Tuesday, March 19, 2019

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There are a lot of takeaways from last night’s racing at the Oswego Speedway. Great racing, missing cars, rookie improvements, hard hits, tremendous efforts, and did I mention great racing.

Hats off to the crew of the 11 Supermodified. I talked to Dave and Aric Iosue in their hauler before practice. Aric listed everything that had to be replaced following last week’s hard hit into the turn three foam. It pretty much included everything except the frame and engine. But they got it done and the car was pretty much as fast as ever. Unfortunately the night didn’t turn out well. I didn’t catch how it started, but the 11 took another hit into the turn three foam. Damage was not as severe as a week ago, but once again a lot of hours will be spent in the garage getting it ready for the next race.

Several other Supermodifieds were missing last night, for a variety of reasons. Joe Gosek and Dave Gruel are still waiting on parts to repair damage from crashes a week ago, Jeff Abold is waiting on an engine, Hal LaTulip was at his daughter’s wedding. Jeff West did have the 1 out for the first time this year.

17 Supers started the feature, and it was a good one from the drop of the green. Brandon Bellinger took the early lead from his outside front row starting spot. But Otto Sitterly was a man on a mission. He and teammate Dave Shullick, who has been the hottest driver at Oswego over the last two seasons, started mid pack. They swapped positions a few times on the way to the front, but Otto got there first. Over the last dozen laps or so, with two caution flags, through some lapped traffic, both with cars that were pretty well used up, they battled nose to tail. At the checkers Otto got the win by about a car length, breaking his two year winless streak and solidifying his hold on first place in the points standings. Michael Barnes, who started mid pack with them, battled his way through the field to finish third, but had nothing for the leaders at the end. Keith Shampine came back from a pit stop to finish 4th and Brandon Bellinger rounded out the top five.

Josh “Stosh” Sokolic, the teenage rookie in the SBS division, proved he’s going to have to be reckoned with, winning his first ever SBS heat and then scoring a great runner-up finish in the feature. But it wasn’t easy.

Mike Bruce started on the pole and lead the first 28 laps. Just seeing that you might think it was a win from the pole race. It was anything but. Mike was not the fastest car on the track. At least a half dozen cars were faster, and they were all right behind him. Sokolic was running a tremendous race holding on to second. Behind him at various times and in various order were Mike Bond, Anthony Losurdo, David Cliff, Dan Kapuscinski, Dalton Doyle, Camden Proud, Russ Brown and they were all faster than Bruce. Mike Bruce was running a flawless race, taking up a lot of track, keeping everybody behind him. He was helped by Sokolic, the teenager in his first SBS season, who maintained a solid groove, nailed to Bruce’s bumper. One by one the other drivers took their best shot. Some went off on the hook, some went to the rear. With only a few laps left you knew somebody was going to make a move. It was Cliff. It didn’t work. He and Bruce came together at the start-finish line. Bruce went off on the hook and Cliff went to the rear. Sokolic took the lead, but with a lap to go was passed by Losurdo, who went on for the win over Sokolic, Doyle, Proud and Barry Kingsley.

There was one scary moment in an SBS heat race when James Babcock did a reverse spin coming out of turn two and hit the outside wall dead sideways. That’s about the hardest hit for a driver to take. The track safety crew took a long time getting Babcock out of the car, as he had apparently been knocked out with the impact. Eventually he got out, gave a thumbs up as he got into the ambulance, and was taken to Oswego Hospital where he was checked out and released.

The Oswego Speedway is the only track anywhere that runs these two divisions; Supermodifieds and SBS. Weekly they have drivers come from Canada, North Carolina, Illinois. The track has a great fan base. It’s one of a kind.

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