Slinger, Wis., June 12—Rob Braun patiently waited in second place for most of the wild 60-lap super late model main event Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway before making his way around defending track champion Steve Apel in the closing laps to capture his first feature victory of the season.
|Dave Olson Speed Graphics Photo|
“We’ve had a rough year and it’s been frustrating,” Braun stated from victory lane describing his team’s effort this season, “I was in the garage until four o’clock in the morning, sitting there almost falling asleep, working on this thing trying to get it ready.”
Braun started from the pole position but it was outside front row starter, Steve Apel who quickly established himself as the leader, leaving Braun to battle Conrad Morgan for second place ahead of Grant Griesbach, Nick Wagner, and Alex Prunty. The first of many caution flags waved on lap eight when Mitch McGrath’s car looped around in turn three while battling for position with James Swan. Apel chose the outside groove for the restart and once again charged to the lead as Morgan maintained second while Griesbach, Braun, and Prunty disputed third place. Eventually the inside groove prevailed as Braun and Prunty both moved past Griesbach, dropping him into a battle over fifth with Brad Mueller. While Prunty continued to challenge Braun for third, Mueller made repeated attempts on the inside to get by Griesbach in fourth, but couldn’t complete the pass as his car would slide loose off the corners. Mueller’s car eventually broke loose off turn four on lap 27 to draw a caution flag with Apel leading over Morgan, Prunty, Braun, and Griesbach. Once again Apel chose the outside lane leaving Morgan the inside and after two aborted attempts at restarting, the green finally appeared but only for a lap as Duke Long’s car broke loose mid-pack and bottled up the cars of James Swan, Brad Keith, and Brad Mueller in turn three with Swan’s car resting atop the left side of Keith’s machine. A similar lineup for the restart with Apel again choosing the high lane and Morgan on the low side produced nearly the same results as just after receiving the green flag, Morgan’s car drifted a bit wide off turn four where it was tagged by Prunty and sent spinning off the front straightaway producing yet another caution period. Prunty and Morgan were placed at the rear of the field for the next restart which left Apel leading over Rob Braun, Griesbach, and last week’s feature winner, Chris Blawat.
After another aborted restart which resulted in Duke Long and Morgan turning sideways deep in the pack in turn four, the field finally put in some green flag laps with Apel continuing to lead over Braun and Griesbach. However, three laps later, the yellow flag would wave again for an incident between Mike Egan and Mitch McGrath in turn four on lap 31. Apel maintained the lead despite some serious challenges from Braun in the inside groove while Griesbach held off Blawat and Ryan DeStefano for third. As racing resumed, Apel used the outside groove to keep command over Braun while Blawat used the inside lane to take third away from Griesbach while Joh, n DeAngelis and Alex Prunty moved forward to challenge DeStefano over fifth. The racing action came to a halt on lap 36 when Conrad Morgan’s car pounded the turn four wall nose first before crumpling to a stop in the infield as the red flag was displayed. Morgan was assisted from his car and transported to a local hospital for precautionary reasons.
Once the track was cleared and racing resumed, Apel again used the outside groove to power into the lead over Braun, Blawat, and Griesbach while Prunty used the inside lane to move around DeStefano for fifth. Jon DeAngelis attempted to follow Prunty’s inside move around DeStefano but the two made contact, looping both cars down the front straight to draw yet another caution on lap 45. On the ensuing restart, Apel continued to use the outside lane to keep the lead, however, Braun wouldn’t let him get away and made repeated attempts to turn under Apel for the lead. Behind the top two, Blawat began to close from third while Alex Prunty worked his way around Griesbach and into fourth just before yet another yellow flag appeared on lap 53 for an incident between Fred Winn and Pat McIntee in turn one. This time however, Braun wasn’t ready to let Apel get away from the outside and he stayed even in the inside groove as the two raced door to door for the lead with the laps counting down. Braun was able to edge ahead slightly at the line with five laps to go and then took sole possession of the top spot a lap later as Apel pulled in behind him just prior to the final caution flag waving for debris on the backstretch on lap 57. Braun was ready for the three lap shootout and he held off Apel to capture his first super late model feature victory of the season. Apel finished a strong second and took over the championship points lead while Alex Prunty finished third and moved into second place in the point standings. Chris Blawat followed up last week’s winning run with a solid fourth place finish and Grant Griesbach scored his best super late model feature finish in fifth. Ryan DeStefano finished sixth followed by John DeAngelis in seventh while Duke Long, Brad Kossow, and Fred Winn rounded out the top ten.