The general theory at Oswego Speedway is that it takes five years of experience before you can be considered a legitimate threat to win a supermodified feature. The thought was that it took that long to get comfortable with the mega-horsepower, lightweight supermodified. The track itself is a tricky 5/8’s mile to get around, as the inside hubrail and four distinct turns offer their own intricacies.
Driving the Double Deuce, Mexico driver Michael Barnes blew the five year theory right away last year on August 5 as he became the quickest driver to ever win an Oswego supermodified feature, in only his fourth start. That win made Barnes only the third rookie ever to win an Oswego Supermodified feature, joining Mike McLaughlin and Dave Trytek.
“I‘m getting antsy,” Michael said recently. “We’re getting excited and can’t wait to get things going. It’s really not that far away, but we still have some work to do before get to the track.”
One can hardly blame Barnes for wanting to get the season started. Not only is he coming off a record setting season, but he looks forward to the 2007 summer with a new set of wheels. It’s just not any car either. “We upgraded a bit this winter,” Michael chuckled. “We have Otto Sitterly’s track championship car from last year. We talked about getting a new car then talked to Otto about buying his car. They came to a deal, and I told them if they wanted to buy it, I surely would drive it. We picked it up about the end of November, early December. We planned on having it ready for the car show, but that didn’t work out. It’ll be ready soon though.”
Barnes has a solid support staff behind him as well. Bill Samuels has as much experience working on supermodifieds as anyone in the pits, while Bob Hoefer is one of the most knowledgeable supermodified supporters in the pits. “We have the same group of people, same crew,” Michael added.
Barnes had a teammate in the second half of 2006 that proved to be quite valuable as well. “How much better does it get than to have Bentley as a teammate? I talked with him quite a bit. He answered questions I had and gave me a lot of confidence. Hopefully we can be teammates again, and we can work together in the future. He’s a great guy, a lot of fun to be around and he knows more about the supers than anyone.”
While Barnes started out 2006 with no solid plans, his 2007 season looks to be pretty solid. “We’re going to run all the Oswego races,” he answered. “We have the 79 from last year as a regular ca, and we have the older 22 from last year as a wing car for the MSA races and wing shows. we’re looking at trying some ISMA shows this year as well, maybe 5-7 shows, we’ll see.”
“This year should be nice,” Michael added. “Last year we didn’t have anything really concrete. We drove the Furlong car, and was very grateful for getting the chance in that car. We got a top five the first time in that car, which was nice for us. We had a good night at Sandusky when we ran the Graham car at the Hy-Miler. Then we got with Billy and Hoef. This year won’t be as hectic. We have a solid deal. We can just go out and focus on racing.”
“I still have a lot to learn,” he continued. “I’m still basically a rookie. I am looking to learn and get track time this year. I don’t have a lot of experience in a super, really. I also have the track championship car under me this year, so I know I’ll put pressure on myself, knowing the car is capable.”
2006 was a memorable year for Michael Barnes. He started out in the SBS Series and as the season progressed, picked up rides in the Furlong 72, Graham 99 and Hoefer-Samuels 22. He grabbed top fives in both Oswego and ISMA competition. Then, in only his fourth supermodified start, re-wrote the Oswego Speedway record books.
With a bit of experience under his belt and a top notch car and crew, Michael Barnes could very well be one of the drivers to take Oswego Speedway by storm in 2007.