SLINGER, Wis. — official release — Doug Hornickel photo — During opening ceremonies for the 35th SuperSeal Slinger Nationals Tuesday night, Chris Wimmer’s crew placed the inaugural Nationals trophy won by his late uncle Larry Detjens during the 1980 event, on the trunk of his car presumably for good luck.
Hours later, having that trophy on hand paid off as Wimmer held off Matt Kenseth to capture his first SuperSeal Slinger Nationals crown at the Slinger Super Speedway.
“This is unbelievable,” an emotional Wimmer said. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t even look in the mirror (at Kenseth), my right foot fell asleep so bad I could hardly feel the gas pedal and I was just hanging on at the end.”
Hanging on was just about what every driver in the field was doing as a dominant Dennis Prunty nearly pounded them into submission, leading all but six laps when with a healthy lead his car suddenly came to a halt on lap 176, the victim of a faulty ignition box. That opened the door for Wimmer as well as Casey Johnson and Matt Kenseth as suddenly with just 24 laps to go, all three turned up the wick to battle for the coveted Nationals crown.
Kenseth was the first to make his move, charging his way around Johnson for second with just six laps to go and then closing on Wimmer for the top spot as the leader caught lapped traffic. Kenseth closed to Wimmer’s bumper on the final lap, but fell just short at the checkered flag.
“Everything changed when the 22 (Prunty) broke, he was gone and I was trying to save a little bit of the rear tire in case there was a caution at the end and when the 22 dropped out that kind of changed everything,” Kenseth said. “I had a real good run there at the end and I was hoping to get to the bottom and try to race him back to the start-finish line but just didn’t quite have enough.”
Casey Johnson was the only driver other than Dennis Prunty to lead the event up until Prunty’s misfortunes, and after Kenseth got around him for second, settled for third.
“I ran out of brakes there at the end when I was trying to run down Chris (Wimmer) as hard as I could,” Johnson said. “When I saw that 22 car (Prunty) go to the infield, I thought, ‘Man, there’s a chance. It’s not every day you get to battle with Matt Kenseth when you go to these big races, so it was a lot of fun.”
Earlier in the day, Conrad Morgan stated he was as ready as he ever was for the SuperSeal Slinger Nationals and the 65-year old veteran proved that thoroughly with a strong and impressive fourth-place finish. Dalton Zehr took the checkered flag in fifth.
Morgan won the 30-lap super late model qualifying race over Brian Johnson Jr. and Nathan Haseleu.
Steven Scheel drove to his biggest win of the season to date in the 35-lap late model feature.
Kevin Knuese won the Midwest Truck Series feature that ended on lap 24, six laps short of the scheduled distance due to a rain shower.