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Danny Johnson, Speedway Reporter
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Michael Barnes “Plum Ready” for Full Schedule at Oswego Speedway
“The Hustler” Takes Over Seat of Plum Crazy No. 99 Supermodified
OSWEGO, NY (February 22) - “We want to finish races, have fun, and roll it on the trailer at the end of the night,” is how veteran Novelis Supermodified driver Michael Barnes described what he is looking for out of his 2012 Novelis Supermodified season at Oswego Speedway. “That’s how we’re looking at it. Of course we want to run well and win races, but we all get along and have fun. The way I’m looking at it is, this is my sophomore year of Supermodified racing at Oswego Speedway.“
Michael was tabbed by Pat and Terry Strong midway through the 2011 season to be the wheelman for the newer car out of the Plum Crazy stable. “I can’t thank Pat and Terry enough,” Michael said with gratitude. “They gave me a chance to drive their second car, the newer car last year. They put the car together in ’09, but it didn’t see much track time.”
“Joey (Payne) was happy with the older car, and was confident in what the older car could do. Pat and Terry were looking for someone to get in the newer car, and get the bugs worked out of it.”
Michael looked back at the journey for himself and the newer 99 in 2011. “It was a pretty good run at the end of the year,” he reminisced. “The first few weeks it was decent. It was ok, but there was something that wasn’t quite right with it. I wasn’t totally comfortable in it, and that was my fault. I wanted to get in it, and was more worried about diagnosing the car, as opposed to being comfortable. I was more worried about getting the car to work better.”
“I was sliding around in the seat, not taking the time to make the adjustments needed,” he added. “Once I took the time to fix the seat, and be comfortable, it was like slipping a switch. Then at the same time, Pat found an issue with the car too. Instantly, we picked up a half second.”
Michael continued. “The $10,000 to win show, we started 9th, and Joey was up near the front. He led, and we got up to third. The team cars were running really well, and I remember it well. It was lap 22; there was a red flag. The team cars were first and third, but Pat wasn’t happy. That was when Joey had the flat tire costing him a possible win. Then Otto got by me, and the stagger on the car went away, I couldn’t turn the car. Tires that night cost us two podium finishes.”
Despite that night, the Strong Team was happy with their newer creation. “We were pretty happy”, Michael looked back. “Other than typical Michael Barnes bad luck, we did ok. We had fuel pick up problems one night, drove over Otto on a restart another, but all in all, we were happy with the car.”
“This year, we’re going as a one car team,” Michael said looking a few months ahead. “That’s the game plan so far. We’ll work on it tune it, and see what we can get out of it. It’s a really good car, and they are a really great bunch to work with.”
The backbone of any race team is the crew, and that fact isn’t lost on the 3-time Novelis Supermodified feature winner. “Pat has a great crew with him,” Michael said. “They all do a great job. They are a great bunch of guys, very dedicated, and have a very good car to work with.”
“It’s really cool, we enjoy going to the shop. We go over on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we golf on Thursday, and usually we have Friday off,” Michael said of their maintenance schedule. “We don’t mind maintaining them, but don’t like to fix them. Maintaining the cars, you can look for a tenth here or there, fixing them you have to work just to get it back together, that’s not fun.”
“We had a fun year last year.” Michael mentioned. “I can’t thank Pat, Terry and the guys on the crew enough. They took a chance on me when a lot of people wouldn’t. They did. That means so much to me. This is my second season of racing at Oswego Speedway, and we’re really excited about it. We’re looking for a really good year, and we can’t wait to get started.
The 2012 racing season at Oswego Speedway begins May 5th. Events run May through September on most Saturday nights, culminating with the Fall Championship 75 on September 15th.
The annual Speedway open practice is scheduled for April 28th.
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Michael Barnes - Oswego Statistics
|Career Supermodified Wins
||(3), Tied 43rd All-Time (First: August 5, 2006 - Last: June 30, 2007
|Top5 Supermodified Finishes
||(9), Tied 92nd All-Time (First: July 8, 2006 - Last: August 18, 2007
|Career SBS Wins
||(3), Tied for 24th All-Time (First: June 18, 2005 - Last: June 17, 2006
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.