Oswego, NY – (Sept. 1, 2013) Mexico, NY’s Bob Bond had not raced all season at Oswego Speedway or anywhere for that matter until recently. He was waiting for a new car to be finished in the Joey Hawksby shop. One being built for Bond by new supermodified car owner, Denise Merrill. When it all came together earlier this month, they hit the ground running. The sleek new car 47 with Bond behind the wheel ticked off some low 16-second laps in practice right out of the box. The team came home with a top five finish in its first night of competition. But, the International Classic was the one that would prove the mettle of the car, driver and new team. Sunday afternoon, as Bob Bond stood in victory lane after leading the final 46 laps of the 57th running of the famed International Classic, there was no doubt left that had exceeded all expectations.
Said 16-year racing veteran Bond, a man often short on words but long on talent “My car just ran great. We worked really hard on this. I have to thank Denise (Merrill) for putting me in this car. It’s only our third race with this car but everything has come together. It’s an awesome car. Hawksby did a great job with this thing. It runs flawless. It’s a textbook car. My crew chief, Larry Von Holtz, and Ed Matteson worked their butts off the last few months putting this new car together and we're all rewarded today. I have to thank them and the entire crew.”
Starting fifth in the 34-car field, Bond ran behind powerhouses Pat Lavery, Davey Hamilton and Otto Sitterly until well past the half way mark. He grabbed off third from Sitterly, the man he was watching, on a lap 132 restart. Said Bond, “Otto was my main worry. He’s been awesome the last two years. I knew his car was good and I knew my car was good. I tried to beat him to the punch and I got by him. I don’t think he expected it.”
The 47 moved into second on lap 144 when Davey Hamilton’s Nicotra-owned 6 had a wing break sending him into the foam between one and two. Bond now had pole sitter Lavery the only obstacle to a potential Classic win and he had just 48 laps to make a move now and he made it just a couple laps past the 150 mark.
Bond laid out his final laps. “I planned on just kind of riding there and then when one of the later cautions came I figured it was time to go. I could pretty much pass cars at ease. I know it’s hard passing anybody out there but we definitely had the best car today for doing it. We were waiting for those last 50 laps and I knew it was time to go. The car was under me. Everything went exactly as planned and the luck was with us today. I have to say thanks Denise and her CPS Electric and May’s Polynesian Motel and Store. Steve May has been with us and he does a great job.”
Chasing the 47 in the waning laps was 3-time Classic winner Otto Sitterly who crossed the line in second a distance behind Bond. Otto admitted in victory lane that Bond and his new car were the ones they feared on Sunday.
“Our car was good and when trying to chase Bob down I knew his car was capable of a lot of speed. Once Bob got clean and I saw what he was doing I basically pulled out the stops for what my car has got. I gave it all I had. Then, when it got to be about 20 to go, I could feel that my car was going away bad, so I just held on. We just don’t have anything for these new cars. When we brought ours out they were running in the low 16s. Bob came out with a 16.0. We pretty much knew if he got out in the clean air and finished, we couldn’t catch him. It’s basically another new wave. I figured if I could get him when he was in heavy lap traffic, I might be able to pin him behind a lap car or something. But it didn’t happen. Bob did a great job – he ran a heck of a race. I think we have to switch seats for next year though. We have to get over in that new car.”
Running in third with a few lap cars in between his 26 and the 7 of Sitterly was Shaun Gosselin who had just pulled down his first career supermodified win August 10 and then backed that up with a second win on Aug. 17. The 24-year old Oswego driver who resides and works in Enfield, CT said of his podium finish. “The crew gave me a great car once again. I think I waited a little bit to long to go. But congratulations to Bobby Bond on his win. My car has been super awesome all weekend ever since we brought it out. I’d also like to congratulate Otto on another fine run. I was really happy with my car at the end of the race. There were just a lot of lap cars between me and Otto and the 47. If I could go back and do it again, I’d have gone sooner. But that’s why they call it racing. We’ve had a good run these last couple of weeks; we’ll just look forward to the Fall Championship and the battle in the points race. I’m just looking for a top five run to end the season.”
After a second round of supermodified time trials and a Bud Light B Main, the field of 34 were ready to take the green just after 3 pm on a picture perfect race day. Pat Lavery, for the third time in four years, sat on the front row with Davey Hamilton alongside.
Hamilton took the initial lead, a spot he’d hold until just past halfway as the strategies of the long race began to play out behind.
Lavery and Ray Graham Jr. formed a triumvirate up front as Bond, Sitterly, Canadian Ryan Litt, Shaun Gosselin and Dave Shullick Jr. stayed within sight behind.
Seven cautions would slow the race with the first coming on lap 33 for a three-car tangle in turn four involving Super Nationals winner Mike Lichty in the Syrell 08, Tim Snyder and Joey Payne. Snyder and Lichty were done for the day.
It was here former Classic and track champion, Joe Gosek, who started 8th, began a series of pitstops which would eventually end his race for a 16th place finish. Said a disappointed Gosek later, “The car broke in the first ten laps. It was hard to steer. We found out what it was later but we couldn’t fix it on a pitstop. It was a mechanical part that was broken.”
Cautions on lap 47 and again on 70 saw Gosek making more pitstops as did Brandon Bellinger, while Michael Muldoon was hooked out of the first incident and the first female to qualify for the Classic, Jessica Zemken, hitting the inner hub rail and Shawn Muldoon’s taking a severe hit into the foam, putting them both out.
On the restart it was still Hamilton, Lavery, Graham, Sitterly and Bond biding their time in the top five. Shullick Jr., Litt, Gosselin, Dan Connors and Dave Danzer ran behind in the top ten where they all pretty much stayed as the race passed the halfway mark.
Lavery made his move around Hamilton soon thereafter to lead on lap 102 with the next five still Graham, Sitterly, Bond and Shullick.
Yellow fell again on lap 110 cutting back any gain Lavery may have made out front. And, it was sixth place runner Shullick who was the victim this time. “A steering slider came unhooked,” said Shoe II later, “I had no steering.”
Lavery and Hamilton began to pull away on this restart with Graham and Sitterly running solo ahead of Bond, Litt, Gosselin, Connors and Danzer. Dave Gruel, Michael Barnes and Jeff Locke were moving in behind that pack.
The front-runners continued to spread themselves out until the next yellow flew on lap 132. As Graham came off turn four of that lap, a telltale puff of smoke erupted from the car and he headed to the pits out of third. Unfortunately several cars coming in behind slid around in some fluids laid down with Jerry Curran’s 24 climbing the front straight wall leaving 16 cars on the track when the race resumed on lap 141.
It was now Lavery, Hamilton and Bond the top three with Gosselin and Litt the top five.
Attrition among the leaders continued as Hamilton’s 6 was into the foam just 3 laps later as a potential podium finish was traded for a 15th place finish.
Back underway on lap 150, Bond began to get aggressive as he pressured Lavery out front while Sitterly closed in from behind. It was a “classic” 50-lap shootout developing.
Bond got by in turn 3 to lead lap 154, never relinquish the spot. He used full advantage of the clean air ahead to put distance on Sitterly as Gosselin had to cope with lap cars before he even thought of pursuing Otto.
The race ran quickly as all eyes were on Bond and Sitterly out front as they maneuvered around some slower cars.
The final slowdown came on lap 184 and this time lady bad luck fell on fifth place Lavery as he and Brandon Bellinger were involved. Both were able to restart but faced a long road toward the front in 11 laps.
Bond, on the green, was well on his way to a second Classic win, the first coming in 2010 when he won both the King of Wings and the Classic that season. Sitterly crossed alone in second trailed by Gosselin, Litt and Gruel.
Litt, who had just appeared with the Dave Lair owned 88 car at a winged show in Delaware earlier in the month, had elected to forgo running Saturday’s Super Nationals to concentrate on the non-winged Classic 200. The move paid off as the London, Ontario resident picked up a fourth place, the fastest Canadian Qualifier in time trials and the Butler Built Rookie of the Race award at the finish.
Said Litt, who was the last car in the lead lap at race end, “We’ll take a top five but I was hoping for that third place there. My car loosened up a little bit and that’s about all we had. The car was really good in the long runs, not so much on the restarts. We had a lot of fun out there. It was awesome. I talked to Otto and some of the guys and they told me before the race just to conserve the equipment and start going around lap 150. I tried to do that and I think now I might have gone a little bit earlier. But, all in all it was a good day for us. I love these cars. I grew up around this place. Maybe just watching helped me out quite a bit. I love this track.”
Picking up fifth was Lavery teammate Dave Gruel who helped the Great Lakes Performance team, owned by Bob Hoefer and Bill and Linda Samuels, ease the pain of loosing a possible win or at least a top five.
Gruel said after the race, “We came out with a top five finish which isn’t bad. We were hoping to do better but I was just basically trying to run the whole race and keep my nose clean – keep the car straight and try to conserve tires. Unfortunately, with about 50 laps to go I didn’t have much left with the tires. I was just holding on at that point. I struggled on the outside trying to get around lap cars because of the tires. But, the lap cars were good and gave us room. Unfortunately in the last 15 or 10 laps I became a lap car so I had to move over. We were basically done. I got Danzer with a lap or two to go because he ran out of fuel. I was lucky enough to sneak into the top five there. So that’s what we had for our car.
“And hats off to my teammate Pat (Lavery). I was really, really rooting for him. I was watching the scoreboard. He did a helluva job qualifying first and everything. That car was super quick. I just wished he could have held out for another 50 laps or so. We’d be partying in victory lane right now!”
Jeff Locke, Danzer, Michael Barnes, Bobby Haynes Jr. and Lavery rounded out the top ten.
57TH ANNUAL BUDWEISER INT’L CLASSIC SUMMARY
TIME TRIALS – First Round. Friday, Aug. 30
Novelis Supermodifieds – Budweiser International Classic 200 (Top 14 locked in):
1. 22 - Pat Lavery: 16.223, 2. 6 - Davey Hamilton: 16.254, 3. 21 - Ray Graham: 16.294, 4. 26 - Shaun Gosselin: 16.385, 5. 47 - Bob Bond: 16.390, 6. 7 - Otto Sitterly: 16.392, 7. 88 - Ryan Litt: 16.493, 8. 00 - Joe Gosek: 16.505, 9. 01 - Dan Connors Jr.: 16.521, 10. 11 - Jessica Zemken: 16.590, 11. 52 - Dave Danzer: 16.610, 12. 2 - Dave Shullick Jr.: 16.639, 13. 50 - Dave Gruel: 16.643, 14. 55 - Keith Shampine: 16.659, 15. 60 - Tim Jedrzejek: 16.665, 16. 02 - Brandon Bellinger: 16.683, 17. 37 - Jeff Locke: 16.695, 18. 51 - Michael Muldoon: 16.720, 19. 99 – Michael Barnes: 16.724, 20. 20 - Joey Payne: 16.738, 21. 08 - Mike Lichty: 16.763, 22. 0 - Tim Snyder: 16.764, 23. 05 - Jeff Abold: 16.791, 24. 5 - Tim Devendorf: 16.825, 25. 24 - Jerry Curran: 16.848, 26. 1 - Shawn Muldoon: 16.865, 27. 70 - Gary Morton: 17.039, 28. 44 - Bobby Haynes Jr.: 17.265, 29. 07 - Tony Steiner: 17.314, 30. 56 - Hal LaTulip: 17.444, 31. 66 - Lou LeVea: 17.861, 32. 83 - Lou LeVea Jr.: 17.947
57th annual Budweiser International Classic 2nd Round Time Trials:
1. 0 - Tim Snyder: 16.988, 2. 1 - Shawn Muldoon: 17.002, 3. 05 - Jeff Abold: 17.155, 4. 70 - Dave McKnight: 17.198, 5. 06 - Dave Cliff: 17.330, 6. 24 - Jerry Curran: 17.342, 7. 5 - Tim Devendorf: 17.379, 8. 44 - Bobby Haynes Jr.: 17.396, 9. 66 - Lou LeVea Sr.: 17.782, 10. 83 - Lou LeVea Jr.: 17.792, 11. 56 - Hal LaTulip: 17.805, 12. 14 - Joe Chillemi: 17.882, 13. 07 - Tony Steiner: 17.891, 14. 40 - Bob Magner: 18.083
Bud Light B-Main (15-laps):
1. 44 - Bobby Haynes Jr., 2. 83 - Lou LeVea Jr., 3. 56 - Hal LaTulip, 4. 66 - Lou LeVea Sr., 5. 40 - Bob Magner, 6. 07 - Tony Steiner, 7. 14 - Joe Chillemi
57th annual Budweiser International Classic 200 (200-laps):
1. 47 - Bob Bond, 2. 7 - Otto Sitterly, 3. 26 - Shaun Gosselin, 4. 88 - Ryan Litt, 5. 50 - Dave Gruel, 6. 37 - Jeff Locke, 7. 52 - Dave Danzer, 8. 99 - Michael Barnes, 9. 44 - Bobby Haynes Jr., 10. 22 - Pat Lavery, 11. 20 - Joey Payne, 12. 02 - Brandon Bellinger, 13. 60 - Tim Jedrzejek, 14. 01 - Dan Connors Jr., 15. 6 - Davey Hamilton, 16. 00 - Joe Gosek, 17. 21 - Ray Graham, 18. 24 - Jerry Curran, 19. 2 - Dave Shullick Jr., 20. 83 - Lou LeVea Jr., 21. 5 - Tim Devendorf, 22. 40 - Bob Magner, 23. 11 - Jessica Zemken, 24. 1 - Shawn Muldoon, 25. 56 - Hal LaTulip, 26. 66 - Lou LeVea Sr., 27. 51 - Michael Muldoon, 28. 55 - Keith Shampine, 29. 0 - Tim Snyder, 30. 08 - Mike Lichty, 31. 06 - Dave Cliff, 32. 70 - Dave McKnight, 33. 05 - Jeff Abold, 34. 14 - Joe Chillemi
Hamilton (1-101), Lavery (102-153), Bond (154-200)
(33-41), (47-53), (70-80), (110-116), (132-141), (144-150), (184-189) – 7 for 50-laps
Butler Built Rookie of the Race: 88 – Ryan Litt