It took an extra 14 laps to get it done, but Chuck Hossfeld scored his third win in the prestigious Race of Champions 200 at the Oswego Speedway (NY) Sunday afternoon.
Hossfeld became just the second three-time winner of the RoC 200 since the race was moved to the “Steel Palace” in 1996. Tony Hirschman is the only other three-time champion of the race at Oswego.
“Just winning a big race like that alone makes you feel like a million bucks,” Hossfeld told Speed51.com powered by JEGS Monday afternoon. “But the truth is the history of the Race of Champions and the history of Oswego Speedway sets it to a whole other level. Today it kind of sunk in. It’s just a great day to kind of reflect and feel great about it.”
Hossfeld took the lead for the final time on lap 158 and held it all the way to the end, but he had to deal with multiple green-white-checkered attempts as well as a hard charging Matt Hirschman. And there was another issue that plagued Hossfeld late in the race that he had to overcome.
“We had oil on our windshield plus the sun setting,” said Hossfeld. “So going into one with an inside wall it was like a triple negative. It was really hard to see and I just didn’t want to blow it at the end.”
Hirschman led 69 of the first 75 laps before tangling with Stewart Friesen as he tried to lap him in turn four. On his next pit stop he took the gas can with him resulting in a stop and go penalty. He clawed his way back through the field and made his way to third before he crashed with a spinning lapped car in turn one with three laps to go to set up the first green-white-checkered attempt.
The oil on Hossfeld’s windshield and the setting sun wouldn’t have been so bad, but the multiple GWC attempts had his stress meter pegged.
“If that caution didn’t come out with two to go it would have been kind of a stress-free thing,” said Hossfeld. “I know a lot of older guys like me go to doctors to get stress tests to make sure their heart is fixed. I know my heart is good because if I was to have a heart attack it probably would have come yesterday with all the green-white-checkereds for sure.”
Hossfeld said what has made Sunday’s win so satisfying is that in his opinion it was a truly perfect day.
“I look back on it and I feel like we executed the whole day perfectly,” he said. “Everything from the pit stop to the changes on the pit stop, the way our crew looked, the way the whole thing went down was just a successful day for our team.”
There’s one other factor that made Sunday perfect for Hossfeld. Sunday’s total purse topped out near $50,000 thanks to Marilyn and Don Toal raising close to $19,000 in lap money.
“There’s a lot of good competition on (the Race of Champions) series,” he said. “And a lot of different leaders and there’s a lot of strategy and just a long race with money that was collected by my Marilyn and Don Toal. So you had a lot of competition there trying to get the money and trying to get the win.”
Hossfeld’s third win in this race cements his legacy as one of the best drivers in this race and in the Race of Champions series. Now with just two races left he turns his attention to winning the championship. He entered Sunday’s race with a 37 point lead over Hirschman.
“My whole goal this year is to win the championship and show we are as strong as he is and finish strong,” said Hossfeld. “I found my level of racing. The best level for me is Modified racing. I think they’re the coolest race cars on the whole Earth in my opinion. Modifieds are my home. And to be part of a series and be one of the dominant factors on that series is really gratifying.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT, and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
Photo credit: Chris Zacharias.