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Braun Outmuscles Apel for Miracle at the High Banks Victory

Braun held off a late charge from his car owner Steve Apel to get his first tour victory and his second Super Late model win at Slinger.


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RJ Braun started his 2023 season on a high note after winning the 2022 Super Late Model title at Slinger Super Speedway in Slinger, WI. The 22-year-old won the ‘Miracle at the High Banks’ 100 season opener for ASA Midwest Tour at the famous high-banked quarter-mile oval.

Braun held off a late charge from his car owner Steve Apel to get his first tour victory and his second Super Late model win at Slinger.

“He was catching me. I think I pushed him harder than he did at the beginning and my stuff was starting wear off and he was there at the end,” Braun said after the race. “He didn’t have enough laps and I think lapped cars got in the way. It’s a good way to race, and it was good for us at the end.”

Braun started eighth in the 100-lap event on a cloudy, cold day with a hearty crowd in the grandstands to see the season opener. He worked his way into the top five by lap six and into the runner-up spot on lap 29.

As Braun was chasing down early leader Jacob Nottestad, the caution flew on lap 36 when fast qualifier Ryan Farrell appeared to lose an engine causing him to spin in turn two. Defending winner Luke Fenhaus and Kulwicki Driver Development Driver Levon Van Der Geest were collected in the spin, but both were able to continue.

On the restart, Braun and Nottestad put on a spirited side-by-side battle for the lead until Braun would get by Nottestad on lap 38.

After the caution flew on lap 60 for Barrett Polhemus’s spin, Braun and Nottestad would renew their battle for the top spot, but this time with Apel joining them.

Nottestad and Braun would trade the lead back and fourth for four laps, until Braun took back the lead for good on lap 65. Apel would take over the second spot from Nottestad two laps later.

The three would stay close as they would weave in and out of lap traffic over the final 30 circuits. Apel would try to get to the inside of Braun, but the driver kept his car owner behind him all the way to the checkered flag.

Even though Apel finished second, creating a two-team sweep in the race, competing at the Slinger opener on Sunday met more for his family.

“A year ago we were in the hospital and life was uncertain at that point,” Apel recalled being in the hospital with his son Cameron battling a rare bone marrow disease. Cameron’s younger brother Harrison, gladly volunteered to donate some of his bone marrow to his brother, allowing for a full recovery. “I got both kids and it has really impacted me. Not racing this race last year, especially with it being the first Tour race at my home track, it stung but I knew I was doing the right thing. Family comes first and racing is what we do for fun.”

Cameron and Harrison were the first two to his car when entered the post-race tech area.

As far as the battle on the track, Apel was happy for his teammate.

“We wanted to make a show right!” Apel said with a smile. “If it wasn’t for lap traffic, I think I could have gotten around him and beat him. But he drove a good race. He knew what he had to do with lap cars and certain positions on the track. He raced it like a veteran and I give him a lot of credit. I think I taught him too well.”

Nottestad was pleased to start off his 2023 season with a podium finish.

“It was a good run for sure,” Nottestad said in post-race tech. “We were getting a little tight there. The restarts weren’t that good, but once the tires came in we were definitely quicker then those guys. I’m excited for that, we had some long run speed and hopefully we can keep it moving forward.”

Dennis Prunty finished fourth with Jeremy Lepak round out the top five.

Farrell beat out Alex Prunty for fast time by 0.025 seconds.

Gabe Sommers won the six-lap ASAMT vs. Slinger Dash race.

Luke Fenhaus won the last chance race.

The ASA Midwest Tour will join the ASA STARS National Tour for their next event on Sunday, May 7th with the Joe Shear Classic at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin.

On Memorial Day weekend, join the ASA Midwest Tour at Jefferson Speedway on Saturday, May 27th for the Salute to the Troops 100.

Advance ticket sales information can be found on midwesttour.racing.

-ASA Midwest Tour Release
-Photo credit: Koty Geyer

Miracle On The High Banks Official Results

1. RJ Braun
2. Steve Apel
3. Jacob Nottestad
4. Dennis Prunty
5. Jeremy Lepak
6. Gabe Sommers
7. Justin Mondeik
8. Brad Mueller
9. Ryan DeStefano
10. Riley Stenjem
11. Alex Prunty
12. Nick Egan
13. Bubba Pollard
14. Bryan Syer-Keske
15. Grant Griesbach
16. Rich Loch
17. Nick Wagner
18. Brad Keith
19. Barrett Polhemus
20. Harley Jankowski
21. Levon Van Der Geest
22. Luke Fenhaus
23. Ryan Farrell
24. Conrad Morgan