For the past year or so, talk of a youth movement within the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series has put the focus on a number of up and coming drivers. Saturday at Oswego Speedway (NY) the focus became crystal clear when second generation driver Bryan Sherwood put on a great demonstration of driving, leading all 61 laps of the Richie Evans Memorial to score his first career RoC victory.
“It was pretty nerve wracking, there’s a lot of good cars in the series, just fortunate to be able to close out a win,” Sherwood told Speed51.com powered by JEGs. “I thought starting on the pole that this might be the day to do it. Happy to finally get the first one; it’s really cool, especially at Oswego, (a track with) a lot of history. I watched my dad here for a long time. He won this race a couple of years ago; it’s really cool to do something he did.”
Starting from the pole position Sherwood went unchallenged over the first 40 laps, but a restart with about 20 to go saw Tyler Rypkema launch up to second position and challenge Sherwood, getting to his left rear corner on multiple occasions. Despite his fastest laps of the race, Rypkema’s tires began to fade, finally giving up with eight laps to go, when Rypkema slid high in turn one and dropped back to fifth. Despite frustration, Rypkema did not regret going for what would have been his first career RoC win.
“The car was fast, but in a 61-lap race running towards the front, it’s hard to conserve as much as you want, especially when the pressure is on,” Rypkema stated. “I was running hard with Bryan. I wanted to pass him clean; I didn’t want to rough him up. Just got into one, I was with him, made a tiny bit of contact and the car was also getting loose on me on entry. That’s what happened, 50 laps on the tires, the right rear was worn out. The car faded after that. That’s how racing goes sometimes, just rode a little too hard.”
Sherwood was not out of the woods, as Andy Jankowiak rose to challenge Sherwood with three laps to go. Sherwood shut the door on him once off turn two, but a challenge from third-place finisher Patrick Emerling deflated Andy J’s bid for his second win of 2017. While it wasn’t easy, Sherwood could not think of two better drivers to race.
“I’ve known Tyler for a long time, I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to do anything to turn us around towards the end of the race. Andy is fast everywhere he goes; he’s won here before. Andy and I get along good, I knew he’d run me good; he’s another guy I’d want behind me.”
It rounded off a nearly perfect day for Sherwood who set quick time in time trials, won his heat race and even drew the pole in the pre-race redraw.
“It went surprisingly smooth, we weren’t very good in practice, put some stickers on for time trials not really knowing what the car was going to do and it ended up being perfect, and we did very little after,” Sherwood explained.
His performance on Saturday night was by far the best performance for Sherwood, who had been slowly gaining momeuntm over the past three seasons. Now, with the monkey off his back, he believes the sky is the limit.
“Our best finish has been a fourth up here last year, in this same race. To say this is a bit surprising is a good word. Overall, I think we got a good team with pretty good equipment. I think we can do this more often.”
For on-demand coverage of Saturday’s race, visit Speed51.com’s Trackside Now presented by Jericho Performance.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos
Richie Evans Memorial 61 Unofficial Results
May 13, 2017 – Oswego Speedway (NY)
|10||10||Daryl Lewis, Jr.||61|