Slinger Super Speedway - Race Report

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Bennett Achieves Legendary Status With Fourth Miller Lite Nationals Title!
By Dan Margetta

(Slinger, WI); July 17, 2007 - Lowell Bennett survived a wild Miller Lite Nationals Tuesday night at the Slinger Super Speedway capturing his fourth victory in the 250-lap late model special to join legendary racers Dick Trickle and Joe Shear as the only three drivers to accomplish the feat.

“It’s an honor to included in that crowd (with Trickle and Shear),” an extremely happy Bennett stated from Victory Lane after leading 171 laps en route to a 4.8 second victory over Jeremy Lepak and Brad Mueller. “It doesn’t get much better and it was an awesome night.”

Photo Highlights

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Lowell Bennett (#2) gets a champagne shower from his wife in victory lane after winning his fourth Slinger National title.
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Lowell Bennett (#2) enjoys his 4th Slinger National crown and is joined in the winner's circle by Miss Slinger Super Speedway. Bennett would win the 250 lap contest by nearly five seconds over Jeremy Lepak.
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Lowell Bennett (#2) slices under fellow Slinger National title winner Brad Mueller (#89) on his way to winning the 2007 version of the event.
5901a.jpg (13981 bytes) Brad Mueller (#89) and Matt Kocourek (#43) do battle for the lead in the early portion of the 250 lap Slinger Nationals feature contest. 5901a.jpg (13981 bytes)
NASCAR Nextel Cup star Kyle Busch turned in the fastest qualifying lap as over 40 competitors would try and earn a spot in the Slinger Nationals 250 lap contest.
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Former Slinger Nationals and NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Matt Kenseth qualified second fastest for the big event, but would drop out of the main event early.
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From the high banks of Daytona to the higher banks of Slinger Super Speedway, NASCAR Nextel Cup stars Matt Kenseth (#17) and Kyle Busch (#51) test each others skills during the 250 lap main event.
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NASCAR touring series champion J.R. Norris was also on hand to try his luck at a Slinger Nationals title.  Unfortunately for Norris he would not finish the contest.
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Former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standout and multi-time Slinger Super Speedway champion Rich Bickle Jr. (#45) was also on hand this evening.
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Al Schill (#14) and Rich Bickle Jr. (#45) had an unfortunate meeting during the 250 lap feature contest.

The toughest challenge Bennett faced all night was just making the feature field as he was forced to race his way into the line-up by winning the qualifying race after just missing the cut in time trials.

“We were real disappointed at missing the show early, “ Bennett continued, “But boy…what a race car. That thing was just fun.”

J.R. Norris and Kelly Bires paced the 24-car field to the green flag and Norris quickly jumped to the lead from the outside lane while Bires battled with Brad Mueller, Matt Kocourek, and Jeremy Lepak. NASCAR Nextel Cup star Kyle Busch used the outside lane to rocket his way from his twelfth starting position to fifth by lap four just before the caution flag waved when the hood on Conrad Morgan’s car flew up and Steve Carlson spun to avoid his slowing machine. Norris chose the outside lane for the restart and the move proved costly as Mueller timed the restart perfectly and took over the point using the inside lane, bringing Kocourek along with him into second. A lap later, the yellow was displayed again for an incident involving Todd Stapleman in turn one as Mueller led followed by Kocourek, Norris, Busch, and Lepak.

As racing resumed, Busch was on the move again, swiping by Norris for third as Kocourek challenged Mueller for the lead. Mueller and Kocourek battled alongside each other for the top spot while farther back, NASCAR Nextel Cup star Matt Kenseth moved into the top ten. Kocourek managed to edge Mueller to lead lap 16 while Tony Strupp slid wide through turn three and in the ensuing gridlock Josh Bauer, Al Schill, and Rich Bickle spun around to draw the caution flag. Once again Mueller timed the restart and shot ahead of Kocourek for the lead while Lepak and Busch fought over third before Busch claimed the spot on lap 19. With Mueller out front, Busch ducked inside of Kocourek a lap later to claim second place leaving Lepak to race with Kocourek and Dennis Prunty for third. Once into second, Busch quickly tracked down Mueller and worked his way by to take the lead on lap 24 while Kenseth continued to move forward and into seventh. A multi-car spin in turn one produced yet another caution flag on lap 33 and during the slowdown, Kenseth’s bid to defend his 2006 Nationals title was derailed as he exited the event with an oil line issue.

“It lost all its oil, and so the engine needs to be checked out anyway,” Kenseth said. “We could have got it fixed and got out there maybe 20 minutes later, but to be 80 laps down and take a chance is kind of dumb. These motors are too expensive to do that.”

Mueller was once again quick on the button on the restart and he retook the lead from Busch and Lepak moved into second a few laps later as Busch’s car became loose in the corners. The handling continued to go away on Busch’s machine and he exited the speedway with tire issues.

“We had a flat left rear, left front and right front,” Busch said. “Just running over stuff, I guess. Nobody else is having a problem but us.”

“This thing was just bad fast, but you’ve got to finish,” Busch continued. “I got the lead and I was running 70%.”

Mueller continued to pace the event over Lepak while Eric Fransen and Tony Strupp advanced forward into third and fourth respectively as Bennett worked his way into the top five. The yellow flag was unfurled again on lap 46 when Norris slowed suddenly after having rear suspension problems. Mueller and Lepak raced hard for the lead as racing resumed and Lepak took the lead on lap 49 just before another slowdown occurred on lap 50 when Dick Trickle looped around in turn three after contact with Busch.

Lepak maintained his lead on the restart as Fransen moved into second ahead of Bennett and Strupp as Mueller became caught on the outside and fell back in line in fifth. With Lepak out front, Bennett was able to slip by Fransen for second on lap 69 and gradually began to track his way toward the lead. By lap 75, Bennett was within striking distance of the lead and four laps later, he moved alongside Lepak, taking command of the race on lap 80.

Bennett began to pull away from the field while Strupp charged into second place as Trickle left the speedway with mechanical problems on lap 106. With the halfway point in sight, Fransen began to lose ground as both Mueller and Matt Kocourek passed by and into fourth and fifth place respectively.

As the field paused for a mandatory ten-minute break at the halfway mark, Bennett led Strupp, and Lepak while Mueller and Kocourek were fourth and fifth.

The second half belonged to Bennett as he extended his lead as racing resumed while Strupp and Lepak tried to close the gap between themselves and the leader. Behind the top three, Mueller held down fourth as Kocourek and Schill raced for the fifth slot.

The make up of the race changed drastically on lap 176 as Dennis Prunty spun in turn four and nosed his car into the fronstretch wall, sending up a plume of smoke. In the midst of the thick smoke, Strupp looped his car around in an attempt to avoid Prunty and was immediately met nose-to-nose by Lepak’s car. The damage to Strupp’s machine was enough to retire him from the race, but Lepak was able to rejoin the event despite heavy damage to the front of this car.

Bennett maintained the lead over Mueller and Schill as racing resumed while Kocourek was

forced to deal with Lepak, who wheeled his damaged car into a battle over fourth. By lap 190, Lepak worked is way around Kocourek and four laps later, he edged past Schill for third as Bennett extended his lead over Mueller. On lap 202, Lepak raced is way around Mueller for second and began to close the distance to Bennett for the lead. Bennett’s lead proved to be too much however, and he drove to a 4.8 second victory over Lepak and Mueller. Kocourek finished with a strong fourth place result and Conrad Morgan ran solid all night to cross the stripe in fifth place, the final car on the lead lap. Schill fell back in the late stages and finished in sixth place ahead of NASCAR Craftsmen Truck Series driver Erik Darnell who turned in his best Nationals performance in seventh place. Defending track champion David Prunty took the checkered flag in eighth place while Kelly Bires was ninth, the final car running at the finish. Fred Winn finished in the tenth position.

Tommy Pecaro was the winner of the 35-lap late model semi-feature over Race McComb and James Swan. Chris Wimmer and Randy Schuler rounded out the top five. Bennett took the win in the 30-lap late model qualifying race over David Prunty, Josh Bauer, and Todd Stapleman as all four transferred their way into the main event. Kyle Busch blistered the speedway in 11.400 seconds and was the fastest qualifier among the 45 late model entries.

Derek Thorn took top honors in a caution-filled 25-lap limited late model feature, holding off Scott Ascher and Chris Blawat at the finish.

Ascher paced most of the event that was shortened to 25 laps after numerous spins and one multi-car incident slowed the race a total of six times under caution. While Ascher led, Thorn sliced his way forward from the fourth starting spot into second place by lap 12 while Blawat and Rob Braun raced with Josh Wallace and Ryan Carlson behind the leaders. Thorn took the top spot with a strong inside move on lap 18 and drove on to the victory over Ascher and Blawat. Braun and Carlson rounded out the top five. Jeff Steenbergen was the fastest limited late model qualifier after timing in at 12.450 seconds.

Jake Vanoskey raced to his first career feature win in front of the large crowd on hand in the 35-lap Midwest Sportsman main event.

John Janssen led the opening laps while Vanoskey settled into second place ahead of brothers Jay and Scott Shambeau. Janssen continued to pace the event through two caution periods for minor spins while Vanoskey remained stout in second place. In the final laps, Vanoskey took to the outside groove and made a bid for the lead, executing the pass for the top spot on lap 25. Scott Shambeau also got around Janssen for second place and began to edge in on Vanoskey while Jay Shambeau and Mike Graczkowski raced close behind. Vanoskey was able to turn back all challenges and he charged to the win over Scott Shambeau and Janssen. Jay Shambeau and Graczkowski rounded out the top five. Kenny Joosten was the fastest qualifier at 12.683 seconds.

For Complete results from the RACESTAT computer CLICK HERE