Prunty Edges Past Morgan To Win Kwik Trip 60
Surfers will tell you to ride the crest of a wave for as long as you can. Dennis Prunty has been riding the crest of good fortune and hard work since the 2010 racing season began. Sunday night was proof positive of Prunty’s continued assault on the wave of the high banks of the Slinger Super Speedway, as he slipped past Conrad Morgan to notch his sixth win of the season in the Kwik Trip 60.
Despite having to work his way through traffic with the invert, as well as being the beneficiary of points leader Lowell Bennett’s blown motor, Prunty had to work hard for this victory.
“Starting inside of Conrad Morgan (on a late race restart), man that thing’s got some horsepower,” said Prunty in Victory lane. “It was tough holding that boy off.”
Prunty had to work doubly hard as he not only had to hold of Morgan for the final four laps, but also battled Steve Apel until contact between the two brought out the yellow with four laps to go.
A fete Prunty was quick to explain.
“I drove my ass off,” exclaimed Prunty. “Can I say that? I had to work for it. It definitely wasn’t handed to me. At one point I was back to 11th in that race and I was able to work my way up through the pack. A lot of other people were unfortunate as things happened to them and it helped me out. You know sometimes luck is on your side.”
A former Slinger and NASCAR Champion, the late Alan Kulwicki used to say you had to make your own luck. Perhaps Prunty’s success this season is an example of that mantra.
Perhaps it was luck or maybe even karma, as Prunty started from the number 7 position. The same number made famous by Kulwicki in NASCAR. Tommy Pecaro and Steven Schulz led the field to the green
Schulz would nose out ahead of Pecaro at the drop of the green flag as the two ran side by side for the first two laps. Schulz was able to clear him coming off of turn two, and Lowell Bennett was able to slide past Pecaro and into second place. Schulz and Bennett began to pull away as the rest of the field rode side by side behind them.
The race’s first yellow would fly on lap 7, when the hood came off the car of Nathan Matz in turn two.
Bennett took advantage of the high side on the restart and pulled past Schulz on lap 9. That lead would be brief, as the yellow would fly again on lap 11 when Matz again was the cause. This time he spun in turn three, when contact between Prunty and Tommy Hromadka caused a bottleneck . Matz came into turn three a little hard and spun to avoid contact.
Bennett decided to restart the race from the outside, and got the jump on Schulz and then grew his lead to a half straightaway. Schulz was then joined by Mike Egan to battle for second place with Prunty still mired in seventh place on lap 22.
Lap 24 nearly brought out another yellow when Scott Schoeni nudged Tommy Pecaro coming off of turn four and Pecaro spun into the infield. Schoeni, who raced his way into the feature by winning the Semi-feature, was quickly picking off cars and moving towards the front.
Egan got underneath Schulz on lap 31 coming off of turn two to take over second place. Schulz was then hung out to dry on the high side as Steve Apel, Josh Wallace, Tommy Hromadka, and Dennis Prunty all got by. While all this was going on, up front Bennett steadily pulled away to a full straightaway lead.
Prunty would make short work getting around Hromadka and Wallace, and began to chase down Apel. Prunty would then take advantage of Apel getting loose off of turn four on lap 40. Apel would regain the spot a lap later just before the caution would fly again on lap 42. This time for contact between the cars of Hromadka, Wallace, and Brad Dahmer.
Bennett would once again choose to restart on the outside, and made it work. Bennett jumped out to a sizable lead once again, while Apel and Prunty were both able to get around Egan to take over second and third. Scott Schoeni quietly snuck into fourth place and was also on the move.
Bennett appeared to be on cruise control and headed for yet another victory, when suddenly the motor exploded heading into turn one.
“We blew holes through both sides of the motor that you could shove a 2x6 through,” said Bennett.
Bennett flooded turn one with oil and the cars of Fred Winn and Josh Wallace both spun when they hit the oil, but both were able to continue.
With Bennett done for the night on lap 49, that set up an eleven lap shootout between Apel and Prunty.
Once the green flew Apel and Prunty waged war over the next seven laps. While Prunty would officially lead laps at the line, Apel would gain the advantage through the corners. Apel would have the usually preferred lane on the low side, but Prunty has made no bones about how much he likes the outside. That being said, you just got the feeling watching this action that there would be more fireworks to come.
Then it happened.
Apel and Prunty made contact heading into turn one, causing Apel to spin and bringing out the yellow on lap 56.
“He (Prunty) was pinching me down lap after lap,” said an angry Apel. “Going into turn one he came down and he touched which sent me around. I don’t understand why Dennis cannot run me clean. I would have loved to race Bennett for the win because I know he is a clean driver, unlike Dennis. Next week is a double points night so Dennis better watch out!”
Prunty, who has made it be no secret that he will not be racing next week, despite Bennett’s misfortune, clearly saw things with Apel differently.
“I don’t know what happened. We ran hard for I don’t know how many laps there, five?” said Prunty. “I don’t know if he lost it inside me or I never felt him that we made contact so I don’t really know what happened.”
Could it be as simple as two cars fighting for one piece of the track?
“Yeah, maybe,” said Prunty. “I know earlier in the race when I was actually behind him he got really loose and I was able to drive around on the outside of him. I was kind of just waiting hoping he gets loose again. Like I said I really don’t know what happened how he spun out. He seems to not be very happy with me right now, but we haven’t talked or nothing though. What I do like about this is we do tape the races and we can always look at it and if I did something wrong I apologize, but I really don’t think I did.”
Perhaps a small consolation for Apel, but the incident did set up an awesome battle to the checkers.
The restart with four laps to go saw Prunty and Morgan sharing the front row. From the drop of the green, both drivers inched their way ahead if ever so briefly. As the laps were winding down, first Prunty then Morgan would get a nose ahead of each other at the stripe. Seemingly neither driver had an advantage as they swapped the lead three times in the last four laps.
Coming to the checkers, Prunty was able to squeeze his nose past Morgan and beat him to the line by a scant .059 seconds.
“I chose the inside because I know Conrad has a lot of horsepower and it would be hard to clear him on the outside,” said Prunty. “Wow, I almost didn’t get him. I drove as hard as I could and I’m sure he drove as hard as he could and he was hooked up better than I have seen him all year. I finally got him at the end though. I tell you it wasn’t easy.”
Morgan, while disappointed at finishing second, was happy at the progress his team has made.
“I thought we got real good bit out there on the outside,” said Morgan. “If the race was one lap less I would have won it. I don’t know if it had been a couple laps longer if I could have got back up there again. I got loose a bit there coming off of two after the white flag and that was all he needed was four or five feet to beat me. We didn’t touch at all he pushed a little bit coming off of four coming to the checkered flag and I saw it happening so I moved up a little bit out of the way, which didn’t really slow me down any, but I just didn’t want us to rub fenders which would have slowed me down worse than it slowed him down. It was a good clean race.”
Mike Egan held on for third place, and Scott Schoeni made it up to fourth. Randy Schuler rounded out the top five. Points leader Lowell Bennett wound up in 12th place and saw his points lead dwindle to a mere 66 points with only six races left.
Chris Blawat picked up his second Late Model win of the season holding off Rob Braun and Jacob Vanoskey. John DeAngelis and Mike Graczkowski finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Ryan Farrell scored his first career feature win in the Mid-American Sportsman division in just his second ever race in the series. Farrell nudged his way past Chris Ratajzyck on lap 20, and survived several bumps from Ratajzyck to notch the victory. Gregg Pawelske came home in third place, while Jack Stearn and Jay Shambeau rounded out the top five.
Eric Lingford picked up his second Thunderstock feature win holding off Ken Schraufnagel and John Daley. Andy Welter and Nathan Fick completed the top five.
Nick Wagner got a huge jump on a late race restart and took the checkers in the four cylinder Slinger Bees event. Wagner, started on the outside and jumped to the lead when Braison Bennett’s car didn’t accelerate as fast on the restart. Bennett recovered to finish in second place, while points leader Alex Prunty wound up in third. Brandon Tacked and Russ Lorbiecki came home in fourth and fifth.
Scott Goetzke scored his third win in the Figure 8 division holding off Justin Poenitsch and Shane “The Shark” Becker. Rick Bruskiewicz and Brandon Wolf rounded out the top five.
Chris Harmen picked up the win in the Spectator Eliminators.
Al Roberts won the Speedway Guest car feature.
Bill Michaels won the Celebrity Race comprised of local celebrities from area media outlets.