Lowell Bennett was cruising to what appeared to be an easy victory, when a late race caution eliminated his considerable lead. Despite having the dominant car, he would still have to deal with Steve Apel in a green, white, checkered finish. Ordinarily a student hands an apple to the teacher, but tonight it was the teacher handing it to Apel, as Bennett picked up his second win of the season in the PMF Landscape/Scout Night 60 at the Slinger Super Speedway.
“I’ll tell you what, we had a battle on our hands,” said Bennett from Victory Lane. “That 16 car (Apel) was pretty quick, and we saw Dennis (Prunty) coming up there and you know that was just one heck of a lot of fun.”
Though it may have seemed an easy win for Bennett, it certainly didn’t start out that way. Travis Dassow and Randy Schuler led the field to the green flag. Dassow would get the jump on the inside and opened up the inside lane. Mike Egan, who started third would get past Schuler on lap 2. Dassow and Egan, both driving cars numbered 89 began to wage their own battle for the lead. Both cars pulled out to a slight advantage with Dassow leading Egan by car length.
Meanwhile back in the pack, Lowell Bennett and Dennis Prunty, had to start the race behind the invert. Bennett thanks to his setting fast time in qualifying, and Prunty for winning last week’s feature. The pair sliced their way through the field quickly, with Bennett getting into the top five by lap 16. Both had the high side working to their advantage and were reeling in the leaders.
Egan would draw even with Dassow on lap 20 and the pair would run side by side for the next 12 laps until they approached lapped traffic. Dassow had Egan pinched down to the inside as they approached the slower car of Jerry Eckhardt. Dassow appeared to try to use Eckhardt’s car as a pick entering turn three and tried to shut the door on Egan. However, Egan wasn’t about to give in and as Dassow came down, Egan held his ground and the subsequent contact caused Dassow to spin bringing out the yellow on lap 32.
“Dassow drove it in there hard and got a little loose and there wasn’t really anything anybody could do,” explained Egan. “Luckily the track did the right thing and threw a yellow and put him back in his spot, so I was glad for that.”
Once racing resumed, Dassow would once again get a jump on the restart and began to stretch his lead. That would be a short lived lead, as Bennett was on the move on the outside once again. Bennett caught Egan and finally cleared him going into turn three on lap 37.
One lap later the yellow would fly again for a spin by Ron Ragan in turn two.
That bunched up the field and on the restart it would be Bennett who would get the jump on Dassow and get the lead on lap 39. Apparently the outside groove was the preferred groove on this night, as Apel and Prunty followed Bennett to the front. With Apel now in third he set his sights on Dassow and drew even with him on lap 40. As they entered turn one on lap 42 the yellow would fly for an incident in turn three. Fred Winn would spin to cause the yellow. Dassow and Apel were still side by side entering turn one and before they saw the yellow, Apel drove too hard into the corner and pounded into Dassow. That tore up Dassow’s front end and peeled the body work off the right side of Apel’s car. The damage was severe enough to end Dassow’s night.
The restart from this caution almost proved to be controversial. There was a considerable amount of speedy dry left in the outside groove, and as the cars came to take the green, Apel spun his tires and Bennett got a huge jump before the start line. Ordinarily the flagman would throw a limp green and then the yellow to try for a more equitable restart. Yet in this instance the race continued under green and Bennett would gain a huge advantage and pull away steadily.
It looked like the win would come easy, but the racing gods have a funny way of evening things out. Bennett would actually take the white flag, but Scott Shoeni would get into the back of Tommy Hromadka and spinning him in turn three. Austin Luedtke had nowhere to go and plowed into Hromadka further blocking the track. Ron Ragan and Jerry Eckhardt tried to spin to avoid, but Ragan clipped Eckhardt and sent him into the outside wall.
According to track rules, if the entire field does not take the white flag, the race reverts to a green, white checkered finish. This allowed Apel a chance to atone for his earlier mistake on the lap 42 restart.
However, any hopes Apel had quickly faded away as Bennett would once again get the jump on the youngster. Apel actually got into the back of Bennett’s car as they took the white flag getting him loose, but Bennett was able to hold on for the win.
“You didn’t want to see that last yellow, but now that it’s over it was a good outcome,” said Bennett. “The fans got to see a good race.”
Since Bennett took the white flag, was he upset over the ruling?
“The yellow came out but the whole field did not get the white so we go back to a green, white, checkers, it’s the way it is. It’s no big deal,” said Bennett.
For Apel, it was a lesson well learned from a master.
“Not having a fender actually cooled the right front tire down,” explained Apel. “The longer the race got the better the car got. I was hoping it was an 80 lapper as I think we would’ve had a shot. If it wasn’t for going backwards on the last couple of restarts we would’ve been right next to Lowell. I just spun the tires in the kitty litter and he got cleared.”
Mike Egan recovered from his incident to finish in third, nipping Dennis Prunty on the last lap. Conrad Morgan would round out the top five.
The Late Models once again became a crash fest almost at the drop of the green flag. Dave McCardle Jr. got into the back of Ryan DeStefano between turns three and four when it appeared he got back in the gas quicker. DeStefano spun into the car of Wayne Freimund and blocked the track. The rest of the field had nowhere to go and while cars were checking up, others plowed into them. Pat McIntee, Rob Braun, and Mike Graczkowksi were also involved, with McIntee suffering the most damage. Only DeStefano and Freimund were unable to continue.
Jake Vanoskey took the lead on the restart and looked primed to pick up the victory. Graczkowski would work his way back up to second and began to chase down Vanoskey. Graczkowski would perhaps get a bit impatient and bumped Vanoskey into the infield coming off turn two to bring out the yellow on lap 28. Both drivers were sent to the rear of the field.
Dave McCardle Jr. and Chris Blawat would inherit the top two spots on the restart. McCardle Jr.’s car was extremely loose and in trying to hold off Blawat simply rode him out of the groove in turn one, causing some body work damage. The flagman made the call to give McCardle Jr. the black flag for rough driving.
Blawat was able to regain the top spot, but on the restart Rob Braun was able to quickly get past and cruise to an easy victory. Blawat would wind up in second with Brad Dahmer finishing third. Pat McIntee and Mike Graczkowski recovered from their incidents to finish fourth and fifth respectively.
Michael Lange would lead flag to flag for a well deserved win in the Mid-American Sportsman division. However, it was the late race effort of points leader James Swan, that made the race interesting towards the end. With only two laps left in the 30 lap feature, Swan found himself in fourth place. He would drive his way deep into the corners and picked off both Jimmie Evans and Scott Shambeau to wind up in second place. Jay Shambeau would finish in fifth.
Andy Welter picked up the win in the Thunderstocks, narrowly holding of Ken Schraufnagle. Fast qualifier Eric Lingford made his way through the pack to finish third, while Al Stippich and Ryan Farrell rounded out the top five.
Alex Prunty notched his third feature win in the 4 cylinder Slinger Bees. Prunty made short work carving his way through the field of thirteen, despite starting dead last. By the sixth lap of 18, Prunty pulled into the lead, bypassing his father Dan. The younger Prunty would not give his father a win on this Father’s day, instead cruising to an easy win. Braison Bennett, son of Super Late Model winner Lowell Bennett, would also get around Dan Prunty to finish in second place. Nick Wagner and Russ Lorbiecki completed the top five.
Brandon Gumm would spoil the effort of Alexis Strobel to get the win in the Slinger Bees Semi Feature. Joe Shelby, Jeremy Esser, and Brittiny Helmers would complete the top five.
Justin Poenitsch cruised to an easy victory in the Figure 8 division. Shane “The Shark” Becker came home in second with Willy Van Camp in third. Scott Goetzke and Rick Bruskiewicz were fourth and fifth.
Kurt Manthey won the Spectator Eliminators.
Mike Crummee won the Speedway Guest Cars.