OSWEGO, NY – In November of last year it was announced that Randy Ritskes would join New Hampshire based Locke Racing for a run at the 2014 Oswego Speedway Novelis Supermodified championship. On Saturday night Ritskes took his first official swing at the title, collecting the Spring Championship crown at the ‘Steel Palace’ presented by Best Western PLUS/Quality Inn and Suites and U-Pull U-Save Auto Parts.
The victory for Ritskes is his 10th overall Supermodified triumph at Oswego, but the trip to Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane was extra special for car owner Ken Locke, who realized a lifelong dream of reaching victory lane at Oswego Speedway with the Locke Crane Services No. 37 machine.
With son Jeff Locke at the controls in 2012 and 2013 at Oswego, the decision was made to bring Ritskes into the fold at the fast 5/8 mile in 2014 so Jeff could focus on winged ISMA Supermodified competition with their Allegresso team car. The new found formula is off to a fine start, as Jeff will return to Oswego next Saturday night in the ‘Steel Palace’ ISMA Super Series, looking to make it two in a row for Locke Racing.
Ritskes started the 50-lap Spring Championship main from the fourth position and took the lead from Tim Devendorf on lap 14 to cruise onto the win untouched in the No. 37.
One week after severely damaging the Muldoon Racing No. 51, Michael Muldoon was back and as good as ever with a fine runner-up finish ahead of championship point leader Otto Sitterly, Michael Barnes in the new Syrell Racing No. 68, and Pat Lavery in the top five positions.
Turning Stone Resort Casino’s Victory Lane was filled with emotion Saturday night as Locke Racing’s offer to Randy Ritskes proved fruitful for driver and team.
“You know, this guy (Ken Locke) asked me to drive this year and I really just wanted to win for him,” said Ritskes, with his arm around a jovial Locke. “I was just trying to watch who was behind me to see if I would be pressured, and then I was sort of hoping the traffic would mess him (Devendorf) up, and it almost messed me up a couple of times. I’m just very proud of the way I drove, I’m proud of Brian Allegresso, Kenny Locke and the whole team. They worked hard. This car wasn’t perfect when we showed up and what a change.”
With Ritskes being a veteran of victory lane at Oswego, the spotlight was no doubt on Locke, who managed to make his way to the Cam’s Pizzeria starter’s stand with checkered flag in hand to celebrate.
“I just have to thank everybody, you know,” said car owner Locke. “I wish Jeff was here, but we’re going to come back next week with Jeff in the ISMA show and we’re going to win that one too!”
Jessica Zemken completed her second consecutive Novelis Supermodified main event on Saturday with another top ten finish in sixth ahead of Devendorf, Joe Gosek, Dave Gruel, and Kody Graham.
A total of 25 Novelis Supermodifieds took the green on Saturday night with Muldoon and Devendorf leading the field to green, but trouble would strike early at lap two.
The Brian Sweeney No. 3 swapped ends in the first corner collecting Stephen Gioia III, Tim Snyder, Bob Reis, and Jeff Abold.
All drivers were ok and only Gioia would be done for the evening with front end damage to the No. 9.
Snyder, Reis, and Abold all went to the pits for repairs would rejoin the field.
As the race got back underway the contenders began to put themselves in position as Ritskes, Barnes, and Sitterly started to work their way through the field.
Ritskes dove under Muldoon for second on lap three while Sitterly cracked the top ten on lap eight and Barnes drew in on the front five by Gosek at lap 12.
With pressure starting to mount from behind, Ritskes found the space he needed underneath Devendorf for the lead on lap 14 in slower traffic. As the field streamed down the front straight, Ritskes went to the extreme low side of the Speedway to snag the lead and once out front in clean air began to quickly pull away.
Just five laps later the yellow lights would come on one more time for Snyder and Reis as well as Kody Graham, as they tangled in turn two. Graham would be able to continue on, driving Saturday as the No. 99 to collect points for the Strong/Graham team as Joey Payne is out at least two weeks due to a knee injury.
Snyder and Reis would each call it a night after their second incidents of the evening.
The restart order showed Ritskes in front of Muldoon, Zemken, Barnes, Lavery, Devendorf, Gosek, Gruel, Sitterly, and David Danzer.
At the green Ritskes again showed his might in the No. 37, but all eyes were on the Barnes No. 68.
Barnes quickly pounced on Zemken for third and then drew in Muldoon for the runner-up spot as Ritskes charged to a full straight away advantage out front.
With Barnes all over Muldoon for second passed halfway; ‘The Hustler’ got a touch too close into turn one, making slight contact with the No. 51 damaging the right front wing on the Syrell No. 68. With the damage, Barnes rapidly fell off the pace of the front two runners, and was now doing his best to hold onto the third spot.
As the lap counter ticked passed 30 Ritskes, Muldoon, Barnes, and Lavery were comfortable in the top four as the No. 7 of Sitterly began to make his patented charge to the front. Sitterly managed to make quick work of Gruel, Gosek, and Devendorf passed halfway and then cracked the top five on lap 37 slipping under Zemken in turn two.
One lap later a wild looking incident occurred in the first corner as Danzer looped the No. 52 with Shaun Gosselin and Keith Shampine each looking for racing room. The Shampine No. 55 would vault over the back of the Gosselin No. 26 as each was running just at the end of the top ten positions.
The rear wing on the Gosselin machine was totally wiped out as Shampine flew up and over the racecar, eventually landing on all four wheels nestled again the outside foam between turns one and two.
Both Shampine and Gosselin were ok, but each done for the night. Danzer, the May 10 feature winner at the Speedway, was able to re-fire the No. 52.
As the field came back to green one last time the top ten now showed Ritskes, Muldoon, Barnes, Lavery, Sitterly, Zemken, Devendorf, Gosek, Gruel, and Kody Graham.
Ritskes would again charge away at the green and Sitterly continued his charge from 12th on the grid first diving under Lavery for fourth in turn four on lap 42 and then sliding by Barnes for a podium position on lap 43.
Late in the event Muldoon and Sitterly began to close on Ritskes out in front, but it would be too little too late as Ritskes won the Spring Championship by a .425 margin over Muldoon, Sitterly, Barnes, and Lavery
With another podium finish added his resume, the second place effort for Muldoon was extra special considering the effort it took to get back to the racetrack after his heat racing accident just one week ago.
“It took every bit of a whole week to get this thing back together,” said Muldoon. “We had to get the motor out, build a new header, nearly every panel was bent. We were reeling him (Ritskes) in a bit there at the end, but I knew I wasn’t going to have enough to pass him. I was hoping I would catch up to him when he caught the No. 56 in lapped traffic and he ended up going by him on the inside, I was hoping he would give him a look to the outside. It’s a great run for Randy, and it’s good to have the car back in one piece and get a podium finish.”
Sitterly continued his stellar 2014 campaign with another podium effort in the Nicotra Racing No. 7.
“We’re still just a little bit tight,” said Sitterly. “Traffic is tough, we gained a few spots there at one point and had to give them back because of the yellow, but that’s part of it.”
All 25 Supermodifieds in the pit area Saturday night started the main event including the No. 01 of Dan Connors Jr. who arrived late to the Speedway finishing repairs to his machine from the Muldoon heat race accident on May 24.
Devendorf, Zemken, and Muldoon claimed Shell Shock Custom Helmet Paint Heat Race Challenge victories.
Muldoon was the Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer Recipient and also collected $100 from the VFW Post 369 Men’s Auxiliary for the effort.
Brandon Bellinger, who missed heat racing action with rear end issues in the No. 02, started the main from 25th position and finished 11th to claim the Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger Award.
Ritskes would lead the most laps for the Radical Racegear Lap Leader Award
Oswego Speedway returns to action on Saturday night with the North Country Home Builders/Shea Concrete ‘Steel Palace’ ISMA Super Series. ISMA time trials will begin at 5pm with racing at 6:30pm.
Saturday, May 31st, 2014
Presented by Best Western PLUS/Quality Inn and Suites and U-Pull U-Save Auto Parts
Novelis Supermodified Main (50-laps): 1. 37 – RANDY RITSKES, 2. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 3. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 4. 68 – Michael Barnes, 5. 22 – Pat Lavery, 6. 11 – Jessica Zemken, 7. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 8. 00 – Joe Gosek, 9. 50 – Dave Gruel, 10. 99 – Kody Graham, 11. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 12. 52 – Dave Danzer, 13. 01 – Dan Connors, 14. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr, 15. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr, 16. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 17. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr, 18. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 19. 55 – Keith Shampine, 20. 3 – Brian Sweeney, 21. 90 – Ray Graham, 22. 0 – Tim Snyder, 23. 4 – Bob Reis, 24. 05 – Jeff Abold, 25. 9 – Stephen Gioia III
All 25 cars in
Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger: #02 Brandon Bellinger
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #51 Michael Muldoon
Radical Racegear Lap Leader: #37 Randy Ritskes
Heat #1 (12-laps, all qualify): 1. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 2. 22 – Pat Lavery, 3. 50 – David Gruel, 4. 90 – Ray Graham Jr, 5. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 6. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr, 7. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr, 8. – 05 Jeff Abold
Heat #2 (12-laps, all qualify): 1. 11 – Jessica Zemken, 2. 52 David Danzer, 3. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 4. 3 – Brian Sweeney, 5. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 6. 4 – Bob Reis, 7. 01 – Dan Connors, 8. 56 – Hal LaTulip
Heat #3 (12-laps, all qualify): 1. 51 – Michael Muldoon Jr, 2. 37 – Randy Ritskes, 3. 68 – Michael Barnes, 4. 00 – Joe Gosek, 5. 55 – Keith Shampine, 6. 0 – Tim Snyder, 7. 99 – Kody Graham, 8. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr