Slinger, Wis., May 7— Taking advantage of a brake issue by early race leader Gary LaMonte, Steve Apel stormed to the lead on lap 54 of the 75-lap super late model feature and never looked back, capturing the victory in the 70th season opener Sunday afternoon at the Slinger Super Speedway.
“I don’t know what happened to LaMonte but we were chasing him down and it could’ve been hard to pass him,” Apel told the crowd from victory lane, “On that last restart it sounded like his motor was popping a little bit but we got the lead and never looked back.”
“Wednesday night we came here (to practice) and had problems,” Apel continued, “And the guys spent all night Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to get the car ready and I can’t thank them enough.”
After LaMonte’s issues dropped him back in the running order, Jeff Holtz and Alex Prunty battled for the runner-up spot with Holtz edging Prunty for the position at the checkered flag.
“I needed that yellow flag near the end there so I could get it back under control, “Holtz stated after his second place finish, “I was just about getting ready to spin it out there about halfway through but I’m glad the car’s home in one piece and I’ll take second place.”
“We had a tight car and after that last restart there was a little front contact,” Alex Prunty said describing his battle with Holtz and finishing third, “But we got third place with a car that was less than spectacular from what I’m used to and we’ll get it back together this week and when we come back we’ll be good.”
Ryan DeStefano battled all day and finished a respectable fourth while Fred Winn scored his first top five in nearly four years. Rob Braun and Grant Griesbach finished sixth and seventh respectively while Gary LaMonte’s late race brake issues dropped him to eighth after pacing the first 53 laps of the event. Rich Loch and Nick Wagner rounded out the top ten finishers.
The event was slowed twice by caution flags, both for minor incidents, and early contenders Brad Mueller, Chris Blawat, and Conrad Morgan all retired with mechanical issues before the event was concluded.
Jerry Eckhardt broke his own record for being the oldest event winner at Slinger by capturing the super late model semi-feature over Brad Keith and Jake Vanoskey. Tim Lampmann finished fourth and David McCardle was fifth. Brad Keith, Ryan DeStefano, and Steve Apel each won a super late model heat race and Conrad Morgan returned from injuries suffered last year in grand style by turning in the fastest lap in qualifying at 11.212 seconds.