OSWEGO, NY – Oswego Speedway and Novelis Supermodified veteran Joe Gosek stood tall in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane Saturday night in front of a stout Fourth of July Weekend crowd, letting all in attendance know that the ‘Double 0’ is still alive and well at the ‘Steel Palace.’
In a season in which Gosek had yet to claim a top five finish heading into the month of July, the driver of the Burke’s Home Centers No. 00 roared to life and dominated the Speedway’s Grand Prix 75-lap main event presented by Canale Insurance, Fleet Pride, and Seminis, cruising to his 43rd career main event win and his fourth triumph in the Fourth of July Weekend special adding to his victories in 1990, 2003, and 2004.
Starting from the outside of the front row, Gosek led all 75-circuits holding off late charges from weekend favorites Bob Bond and Michael Barnes, each driving new Hawk chassis, to claim his first Speedway victory since August 18, 2012.
Joey Payne and championship contender Dave Gruel would complete the top five positions in Saturday night’s main event.
Gosek’s dominating run did not go without its share of drama, after building a large lead on the field, the Gosek No. 00 faltered out of the fourth turn on lap 58, nearly handing the lead over to Kody Graham.
“I thought I had a flat tire or something,” said Gosek in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane. “I must have got into some oil or something, because it felt like the left rear wheel was going to fall right off it. But I waited and it took off again when I got back on it, fortunately I had a big enough lead there.”
With a massive crowd of well-wishers and fans in victory lane, Gosek was full of emotion after pulling off yet another Speedway victory in a career dating back to 1979.
“I don’t know, I didn’t know if I was ever going to get here (victory lane) again,” said Gosek. “I was beginning to think I forgot how to drive or something. We just really haven’t had the car to compete with last year or this year, and I guess there is a saying you never give up and we scratched and clawed late into today, but we did make some positive gains. I just have to thank all my sponsors, my crew, my wife.”
Gosek’s 43rd career victory was dedicated to the memory of two very close friends, who each passed away during the off-season.
“To my buddies Pete Thomas and Tony Osetek, this one is for you,” said Gosek.
Jerry Curran, Pat Lavery, Lou LeVea Sr., Bobby Haynes Jr., and Lou LeVe Jr. finished the top ten positions.
All 25 of the Novelis Supermodifieds in the pit area Saturday night started the Grand Prix finale with Brandon Bellinger and Gosek leading the field to the Cam’s NY Pizzeria green flag.
Gosek, who spent the last moments before the main event went green at the Speedway’s scales searching for a winning setup, blasted to the point in the No. 00 pulling Pat Lavery, Kody Graham, and Gruel along with him.
Gosek checked out in front early, but quickly found himself in lapped traffic by lap 13. Once in traffic, Graham was able to muscle passed Lavery for second, and would begin to try and chase down Gosek in the lead.
The races first caution would wave at lap 16 for Bellinger, who had a flat tire and stopped on the Speedway’s back stretch. With the field now pacing under caution, current Speedway point leader Otto Sitterly dove to pit lane with the No. 7 while running sixth with a broken rocker arm, handing the six time champion a DNF and an 18th place finish.
The restart order showed Gosek in the lead ahead of Graham, Lavery, Gruel, Bond, Barnes, Keith Shampine, Payne, Michael Muldoon, and Jerry Curran.
Back under green Gosek and Graham again checked away in the lead, with lapped traffic again playing a factor by lap 25.
While in heavy traffic, Gosek was able to maneuver the slower machines just a bit quicker than Graham, keeping the No. 00 in the lead.
Further back, defending Budweiser International Classic champion Bond was on the march in the No. 47. At lap 37 Bond was able to move by Gruel for fourth with Gosek, Graham, and Lavery now in his sights.
Just one lap later Bond would get assistance in that effort, as Muldoon looped the No. 51 in turn three to slow the pace one more time. Muldoon would re-fire and join the field at the tail side of the pack.
On the following restart Gosek again was able to drive away in the lead ahead of Graham, Lavery, Bond, Barnes, Gruel, Payne, and Curran.
By lap 41 Gosek had built a comfortable lead, but would again catch traffic around lap 57 giving Graham a shot in the No. 90.
On the 58th circuit, Gosek would bobble badly out of the fourth corner. The Indianapolis 500 veteran slowed dramatically, nearly pulling to pit lane with apparent issues in the left rear of the car, however Gosek determined that the machine was fit to continue and carried on, firing back to life
Just as it looked as though Graham would inherit the lead, Gosek again charged away out front, trying to chase down his first checkered flag in nearly two years.
With Gosek riding comfortably now in the lead, Bond was again on the move in the No. 47 from tenth on the grid.
Bond would slide by Lavery for third on lap 59 and only five laps later would take advantage of a lapped car to go three wide underneath Graham for second on the Speedway’s home stretch.
Bond and Graham would brush wheels in the first corner, with Graham moving way up the race track. By the time Graham got to the second corner, his car was sideways leaving Lavery nowhere to go in the No. 22. Lavery would collide with the Graham No. 90, riding up and on top of the machine on the back stretch to bring out the yellow.
Each driver was ok, however Graham would be done for the night due to left side damage. Lavery was able to continue after being hooked to the pits and returned with a seventh place finish in the No. 22.
Gosek would now have to deal with the new generation Hawk machines of Bond and Barnes on the restart ahead of Payne, Gruel, and Curran.
However, Muldoon would again run into trouble in turn four with a spin resulting in a red flag situation for refueling with only 10-laps to go.
After a brief intermission to refuel Gosek would bring the field back to green and charged onto the Grand Prix win with little to no pressure, taking the victory by nearly a full second over Bond and some four seconds over Barnes.
Bond, who is competing in limited schedule at the Speedway in 2014, talked with infield announcer Keith Zehr.
“I just couldn’t quite stay with him (Gosek) at the end,” said Bond. “He was a little bit better and Joe ran a great race, I just couldn’t quite get him tonight.”
Barnes, who had won main events at the Speedway in back to back weeks previously, had to settle for third on this night.
“I wish tonight would have been a 35-lapper, we were pretty bad,” said Barnes. “We missed the setup a bit and we were just way too loose. We were ok until about lap 20, but we didn’t get the breaks we had got before on the starts the last two weeks, and we just got too loose there.”
Shampine, Barnes, and Graham claimed Shell Shock Custom Helmet Paint Heat Race Challenge victories.
Lou LeVea Sr. was the Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer Recipient and also collected $100 from Grossman St. Amour CPAs in memory of Supermodified car owner Darcey Kerfien.
Bobby Haynes Jr., who was initially announced as the Up & Comer recipient as well due to a scoring malfunction, started the main from 17th position and finished 9th to claim the Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger Award.
Gosek would lead the most laps for the Radical Racegear Lap Leader Award.
Howard Page returned to the Speedway after a several year absence with a brand new Page Chassis No. 18 Supermodified. Page spent most of the evening shaking down the new racer, running just two laps in the main event.
Championship contender David Danzer debuted his brand new Hawk Supermodified chassis No. 52 on Saturday, and looked to run away with his qualifying heat until oil pump issues sidelined the machine. Danzer was able to start the main event but ran just one lap before heading to the pit area.
Saturday, July 5th, 2014
Grand Prix Night & Christmas in July
Presented by Canale Insurance – Fleet Pride – Seminis
Novelis Supermodified Grand Prix (75-laps): 1. 00 – JOE GOSEK, 2. 47 – Bob Bond, 3. 68 – Michael Barnes, 4. 99 – Joey Payne, 5. 50 – Dave Gruel, 6. 24 – Jerry Curran, 7. 22 – Pat Lavery, 8. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr, 9. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr, 10. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr, 11. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 12. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 13. 90 – Kody Graham, 14. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 15. 55 – Keith Shampine, 16. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 17. 05 – Jeff Abold, 18. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 19. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 20. 37 – Randy Ritskes, 21. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 22. 3 – Brian Sweeney, 23. 18 – Howard Page, 24. 52 – David Danzer, 25. 0 – Tim Snyder
Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger: #44 Bobby Haynes Jr.
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #66 Lou LeVea Sr. ($100 from Grossman St. Amour CPAs in Memory of Darcey Kerfien)
Radical Racegear Lap Leader: #00 Joe Gosek
Heat #1 (12-laps): 1. 55 – Keith Shampine, 2. 47 – Bob Bond, 3. 99 – Joey Payne, 4. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 5. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 6. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr., 7. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 8. 52 – David Danzer, 9. 18 – Howard Page
Heat #2 (12-laps): 1. 68 – Michael Barnes, 2. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 3. 37 – Randy Ritskes, 4. 22 – Pat Lavery, 5. 05 – Jeff Abold, 6. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr., 7. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 8. 3 – Brian Sweeney
Heat #3 (12-laps): 1. 90 – Kody Graham, 2. 00 – Joe Gosek, 3. 50 – Dave Gruel, 4. 24 – Jerry Curran, 5. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr., 6. 5 – tim Devendorf, 7. 0 – Tim Snyder, 8. 01 – Dan Connors Jr.
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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– Oswego Speedway press release. Photo credit: Bill Taylor