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Why This is the Strongest Slinger Nationals Field Yet

Tough track and tough locals make for a tough challenge for Slinger invaders


hero image for Why This is the Strongest Slinger Nationals Field Yet

This is the ninth time Ty Majeski has entered the Slinger Nationals and he’s never seen a more formidable entry list.

"I think so," Majeski told Racing America during practice on Monday. "There's been some fields that are close, 2016 was pretty good with Erik Jones and Matt (Kenseth) but I feel like this field might be a little bit deeper than that one.

"A lot of great race cars, teams and drivers and it’s really fun to have them here in a place that feels like our back yard."

Majeski, a two-time winner, will again have to contend with Kenseth, a seven-time event winner and former champion of the three-race mini-series as well. This time they’re joined by NASCAR Cup Series championship contender William Byron, Truck Series contender and CRA Triple Crown winner Carson Hocevar and a host of other national Super Late Model aces.

For example, Stephen Nasse is here for a fourth time, too.

"I feel pretty good," Nasse said after practice. "We've been on the same tires all day and the last time we went out was the best, got inside the top-five and I feel pretty good and was smiling. I know the guys are happy, we have a few more things we want to hit on that I think will make us better so we're taking our time on those adjustments and hopefully they turn out well."

Thorn is making his debut in the event on Tuesday in an entry prepared by Slinger regular Steve Apel.

"It's been an adventure," Thorn said. "I met Steve Apel and Jared Apel at the Derby last year and we kind of talked about doing this with Pepperjack Kennels having a home here and them being from here, it was a good fit.

"Steve has been more than accommodating getting us going and helping us along the way. Mike Keen (Campbell Motorsports crew chief) has done a great job with our stuff out west and he's out here helping out too."

In addition to Byron, Donnie Wilson Motorsports has ARCA East champion Sammy Smith is here as well. CARS Tour championship leader Carson Kvapil is here as well as Truck Series contender and Wisconsin native Derek Kraus.

Austin Nason was fastest in practice before several teams chose to mock up in advance of qualifying on Tuesday afternoon.

This is one of the more challenging races to make with only 12 cars making the race through time trials. Four more will make the race through a qualifying race. Two more make the field through a semi-main. That makes 18 starters.

There are four provisionals for the most recent Slinger Nationals winner, if none, the most recent Slinger Super Speedway Super Late Model champion not already in the field, the highest in track points not already in, the most recent touring series champion not already in the field and a track provisional dictated by the event sponsor -- PepperJack Kennels and Cobblestone Hotels.

"I've always said this is the toughest race to make on time in the country," Majeski said. "40 of the best are here, roughly, and they only take 12. You go to the Snowball and the field might be deeper, but you also take 30 of them.

"This race is so tough, and the locals are so quick here, especially in qualifying. Just trying to get it driving good in race trim and get the balance where it needs to be, and hopefully when we put tires on, the speed will be there."

Slinger, credited as the world’s fastest quarter-mile is a tough track to master, with its tight confines and aged pavement. Majeski says there is nothing like it in the world.

"Not from a short track standpoint, at least any place I've been," Majeski said. "It's a tough little track to get around. It's an anomaly and makes you get out of your comfort zone a little bit from a setup standpoint.

"Typically, there isn't anything from other tracks that translate over here. I feel good about where our package is at. We're sort of in our normal comfort zone for Slinger so I feel pretty good about where we're at."

It took Nasse a couple of sessions to get his bearings straight during practice on Monday.

"It's really its own animal," Nasse said. "It's like a miniature Bristol. Bristol is so big and there's lot of on-throttle time and time to think and the corners can be intense, but this place is so small and everything happens really quick. It has a lot of character and the locals are quick here. Our best finish is sixth so hopefully we can better that this week."

For Thorn, who has won everything there is to win on the West Coast and has come short of winning the Snowball Derby the past two years, this trip was about the challenge and scratching off a 20 year bucket list itch.

"It's big when you're racing against guys as good as Ty Majeski and William Byron, all these local guys, the Apels and the guys that run here all the time," Thorn said. "I feel like you're fighting an uphill battle against great team and great drivers with so much more experience than I do.

"More or less it's about trying to gather the information to get comfortable quick because those guys aren't going to be easy. I think by the end of tomorrow night I'll feel more comfortable, and I wish I could do that now, but at the end of the day, we just have to make the most of it. Hopefully we're there by the end of tomorrow and end contention."


Derek Thorn
John DeAngelis
Matt Kenseth
Jeremy Lepak
Carson Hocevar
Dave McCardle
William Byron
Lowell Bennett
Michael Bilderback
Carson Kvapil
Kyle Crump
Sammy Smith
Derek Kraus
Ty Majeski
Luke Fenhaus
Rob Braun
Dennis Prunty
Lebon Van Der Geest
Gabe Sommers
RJ Braun
Stephen Nasse
Steve Apel
Brad Keith
Alex Prunty
Jeff Storm
Ryan DeStefano
Brad Mueller
Austin Nason
Casey Johnson
Andrew Morrissey
Jacob Nottestad

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