By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney
Oswego’s own Dave Danzer and North Carolina invader Andrew Schartner took checkered flags at the Oswego Speedway’s 53rd season-opener last Saturday night. Danzer piloted his Hawk Racing Chassis No. 52 to victory lane in the Novelis supermodified 50 lapper while Schartner and his Hedger Racing Chassis No. 18 took top honors in the 35-lap Pathfinder Bank small block super main event.
Two, would-be first-time winners were denied maiden visits to victory lane in the closing laps on a night where both divisions saw their track records broken during time trials.
Starting on the inside of row No. 3, Danzer settled into the top five, behind Dave Gruel’s No. 50. Up front, Joe Gosek and Michael Muldoon chased Jeff Abold for the race lead. While looking for away around Muldoon on the 18th lap, failing brakes led to Gruel suddenly finding himself tagging the rear of Muldoon’s No. 51, sending it around. Gruel limped his No. 50 into the pits for repairs while Muldoon’s No. 51 – though, bounced out of a top five run – was able to restart at the rear of the field.
Poised to make a run at Abold on the restart, motor woes struck Gosek’s No. 00 as he punched the accelerator at the drop of the green. The car would not come up to speed and the Oswego vet pulled pit-side. The demise of Gruel, Muldoon and now Gosek promoted Danzer to the runner-up spot.
Abold and Danzer ran one-two for a few dozen laps until Danzer found a lane under the race leader’s No. 05 heading into the third turn, with just eight trips remaining. Danzer would dance his way through lapped traffic while Abold fell into the clutches of Brian Sweeny, Bob Bond and Otto Sitterly.
Sitterly would charge past Sweeney on the 47th lap before working his way under Bond on the 49th to claim second place. Danzer was long gone, cruising the final few trips en route to an opening night win.
Having planned to debut his brand new Hawk Chassis last Saturday night, things changed in the weeks leading up to race day as preparation time ran thin. Focus switched to readying the old car and the debut for his new supermodified was pushed back to Memorial Day Weekend’s show. Though, the old car isn’t quite ready to take on the label “backup ride.”
“I‘ve never had that car unload like it did tonight,” Danzer said. “Time trials, we kind of missed on stagger a little bit, but in the heat race … I’ve never had a car have that much drive off the bottom like it had. The feature was good towards the end. It got better and better as the race went. That’s the best that car has ever handled.”
Sitterly would nab second place while Bond earned third. During time trials earlier in the evening, Bond shaved over a tenth of a second off of Doug Didero’s record lap of 16.212 seconds with a lap time of 16.098. The new track record holder believes getting into the 15 second bracket around lakeside oval’s five-eighths mile can happen this year.
In the small blocks, Schartner’s 10th feature win came at the expense of third-year driver, Jon Tesoriero’s bid for win No. 1.
Tesoriero nabbed the early lead from Dan Abt at drop of the green, leading the first 24 laps of the race. Mid-race misfortune sidelined Tesoriero’s nearest chasers after a hotly contested second place battle boiled over. The accident promoted Schartner to the runner-up position where he would hound the race leader for nearly 10 laps before taking over the top spot with just six trips to go.
The two would make contact on the 25th lap heading into turn No. 1. Schartner’s No. 18 held strong down low while and Tesoriero’s No. 47 lost momentum. While Tesoriero regrouped, Barry Kingsley, Jack Patrick, Cameron Rowe and Steve Abt would all slip by the off-pace No. 47.
Schartner would run unchallenged the rest of the way, posting the fastest lap of the race.
“Coming down the front stretch, it looked like he was coming in a little wide and I went in,” Schartner said. “You know, it was one of those bang, bang deals. I may have come in a little hot, a little aggressive. I definitely want to watch the video before I make a final judgment call. I’m leaning towards the fact that I probably came in a little hot on him and I apologized to him for it. It happens. I don’t want it to happen that way, but it is what it is and hopefully he’ll realize that my intent isn’t to drive him up the racetrack. I’m just trying to go for the win. He’ll get his. He’s running good. He’ll get his win.”
Tesoriero was disappointed with the outcome, but remained optimistic that his time will come.
“A little bit of impatience there on Andrew’s part,” Tesoriero said. “He admitted to it, but there’s not much you can do about it. He was going for the win, I was going for the win. All he had to do is show me a little nose first, to let me know he was there in stead of try to bonsai me on the corner. Luckily, it didn’t wad up my car. It didn’t take me out to the wall. I was able to regain it an keep it in the top 10. I guess I can’t be too upset about it, but it did cost me my first win out there.”
The lead duo weren’t the only ones brushing wheels in the small block feature. A three-wide look coming out of the fourth turn at the halfway mark quickly turned ugly with fourth-place running Dan Abt’s No. 57 slamming the outside wall on the front stretch. Second-place running JJ Andrews and third-place running Mike Bruce saw their bids for an opening night win come to an end as well. All three ended up exiting the speedway via the hook. Abt wasn’t injured in the accident, but his FFB Racing Chassis suffered extensive damage. He believes the accident could’ve been avoided if not for another driver being a little too aggressive.
Bruce’s No. 22 was lightning quick on Saturday night. He admits to asserting his claim on the racing surface, but doesn’t believe his aggression was the lone factor in accident.
The Andrews No. 93 received considerable damage as well. He echoed Abt’s criticism of the No. 22, but was able to at least take solace in his teammate finishing second.
Making his debut for Team Tapout Racing, Kingsley was pleased with his second-place finish.
Patrick brought his red Mopar-powered No. 9 home in third. During time trails, the Fulton native laid down the top speed in time-trials before capturing the checkered flag in his qualifying heat race. The top speed (18.596 seconds) obliterated Brian Sobus’ 2009 lap time of 19.081 seconds. Patrick said that in addition to the division going to a slightly wider tire, the stars all seemed to line up for a good trial run.
“The car had been fast in warm-ups and stuff,” Patrick said. “I just figured today was going to be the day that was right on. The track was good and the weather was just right and everything was just perfect for it to go.”
Racing returns to the Oswego Speedway on Memorial Day Weekend (May 24), as the Race of Champions Modifieds join Oswego’s big and small block supers for a triple header.
Novelis Supermodified 50: 1. Dave Danzer (52), 2. Otto Sitterly (7), 3. Bob Bond (47), 4. Brian Sweeney (3), 5. Jeff Abold (05), 6. Joey Payne (99), 7. Michael Muldoon (51), 8. Ray Graham, Jr. (90), 9. Brandon Bellinger (02), 10. Pat Lavery (22), 11. Tim Devendorf (5), 12. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 13. David Gruel (50), 14. Joe Gosek (00)., 15. Davey Hamilton (6),16. Stephen Gioia, III (9), 17. Hal LaTulip (56), 18. Randy Ritskes (37), 19. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83)
*DNS – Jessica Zemken (11), Bob Reis (4) & Shaun Gosselin (26) Supermodified heat race wins went to Muldoon, Gosek and Ritskes.
Pathfinder Bank Small Block Super 30: 1. Andrew Schartner (18), 2. Barry Kingsley (23), 3. Jack Patrick (9), 4. Cameron Rowe (77), 5. Mike Bond (74), 6. Steve Abt (67), 7. Jon Tesoriero (47), 8. Kreig Heroth (04), 9. David LaTulip (27), 10. Josh Kerr (8), 11. Jason Simmons (98), 12. Scott Shafer (76), 13. Zach Amo (44), 14. Jesse (02), 15. Anthony Losurdo (1), 16. Mark Castiglia (69), 17. Camden Proud (54), 18. JJ Andrews (93), 19. Mike Bruce (22), 20. Dan Abt (57), 21. Cameron Black (23), 22. Tim Gareau (5), 23. Dalton Doyle (01)
*DNS – Dennis Rupert (99) & Rob Pullen (2)
Small block supermodified heats were won by Dan Abt, Bond and Patrick.