CONCORD, N.C. – For more than 40 years, the Slinger Nationals has been considered one of the biggest and most prestigious asphalt short-track events of the year. The 2021 edition of the annual battle on the “World’s Fastest Quarter Mile Oval,” set for Tuesday, July 6, could arguably offer the first-place finisher the biggest prize ever.
As if the big purse, lap money and special Larry Detjens Trophy awarded to the winner isn’t enough, the Tuesday night victor will also earn a ride in the Camping World SRX Series event held at the track only four days later (Saturday, July 10). Attempting to attach an accurate value on that opportunity is an impossible task.
Past and present Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) drivers Ty Majeski and Luke Fenhaus weighed in with their thoughts entering the 42nd Annual SupplyZone Slinger Nationals 200 Presented by Miller Lite and WABAM.
“Obviously the stakes are raised for this year’s Slinger Nationals as the winner gets a spot in the SRX race a few days later,” said Majeski, the inaugural 2015 KDDP Kulwicki Cup Champion and two-time (2018 & 2020) Nationals winner. “Everyone wants the opportunity to prove themselves on a national stage like that. It would be incredibly special to not only be in the SRX race, but to represent the ‘ringers’ racing against those guys. I think the prize will bring in more cars for Tuesday’s race and make the show even better than it already is. It is going to be a must-see event, for sure.
“We’re looking at it as business as usual, though,” continued Majeski, who is coming off a win in the June 20 Father’s Day 100 at The Milwaukee Mile for his 27th career ARCA Midwest Tour victory. “We’ve had great race cars at Slinger over the past few years with essentially the same setup. Toby (Nuttleman, crew chief) and I definitely have some things we want to try and continue to improve there. Everyone is getting their cars better and we need to do the same if we’re going to be a threat to win on Tuesday.”
“Prepping for the Nationals is always a huge one and this could be our biggest race ever,” offered Fenhaus, a KDDP finalist in 2019 and again this season. “We definitely need to be on top of our game maintenance-wise and setup-wise. Fortunately, we’ve been able to run weekly at Slinger in all the races so far this year and we have been getting a good baseline.
“We just have to make sure we bring our best to Slinger that day for the Nationals,” said Fenhaus, who set fast time in qualifying (11.237 sec./80.092 mph), started 12th and finished third in last year’s race. “It would be crazy if we somehow won the Nationals this time around. Not only do we get to add our name to the list of drivers who have won it, but it would be awesome to win it for Alan and the KDDP.
“Also, to be able to race that following weekend with the SRX guys live on CBS-TV, that would be insane,” said Fenhaus, who has set fast time in all five nights of Super Late Model racing on the track this season, but is still looking to add to his two career feature victories there. “It would for sure be a dream come true. We are going to try our best to make that happen.”
The connection between 1992 NASCAR Champion and Hall of Famer Alan Kulwicki and the Slinger Nationals dates back to the inaugural running of the prestigious event in 1980. Kulwicki, then a 25-year-old racing up-and-comer armed with an engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, finished a strong fifth behind such legends as Larry Detjens, Jim Sauter, Dick Trickle and Mark Martin.
A determined Kulwicki returned the next year and picked up the overall 1981 victory, winning two of the four features run over the course of June and July. His strong runs continued in the years that followed and after he left for NASCAR in 1985, he continued to venture back to his “home track” to compete in the event through 1989. While he only won one Slinger Nationals crown, Kulwicki’s name will always be associated with this marquee event, in part because of his long history of success at the quarter-mile bullring located northwest of Milwaukee.
The Kulwicki legacy continues on at the Slinger Nationals with drivers representing the KDDP expecting to vie for the victory this time around. In addition to Majeski and Fenhaus, 2016 Kulwicki Cup Champion Alex Prunty, 2015 KDDP runner-up Steve Apel and others with “Kulwicki Connections” are expected to be in the star-studded lineup for the 200-lap feature.
Tuesday’s schedule at Slinger calls for qualifying at 4:30 p.m. (CDT), opening ceremonies at 6:20 p.m. and racing at 6:45 p.m. The Slinger Late Models will also be in action, running in a 40-lap feature leading up to the 200-lap SLM battle.
Advance tickets for the 42nd Annual Slinger Nationals are available now at the speedway office by visiting www.slingersuperspeedway.com (or by calling (262) 644-5921). Tickets and additional information for the July 10 XRS event at Slinger can be found at https://slingersuperspeedway.com/superstar-racing-xperience/.
For those who can’t attend Tuesday’s colossal night of racing, you can still catch all the action and excitement live via the pay-per-view on Speed51.TV. To purchase your ticket to watch the 42nd Annual Slinger Nationals, visit https://www.speed51.tv/products/2021-slinger-nationals-july-6-2021-6-30-pm-ct.
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The Kulwicki Cup competition goes from April 1 through Oct. 31. The contest’s points system is based on a combination of judging input from members of the advisory board and the drivers’ on-track performance. Drivers are given points for both their success in chasing checkered flags and for community engagement, program representation and social media activities.
The KDDP urges you to keep up with all of its news and activities by regularly visiting Speed51.com, the organization’s official media partner.
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For the latest information on Slinger Speedway via social media, follow them on Twitter at @SlingerSpeedway. They have presence on Facebook via their special fan page at https://www.facebook.com/slingerspeedway/. For the latest on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at www.kulwickiddp.com. Follow us on Twitter at @KulwickiDDP and be looking out for our new Facebook page coming soon. Tom Roberts is at @22carPR on Twitter and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tom.roberts.39904181.
About the KDDP:
The Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) was established in 2014 by the family of late NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki for the purpose of helping worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan’s memory and legacy alive. The Program provides drivers with financial assistance along with support in publicity, marketing, sponsorship development, industry networking and relationship building. Based in Concord, N.C., the KDDP is a non-profit organization with the mission of playing a significant role in developing the next era of America’s short-track racers while educating new generations about the life, passion and values of the 1992 NASCAR Champion.
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo