Tuesday, August 30, 2016

2nd Place in Slinger

By Dan Margetta

Slinger, Wis., Aug. 28— Just a few weeks after capturing his first career super late model feature win, Gary LaMonte was back in victory lane for win #2 Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway following the 60-lap main event while just five points now separate Steve Apel and Chris Blawat in the battle for the track championship with just one night remaining.

“Ever since the Nationals we’ve had something figured out and it’s giving me tons of rear grip at the end and we just kill them off the corners,” LaMonte told the crowd from victory lane, “And now that we’ve got the bugs worked out of me we’ve got a great car and have tons of confidence so we can go out and have some fun.”

Lowell Bennett and Ryan DeStefano brought the field to the green flag as Bennett led the opening laps with DeStefano right beside him. Contact between their two cars entering turn one on lap two resulted in both drivers getting sideways with DeStefano spinning around as the incident also collected track championship contenders Steve Apel and Chris Blawat along with Nick Wagner. Blawat and Wagner were able to continue but Apel, who was piloting Duke Long’s car after his own ride was severely damaged last week, retired from the event, putting a major dent in his championship points lead.

Grant Griesbach assumed the lead for the restart and chose the inside lane, leaving second place Rob Braun to take the top side with Brad Mueller, Gary LaMonte, and Alex Prunty doubling up behind them. Griesbach held the lead as racing resumed but was pressured heavily by Braun from the high lane while LaMonte used the outside lane to edge into third place ahead of Prunty and Mueller. Griesbach and Braun battled side by side for several laps before Braun eased ahead from the top groove as Griesbach’s car began to dance slightly off the corners. LaMonte also worked his way around Griesbach for second place just before the caution flag waved again on lap 14 when Fred Winn’s car went for a spin after racing with Mitch McGrath for position farther back in the field. Braun held the lead from the inside lane on the restart while LaMonte quickly fell into line behind him a lap after the green flag waved as Prunty, Mueller, and Blawat all went to work on getting by Griesbach for third. LaMonte’s car cut off the turns better than Braun’s and on lap 17 he was able to duck to the inside exiting turn two to take the lead as Prunty also worked his way past Braun for second. Both Mueller and Blawat also passed Braun for position before he left the speedway with mechanical issues as LaMonte continued to lead over Prunty. Prunty kept LaMonte honest as the leaders worked their way through lapped traffic with Blawat sitting third while Mueller exited the race after cutting down a tire while running fourth. Prunty closed in slightly in traffic but LaMonte proved to be too strong as he drove to his second career super late model feature victory. Alex Prunty finished a close second while Chris Blawat finished third and closed to within five points of Steve Apel in the battle for the track championship with just one week remaining. Brad Keith overcame mechanical problems earlier in the night to finish a strong fourth while Kelsey Dassow posted her career best finish with a fifth place run. Lowell Bennett finished sixth ahead of Nick Wagner and Tim Lampman while Jerry Eckhardt and Brad Mueller rounded out the top ten.

Super late model heat races were won by Mike Egan, Grant Griesbach, and Alex Prunty while Gary LaMonte was the fastest qualifier with a lap at 11.308 seconds.