As was the case with preceding features over the Labor Day weekend at Oswego Speedway (NY), a turn of events over the closing laps decided the winner of the 59th Budweiser International Classic 200 for the non-winged Supermodifieds on Sunday afternoon. The turn of events put Bob Bond in the driver’s seat and he capitalized on a green-white-checkered-finish to win his third career ‘Classic.’
Michael Barnes claimed the pole award on Friday and set off into an impressive advantage through the halfway mark. The Mexico, New York driver, who was having the best Classic run of his career, never ran worse than third over the course of the 200 lap race. His closest competitor Dave Danzer, another without a victory in the prestigious race, used a run on the backstretch for the first lead change of the race on lap 123.
Things would change just over 10 laps later when Danzer spun on his own going through lapped traffic in turn two.
“The car was really snug and I thought the car was good,” Danzer told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I saw a shiny streak, I hit it with the right side tire, and it felt like I hit ice. I don’t know if it was water, fuel, or something, but it came twirling around. I had no indication.”
Danzer lost a lap in the process of getting his Supermodified turned back around and pushed back to life, but recovered to finish seventh. Nevertheless, it was a dejecting conclusion for the hometown driver’s 2015 Classic.
Multi-time and defending event winner Otto Sitterly was able to get by Barnes prior to the yellow coming out and inherited the lead. The John Nicotra-owned No. 7 looked to be well on its way to another victory in the closing laps when suddenly with less than 10 laps to go his car unexpectedly snapped around slightly after the same spot in which Danzer’s did.
“When I was going to the outside of a lapped car I didn’t have a good enough car to get it to rotate, and I went up into the marbles trying to get by,” Sitterly explained. “Once I got the front end under it I was so far in the marbles I barely touched the gas and it just went around.”
Despite appearing to be on a Sunday drive before the spin, a different strategy from some of his other big wins in 2015 was partially the cause under hot afternoon conditions.
“We just went with a smaller nose-wing,” Sitterly said. “We usually run a big wing in the front, but for this race we used last year’s setup even though we knew all season the car has been tight. It was just too tight. We wore the right front right off the car. There was just nothing left.”
Conservation turned out to be the winning move over the final stretch. Track points leader Bob Bond, who ran in the latter half of the top 10 most of the race, had worked his way into the runner up spot and set his sights on the inheriting leader Barnes. Bond worked to the inside down the front straightaway and into turn one coming to two laps to go, but at that instant the caution flew once again for an incident further back involving Sitterly.
Barnes would be given back the lead, but on the ensuing green-white-checkered restart it was all Bond that easily maneuvered by for the winning pass.
“I was actually beside (Barnes) when the caution came out and they gave the lead to him, which was probably the right call,” Bond said. “I would have had him if the caution didn’t come out, but with two to go I knew it was going to be a dogfight. I think I had the better car and it worked out.”
Now a three-time Classic winner, Bond knew that strategy was going to play a big part like it does every year in a race with such a long distance.
“That’s what this race is all about – save, save, save,” Bond noted. “It doesn’t get any easier. This is the toughest one yet, I think.”
Barnes gave it all he had, but had to settle for the runner up a spot. It was his best finish in the event by far.
“We were about done 130 or 140 in when Danzer and Otto got by me then. We tried and gave it a shot. Bobby could get off the corner at the end of the race and Joey Payne was coming on strong too. We’ll take second. I’ve never finished on the lead lap before.”
Despite the strong finish it still was a bit dejecting for him knowing that the cards kept falling in his favor at times.
“It’s heartbreaking to lose it when I basically left the door open. Congratulations to them. (Bond) drove a smart race. I kind of kept an eye out for him on the board, and at the end I saw him coming and saw his crew guys standing up next to my crew guys. Both kind of gave me signs that Bondy’s got to be coming because they were looking pretty excited, so sure enough. He got first, we got second.”
Payne, last year’s pole award winner and current track record holder, charged from 24th to an impressive third place finish and was challenging Barnes during the closing lap. Sitterly’s teammates Davey Hamilton and Dave Shullick Jr. rounded out the top five in what turned out to be an unpredictable conclusion at “The Steel Palace.”
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Pennsylvania/Central New York Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
– Photo credit: MoJo Photos
59th Budweiser International Classic 200 Results
1 9 47 Bob Bond 210
2 1 68 Michael Barnes 210
3 24 99 Joey Payne 210
4 6 6 Davey Hamilton 210
5 10 2 Dave Shullick Jr. 210
6 8 5 Tim Devendorf 210
7 2 52 Dave Danzer 209
8 20 79 Brian Sobus 209
9 13 50 Dave Gruel 209
10 12 02 Brandon Bellinger 209
11 28 24 Jerry Curran 208
12 16 11 Aric Iosue 207
13 17 22 Pat Lavery 197
14 19 26 Shaun Gosselin 197
15 3 7 Otto Sitterly 197
16 30 45 Kreig Heroth 197
17 11 00 Joe Gosek 184
18 27 9 Stephen Gioia III 183
19 22 72 Dave Cliff 170
20 23 0 Tim Snyder 157
21 5 21 Kody Graham 152
22 31 1 Shawn Muldoon 138
23 4 51 Joey Moriarty 133
24 34 83 Lou LeVea Jr. 133
25 26 88 Ryan Litt 123
26 14 91 Bobby Santos III 91
27 7 15 Michael Muldoon 84
28 25 84 Mike Lichty 81
29 21 01 Dan Connors Jr. 79
30 29 18 Howard Page 70
31 15 05 Jeff Abold 62
32 32 56 Hal LaTulip 62
33 18 35 Bob Magner 28
34 33 96 Lou LeVea Sr. 1