Story By: Chris Porter, www.oswegocountytoday.com
OSWEGO, NY - Andrew Schartner became Oswego Speedway’s eighth different winner of the season in the small block supermodified division Sunday afternoon, after leading all 50 laps of the division’s portion of the 62nd Annual Sunoco Race of Champions (ROC) event. Having been plagued with bad luck throughout the 2013 season, the win was a much needed shot in the arm for the weekly commuting Charlotte, N.C. resident.
Following last weekend’s bone-jarring collision with the outside confines of Oswego’s fast five-eighths mile paved oval that left both car and driver reeling for days afterward, Schartner was rewarded with his second consecutive ROC win. It was the pilot of the No. 18’s eighth career win in the series, tying him with Chris Proud for ninth on the division’s all-time win list.
"The car was not good on restarts at all, we were having a hard time getting going," said Schartner. "The car was great though in the long run and that is what we aim for. This has been a terrible year, we have had awful luck, and I think I am most happy for my crew. They are the ones that have to slave on this thing after the luck we've had. I definitely wanted to come back and defend my crown, but with the rain-out, I had to change my flights and now I'll be paying the credit card off until I'm collecting social security."
Chasing Schartner the entire distance, unable to beat the No. 18 to the first turn to grab the all-important early lead, was 15-year old rookie racer, Anthony Losurdo. With 12th place being his previous best feature finish, Losurdo’s second-place run was almost a win in itself for the young, Oswego native.
Schartner and Losurdo led the 25-car field to the green flag to begin the 50-lap main event. Schartner nabbed the point, but just as the field was completing its maiden lap, Dalton Doyle’s No. 01 tagged Jack Patrick’s No. 9 heading into the first turn. Patrick spun, but Doyle was able to roll on. However, track officials sent Doyle to the rear of the field on the ensuing restart.
With just one lap in the books, Schartner led Losurdo, Mike Bruce, Rob Pullen and Brian Sobus. Cameron Rowe, Tim Gareau, Russ Brown, JJ Andrews and Mike Bond completed the top 10. Jeremy Pitcher, Jason Simmons, Jon Tesoriero, Justin Connell and AJ Bernys filled out the top 15.
Schartner was solid on the restart, bringing Losurdo and Bruce with him on a gradual three-car breakaway. However, the caution lights would flash again on the 10th lap for Dan Abt’s spun No. 57.
Again, Schartner would not be challenged on the restart. A few positions back, Brown and Andrews bounced Gareau back to ninth. Two laps later, last week’s feature winner, Andrews, shot underneath Brown’s out of shape No. 13 to claim seventh. Though, Brown would retake the spot a few rounds later.
At the lap No. 20 mark. Schartner held a commanding 10-car advantage over Losurdo. Bruce and Sobus trailed runner-up Losurdo by an equal margin. Those margins were soon erased on the 22nd lap after Simmons lost an radiator hose coming out of the fourth turn.
Caught up in the mess behind Simmons, Gareau walloped the outside wall. Tesoriero and Heroth both piled into Gareau’s scene, leaving three badly damaged machines. Ironically, only Simmons was able to pit and return to action. Two former track champs (Gareau and Heroth) and last season’s Rookie of the Year (Tesoriero) exited the racing surface via the hook, unable to return.
While under caution, Bruce suddenly pulled his No. 22 pit-side with engine woes. The third-place runner would call it a night. After the top-10 shake-up, Schartner, Losurdo, Sobus, Pullen and Rowe controlled the top five spots. Brown, Andrews, Pitcher, Bond and Bernys ran sixth through 10th.
Returning from his early race spin, Patrick would make his way back into the top 10, passing Bernys. With track conditions less than optimal, this pass would end up being the final change of position among the top 10 finishers of the race.
At the lap No. 30 mark, Schartner and Losurdo continued to run one-two all alone out in front of the field. Further back, Pullen was working hard on Sobus for third, with Rowe, Brown and Andrews watching closely.
A glimmer of hope for the young rookie would come to light as the duo began to catch the rear of the field. Pesky lapped traffic would put a skip in Schartner’s rhythm, but only enough to all Losurdo a closer view. Once clearing the initial traffic, the caution flag would fly for Greg O’Connor’s No. 90.
The field would be bunched again, eliminating any of Schartner’s lapped traffic concerns. Another quick yellow two laps later would only delay the inevitable. Schartner would cruise the final few laps to collect the win.
Losurdo felt as though he had something for Schartner at race's end.
"He was getting a lot better restarts than us, but we were chasing him down a little bit," said Losrudo. "I just have to thank all my sponsors - Chris and Carlee Heagerty, my dad and mom, Stu (Fenske) for all the hard work he puts in and everyone that comes out to support us. I'm not that good on the restarts yet , that's something I really have to work on, but the car was good and I felt like we were just as fast or faster than Andrew but he was holding a good line and getting much better restarts than us.
Sobus was solid all day, driving his No. 6 small block super to a third-place run. Having scored a solid top-10 finish in each of his three International Classic 200 starts, Sobus says he’s actively searching for a ride in this year’s upcoming big block event.
"You know what, we were really good right from the start and then we we got that long yellow with all the speedy dry the car was just a handful after that," said Sobus. "I knew if I could keep it on the bottom and not screw up I would be alright. Rob (Pullen) let me know he was there, but he ran me clean and I have to thank him for that."
The top three feature finishers took Friday evening’s qualifying heat wins as well.
Sunday, July 21st, 2013
63rd Annual SUNOCO Race of Champions Weekend
PATHFINDER BANK SBS SERIES
Feature (50-laps): 1. 18 – Andrew Schartner, 2. 1 – Anthony Losurdo, 3. 6 – Brian Sobus, 4. 2 – Rob Pullen, 5. 77 – Cameron Rowe, 6. 13 – Russ Brown, 7. 93 – JJ Andrews, 8. 14 – Jeremy Pitcher, 9. 74 – Mike Bond, 10. 9 – Jack Patrick, 11. 24 – AJ Bernys, 12. 98 – Jason Simmons, 13. 01 – Dalton Doyle, 14. 57 – Dan Abt, 15. 76 – Scott Shafer, 16. 07 – Justin Connell, 17. 86 – Bryan Haynes, 18. 90 – Greg O’Connor, 19. 8 – Josh Kerr, 20. 22 – Mike Bruce, 21. 17 – Tim Gareau, 22. 47 – Jon Tesoriero, 23. 04 – Kreig Heroth, 24. 99 – Dennis Rupert, 25. 27 – David LaTulip
Lap Leaders: Schartner (1-50)
Sherwood Racing Wheels Lap Leader – Andrew Schartner
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger – AJ Bernys
Nice Price Auto Sales “Up & Comer” – Anthony Losurdo
White’s Car Care 4th Place Award – Rob Pullen
(Run Friday, July 19th)
1st Heat (10-laps/6-Qualify): 1. 18 – Andrew Schartner, 2. 01 – Dalton Doyle, 3. 13 – Russ Brown, 4. 93 – JJ Andrews, 5. 8 – Josh Kerr, 6. 07 – Justin Connell, 7. 44 – Zach Amo, 8. 57 – Dan Abt, 9. 99 – Dennis Rupert
2nd Heat (10-laps/6-Qualify): 1. 6 – Brian Sobus, 2. 22 – Mike Bruce, 3. 74 – Mike Bond, 4. 77 – Cameron Rowe, 5. 14 – Jeremy Pitcher, 6. 47 – Jon Tesoriero, 7. 24 – AJ Bernys, 8. 76 – Scott Shafer
3rd Heat (10-laps/All Qualify): 1. 1 – Anthony Losurdo, 2. 9 – Jack Patrick, 3. 2 – Rob Pullen, 4. 17 – Tim Gareau, 5. 98 – Jason Simmons, 6. 04 – Kreig Heroth, 7. 27 – David LaTulip, 8. 90 – Greg O’Connor, 9. 86 – Bryan Haynes