OSWEGO, NY (June 17) – ‘The Hustler’ Mike Barnes played all of his cards right at Oswego Speedway on Saturday night, driving into Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane for the 4th time in his career at the Steel Palace in the 50-lap Novelis Supermodified main event. Driving the Strong Racing No. 99, Barnes dove under Michael Muldoon on a lap 10 restart to grab the race lead, and never looked back on his way to a dominating full straight victory as a part of Universal Metal Works Autograph Night at the Speedway.
The win marked Barnes first Oswego Supermodified win since June 30, 2007 driving the Double Deuce Racing No. 22 Novelis Supermodified.
Teenage wheelman Muldoon had a career night hanging on for the runner-up finish ahead of Pat Lavery, Tim Snyder, and Dave Gruel in the Top 5. Brian Sobus, Stephen Gioia III, Joey Payne, Bobby Haynes Jr., and Dan Connors Jr. filled the Top 10 rundown.
“Believe it or not the car was actually going away a little bit there at the end,” said Barnes in Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane. “Those cautions at the end there actually helped, it let the right rear tire cool down some and we would have pretty good grip for a few laps.”
Barnes was quick to comment on the quality field at Oswego.
“It is so tough to win here now,” said Barnes. “Oswego Speedway is back. If you get a Top 5 or a Top 10 here it is earned. Look at Michael Muldoon running so good. How much better is he going to be in a couple years? Everyone is so fast and competitive. It is so hard to win here, it just feels great.”
Muldoon and Gioia brought the Novelis Supermodified field to the Cam’s NY Pizzeria green flag, with Muldoon again getting the jump early on in the No. 50m. However, before the field could complete the first circuit a multi-car accident developed in the third corner of the Speedway.
Several cars jammed up heading into turn three which resulted in the No. 88 of Randy Ritskes climbing over the back of the Lavery No. 22. With cars scattering all over the Speedway, 11 different machines became involved in the accident.
Last week’s feature winner Dave Danzer would get the worst of it, hitting the outside third turn retaining wall with tremendous force. Danzer struggled during the day, winning the consolation to qualify for the 50-lap event, but would see his night end before completing the first lap of the feature.
Lavery, Keith Gilliam, Kelly Miller, Tim Devendorf, Brandon Bellinger, Danzer, Dave Cliff, Ritskes, Connors, Jeff Abold, and Joey Payne were all involved in some way shape or form. Of all those involved Lavery, Miller, Cliff, Ritskes, Connors, and Payne were able to rejoin the field.
On the restart Muldoon would again snag the lead away from Gioia, and quickly leaped to a sizeable lead.
By lap 8 Barnes was already showing his hand in the No. 99 as he and Snyder slipped underneath Gioia to move to 2nd and 3rd in turn one, and before long Barnes closed on the Muldoon machine.
Just as Barnes appeared ready to mount a serious challenge for the lead, the yellow light would turn on again, this time for a slowing Bob Bond in turn four. Bond, who had not competed at Oswego since opening day on May 5, pulled pit side in the No. 25 ending his evening.
For the lap 10 restart Muldoon led Barnes, Snyder, Gioia, Sobus, and Haynes in the Top 5 order.
As the field came back to green veteran Barnes used his experience to pull alongside Muldoon on the low side of turn four taking the top spot on the restart. From there Barnes distanced himself from the rest of the field at a rapid pace, before another caution on lap 14.
Connors would be the cause of this caution, losing the handle on the No. 01 in turn one, running outside of the Top 10. By this time Barnes had already pulled nearly a half straight lead, but that lead would now be erased.
During the caution both Haynes and Payne would pull into the pit area for adjustments, and each would return to the field.
Coming back to green Barnes led Muldoon, Snyder, Sobus, and now Dave Gruel in the Top 5. Gruel, whose team managed to make amazing repairs to the No. 50 after his fire from one week ago, made an outside pass of Gioia in turn one to hit the 5th spot on lap 12 and he would not stop there.
On the restart Gruel would again find the high groove, this time making his way around the No. 60 of Sobus to move into the 4th position behind Snyder, Muldoon, and Barnes in the Top 3.
By halfway, Barnes extended his lead to a full straightaway on the rest of the field, leaving the battle on the race track between the front two drivers in the championship Lavery and Otto Sitterly.
Each were able to make passes on Gioia and Kody Graham to move further up into the Top 5 putting themselves in a great five car battle for the 3rd position with Snyder, Gruel, and Sobus. On lap 34 Sitterly, feeling the heat from Lavery in No. 22, made a deep inside move on Sobus in turn one to officially move into the Top 5 in the No. 7. Just two laps later Graham, who was slipping through the field in the No. 21, slowed in turn three to bring out the caution and then pulled away.
With 14 laps left on the board, Barnes once again saw his dominating lead erased, and now saw Sitterly moving up the board as he has done many times this season.
With the leader now in sight, Sitterly jumped to the outside of the Speedway on the lap 36 restart, taking advantage of Gruel who slipped out of turn two and moved low on the Speedway. The two drivers drove deep into turn three, with Sitterly on the outside, and the two machines touched. Gruel was able to continue on without delay, but Sitterly jumped the nerf bar of the No. 50 and hit the wall head on in turn three causing considerable damage to the No. 7 ending his night.
Sitterly, who came into the night as the only driver to finish in the Top 5 in the first four races of the season, was hooked off the Speedway and ended the night in the 14th position.
With the green lights back on the Top 10 order showed Barnes, Muldoon, Snyder, Gruel, Sobus, Lavery, Gioia, Payne, Haynes, and Connors.
In just six circuits Barnes again trumped the field, blasting to a full straight lead in the No. 99. The man on the move however was Lavery, again making high side moves on the Speedway in No. 22.
Lavery moved around Sobus on lap 37, then took his teammate Gruel high in turn three to the 4th spot on lap 44 before eventually passing Snyder high in turn four on the 48th lap.
For Lavery though it was too little, too late as both Muldoon and Barnes checked away from the field with Barnes grabbing his first Oswego Supermodified win since June 30, 2007.
Muldoon’s runner-up finish made a career day for the young driver from Baldwinsville, NY.
“It is great to get the monkey off my shoulder,” said Muldoon, a 3rd generation pilot at the Speedway. “We’ve been waiting just to finish a race this season and to finish 2nd it is just phenomenal. The 99 was great tonight we had nothing for him, but I didn’t know there was nobody behind me. We’ve had a rough couple weeks, so this is nice.”
Lavery once again ended the night with another podium finish, despite having to head to the pit area and come from the rear after the lap 1 incident.
“There are a lot of good cars here and that is a long way to come from all the way in the back,” said Lavery. “I didn’t like being on the outside at all tonight, but that is where you had to go. Somehow we made it work.”
A total of 28 Supermodifieds were in the pit area Saturday night, but only 27 would start qualifying heat races as the No. 26 of Shaun Gosselin had motor issues before hot laps even got underway. Running in the Top 10 in points, Gosselin was forced to load the No. 26 very early in the day.
Defending Speedway champion Joe Gosek was involved in a vicious accident during the 3rd qualifying heat race. Gosek climbed the wheel of the Bellinger No. 02 coming out of turn two and slammed the outside steel, climbing the wall and turning once over in the No. 00. Considerable damage was left on the machine at all corners of the car resulting in the speedster exiting the Speedway via a flatbed before feature time.
Ray Graham Jr., in the new Xtreme Chassis No. 90, once again ran into issues under the hood of his machine prior to the feature. After finishing 3rd in his heat race, Graham pulled pit side before the green flag flew in the 50-lap main event.
Saturday, June 16th, 2012
Universal Metal Works Autograph Night
Saturday, June 30th – Davis Bros. Meats Grand Prix Night featuring FIREWORKS
Novelis Supermodified 75 and Pathfinder Bank SBS 35
Feature (50-laps): 1. 99 – Mike Barnes, 2. 50m – Michael Muldoon, 3. 22 – Pat Lavery, 4. 0 – Tim Snyder, 5. 50 – Dave Gruel, 6. 60 – Brian Sobus, 7. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 8. 20 – Joey Payne, 9. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr., 10. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 11. 21 – Kody Graham, 12. 81 – Kelly Miller, 13. 43 – TJ Woolsey, 14. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 15. 88 – Randy Ritskes, 16. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 17. 06 – Dave Cliff, 18. 25 – Bob Bond, 19. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 20. 52 – Dave Danzer, 21. 05 – Jeff Abold, 22. 87 – Keith Gilliam, 23. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 24. 90 – Ray Graham
1st Heat (12laps/6qualify): 1. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr., 2. 88 – Randy Ritskes, 3. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 4. 50m – Michael Muldoon, 5. 50 – Dave Gruel, 6. 06 – Dave Cliff, 7. 52 – Dave Danzer, 8. 81 – Kelly Miller, 9. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr.
2nd Heat (12laps/6qualify): 1. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 2. 0 – Tim Snyder, 3. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 4. 20 – Joey Payne, 5. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 6. 21 – Kody Graham, 7. 87 – Keith Gilliam, 8. 24 – Jerry Curran, 9. 56 – Hal LaTulip
3rd Heat (12laps/6qualify): 1. 99 – Michael Barnes, 2. 60 – Brian Sobus, 3. 90 – Ray Graham, 4. 22 – Pat Lavery, 5. 25 – Bob Bond, 6. 05 – Jeff Abold, 7. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 8. 43 – TJ Woolsey, 9. 00 – Joe Gosek
Consi (10laps/6qualify): 1. 52 – Dave Danzer, 2. 87 – Keith Gilliam, 3. 81 – Kelly Miller, 4. 43 – TJ Woolsey, 5. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 6. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 7. 24 – Jerry Curran, 8. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr.
About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway, a sports entertainment company, is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. Oswego Speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August, 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at Oswego Speedway making Oswego the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds accompany the full blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, arguably the greatest driver of all time, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, along with former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.
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