Holtz Sparkles Notching First
Career Win In Firecracker 85 At Slinger
Super Late Model Success Comes on Holiday Weekend
By Gregg Paul

Jeff Holtz takes his first victory lap.  (Al Graff Photo)

Jeff Holtz is a relative newcomer to the ranks of the Super Late Models, but is a veteran of the short track wars.  Having come up through the Mid American Stock Car series and the Limited Late Models, Holtz has learned his way around the high banks of the Slinger Super Speedway.  Those experiences, as well as capitalizing on the misfortunes of others led to his first career feature win in this elite division.

Holtz was obviously excited about his feelings about earning this first victory.

“Pretty damn good. Pretty damn good I gotta say,” exclaimed Holtz.  “The beginning was king of nerve wracking because of the traffic and stuff, but on the restart it helped when the first and second place car got taken out or whatever happened there.  It’s nice when you can start on the front row on the restart.”

What Holtz was alluding to was an incident between Dennis Prunty and Jeremy Lepak that took both out of contention.  Contact between the two forced both drivers to the rear of the field. Perhaps what he was also alluding to was how he overcame his car over heating during the early going on this hot summer night in Wisconsin.

Mike Egan and Dennis Prunty shared the front row for the feature.  Prunty, who makes no secret that he loves being on the outside, used that to his advantage as he would jump out to the early lead.  Prunty would stretch that advantage to seven car lengths in the early going.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Lepak, making his first appearance at Slinger in over a year, showed no signs of rust.  Lepak not only set fast time in qualifying, he set his sights on running down a victory as well.  Starting in seventh place due to the invert, Lepak quickly worked his way into contention.  By lap 19 he found himself in second place and gaining quickly on Prunty.

However, gaining on someone and passing them are always to vastly different things in racing.  While it was apparent that Lepak was gaining ground on Prunty on every lap, Prunty is a master at only running his car as fast as he needs to, especially while leading.  Lepak used the chrome horn on Prunty on lap 32 and got Prunty sideways, but backed off allowing Prunty to catch his car.  Five laps later would be a different story.

Lepak worked both the high and low grooves in an effort to get around Prunty.  Each time Prunty would be able to hold onto the lead.  Coming off of turn two on lap 37 Lepak got a nose underneath Prunty going down the backstretch. Lepak was down low further than the preferred line and it appeared Prunty wanted to drive down even further himself.  Entering the third corner, with Lepak already committed to the bottom of the track, Prunty appeared to come down the hill into Lepak’s line.  Lepak didn’t give any ground this time and the two cars made contact.  Enough to spin Prunty around and bring out the yellow.  Track rules call for all cars involved in a yellow being sent to the rear.  Despite running first and second, both Lepak and Prunty were relegated to the rear of the field.

“I know I should have backed off, but I had a nose in there,” said Lepak.  “What else was I supposed to do?”

With the two leaders now back at the tail of the field, that left Mike Egan and Jeff Holtz to do battle for the lead.  That battle would be short lived, however, as Holtz would work his way around Egan on the high side to take over the lead on lap 41. A mere six laps later, Eric Fransen would work his way past Egan on the high side as well and settle into second place.

Holtz would expand his lead over Fransen to nearly seven car lengths, before Fransen began to slowly reel Holtz back in.  Despite Fransen’s valiant efforts, Holtz was able to secure his first career feature win in a super late model.

“It was very stressful,” Holtz said.  “I was holding my breath perhaps the last twenty laps. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

For Fransen, second place was not a real disappointment.

“Second place is a great run,” Fransen said.  “I just wanted to come out of here in one piece and for the Nationals next week I didn’t want to have to fix a lot.  I’m happy with second and the car was pretty good.

Lowell Bennett was able to extend his points lead to 136 with his quiet third place run.  Driver X, Jon Reynolds Jr. made is his first start of the year in a super late model at Slinger and came home in fourth, with Mike Egan rounding out the top five.

Chris Rataczyk won the semi feature over Collin Bamke and Josh Wallace. Fred Winn and Steven Schulz rounded out the top five. 

Chris Blawat collected his first win of the season in the Limited Late Models by holding off Rob Braun.  Blawat, who started third in the feature, followed leader Ryan DeStefano’s line to the front at the drop of the green flag.  Blawat would then quickly jump to the high side and set his sight on the lead.  Heading down the backstretch on lap 7 there was contact between the two as they raced side by side.  Blawat was able to come off the fourth turn faster and took the lead there, never to be headed.

Jacob Vanoskey made a last corner pass on DeStefano  to finish third.  Mike Graczkowski came home in fifth.

James Swan has been the class of the field in the Mid American Sportsman division from the very first race of the year.  Sunday was no different, as Swan notched his third feature win of the season with a convincing 1.2 second victory over Gregg Pawelske.  Andy Haver would finish in third with Jimmie Evans and Mike Lange finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

Eric Lingford appeared to have taken the victory in the Thunderstocks feature, however both he and Ryan Farrell were disqualified following post race inspection.  Al Stippich was declared the winner, with Andy Welter winding up in second place.  John Daley, Rick Schaefer, and Justin Poenitsch rounded out the top five.

Erik Long picked up his first victory of the season in the 4 cylinder Slinger Bees division.  Long got a strong jump from his sixth place starting position on the outside, and took the lead on lap 2. Long was able to stretch his lead to a comfortable 2.6 seconds over Brandon Tackes.  Alex Prunty came home in third, while Nick Wagner and Braison Bennett finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Tyler Schley held off Erica Knutson to take the Bees semi feature. Brandon Gumm, Joe Shelby, and Josh Fehrmann rounded out the top five.

Jason Henness won the Speedway guest car feature.

Luke Hilgendorf won the Spectator Eliminators.

Mike Meyerhofer Jr. held off Scott Goetzke to take the win in the Figure 8 division.  Willy Van Camp finished third with Rick Bruskiewicz in fourth. Shane “The Shark” Becker completed the top five.