Feisty Dave Feiler survived two rain delays, a slick track, and slick competition in fending off Lowell Bennett to win the rain shortened Russ Darrow Labor Day 100 at the Slinger Super Speedway. The race was red flagged for rain at lap 23, then declared official when the rains returned on lap 74.
“I’ll take them any way I can get them, actually,” explained Feiler. “I don’t know if I’ve ever won a rain shortened race or not, but it feels just as good if it ends early.”
Jeff Holtz and Dave Feiler led the field to the green flag with Holtz grabbing the early lead. Holtz would lead the first ten circuits before something broke as he entered turn two. Holtz slowed right in front of Eric Fransen, who had worked his way up to third place. Fransen couldn’t quite slow down fast enough and bumped into the rear of Holtz’ car. Holtz then hit the turn two wall just beyond the foam barrier causing more front end damage. Fransen suffered a wrinkled nose and his hood was buckled, but he was able to continue.
Feiler inherited the lead for the restart with Fransen maintaining the second spot. Conrad Morgan worked his way into third place, while Lowell Bennett climbed all the way up to fourth from his eleventh starting position.
Feiler would get the jump on the restart and slowly begin to pull away. Behind him the field was busy trying to sort themselves out. Early on the inside seemed a bit more treacherous from the rain delay before the race began. Feiler would build up a half straightaway advantage, with Fransen and Morgan in pursuit.
Rich Loch spun off of turn two into the infield on lap 16, but there was no yellow.
The field then strung out single file until the yellow would come out again on lap 23. This time it was for rain, and after running a few laps under the yellow, the race was red flagged and the cars returned to the pits.
Almost as soon as the red flag came out, the rains stopped. However the track was still too wet for the super late models to race on. Slinger track officials decided to send out the four cylinder Slinger Bee division to dry the track and run their 20 lap feature event. (More on that event later)
After the conclusion of the Bees race, the cars returned to the track and the race resumed. Feiler would once again get off to a great start and build up his lead. Suddenly the outside groove, which had been the place to be most of the season, became the slow way around. Conrad Morgan would get around Fransen and move into second just one lap after the restart. Just four laps later Lowell Bennett would also get around Fransen, while Jamie Wallace climbed into the top five.
The yellow would fly once again on lap 34 for contact between the cars of Randy Schuler and Austin Luedtke down the backstretch causing Luedtke to spin.
It was during this yellow that the rains returned, but only for a few laps. The cars were allowed to pull off the track and have their windshields cleaned while maintaining their positions.
The first attempt at a restart was aborted when either Feiler got too good of a jump or Morgan did not keep up. Either way another attempt was made to restart the race. This time it appeared that once again Feiler may have got too good of a jump, but this start was allowed to stay.
Morgan found out the high side was not for him and he was freight trained back into fifth place. Jamie Wallace and Fransen both got by, but at this point, Feiler and Bennett had checked out to over a full straightaway lead.
Traffic soon became an issue as Feiler and Bennett approached. Feiler seemingly timed the traffic better and gained a car length or two. This would go on for several laps and allowed Wallace to get right back in the thick of things close in on Bennett’s bumper.
Over the remaining laps, Bennett and Wallace could only get close to Feiler but never really challenge for position. Unfortunately the rains came again on lap 74 and came suddenly. The cars were still at speed as the yellow flew, but the track was soaked. Entering turn one the cars of AL Schill, Dennis Prunty, Steve Apel, Brad Keith, Steven Schulz, and Fred Winn spun in the water. The cars of Schill, Apel, and win suffered damage.
Feiler was declared the winner and the remaining events on the schedule cancelled.
For Feiler, any victory is a good one.
“The car was really good, and starting up front is always big,” said Feiler. “It was nice to actually start up front. Usually I’m not the guy that starts up front. I’m usually back behind the invert or somewhere back in there. Lowell was right there and he is one heck of a racer. I think it would have been pretty interesting at the end. I really think that at a certain point there when I started pulling away from him that maybe he was saving his tires. He’s a smart, smart racer. If you ask Lowell he’d probably say I got through 1 and 2 incredibly and 3 and 4 was pretty decent. But I could just roll through 1 and 2.”
Considering Bennett’s condition despite winning last week suffering from pneumonia, it was a different type of night.
“It was a little different with the weather and stuff,” said Bennett. “It always adds a little element of surprise there when you don’t know when you’re going to get rained on, or if everybody’s going to go sliding off. That was a little exciting there at the end and I hate to see cars get wrecked there. When we went to the high side we were a touch tight, so we just did our best to just hang in there. You don’t know. In another 25 laps his car might have went away or mine went away, you don’t know. You race it for what it is. I had to race a little harder getting there starting back in twelfth and he started up a lot farther forward, but I‘m happy with what we did.”
Jamie Wallace recovered from last week’s heartbreaking last lap pass after leading so many laps to finish a strong third. Eric Fransen came home in fourth despite the early damage, and Jon Reynolds Jr. rounded out the top five.
Jacob Vanoskey proved that the only important lap to lead is the last one, as he passed Mike Graczkowski on the last turn of the last lap to win the Late Model feature. Graczkowski, who had taken the lead on lap 6, seemed poised to pick up his third win of the year, but slipped just enough to let Vanoskey get under him heading into turn three on the final lap. Wayne Freimund finished in third place with Dave McCardle Jr. and Chris Blawat coming home in fourth and fifth respectively.
Andy Welter took advantage of slower traffic to take the lead, and held off the fast closing car of Al Stippich to capture the Thunderstock feature. Welter, who had started tenth, worked his way into second place by lap 9. Stippich followed Welter to the front despite having to start shotgun on the field after winning last week’s feature.
Welter chased down leader Ken Schraufnagel and took advantage of traffic to get the lead. Schraufnagel caught the car of Josh Fehrmann, just as Welter went to the high side. Welter used Fehrmann as a pick and drove around Schraufnagel on lap 16. Two laps later Stippich would also get around and close in on Welter.
The pair encountered lapped traffic with Welter able to maintain his lead. The yellow would come out on lap 23 of the 25 lap feature, when Schraufnagel’s car was clipped by the lapped car of Tim Kreuser. This set up a two lap shootout for the win. However, Welter was not going to be denied, as he got a better jump on the restart and was able to hold off Stippich for the win. Points leader Eric Lingford finished third and maintains a sparse 8 point lead over Stippich. John Daley and Jake Larson rounded out the top five.
Braison Bennett notched his second win of the year in the 4 Cylinder Slinger Bees. A race that was run in between the rain delay of the Super Late Model race, Bennett survived a couple of slow restarts in holding off points leader Alex Prunty. Brandon Tackes finished in third place with Shawn Ogden in fourth. Dylan Wenzel came home in fifth.
Terry Patnode captured the Super Late Model semi feature, narrowly beating Tommy Hromadka to the line.
Dave Wacek won the Bees Semi Feature.
Dave Behling won in the Speedway Guest cars.
Mother Nature won in both the Mid-American Sportsman and Figure 8 divisions, as those events were cancelled due to the rain.