Thursday, September 3, 2015

Journal Sentinel Article, Sept. 3, 2015 by Dave Kallmann

Dave Kallmann...on Auto Racing

Season-long Slinger battle to be decided Sunday

                                                                                                                                Dave Kallmann

Steve Apel (front) and Dennis Prunty (rear) battle in the Slinger Speedway season opener on April 26. Sunday’s race will decide the champ.

If you were writing a script for a racing season, how would it go?

You'd need main characters. And keep it simple. Maybe just two.

Make them both tough guys, but put one in a white hat and the other in black, because conflict is always entertaining.

Then keep them inexplicably linked. Eash is the other's shadow. One chases one week and then leads the next. They lean on each other, as if every position counts. Sometimes their finishes are too close to call

Now wrap it up with a winner-take-all finale. One that happens naturally, though, that isn't forced. Isn't contrived.

That's all that's left - the season finale and maybe a clever title - for the compelling story that is the season-long battle at the top at Slinger Speedway in 2015.

"Im not sure what is going on with the rest of the competitors...but it's been Steve (Apel) and I, 1 and 2," Dennis Prunty said this week.

"Im glad it's going to be a race...And depending on how gqulifying goes, it'll probably come down to who's in front of who on that last lap."

So, who will it be Sunday night? Prunty, the 2012 super-late model champion, who went unbeaten in July and has won a season-high seven points-paying features? Or Apel, the two-time defending champion who has won three of the past four features and leads by five points?

"It's so hard to predict," Prunty said. "The one thing I do have going for me is it's a 100-lap race and normally I'm pretty good on the long run.

"If there's a lot of cautions, you'd probably pick Steve. If this thing went 100 laps green flag, I'd feel pretty confident about it...It's a good show for the fans, I'll tell you that."

Those two have been the show nearly every week, running nose to tail or side to side for laps at a time, often finishing 1-2. Twice Apel's red, white and neon No. 51 and Prunty's black 22 have finished imperceptibly close, two- and four- thousandths of a second apart.

"It's amazing to think that you can race for 60 or 75 laps and have that close of a finish on the last lap." said Apel, whose six feature victories include those two nail-biters.

Naturally, they've run into each other a few times, but both say it's all good. Their contact stems from hard racing, and that's what the fans pay to see.

"I would say we have a lot of respect for each other, but Dennis likes playing the black hat," Apel Said, "That's the way the track kind of played it out, too."

"It's good for the track and good for the fans to have the rivalry against each other, but still respect each other on the racetrack."

Y'know what else would be good?

In this case, a sequel.