric Lingford. Lingford, due to track rules, started at the tail of the field since winning the prior week’s race. Lingford took advantage of traffic and a late race caution to pick his way into second place. Ken Schraufnagel finished in third place while John Daley and Adam Peschek rounded out the top five.
Mark Johler won his fourth 4 cylinder Slinger Bees feature of the season. Johler got around Erik Long on lap 6 and led the rest of the way. Fast qualifier Kyle Stark wound up in second place, with Braison Bennett in third. Nick Wagner and Alex Prunty were the rest of the top five.
Erica Knutson picked up the win in the Bees Semi Feature over Joe Shelby, Dave Lembke, and Zach Clarke. All four drivers advanced to the feature event.
Al Strobel got the win in the Spectator Eliminators, while Pat Fisher won the Speedway Guest Cars.
The evening was topped off with Scott Goetzke scoring his fifth Figure 8 victory of the season. Goetzke passed birthday boy Shane “The Shark” Becker late in the race to secure the win. Willy Van Camp finished third, while Rick Bruskiewicz and Justin Poenitsch finished fourth and fifth.