Lowell Bennett has certainly been on a roll as of late. The previous four weeks saw Bennett take home two feature wins and two seconds at the Slinger Super Speedway, as well as a win at Wisconsin International Raceway this past Thursday. Sunday his dominating stretch continued as he took the checkers in the YellowPages.com/Mountain Outfitters 60 at Slinger.
“I’ll tell you what, this has been one heckuva run here,” said Bennett from Victory Lane. “We won here last week and set fast time, we won here tonight and set fast time, we won at Kaukauna. Braison (Bennett’s young son) won in his dragster and comes down here and wins in his four cylinder car, I am just a pumped, proud daddy.”
Bennett’s march to the front hasn’t been as easy as he has made it to look. Starting this race from the seventh position due to the invert, he had to work his way through traffic. Something that is no easy task at the World’s Fastest Quarter Mile Oval.
Six time track Champion Conrad Morgan and second generation driver Josh Wallace shared the front row at the drop of the green flag. The first attempt at a start was aborted when Dennis Prunty was bumped from behind and slapped the front stretch wall. The accordion effect behind caused Cardell Potter’s car to spin entering turn one bringing out the yellow. Prunty’s car suffered what at the time appeared to only be cosmetic damage, but the race was to be restarted from the top.
The second start was a good one with Morgan leading the first lap by a fender, before the yellow would fly again at the conclusion of lap 1 when Fred Winn spun through the infield.
When racing resumed, Wallace would nose ahead of Morgan as the pair would race side by side over the next few laps. Wallace would clear Morgan on lap 4, and hold the lead over the next seven laps.
Morgan would then dive to the inside of Wallace in turn one on lap 11 and take over the lead. Just two laps later the yellow would fly again when Dennis Prunty came to a stop in turn three with a right rear tire going down.
Prunty would go to the pits to get the tire fixed and would rejoin the race just as the field would take the green flag.
Wallace would get the jump on the restart and took over the top spot. Morgan fell in behind as Bennett worked his way around Rich Loch and into third place. Wallace would hold the lead until lap 24, when Morgan got underneath Wallace and opened the door for Bennett to follow.
The yellow would come out again on lap 26 when the cars of Steven Schulz and Cardell Potter tangled down the front stretch with Potter slamming hard into the turn one wall. Potter’s car was done for the night, and Schulz was able to continue despite front end damage.
Morgan and Bennett shared the front row on the double file restart, and Bennett got the advantage on the outside when Morgan spun his tires. Bennett was able to clear Morgan coming off of turn two on lap 27, but his lead was short lived. The yellow would once again fly on lap 29 when rookie Austin Leudtke spun entering turn one and was to-boned by Randy Schuler.
It was during this caution period when a couple of controversies cropped up
First, Rich Loch who was running a strong fourth place, was stopped on track by officials to check over his car. They determined that Loch was leaking power steering fluid and black flagged him. Loch pulled off the track and did not return.
Secondly, scoring ruled that Dennis Prunty was a lap down due to the incident on lap 13. Prunty, who had apparently restarted the race by falling back into the rear of the field as the cars came to the green flag, had made steady progress back through the field. He had made his way back up to eleventh place on the track, however the official scorers determined he was indeed a lap down. Prunty then pulled over in turn four where the track’s competition director Jim Seidl stands in order to plead his case and get clarification. After a discussion that led to a few extra caution laps, Prunty exited the track in anger and would wind up finishing in sixteenth position and falling 113 points behind Bennett in the quest for the championship.
The subsequent restart saw Bennett take advantage of Morgan’s car being loose, and quickly jumped out to a bit of a lead. Bennett would stretch his lead over Morgan to about 3 car lengths. Morgan appeared to be catching Bennett slightly, but would never get close enough to become a serious threat.
Bennett’s margin of victory was a mere .718 seconds over Morgan, while Steve Apel finished in third. Josh Wallace wound up in fourth, while former track champion David Prunty, making his first start of the season would come home in fifth.
“We’ve had a pretty good working car, this crew has got something good underneath me,” said Bennett. “We won Thursday night at Kaukauna with the other car too. It’s been one phenomenal week here. Little tweaks here at a time the last three four weeks and every single little tweak that we put into it seems like it falls into place.”
Conrad Morgan was perhaps a bit more melancholy about his runner-up finish.
“We did pretty good. We’ve had a lot of opportunities this summer and haven’t been able to capitalize on them,” said Morgan. “I was hoping tonight would be the night, but the car really gets loose, especially coming off of a yellow flag. It seems no matter what I try to do, try to wiggle the car back and forth to keep the tires clean and keep everything warmed up and ready to go it just doesn’t seem to matter, the car will get loose.”
Fred Winn won the Super Late Model Semi Feature over Brad Keith and Scott Schoeni. Rob Maynor finished in the final transfer slot with Vincent Merry rounding out the top five.
Travis Dassow made his maiden voyage in the Late Model division a success by capturing the feature win by a comfortable margin over defending track champion Chris Blawat. Rookie John DeAngelis had his best finish of the season running a strong third. Brad Dahmer and Pat McIntee would round out the top five.
“In practice I thought we had a decent car, but I didn’t really think it would do that,” explained Dassow in Victory Lane. “Just kind of got out there early and drove around and didn’t push the car, so I had tires at the end.”
The Mid American Sportsman feature came down to a battle between teammates with Jeff Holtz narrowly beating James Swan. Holtz took the lead by bumping his way past Andy Haver on lap 11 and stretched his lead. Swan, who was mired in traffic slowly made his way up to second place. At one point Holtz had a half straightaway lead, before Swan began to reel him in. Luckily for Holtz, he was able to hold on for the win. Andy Haver held on for a third place finish while Scott Shambeau and Jimmie Evans rounded out the top five.
Al Stippich took advantage of leader Ryan Farrell’s misfortune as Farell took the white flag to win the Thunderstock feature.
Farrell took the lead from Jake Larson on lap 12 of 18 and appeared ready to cruise to an easy victory. However, as Farrell entered turn one after taking the white flag, he would lose the right front wheel off the car just as he got back on the gas. Farell appeared headed for a hard impact into the turn two wall, but somehow managed to steer the car through the pit entrance and avoid any further damage. The race was declared official with Stippich inheriting the lead and the victory. Jake Larson wound up in second place while Ken Schraufnagel ended up in third. John Daley and Eric Lingford rounded out the top five.
Picking up his first career feature win in the 4 Cylinder Slinger Bees division was Braison Bennett, son of Super Late Model driver Lowell Bennett. Braison took the lead with a great inside move on lap 11 and cruised to an easy victory over Nick Wagner. Mark Johler and Alex Prunty, who shared the last row to start the feature, made for an exciting battle to the checkers as Prunty nudged Johler sideways coming to the stripe. Johler held on to third barely. Erik Long, who had earlier set fast time in his primary car, ran a strong fifth.
Carl Gebhardt took home the win in the Bees Semi feature over Zach Clarke. Ryan Lovald, who had the race won until a flat tire slowed him on the last lap would finish third. Jeff Wolfe and Jeremy Esser completed the top five.
Brian Smail got the win in the Speedway Guest cars.
C J Corallini captured the Spectator Eliminator win.
Jack Sutherland took home the checkers in the School Bus Figure 8 feature.
Shane “The Shark” Becker led flag to flag in winning his second Figure 8 Feature of the season. Becker held off a furious charge from Willy Van Camp and Scott Goetzke. Rick Bruskiewicz and Justin Poenitsch finished fourth and fifth respectively.