Late in the afternoon on Saturday at Oswego Speedway (NY), two of the eventual top three finishers were simply searching for ways to start the International Supermodified Association 60-lap feature as part of the 59th Budweiser International Classic weekend.
Tim Jedrzejek, a winner already in one of ISMA’s earlier stops at the “Steel Palace” this year, suffered mechanical problems in final practice. It wasn’t until current championship leader and fellow Ohioan Dave Shullick Jr. made impact with the wall on his qualifying lap that the Howie Lane-led team was prepared to push off for an attempt.
“We had called it a day,” Jedrzejek told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We blew the rear end and over-revved the engine and that’s never good. The engine was running, but you don’t know what you’ve done to the valve train and the components inside. The crew went to work, they didn’t give up, they rebuilt the rear end, we replaced some valve springs, went through the motor as best we could, and said you know what let’s take a gamble on it.”
The noticeable car to beat was Innerkip, Ontario’s Mike Lichty, claiming the pole award and advancing to the front to win his heat race. Jedrzejek was the first to make it to the front when he took the top spot from Dan Bowes on lap 12, but it was Lichty who was able to easily catch and pass him 12 laps later when approaching a lapped car.
As Lichty continued to maintain a consistent gap on Jedrzejek, slower traffic would again play a role in the closing laps. Danny Shirey was running in the top 10 and on the lead lap, and as Lichty approached in the first corner with two laps to go he chose the outside. Shirey drifted up forcing Lichty into the higher groove. It was at that point where Jedrzejek dove low and took the lead. Coming to the white flag the next time by, Lichty was unable to recover enough to track him down.
For Lichty, it was the second time at Oswego this season that slower cars cost him the win, and was critical of one rule that ISMA does not enforce.
“We rolled around the lapped cars prior pretty decent,” Lichty explained. “I’d get beside them, show them a wheel, and they’d respect me. I totally can’t blame Danny for the deal because we don’t use the passing flag, so he didn’t know if it was the leader who if he was racing for position. We definitely showed that I think we were the car to beat on clean track and open air.”
Being aware that he was unable to challenge when slower cars were not a factor, Jedrzejek knew it was a chance he had to take.
“I can say confidently I wouldn’t have passed Mike, just him and I green to green,” admitted Jedrzejek. “We were so evenly matched that when I saw the lapped traffic coming, and there were several of them, I thought every one of these is an opportunity for me to try to get by.”
Shullick started from the back of the field with a backup wing after sustaining damage in time trials and not running his heat race. He made it to third by halfway, but did not have anything for the front two once he got that position. Still it was a stellar effort and recovery for the team that will continue in the points lead late in the season.
Trent Stephens and Chris Perley, both former winners at Oswego, rounded out the top five.
Additional Saturday action included some unusual finishes and unexpected winners. In the local Small Block Supermodified division 75, Bryan Haynes scored the upset in his only start of 2015. He inherited the top spot after a wreck involving leaders Russ Brown and Andrew Schartner and a down tire for the ensuing leader Dalton Doyle.
Joey Bailey ended up with the win in the ATQMRA 25 lap feature when second place Matt Janisch had problems coming to the white flag and leader Ryan Tidman suddenly slowed and did not maintain his pace immediately before the caution flew.
For Jedrzejek, a driver who is no stranger to winning at Oswego, it still meant a lot to get the victory after overcoming all the adversity and having a little luck on his side.
“This is my third Classic ISMA win so it’s pretty cool. This is special for me.”
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Pennsylvania/Central New York Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
– Photo credit: Speed51.com
ISMA Supermodified 60 Results
1 6 97 Tim Jedrzejek 60
2 9 84 Mike Lichty 60
3 23 95 Dave Shullick Jr. 60
4 14 19 Trent Stephens 60
5 8 11 Chris Perley 60
6 2 25 Dan Bowes 60
7 4 21 Eddie Witkum Jr. 60
8 3 78 Mark Sammut 60
9 11 70 Dave McKnight 60
10 15 49 Danny Shirey 60
11 17 17 Ben Seitz 59
12 16 72 Eric Shirey 57
13 7 37 Jeff Locke 34
14 19 96 Lou LeVea Sr. 31
15 1 39 Alison Cumens 30
16 5 65 Tim Ice 30
17 13 27 Jamie Timmons 22
18 18 18 Howard Page 21
19 22 5 Brian Sobus 19
20 10 46 Ryan Coniam 14
21 21 74 Rob Summers 13
22 20 07 Kevin Jaycox Jr. 13
23 12 1 Kyle Edwards 3