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Slinger Nationals Practice Notebook: Ryan Preece Makes First Laps at Slinger

Monday marked practice day and the qualifying draw for the 45th Annual Slinger Nationals at Slinger Super Speedway. Some drivers dialed in their machines for Tuesday’s on-track action, while others enjoyed their first laps at the high-banked quarter-mile.

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Ryan Preece Quickly Learning Slinger Super Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series competitor Ryan Preece is making his Slinger Nationals debut this week. He logged the most laps of any driver during the first practice session of Monday, and parlayed that into seventh-fastest on the charts during the second round of practice.

Cutting his teeth in the Northeast, Preece is no stranger to quarter-mile bullrings. However, Slinger presents some unique challenges even he hasn’t faced before.

“Quarter-miles are very similar, but can be very different,” Preece told Racing America. “This is probably the most banked quarter-mile I’ve ever been to. Turn one can come up to you pretty quick. One and two and three and four are pretty different as far as how you attack them and where the center is.

“One and two of Monadnock is very similar to one and two of Slinger. As far as three and four goes, no, completely different.”

With the tight nature of racing at Slinger, Preece knows having a car that can run the top or the bottom during Tuesday’s 200-lap main event will be critical to success.

“When it comes to quarter-mile racing, you’ve got to be able to go where they don’t. I feel like we have that. These guys are some of the best in the country, so we’re going to try to go toe-to-toe with them.”

Slinger Track Champion Steve Apel Seeking First Nationals Win

There isn’t much Steve Apel hasn’t accomplished at Slinger Super Speedway. He hopes to check a major item off the list on Tuesday.

Apel claimed his sixth Slinger Super Late Model Track in 2023, adding to a resume that will certainly place him on Slinger’s Wall of Fame in due time.

However, the Silnger Nationals crown has eluded Apel to date. In 15 previous starts, Apel’s best finish is third (2015, 2017), and he has not finished in the top-five since 2019.

“This race is something that you get one shot a year,” said Apel. “It’s the hardest race to win here, obviously. We’ve had a lot of good luck in other races on Sunday nights, but Tuesday night has always bit us. Hopefully, this year is our year we can run up front, stay up front and have a shot at the end.”

Walking the Fine Line in Qualifying

There is a balance to qualifying for the Slinger Nationals.

First and foremost, drivers want to make the race. They especially want to avoid Tuesday’s Last Chance Race, which means there is an emphasis on at last qualifying in the top 16.

“Any time you run a race of this stature, you never want to be in a B-Main,” said Derek Thorn. “It’s the same with the Derby, same with here. You just get caught up in a lot of things you don’t want to.

“Everybody’s vying for those last spots, everybody makes poor decisions when the pressure’s on. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re racing guys who feel like they are backed into a corner having to do something, because it never ends well.”

Most drivers also place emphasis on the top 12 out of those 16 spots, as those 12 cars will be inverted to start the Slinger Nationals. How much track position at the start of the race is valued beyond that is in the eye of the beholder.

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“Making the top 12 to make the invert is the most important part,” said Apel. “Having quick time would be cool, but being closer to the front, having that lap leader money. There’s a lot of money on the line up to lap 200. As a racer out of his own pocketbook, those laps mean a lot to us and our small team.

“You want to win every lap. The last one is the most important, but you want to lead everyone up to it if you can.”

“I just like to be in the top 12 to make the invert,” said three-time Slinger Nationals winner Ty Majeski. “Track position is sort of important, but here you can make it work if you miss it in qualifying a little bit or have to take a provisional. We’ve won it from pretty much anywhere in the field.”

Combined Practice Results – 45th Slinger Nationals

POS NO. DRIVER TIME
1 39M Andrew Morrissey 11.386
2 7T Derek Thorn 11.389
3 92B R.J. Braun 11.395
4 51A Steve Apel 11.405
5 17K Max Kahler 11.428
6 11P Alex Prunty 11.428
7 91M Ty Majeski 11.436
8 89M Brad Mueller 11.447
9 23V Levon Van Der Geest 11.448
10 62P Ryan Preece 11.449
11 38D Jordan DeVoy 11.451
12 4F Luke Fenhaus 11.468
13 14N Austin Nason 11.495
14 48K Brad Keith 11.495
15 9K Derek Kraus 11.516
16 1D Steve Dorer 11.531
17 22R Gio Ruggiero 11.565
18 42P Dennis Prunty 11.589
19 15S Gabe Sommers 11.609
20 28B Jesse Bernhagen 11.630
21 7D John DeAngelis 11.651
22 25N Willie Nelson 11.662
23 17G Grant Griesbach 11.666
24 40L Jeremy Lepak 11.722

Mock Qualifying Results – 45th Annual Slinger Nationals

POS NO DRIVER TIME
1 91M Ty Majeski 11.337
2 4F Luke Fenhaus 11.365
3 7T Derek Thorn 11.369
4 14N Austin Nason 11.382
5 7D John DeAngelis 11.397
6 23V Levon Van Der Geest 11.435
7 40L Jeremy Lepak 11.464
8 22R Gio Ruggiero 11.466
9 15S Gabe Sommers 11.507
10 38D Jordan DeVoy 11.515
11 9K Derek Kraus 11.583
12 1D Steve Dorer 11.604
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