SLINGER, Wis. — It had been a long time coming, since August of 2011 to be exact, but Lowell Bennett found his way back to victory lane at Slinger Super Speedway in exciting fashion Sunday night.
Bennett edged Steve Apel to win the Alan Kulwicki Memorial 60-lap super late model feature.
“That was a close one and I about had my tongue hanging out those last ten laps,” said Bennett. “I’m sure he (Apel) was the same way too, it was just balls out racing.”
“Lowell Bennett always gives me a lane to race and we put on a show for the fans,” Apel said. “As soon as he moved to the outside I was pretty sure I could get to the bottom and get by but the car got a little too tight there at the end. I probably should have pushed a little harder, live and learn I guess.”
Rich Loch paced the opening laps while racing hard with fellow front row starter Austin Luedtke while Dennis Prunty, Bennett and Apel battled close behind. Loch and Prunty used the inside lane to ease their way around Luedtke by lap five just before the first caution flag waved when Braison Bennett’s car got loose off turn four and collected Dave McCardle’s machine in the process, sending both cars into the frontstretch wall.
The car of Dale Prunty was also swept up in the incident as Loch led Dennis Prunty, Luedtke, and Apel for the restart. Loch maintained the lead as racing resumed while Prunty began to fade dramatically on the outside, losing several positions before coming to a stop in turn four with a flat tire on lap seven and drawing another caution flag. Loch once again held the point for the restart with Luedtke alongside in second while Bennett and Travis Dassow advanced into third and fourth as Apel was forced to back off to avoid Prunty’s ailing car.
As the green flag waved, Loch and Luedtke staged another intense battle for the lead as they leaned on one another through the corners before Loch was able to again prevail from the inside groove. Bennett and Apel were also able to use the low line to race their way around Luedtke and into second and third respectively. The caution flag waved for a third time on lap ten when the car of Robert Maynor experienced a mechanical issue and glanced off the wall in turn two.
Loch again chose the inside lane for the restart while Bennett took to the top groove and he used a strong run to the green flag to pull even with Loch as they entered turn one. The two stayed side by side through turn two and down the backstretch before slight door contact between them entering turn three allowed Bennett to squirt ahead and into the lead. Apel also used a strong outside lane run to overtake Loch for second a short time later while Luedtke held down the fourth spot just ahead of Mike Egan, Travis Dassow, and Michael Bilderback.
All eyes were on the leaders over the final 40 laps as Apel continuously applied the pressure to Bennett, ducking to the inside numerous times as with each look Bennett used a strong outside run off the corners to turn back the challenges. On the final lap, Apel closed to Bennett’s back bumper and ran him hard into turn one but his inside look in turn two fell just short as Bennett powered off the corner with the lead. Apel used another run off turn four to move alongside as Bennett swung wide but Bennett was able to win the drag race to the checkered flag by less than a car length.
Rich Loch finished third while Austin Luedtke and Conrad Morgan rounded out the top five.
Other winners at Slinger Sunday were Wayne Freimund (late models), Mark Deporter (area sportsman), Steve Dickson (Slinger Bee) and Ron Schmitt (figure-8).