Claims Miller Lite Nationals Title!
July 18, 1999; Slinger, WI - Conrad Morgan (Waukesha) took home the Larry Detjens Trophy as overall champion of the 1999 Miller Lite Nationals, Monday night, July 19th at the Slinger Super Speedway. Morgan earned a win in the nightcap of the Twin 100 lap late model features, that, along with his second place finish in the first 100 lapper, propelled him to the overall title at the World's Fastest 1/4 Mile Oval. An out of breath Morgan exclaimed, "Finally" as he accepted congratulations in post the race interview from track announcer Todd Behling. Asked if this title would cap his career, he continued, "I want to win this again next year." He went on to thank his crew for working their butts off and congratulating both Bennett and Al Schill (Franklin) on their great runs.
Morgan would take the lead from polesitter Lowell Bennett (Neenah) as the two separated themselves from the rest of the field. Morgan showed the way over the last 39 laps after he used a backmarker to make the pass on Bennett. Following Morgan and Bennett were defending Miller Lite Nationals champion, Tony Strupp (West Bend) in third, Matt Kenseth (Cambridge) fourth, and Cindy Peterson (Butler) fifth.
Morgan took advantage of a lap car to make his way around Bennett working lap 61. As the pair moved up on a trio of lap cars, Morgan turned down, forcing Bennett behind a slower car giving Morgan the break he needed. Once around Bennett's ride, Morgan relegated Bennett to the same treatment that Bennett had showed Morgan for the previous 60 laps, following in his tire tracks. The two cars were equal, so equal that once in front, second place could not get around the leader.
Strupp showed signs that he could run with the leaders, but fell too far behind them in the early stages of the race. He kept visiting NASCAR Busch Grand National driver Kenseth, behind him after the second of two cautions jumbled the top five just 15 laps from the end. Brad Mueller (Random Lake) was battling with Strupp for third when his left rear tire started going down causing him to spin in front of Kenseth and Peterson. As a result, Mueller gave up the spot and pulled off the track for repairs, while Kenseth and Peterson looked to move up and challenge Strupp. The checkered flag would fall before any serious attempts were mounted.
Other visiting drivers in competition included NASCAR's Dick Trickle (Iron Station, NC) finishing sixth, Ken Schrader (Concord, NC) fourteenth, Rick Bickle (Edgerton) twenty-first and Hooters Cup driver Scott Wimmer (Wausau) twenty-second. Bennett was awarded the $200.00 bonus for leading lap 50 for the Mac Tools Half-Eay Challenge.
In the initial of the two 100 lap features, Schill proved to be in a class by himself. After starting eighth, he motored into the lead on lap 12 and pulled to a 5-½ second win on the high banked oval. Following Schill's rocket ship in the top five were Morgan, Mueller, Bickle and Bennett.
Schill drove his car inside or outside as he diced up the field leaving only 5 cars on the lead lap, a decided advantage for Schill since only the cars on the lead lap get inverted for the second 100 lapper. As Schill raced into a different area code, the race for second heated up as the laps wound down. Morgan eventually overtook Mueller just 9 circuits from the finish, after Mueller tallied 60 laps in the runner up position. The race ran the entire 100 laps without experiencing a caution.
Kenseth wound up seventh, with Schrader again ending up fourteenth, Trickle finishing twenty-first, after a fender rub caused his right rear tire to deflate and Wimmer winding up twenty-second. Schill pocketed the $200.00 bonus for the Mac Tools Half-Way Callenge by leading at the midway point. In a short interview after the race, Schill commented on his car. "The thing just was...from start to finish it just stayed the same it never went away, it was beautiful. My son was with me all the way, that was for him, everything I'm doing is for him. He rides with me all the time, especially tonight." Schill was referring to his son, whom he raced with and against, who died this past March at only 24 years old. When asked about the second 100, he responded, "I'm ready right now, just gas it up, lets go."
Kenseth took advantage of a late caution on lap 29 of the qualifying race to earn the checkered flag. Kenseth made his way around Peterson working lap 33, driving under Wisconsin's only female late model driver just 3 laps from the end. Kenseth moved up from his thirteenth starting position, into the top five by lap 13 and eventually to the runner up position on lap 28.
Peterson's 2 second advantage was erased when the third and final caution flag flew, allowing Kenseth the break he needed. Kenseth noted that he was celebrating his tenth year of racing at the Slinger Speedway, starting when he was only 17 years old. The top eight finishers transferred into the Twin 100 lap main events for the night. The hardest charger of the qualifier was Jamie Wallace (Pell Lake). Wallace got caught up in one of the earlier cautions, had to pull off for repairs, only to fall in at the end of the line. He worked his way into the final transfer spot, minus his hood.
Scott Lindsay (Dousman) took home the checkered in the 35 lap late model semi- feature. Rounding out the top five in the caution free event was Matt Raudabaugh (Menomonee Falls), Scott Schoeni (Slinger), Randy Schuler (Mequon), and Fred Winn (Milwaukee). Lindsay earned the $200.00 bonus of the Mac Tools Half-Way Challenge by leading lap 18 of the semi-feature.
Schill also claimed the 10 lap Miller Lite Trophy Dash. Schill and Mueller broke away from the six pack of cars that made up the field of the highest qualifiers for the Mid-Summer Special. Mueller challenged Schill both on the low and high sides, but the veteran Franklin driver held him off, crossing the line less than a car length ahead. Morgan timed in fastest with a 11.770 second tour of the Slinger Super Speedway.
Al Schill, pulling double duty driving in both the late model and modified divisions as he does on regular Sunday evenings, started from inside the last row to score his third victory of the evening, as he crossed the line four seconds ahead of Brian Holtz (Franklin) in the Midwest Modified feature. Schill worked his way into the top five by the fifth lap, after starting the race in the eleventh position. Larry Reihbrandt (Wauwatosa) led until lap sixteen when his car got loose coming off the second corner. Schill took advantage, moving into the lead and never looked back. The battle was for the remaining top spots, with a hard fought battle between second place finisher Brian Holtz (Franklin) and third place Dennis Prunty, with Reihbrandt and Florian Wisinski (Greenfield) rounding out the 30 lap modified feature.
LATE MODEL FEATURE #2 FINISH - 100 LAPS
FAST QUALIFIER - Conrad Morgan (Waukesha)- 11.770 seconds
LATE MODEL LAST CHANCE RACE 35 LAPS
LATE MODEL SEMI FEATURE FINISH 35 LAPS