Nothing was going to stop Luke Fenhaus on Tuesday night at Slinger Speedway. Not rain, nor a battle with the defending Slinger Nationals champion nor a late-race caution.
The 17-year-old from Wisconsin overcame all of that to win the 42nd Annual Slinger Nationals and add his name to the record books with the biggest win of his young career. Standing on the victory deck afterwards, Fenhaus could hardly believe it.
"It’s crazy, to say the least,” Fenhaus told Speed51. “I would have never thought I’d be a Slinger Nationals champion. We’ve had really good race cars, we just hadn’t picked up a checkered flag yet. We were on a roll all day long and finally captured one."
Fenhaus started the race in 12th, a byproduct of setting fast time during qualifying to start the day at the Wisconsin quarter-mile. He methodically worked his way through the field, taking the lead for the first time on lap 81 just after an hour-plus rain delay.
From there, he engaged in a long battle with Ty Majeski, the two-time Slinger Nationals champion and last year’s Snowball Derby winner. That battle came to a premature end when Majeski made contact with a lapped car, causing significant right-front damage and bringing him to the pits after 136 laps.
“I didn’t think we were going to have enough for Ty at the end, but something happened to him,” said Fenhaus. “We were just on top of it there.”
With Majeski gone, new challengers stepped up to take on Fenhaus in the form of Derek Kraus and R.J. Braun. Kraus took the lead on lap 171 of the 200-lap event, muscling from third to first on a late restart.
“We were battling with the 92 [of Braun] and I cleared him. The 21 hit me going into three before we took the green and he jacked me up going into one and two again.”
Despite those concerns, Fenhaus forged ahead, chasing Kraus back down and retaking the lead with 21 laps to go following contact entering turn one.
"I figured we were going for $10k and the Slinger Nationals is on the line. He did it to me, so I did it back. That’s short track racing."
Along with adding his name in the annals of Slinger Speedway history, Fenhaus earned a golden ticket to compete with the Camping World SRX Series Saturday night at Slinger.
“It’s going to be an awesome experience. Not just to race with those guys, but to talk to those guys and listen to their stories and enjoy the moment. Of course, I’d like to capture the flag, but it’s just going to be an awesome night.”
Kraus finished second, followed by Casey Johnson, Dennis Prunty and Austin Nason.
Race fans who missed Tuesday’s race will be able to watch an on-demand replay of the event by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo / Ryan Nuttleman
42nd Annual Slinger Nationals Unofficial Results
- Luke Fenhaus
- Derek Kraus
- Casey Johnson
- Dennis Prunty
- Austin Nason
- R.J. Braun
- Stephen Nasse
- Jake Garcia
- Grant Griesbach
- Zach Telford
- Brad Keith
- Michael Bilderback
- Carson Kvapil
- Alex Prunty
- Jesse Love
- Erik Jones
- Steve Apel
- Ty Majeski
- Rob Braun
- Carson Hocevar
- Steve Dorer
- Ryan DeStefano
- John DeAngelis
- Brad Mueller
- Rich Bickle
- Sammy Smith