OSWEGO, NY – While Davey Hamilton is the current Novelis Supermodified championship leader at Oswego Speedway, for all intent and purposes Mexico, NY driver Michael Barnes is the man on top of the mountain with Memorial Day Weekend right around the corner.
Since joining Strong Racing full-time in 2012, Barnes has worked his way back into contender status at Oswego, especially during 75-lap events.
Michael Barnes, behind the wheel of the Strong Racing No. 99 Novelis Supermodified, looks to continue his string of top finishes in 75-lap events at Oswego Speedway this weekend. (Bill Taylor photo)
Dating back to June 30 of last season Barnes has three top five finishes in 75-lap races at the Speedway, including a runner-up finish during the Novelis Supermodified ‘Kick-Off’ just two weeks ago. That total would have likely been four, were it not for overheating issues in 2012’s Mr. Novelis Supermodified in which Barnes joined Joe Gosek and Kody Graham in a heated battle for the $10,000 top prize.
“75-lappers always seem to suit our car pretty good,” said Barnes. “We always have a pretty good feeling of where our car is going to be at the end of 75-laps. It is just really tough out here; there is so much good equipment up and down this pit.”
In his first full-time season behind the wheel of the Plum Krazy No. 99, Barnes ended 2012 with four Top 5 finishes and six Top 10 runs and visited victory lane on two different occasions driving to a 9th place finish in the overall driver’s standings.
Unlike last season, Barnes managed to finish the opening event of the Novelis Supermodified season two weeks ago, catapulting him to the best start of his Oswego Supermodified career.
Barnes says he will need every advantage he can get to stay at the front of the field with the tough competition at the Speedway in 2013.
“Every position you get this year is going to be earned,” said Barnes. “Top threes and top fives are very respectable now, as opposed to what they were five or ten years ago. If you get a top five now it is earned. Everybody wants wins, but it is going to be very tough to say you want to go out there and win two, three, or four races. In order to do that you are going to have to be in the right place at the right time and be on your game every single week to be able to run good up here and run up front.”
While Barnes is officially listed second in the current Novelis Supermodified “Road to the Championship” standings, Davey Hamilton will not be back to the Speedway until Budweiser International Classic Weekend, moving Barnes to the point with Independence, OH driver Tim Jedrzejek currently the runner-up.
Jedrzejek, who will run a semi-regular schedule in the Mike Murphy owned No. 60, drove to a heat race win on May 11 and ended the night with a fine fourth place finish on the rear bumper of the driver who rides fourth in the standings, Dave Danzer.
With Hamilton and Jedrzejek etched as part-time Speedway competitors, the Danzer Racing No. 52 is currently the closest weekly competitor to Barnes in the race for the title, only six points behind. In two full-time seasons at the Speedway, Danzer has two career wins but has yet to finish in the top ten in the driver’s standings. With a strong third place finish on May 11, Danzer appears to be off to a fast start in search of his best career championship run.
Finishing the current top five in the Novelis Supermodified “Road to the Championship” is two-time Oswego Speedway track champion, Joe Gosek. Gosek timed second fastest in opening night time trials at the Speedway, earning seven valuable championship points. However, Gosek never really seemed to find the handle in the 75-lap main event, running to a rather uneventful seventh place finish.
Shaun Gosselin, Michael Muldoon, Pat Lavery, Dave Gruel, and Tim Devendorf currently round out the top ten drivers in the Novelis Supermodified standings, with defending Speedway champion Otto Sitterly on the outside looking in.
After slicing his way through the field on May 11, Sitterly and Gruel made contact battling for the runner-up spot on lap 66 of the main event two weeks ago, dropping Sitterly out of the feature with a 12th place finish.
Sitterly will be back in the field this Saturday as he looks to avenge his run from two weeks ago and defend his Jim Shampine Memorial title at the Speedway as he continues his drive toward a potential sixth Speedway track title.
Oswego Speedway’s Memorial Day Weekend ‘Triple-Header’ presented by Helena Chemical Company will take the green flag at 5pm on Saturday featuring the Jim Shampine Memorial Novelis Supermodified 75, the Richie Evans Memorial RoC Modified 75, and the Tony White Memorial Pathfinder Bank SBS 35.
Pit gates will open at noon on Saturday, with grandstands opening and hot laps beginning at 2pm.
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To purchase tickets for the 2013 racing season call the Speedway box office at (315) 342-0646.