SLINGER, Wis. – It was the hardest impact he’s ever felt inside a race car.
During the season-ending race on Labor Day weekend in 2019, Alex Prunty crashed driver-side door first into the concrete wall at Slinger Super Speedway. Prunty suffered a concussion in the horrible crash, the effects of which didn’t subside for several weeks.
It was a humbling experience for Prunty.
“It’s something, as bad as you want to be able to just fix it, there’s nothing you can do about it,” the 2018 Slinger Super Speedway super late model track champion said.
More than nine months later, Prunty was back at Slinger and found himself in a familiar, but more favorable, setting: victory lane.
Prunty led the final 68 laps of Sunday’s super late model feature in the EH Wolf & Sons Memorial Day 100 to christen the long-awaited season opener.
“I’ve got to admit, it was pretty sweet to come out here and be able to run like that, run up front with the way year ended last year, coming off all the side effects of a concussion,” Prunty said. “It’s just nice to be able to get in the car and feel healthy and good again.”
Prunty held off his uncle, Dennis Prunty, for his 10th career super late model victory at Slinger. It was his 41st overall victory at Slinger, moving him into a tie for 13th place on the track’s all-time list. He’s now tied with Dale Prunty.
“It’s just so surreal,” Alex Prunty said. “To be able to come back, first time back at Slinger, and to win like this means a ton to me and my team.”
Finishing in third place was Mike Held, who also won the 10-lap dash earlier in the evening. Rich Loch and Austin Nason rounded out the top five.
“It was a fantastic night,” Held said. “We just wanted to run, bring it home and look solid and we did. We’ve got some work to do but this is definitely a confidence booster from the last couple of years.”
Picking up the feature victories in the other divisions were: Alex Hartwig (bandolero), Ryan Gutknecht (limited late model), Brady Held (Slinger Bees), Ryan Lovald (Figure 8) and Tristan Swanson (legends).
Sunday’s season opener was one of much anticipation. The original season-opening race was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic which has crippled much of the world, shutting down businesses, schools, sports, and putting millions of people out of work.
For Alex Prunty, the opening of Slinger was a way to finally move forward after the long offseason that started with several weeks of laying low with a concussion. He said he didn’t feel like his usual self until about December.
During the time where he took it easy, he read Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s book about racing and the effects of a head injury. The book is entitled, “Racing to the Finish: My Story.”
“I learned a lot; it kind of opens your eyes,” Prunty said. “Everybody tries to be a tough guy and push through it. It made me realize that it’s a little bit bigger than just making the next race. It could have serious, serious consequences down the road.
“I needed to read it to understand what I was going through.”
The extra couple of weeks off helped Alex Prunty get ready for a return to racing. On the track, he looked ready to go and proved it with the convincing victory, leading more than 70 laps of the feature.
“The car just came to life; it got better and better as the race went on,” Prunty said. He added, “We’re going to be hard to beat this year.”