How cool was it to see a full pit area? There were racecars everywhere, as 69 cars between the three divisions lined the infield. 27 supers (29 counting backups), 19 SBS machines and 23 modifieds were race ready Saturday night.
While there were a lot of cars, it seemed there were only a few that got through the night unscathed. There were a lot of minor jingles through the night, slowing the race pace. But, while there were a lot of little things that brought out the yellow, there wasn’t anything that wasn’t fixable for this week. Sure there will be a lot of sheet metal banged out, straightened, and a lot of parts fixed in the garages, but there wasn’t anything that would take a car out of competition for this Saturday night.
Randy Ritskes grabbed the opening night win in the Jim Shampine Memorial. Randy has been around the speedway for a long time, and the significance of an Oswego Speedway supermodified feature win isn’t lost on Randy. He was emotional, excited, thrilled, and had the look of a little kid on Christmas Day after the win. The 88 was fast all day long, even stopping clocks in the 2’s late in the race. Randy was in the right place at the time when the breaks went his way. Congratulations to Randy, Johnny, and the entire 88 team. I believe this is the first win for car owner Randy Darratt.
Randy’s good break came at the expense of Ray Graham. Graham had the car to beat last weekend, and was stomping on the field. The only thing that kept anyone in the area code of the 90 was the caution flag. Once racing, the 90 shot out to comfortable leads each time, only to be reeled in when the yellow flew. Lap 59 Ray wheeled the 90 along the front stretch, into turn one, when he went a bit high to get around the slower 33 and 85 cars. The back end came around, the 90 spun, and Ray’s lead was gone. The foam bit the back end of the car, and the rear wing was loose, and side panel bent, making the aerodynamics of the car les than ideal. It was a tough finish for the car that was the one to beat.
Jerry Curran was happy with his second place finish, with a fifth place car. He kept the car straight all night, and out of trouble, and was rewarded with a second place check. Joey Payne finished third, and cashed the check, fast. Bobby Bond was involved in the first turn accident that bent up 7 cars, but came back for a fourth. Matter of fact, the 25 was airborne in that accident, catching a wheel and getting some air time. The crew beat and banged the car straight enough to finish. Keith Gilliam was all smiles with a fifth at the end of 75. Keith likes the longer races, and to top it off, had no breaks.
All in all, the supermodified race was a pretty good one. You put it all together, opening night, a 75 lapper to start the year, 26 cars, and a green racetrack, and it was a pretty good start to 2011.
The SBS race saw Mike Bond take the lead early, and basically run away with it. Mike is the career win leader in the SBS division, and added to that total with win #22. He took the lead from Mike Bruce early with a power move out of four, and wasn’t challenged all race long. Robbie Pullen and Tim Barbeau wheeled by Bruce later on, but didn’t have enough time to catch the #26.
The RoC race was decided early, as by lap 18, the top running top five, was the same five guys that finished in the top five in last year’s Evans Memorial, Hossfeld, Mike Leaty, Wilbur Hebing, Erick Rudolph and Matt Hirschman. Matt went pitside with a busted pannard bar, Wlibur looped the 1 near the end, and Chuck Hossfeld drove on for the win. Chuck got the better of Mike Leaty on a lap 18 double file restart and that was all he needed enroute to the win.
We get back at it this week with a regular show, full set of qualifiers, followed by a 30-lap SBS feature and 50-lap supermodified race. Spectator gates and practice starts at 4:30pm, with the first heat race at 6:30pm.
Opening night is in the books, and there’s no reason to think we aren’t going to move forward from here. There was a good crowd last week; we had 27 cars last week, possibly more this week. The SBS division put on a good show, and looks to add cars this week as well.
The first race under the new ownership was a successful debut, and there are more exciting things in the works as the summer moves along.
See you at the races.