Monday, April 16, 2012

1972 - Prusak turns tables on Noble in Tri-Oval opener

Fountain City, Wis. (April 16, 1972) - The March equinox not withstanding, spring arrived officially for 2,500 racing fans at Tri-Oval Speedway Sunday and it arrived in the form of Phil Prusak, Dave Noble and two 454 cubic inch Chevrolet Monte Carlo’s.

Prusak of Eau Claire, Wis., and Noble of Blooming Prairie, Minn., dueled throughout the afternoon and, for a good deal of the time, their respective automobiles were not much farther apart than are their names as they appear earlier in this sentence.

The second late model heat was Noble's turn to shine, but Prusak was a close second. They had started sixth (Noble) and seventh (Prusak) from the grid when a first-lap encounter involving Wendell Kuehn of Rochester, Minn., Dave Morgan and John Foegen of Winona eliminated Kuehn and Morgan and necessitated a restart.

After the restart Nobel and Prusak were third and fifth; Foegen was first. The advantage was temporary, however, as Noble caught Foegen on the third lap, putting two cars between himself and Prusak. But within two laps Prusak overcame that obstacle, placing his Monte Carlo immediately behind Noble’s. The order remained that way until the finish of the heat.

Call it then “turn about is fair play” that Prusak should win the late model feature in virtually the same manner that Noble won the second heat. The two started side-by-side from the front row of the grid (Prusak on the pole) and quickly established that it would be a two-car race.

Prusak maintained that advantage for 11 laps, opening up a slight margin in the process, but Kuehn spun near the south end of the grandstand, bring out the red flag. That allowed Noble and the rest of the field to close for the restart.

Immediately thereafter Noble began pressuring; he and Prusak passed the grandstand on lap 13 in a dead heat. But Noble was first out of turn one and it began to look like a replay of the heat. No so, for Prusak passed Noble again, this time for good, just one lap later.

But to say that Prusak held the lead until the final flag would be misleading, since the two big-block Chevy’s were seldom more than a car length apart throughout the remaining five laps, Prusak in front and thwarting all challenges from Noble.

Prusak’s reaction to winning the big one: “I tried different grooves during the heat and was able to find a good one for the feature.” Noble allowed that his car wasn't handling quite as well as he would have liked.

Cecil Henderson of Dakota, Minn., would claim third, while Rich Olson of Rochester grabbed fourth. Wendell Kuehn would round out the top five finishers.

Results –

1. Phil Prusak, Eau Claire, Wis.
2. Dave Noble, Blooming Prairie, Minn.
3. Cecil Henderson, Dakota, Minn.
4. Rich Olson, Rochester, Minn.
5. Wendell Kuehn, Rochester, Minn.
6. Wayne Peters, Rochester, Minn.
7. Fred Prudoehl, Winona, Minn.
8. Al Schueler, Winona, Minn.
9. Tom Nesbitt, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
10. Tim Lorenz, Ladysmith, Wis.

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