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Andy Looking Dandy in Second Straight Win at Oswego

By – Chris Porter
Victory Lane Photo – Pinner Johnson

Saturday night, Weedsport’s Andrew Schartner proved that last week’s feature win was no fluke for the rising rookie star. Starting in the sixth position, Schartner dropped back as far as eighth before then methodically surging towards the front and passing 2008 SBS Track Champion Kevin Knopp with 11 laps to go to earn his second feature win.

After putting the Crow Motorsports No. 18 underneath Dave Danzer’s No 52 on the 12th lap, Schartner began cutting into a 12-car length gap that separated him from the front runners. Just as he caught the lead duo, the motor on race and series points leader Dave Gruel’s No. 50 went sour.

Two laps later, Schartner dove to the inside of Knopp down the front stretch on a restart to take away the lead. Schartner tip-toed away the final few trips around  Oswego’s fast 5/8 mile en route to earning the win.

Listen toAndrew Schartner on his second feature win in as many weeks

On the flip side, Gruel’s early demise proved costly points-wise. While Gruel was credited with a 17th-place finish, Russ Brown coupled a heat race win with another third-place feature finish to cut Gruel’s points lead to just 1 point  – 980 to 979.

With just one weekend left on the regular season schedule, Gruel and Brown head into a double-point affair next Saturday night, with twin 20-lap features on tap.

Car owner, Tim Barbeau says that there are contingency plans if Gruel and the No. 50 crew find terminal issues with their motor.

“Once again, the 50 car was the fastest car tonight,” Barbeau said. “It’s been the fastest car all year. Dave maneuvered his way through the field very quickly. He had a huge lead and something let go on the motor. We’re hoping it was a head gasket, but we’re not sure yet. We’ll find out tomorrow. If we have to, we’ll take the motor out of the 58 and put it in the 50. We’ll be here next week to win the championship.”

Oswego’s Knopp and Syracuse native Steve Abt led the field to the start of the 30-lap small block supermodified feature. Knopp jumped out in front, pulling the inside row with him in the early go.

Danzer, Jason Simmons, Abt and David Cliff chased Knopp across the line to complete lap No. 1. Having started ninth, Gruel had already made it up to the sixth position.

Before the field could complete its second lap, Sammy Reakes, IV and Brian Osetek came together off of turn No. 2.

With one down, Knopp led Danzer, Simmons, Abt and Cliff. Gruel, Rob Pullen, Schartner, Mike Bond and Brian Sobus rounded out the top 10. Chris Proud, Barbeau, Bill Moore, Shawn Walker and Jack Patrick filled out the top 15.

On the restart, Gruel worked his way around Cliff’s No. 06 off the fourth turn for the fifth position. All was well until teammates Pullen and Bond came together as they raced off of turn No. 4. As Bond ricocheted back across the track, Proud was left with nowhere to go. The recently acquired Crow Motorsports No. 44 slammed the inside wall and skidded back across the track.

Bond was able to limp his No. 26 back to his pit while Pullen and Proud exited the racing surface via the hook, with badly damaged machines.

Beginning on the ensuing restart, Gruel’s nearly weekly highlight show began. He bested Abt down low before powering around the Simmons No. 91 to take away the third position.

Following a quick caution for Guard Nearbin’s No. 78, Gruel then dusted Danzer on the inside, before racing by Knopp on the outside to take away the lead. He’d managed to go from fifth to first in just two green flag laps.

By lap No. 10, Gruel held a three-car length lead over Knopp. In turn, Knopp’s No. 04 was racing a dozen lengths ahead of the third-place battle between Danzer, Schartner, Simmons Abt and Brown.

With an inside move off of the fourth turn, Schartner cleared Danzer on the 12th lap. Facing a dozen-length deficit, he began his quest to run down the leaders.

As the No. 18 slowly raced away from Danzer, Simmons, Brown, Sobus and Abt battled wheel-to-wheel for the fifth position. On the 17th lap, Brown finally won the battle royal, breaking into the top five.

Just as Schartner had closed in, Gruel shut down the motor on his No. 50 car as he raced down the front stretched. He raised his hand to let his chasers know he and his ill racer were dropping out. On the 19th lap, Knopp and Schartner shot by the former leader, claiming the first and second-place positions.

The caution lights flashed on the 21st lap, after Reakes, Osetek and Bryan Haynes “rookied” themselves into the third turn foam.

With just 10 to go, Knopp led Schartner, Danzer, Brown and Sobus. Simmons, Abt, Barbeau, Walker and Bond completed the top 10.

On the restart, Schartner put his No. 18 to the inside of Knopp’s No. 04 as they raced towards the green flag. By the time the duo reached the second turn, Schartner had full possession of the lead.

Behind the leaders, Danzer was bounced back to fifth, as Brown and Sobus moved into third and fourth place respectively.

The top four remained the same to the end. However, on the 27th lap, Simmons was able to pin Danzer behind a lapped car to take away fifth.

Schartner took the white flag with an eight-car length advantage, earning the checkered flag one lap later to pocket his second career SBS feature win.

Knopp held off Brown to score a runner-up finish.

Listen toKevin Knopp on driving his No. 04 to a runner-up finish

Brown finished in third for what seemed to be the 100th time this season.

Listen toRuss Brown on his third-place finish and the points race

Sobus continued his streak of top-10 finishes, racing his No. 79 to a solid fourth.

Listen toBrian Sobus on his fourth-place run

Simmons drove his No. 91 to an impressive fifth-place run.

Listen toJason Simmons on his fifth-place feature finish

Post-Standard/Econo Lodge & Best Western 30:
1. Andrew Schartner (18), 2. Kevin Knopp (04), 3. Russ Brown (60), 4. Brian Sobus (79), 5. Jason Simmons (91), 6. Tim Barbeau (58), 7. Steve Abt (85), 8. Dave Danzer (52), 9. Mike Bond (26), 10. Shawn Walker (68), 11. Jack Patrick (9), 12. Bill Moore (20), 13. Barry Kingsley (23), 14. Bryan Haynes (86), 15. Sammy Reakes, IV (10), 16. Brian Osetek (95), 17. Dave Gruel (50), 18. David Cliff (06), 19. Guard Nearbin (78), 20. Rob Pullen (25), 21. Chris Proud (44), 22. Chip Wood (2)

In heat race action, Knopp had the field covered in the first qualifier, while Abt held off Gruel to capture his first career SBS win in the second preliminary. Helping himself out in the title chase, Brown pocketed his first checkered flag of the season in heat race No. 3.