OSWEGO, NY (December 18) – The 2012 edition of the Bud Light SBS Classic certainly had its share of headlines, making it a sure fit for ‘Best Of’ status this off-season. With heralded drivers returning behind the wheel and two brand new racecars in the line-up, the race was wide open for the $2,200 pay day and title of Classic champion.
Drivers returning to the division included former champions Dave Cliff in the Teddneck Racing No. 77, and Russ Brown behind the wheel of the all-new Ray Hedger No. 13. Chris Proud and Tim Gareau would also return to the line-up making the field a true blend of veterans from top to bottom with an outstanding mix of up and coming young talent as well.
At the end of the night however it was Cameron Rowe pulling into Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane after 60-laps, bagging his first career Classic win behind the wheel of the brand new FFB chassis No. 74, owned by Denise Merrill, which had never seen a green flag until Classic Weekend.
Rowe battled pole sitter David LaTulip on the high side early on before blasting into sole possession of the lead at lap two, and went on to capture the victory in dominating fashion. Rob Pullen, Dave Cliff, Andrew Schartner, Russ Brown, Tim Barbeau, Mark Castiglia, AJ Bernys, Kreig Heroth, and Tim Gareau filled the Top 10 positions.
“I’m ecstatic,” exclaimed Rowe in Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane. “Dan Dennie builds the best car, and I believe this is the best FFB car ever sitting right there. That car has only been on the track two times this week and look where it is. We rented the track on Tuesday and we were a little nervous but Dan Dennie knows his stuff.”
Rowe went on to explain the differences between a 30-lap and a 60-lap race, and how the car adapted.
“We wondered how it would go because we typically only do 30-lap races,” said Rowe. “You always wonder how the tires will handle 60-laps and I think all the cautions hurt us some tonight, the car would push and then get a little loose, but other than that the thing was virtually unchanged once the thing got up and going.”
LaTulip and Rowe brought the 26-car field to green and it took a couple laps for Rowe to work passed LaTulip to gain the point. Once Rowe gained sole possession of the lead he immediately began to pull away from the rest of the field comprised of LaTulip, Barbeau, Mike Bruce, Jack Patrick, and Pullen.
Further back, Brown was on the charge in the No. 13 from 11th position. By lap six Brown had worked to the high side of Jason Simmons, Mike Bond, and Chris Proud to move to seventh in the order. However, on lap eight the entire complexion of the event changed.
LaTulip washed high allowing Barbeau to slip through on the inside and in the process Bruce quickly closed in on the back bumper of LaTulip. The two drivers touched sending LaTulip around, setting up a total log jam in the third corner as several cars became involved. Patrick, Bond, and Proud would get the worst of it as each would have to be hooked off the Speedway, ending their nights. Bruce, LaTulip, Dalton Doyle, Barry Kingsley, Andrew Schartner, and AJ Bernys were all able to continue on and regain their positions on the Speedway.
On the restart Rowe led Barbeau, Pullen, Brown, Schartner, Cliff, Kingsley, Castiglia, Bernys, and Kreig Heroth to green. As the field sorted out, the front six cars checked out from the rest of the field with Pullen eventually working around Barneau for second into turn three on lap nine. Brown would next drive around Barbeau on the following circuit to move to third. With the latest shuffle within the top six, that group still continued to pull away from the rest of the pack.
Brown finally got a run on the low side of Pullen out of turn two for second but as he looked low his right front caught the left rear bumper of Pullen shredding his tire to bring out another caution. Brown was forced to head pit side in the No. 13 moving Babreau back to third ahead of Cliff and Schartner in the Top 5.
After the restart Rowe and Pullen quickly charged away from the rest of the pack with a tight battle being waged between Barbeau, Cliff, and Schartner for third on the Speedway.
The race’s third caution would wave on lap 29 as Josh Kerr and Kingsley made contact out of turn four sending the No. 91 around. Both Kerr and Kingsley would have to go to the tail of the field. On the restart Pullen would try Rowe on the high side for the point but was unable to make it stick and just one lap later Kerr would bring out the caution yet again, halting Pullen’s momentum.
Halfway through the event the green lights came on again with Rowe steadily walking away from the field. At lap 37 the Top 5 remained Rowe, Pullen, Barbeau, Cliff, and Schartner, but that would change just laps later.
Both Cliff and Schartner were able to slip under Barbeau for third and fourth on lap 41 going into turn one. The No. 77 of Cliff and the No. 18 of Schartner would quickly pull away from Barbeau and begin to close on the No. 2 of Pullen.
After Cliff and Schartner found their way passed Barbeau, Brown continued his charge as well from the tail of the field. Lap 45 saw Brown work under Bernys out of turn four to move to seventh as he now had the Top 5 within his sight.
With just over 10-laps to go it looked as though Rowe was beginning to falter as both Pullen and Cliff began to close on the leader. As the lap counter turned passed 50, Rowe once again found his groove and pulled back away from second and third.
With the front four positions settled in Brown continued to pass racecars from the back of the pack as he made his way around Barbeau to move into the Top 5 behind the wheel of the No. 13. But up front it was all Cameron Rowe racing onto the victory ahead of Pullen, Cliff, Schartner, and Brown.
Pullen, driving another FFB chassis, looked good on his way to a runner-up finish.
“I’m a little tired, but it’s not too bad,” said Pullen on the Budweiser interview podium. “The end of the race there, the last six laps, I think my engine was spitting a little oil, and it got kind of hard to see as everything was getting a little bit blurry. I was glad to hang onto second.”
Cliff driving the Chris Tedd owned No. 77, typically driven by Rowe, found himself on the podium of the SBS Classic yet again.
“At one point with about 15 to go Rob and I both closed up on Cameron,” said Cliff. “But I was up under Tim (Barbeau) a couple times earlier and I think I wasted too much time getting by him. I was getting a little loose at the end, it may have been some of the oil from Rob, but I am certainly happy to finish third. I’d like to think Chris Tedd for giving me the ride.”
The ‘Best of 2012’ will continue each week leading up to opening day at the Speedway on Saturday, May 4 with the first round of the ‘Steel Palace’ ISMA SuperSeries.
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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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