All Systems Go, Bond Rockets to Second International Classic Win

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney

Mexico’s Bob Bond won his second International Classic 200 at the Oswego Speedway Sunday afternoon, taking the lead away from pole-sitter, Pat Lavery, on the 155th lap and racing away from the field unchallenged.

Defending race champ, Otto Sitterly, would move into second place and become Bond’s nearest chaser. However, he was unable to show Bond a wheel nor keep pace with the race winner’s one-month old supermodified. Together, the two drivers have combined to win the last five International Classics.

Bob Bond celebrates winning his second International Classic 200 at Oswego
Bob Bond celebrates winning his second International Classic 200 at Oswego

“What can I say,” Bond said, “that car is is awesome. (Joe) Hawksby does a heck of a job. Him and Dalton Doyle put that thing together. Larry Vonholtz worked his butt off doing the finishing touches on it. It’s just an awesome car to drive, really. It’s really fun.”

“This is definitely just as good as the last one, I’m telling you,” he said of his second Classic win. “To win a Classic, I don’t think it ever gets old.”

Heading into the 2013 racing season at Oswego, the newly formed Four Sevens Motorsports race team aimed to field five small block supermodified (SBS) and eventually, one supermodified. Under the ownership of Denise Merrill, the team hit the track running with three of its drivers scoring a total of five feature wins in the SBS division. As the season progressed and with their new Hawk Chassis still in the works, it became apparent that the focus for their newest venture would not be weekly competition, but readying it for Labor Day Weekend.

With Bond at the helm, the team’s super finally made its debut on August 10. For anyone questioning whether Merrill and crew would be able to field a competitive big block supermodified in addition to five SBS racers, that answer came before the evening’s racing began.

Its first laps saw it run three-tenths of a second faster than anyone else in practice. Later in the feature, while the leaders were running 17.2s, Bond was “testing” at the back of the pack, running 16.599. He would pull in after only a few laps, but what they had was no longer a secret. A similar “test” run the following week saw Bond push the car’s limit’s a little more in feature competition, but still hold back in preparation for what everyone now saw as a legitimate Classic-contending machine.

Top 3 finishers, 1st-Bob Bond (center), 2nd-Otto Sitterly (right) & 3rd-Shaun Gosselin (left)
Top 3 finishers, 1st-Bob Bond (center), 2nd-Otto Sitterly (right) & 3rd-Shaun Gosselin (left)

Bond would qualify the No. 47 car fifth fastest for Sunday’s 57th running of the International Classic and the 200-lapper would be the car’s first true green to checkered race. Running in the top five the entire distance, he would wait until a restart on the 142nd lap to make his assault on the leaders. Just 17 trips later, the Four Sevens Motorsports No. 47 was atop the field. 45 laps later, Bond at put it in victory lane.

Listen to – Bob Bond

Idaho’s Davey Hamilton jumped into the lead at the drop of the green. Hamilton led Oswego’s Lavery, Iowa’s Ray Graham, Jr., Bond and Canajoharie’s Sitterly across the checkered stripe to lead maiden lap. Hamilton would bring Lavery and Graham into light lapped traffic on the 21st lap.

The first caution flag of the race fell on the 32nd lap, after Tim Snyder’s No. 0 caught a wheel from Mike Lichty’s No. 08 in the fourth turn and slapped the outside wall. Both cars were too damaged to continue. New Jersey’s Joey Payne had spun as well. He was knocked off the lead lap and would not contend for the win.

The ensuing restart had Hamilton leading Lavery, Graham, Sitterly and Bond. Canadian, Ryan Litt, Ohio’s Dave Shullick Jr., Connecticut’s Shaun Gosselin and Oswego natives Dan Connors Jr. and Dave Danzer filled out the top 10.

All was well until a pair of Muldoons simultaneously spun at opposite ends of the speedway on the 47th lap. Shawn Muldoon’s No. 1 would be pushed away, while Michael Muldoon would park his No. 51. Shawn would soon find that parking his No. 1 may have been a better idea.

Again, Hamilton was solid on the restart. Lavery would stay close as the duo would find themselves back in lapped traffic again on the 66th lap.

Lap No. 71 saw the International Classic’s first female driver, Jessica Zemken, spin and tag the inside hub in turn No. 2. As the field slowed for the yellow, Shawn Muldoon found himself sliding backwards and slamming the outside confines of turn No. 1. His super then rolled back across the track and popped the inside rail. Muldoon was slow to exit his machine, but was otherwise OK. Both Zemken’s No. 11 and Muldoon’s No. 1 were done for the day.

After nine laps of caution, Hamilton led the field back to green flag racing. Yet to be challenged for his lead, Hamilton entered the tail-end of the field again on the 91st lap. However, Lavery was glued to the race leader’s rear bumper as if he were looking to pounce at first chance. On the 103rd lap, that opportunity came.

Lavery’s No. 22 pinned Hamilton behind one of the slower lapped cars between turns three and four. He would cross the line as the new race leader. Just behind the leaders, while fighting for fourth with Bond and Sitterly, Shullick came into contact with one of the lapped cars. The contact caused him to loose his steering. Though slowed, he narrowly avoided getting drilled as his No. 2 machine coasted across the back straightaway towards the inside wall.

On the restart, Lavery led Hamilton, Graham, Sittery and Bond. Litt, Gosselin, Connors, Danzer and Gruel completed the top 10. Jeff Locke, Michael Barnes, Joe Gosek and Brandon Bellinger ran 11th through 14th.

They were the only cars left on the lead lap.

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On lap No. 126, Graham began to pull closer to the lead duo. What appeared to have been his time to move up ended up being his time to exit. Graham’s No. 21 suddenly erupted in smoke on the 132nd lap. As the caution flew for his expired machine, another incident occurred away from the original scene as Jerry Curran’s No. 24 spun and popped the outside front stretch wall.

With the No. 21’s demise, Lavery, Hamilton, Sitterly, Bond and Gosselin commanded the top five. Nearing the 50 to-go mark, Bond decided to put Sitterly behind him before the defending race winner began his run on the leaders. At the drop of the green to resume racing, Bond shot underneath Sitterly’s No. 7 to take over third.

Quickly moving in to challenge for the runner-up spot, Bond would take advantage of a suddenly loose Hamilton No. 6. Bobbling between turns one and two, Hamilton watched Bond and Sitterly race by his low side.

Again, he would bobble between the same two turns the next time around. However, this time, he would be unable to gather it back up. Hamilton punched the outside wall between the two turns, ending his day. A broken rear wing element was found to have been the culprit.

Lavery held his ground at the ensuing drop of the green. However, before a full lap could be run, Bond was fully in go-time mode, surrounding Lavery’s No. 22. Multiple looks under Lavery proved fruitless, but a pass looked inevitable. Finally, Bond would find enough room on the 155th lap as the duo entered turn No. 3. He would come around and cross the checkered stripe to lead his first lap.

Immediately, Bond would check-out from the field. Feverishly, Sitterly searched for a way around Lavery as Bond set sail towards inevitable victory. On the 157th lap, Sitterly would mimic Bond’s earlier move on Lavery to take over second. However, Bond was nearly a full straightaway ahead.

As the laps ticked away, Lavery’s No. 22 began to fade fast. Gosselin took away third on the 168th lap, bringing Litt with him into fourth. With 30 to go, Sitterly appeared to have cut into Bond’s lead. However, with 25 to go, Bond had bumped his lead back up to 20 lengths.

Bond was putting lead lap cars down almost once a lap. On his 184th time around, Bond was putting Danzer and Lavery a lap down when Lavery’s No. 22 lost its grip and spun. Bellinger spun to avoid contact and both cars ended up going down a few more laps.

Sitterly would have the gap between himself and Bond closed and would be given the opportunity to see if his No. 7 had anything for the No. 47. With 11 to go, Bond would take the green flag and put any hopes Sitterly had at scoring a third straight Classic win to rest.

Bond would cruise the final few laps, taking the checkered flag with over a full straightaway’s margin of victory.

Sitterly would earn his eighth top-10 Classic finish, driving the John Nicotra-owned No. 7 home in second.

Listen to – Otto Sitterly

Coming off back-to-back feature wins leading up to the 200-lapper, Gosselin finished a career-high third.

Listen to – Shaun Gosselin

Delivering car-owner Dave Lair a fantastic run, first-time Classic competitor, Litt, finished in fourth.

Listen to – Ryan Litt

Earning his second top-five Classic finish in a row, Gruel drove Double Deuce Racing’s No. 50 to a fifth-place finish.

Listen to – Dave Gruel

Crossing the line in sixth, Jeff Locke earned his first top-10 Classic finish.

Listen to – Jeff Locke

Having run in the top 10 almost all day, Danzer brought his No. 52 home in seventh.

Listen to – Dave Danzer

Surviving an ill-handling No. 99 machine, Barnes wrestled his way to an eighth-place finish.

Listen to – Michael Barnes

Having charged his way through the field from his B-Main win, Haynes earned himself a ninth-place finish.

Listen to – Bobby Haynes, Jr.

Having started on the pole, Lavery would later lead the race for 50 laps before losing the handling on his No. 22, grateful for being given the opportunity, Lavery earned his team a 10th-place finish.

Listen to – Pat Lavery

Having had his best showing since a 10th-place run in 2005, Bellinger finished in 12th.

57th Annual Budweiser International Classic 200:  1. Bob Bond (47), 2. Otto Sitterly (7), 3. Shaun Gosselin (26), 4. Ryan Litt (88), 5. Dave Gruel (50), 6. Jeff Locke (37), 7. Dave Danzer (52), 8. Michael Barnes (99), 9. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (44), 10. Pat Lavery (22), 11. Joey Payne (20), 12. Brandon Bellinger (02), 13. Tim Jedrzejek (60), 14. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 15. Davey Hamilton (6), 16. Joe Gosek (00), 17. Ray Graham, Jr. (21), 18. Jerry Curran (24), 19. Dave Shullick, Jr. (2), 20. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 21. Tim Devendorf (5), 22. Bob Magner (40), 23. Jessica Zemken (11), 24. Shawn Muldoon (1), 25. Hal LaTulip (56), 26. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 27. Michael Muldoon (51), 28. Keith Shampine (55), 29. Tim Snyder (0), 30. Mike Lichty (08), 31. Dave Cliff (06), 32. Dave McKnight (70), 33. Jeff Abold (05), 34. Joe Chillemi (14)