Ageless Schill Still Rules Slinger
SLINGER, Wis. — Al Schill, at 67 years old, held off Steve Apel and Rob Braun in a thrilling three car finish to win the Pomp’s Tire Service 50-lap super late model feature Sunday night at the Slinger Super Speedway.
“How can that be, 67 and still winning?,” Schill quizzed the crowd from victory lane. “I was getting loose at the end and was sliding around pretty good there.”
The victory didn’t come easy as Schill first had to withstand a strong last lap inside challenge from Braun entering turn one and then had to fend off a fast closing Apel on the high side as they crossed the finish line.
“I hope when I’m 67 I can still walk, let alone win a super late model race here at Slinger,” Apel stated after his close second place finish drew him to within two points of Dennis Prunty in their battle for the track championship. “It was an awesome job by Al Schill and Rob Braun as that was a great race for the fans to see and I hope they enjoyed it.”
“Al (Schill) was wearing his stuff out and I tried to go underneath him,” Braun explaining his final lap attempt to pick up the victory, “I got on the gas just a bit too hard and that was the end of the story for me.”
Dave McCardle darted to the early lead from the pole position over Chris Blawat and Conrad Morgan and led the opening four laps before the caution flag waved when a minor traffic jam deeper in the field stacked cars up until Brady Bennett was sent spinning off turn four and into the infield.
McCardle chose the inside lane for the restart but Blawat timed the start perfectly from the outside and built up enough momentum to sweep into the lead off turn two. McCardle slotted into second just ahead of Morgan as Al Schill dove to the inside of Nick Wagner to grab fourth place.
Mike Egan also made his way around Wagner using the inside lane and within a few laps, Morgan worked his way to McCardle’s inside in second, opening the door for both Schill and Egan to move up. McCardle’s car spun around from the high side in turn two on lap eight, clipping the front of Braun’s car and causing Steve Apel to slam on the brakes to avoid the collision.
The chain reaction continued when Dennis Prunty ran into the back of Apel and damaged the nose of his machine, leaving the track for repairs. Prunty returned to competition before the restart as McCardle’s was the only car unable to continue in the race.
The inside lane was the place to be for the restart as Blawat quickly drove back to the lead as racing resumed while Schill and Egan both used the low groove to move into second and third respectively and dispatch Morgan back to fourth. While Egan worked on getting around Morgan with Braun, Apel, and Lowell Bennett directly behind him, Schill closed to Blawat’s rear bumper for the lead.
As Schill began to challenge Blawat on both the inside and outside, Egan, Braun, and Bennett all made up ground to close to the leaders with Egan briefly thinking about making a three-wide pass for the lead off turn four before wisely falling back into line. Shortly afterwards, Schill had enough of a run built up on the outside to charge past Blawat upon exiting turn two to take the lead on lap 20.
As Schill began to stretch his lead, Rob Braun began his charge forward, using the outside lane to first pass Egan and then Blawat to move into second. Apel followed in Braun’s tire tracks and also advanced to third as both he and Braun started to reel in Schill for the lead.
Schill’s lead was evaporating quickly as his car slid around off the corners and with few laps remaining, Braun and Apel were on his back bumper. With the white flag waving, Braun found a small opening to the inside of Schill entering the first turn and ducked his fender up to Schill’s door.
However as Braun got back on the throttle, his car twitched slightly in turn two, allowing Schill to keep the lead and Apel to rocket by into second from the outside. After successfully fending off Braun, Schill then had to keep the fast closing Apel at bay as they charged toward the checkered flag.
Schill drove under the checkered flag to score the victory as Apel barely edged Braun for second. Chris Blawat and Lowell Bennett were fourth and fifth respectively while Mike Egan finished sixth. Conrad Morgan and Dennis Prunty followed in seventh and eighth while Nick Wagner and Fred Winn rounded out the top ten finishers.
Other winners at Slinger on Sunday included Braison Bennett (late models), James Swan (midwest sportsman), Joe Shelby (thunder stocks), Nick Schmidt (slinger bees) and Rick Bruskiewicz (figure-8).