September 1, 2002; Slinger, WI - While the record book states John Zimmerman led every lap of the Port-A-John 100 Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway it doesnt do justice to what turned out to be the best race of the season at the worlds fastest ¼ mile oval.
Using the outside groove of the speedway, Zimmerman out-dueled Lowell Bennett, Conrad Morgan, and Al Schill, three drivers who collectively own fourteen track championships between them, to nail down his second feature win of the season and first since June.
I won the Firecracker race here (on June 30) and it was the same thing, really clean, side-by-side racing, stated Zimmerman from victory lane. The car has been really great, we took a month off to regroup, and my crew is the reason we are here.
Although Zimmerman never was headed for the lead, the race was one of the most competitive of the season as the top nine cars finished within a straightaway of each other at the checkered flag.
Zimmerman began the race from the outside of the front row and immediately used the high groove to secure the lead at the completion of lap one. Morgan was the first driver to challenge Zimmermans reign at the front of the field and the two pulled away from the rest of the pack while Bennett raced with David Prunty and Eric Fransen for third. A spin involving Fred Winn and John Mueller on lap 42 produced the first caution flag with Zimmerman leading Conrad Morgan, Bennett, Fransen, and Donavan Morgan. On the restart, Zimmerman immediately jumped to the outer groove and resumed the lead as Bennett began to pressure Morgan for second.
Bennett grabbed the second spot on lap 51 and Donavan Morgan followed to drop Conrad back to fourth, just ahead of Fransen. Donavan stayed in Bennetts tire tracks and both drivers closed in on Zimmerman to set up a three-way battle for the lead during the middle stages. A second caution flag flew on lap 62 when Larry Los spun in turn two and a third yellow flag slowdown occurred six laps later when Joe Gross did the same thing, again in turn two. Back under green, Bennett shot to the inside and made several attempts to pass Zimmerman for the lead. Bennett was able to pull even in the middle of the corners but each time, Zimmerman powered ahead exiting the turns. The seesaw battle for the lead went on for 20 laps before Conrad came back to life in the outside lane and along with Schill, began to march toward the front of the field.
With ten laps to go, Zimmerman hung on to a slim lead over the side-by-side battle between Bennett and Conrad while Donavan and Schill were glued to their bumpers, waiting for an opportunity to advance forward. Zimmerman, who was forced to fend off challenges on both the high and low side, worked the outside lane masterfully, never allowing Bennett or Morgan the chance to inch ahead. On the final lap, Bennett was able to find an opening to the inside of Zimmerman entering turn three but lost the drag race to the checkered flag to Zimmerman by about a half car length. Conrad finished a close third just ahead of Schill who nipped Donavan to post a fourth place finish. Fransen finished in sixth place while Brad Mueller, Rich Loch, Dave Teske, and Fred Winn completed the top ten finishers.
Chris Ratajczyk bested Mike Strupp to win the 30-lap late model semi-feature as those two drivers transferred into the 100-lap main event. Todd Thelen was third, followed by Mark Bitzan and Mike Egan. Brad Hartman raced to the win in the 15-lap consolation race ahead of Mike McCabe and Loch won the dash. Brad Mueller was the fastest qualifier after touring the speedway in 11.661 seconds.
Jeff Holtz charged to his fourth win of the season in the caution-filled 30-lap Midwest modified feature.
The race was barely under the green flag when Russ Grades car faltered at the start and in an effort to avoid the situation, Larry Reihbrandt slammed the turn one wall. The incident had major implications on the chase for the season championship as point leader Dale Prunty became collected in the wreck and was forced to retire from the event. Dan Jung, who sits in second place in the season points, led the complete restart and Holtz, the third place point man, got around Andy Evraets to grab second.
Jung clung to the inside of the track as Holtz tried numerous times to make the outer groove work. Several times Holtz moved alongside Jung and both drivers raced so close they nearly touched wheels many times during the races middle stages. After Evraets and Mike Graczkowski tangled on lap 17 to bring out the caution flag, Holtz again took to the outer groove on the restart to challenge Jung for the lead. This time Holtz was able to make the maneuver work and he cleared Jung to take the top spot while exiting the second turn. Once out front, Holtz pulled away and captured the win over Jung who was forced to settle for second. Dan Miller drove to a third place finish as Ed Grober and Lenny Gallenberg rounded out the top five. Russ Grade raced to the win in the dash and Wes Biswell set fast time at 12.578 seconds.
Roger Schmid survived an early battle for the lead and pulled away to his fifth win of the season in the 20-lap Slinger stinger feature.
Dave Obermeyer and Scott Shambeau led the field to the green flag and fought for the lead in the early going as Schmid held off James Littrell for third place. Obermeyer began to fade a bit on the outside and Schmid moved up to race with Shambeau for the top spot by lap seven. Joe DeStefano Sr., Jay Shambeau, Paul Wagner, and fast qualifier Jason Feyereisen charged from the back of the field to race with the leaders as Schmid made his bid for the top spot at the halfway point. Schmid worked his way around Shambeau and DeStefano followed him to take second.
Once out front Schmid pulled away to a ten car length lead while the rest of the field remained tightly bunched alongside each other. Scott Shambeau faded in the closing laps as Schmid continued to maintain a comfortable lead. Schmid raced to the win ahead of DeStefano, Jay Shambeau, Feyereisen, and Wagner.
In other Slinger Stinger action, Schmid won the fast dash and Feyereisen set fast time with a 13.428 second lap.
Mark and Ken Fogel made a dramatic last lap pass to win the team cruiser race and Scott Bundy claimed top honors in the Slinger Bees event. Scott Goetzke was the winner of the Figure 8 race after crashing with Shane Becker as the two raced to the checkered flag. P.J. Cain came out on top of the spectator races, driving his Dodge Stealth and Rob James topped the Port-A-John Speedway Guest car race.
For Complete results from the RACESTAT computer CLICK HERE