Back-to-Back for Bond on Tony White Memorial Night

By – Chris Porter
Victory Lane Photos – Paul Murphy

Mexico’s Mike Bond took the checkered flag in the Tony White Memorial 34 at the Oswego Speedway Saturday night. Bond took the lead away from Fulton’s Dave Gruel on the 25th lap to earn his second win of the season. He was also able to narrow the championship points race margin a little between the two as well.

Listen toMike Bond on winning the Tony White Memorial 34

Jason Simmons and Steve Abt led the field to the green. However, as the field made its way into the first turn, Jack Patrick ran out of room between the inside hub and outside challenger Rob Pullen. Patrick’s No. 9 tagged the inside hub, sending the field scattering for position.

Remarkably, everyone was able to make it through, minus Russ Brown’s No. 60 which sat parked backwards in turn No. 2. Patrick was able to return, but Brown was tagged as being part of the reason for the yellow flag, hence relegating him to the tail-end of the field.

A complete restart saw Simmons jump into the early lead. Pullen, Abt, Dave Danzer and Brian Sobus chased the leader across the checkered stripe to complete lap No. 1.

Just as Pullen was inching ahead of Simmons for the lead and Bond was breaking into the top five, George Knight slammed the outside wall between turns three and four. The yellow flag forced Pullen and Bond back to their previous positions, but the results for Knight was much worse. His No. 1 car exited the racing surface via the hook with extensive right-front damage.

Looking to start another winning streak, Gruel pounced on Bond and Sobus on the ensuing restart. He powered his No. 50 small block super up and around both the sixth and fifth-place drivers as they raced down the front stretch. Soon after, Sobus fell prey to Bond’s No. 26 and fourth-row starter David Cliff.

Pullen made another bid for the lead, but Simmons continued to hold his ground. However, neither would have anything for Gruel’s No. 50 that continued to pick off the field one-by-one.

After moving by Danzer, Gruel bested Abt’s No. 85 on the high side for third. Moments later, the No. 50 car dove under Pullen’s No. 25 before blasting by Simmons to move into the lead. Gruel had vaulted from the 11th starting position into the lead in just five laps.

The caution lights flashed on the seventh circuit after Abt, Knopp and Sobus got crossed up in turn No. 1. Bill Moore and Patrick piled into the scene behind them. Patrick’s No. 9 ended up with the worse end of the deal, receiving heavy front-end damage after colliding with the first-turn wall.

With six laps completed, Gruel was on top. Simmons, Pullen, Bond and Cliff held the top five positions. Danzer, Kevin Knopp, Sobus, Brown and Ken Pierce completed the top 10. Andrew Scharter, Guard Nearbin, Tim Barbeau, Barry Kingsley and Greg Davis filled out the top 15.

Gruel pulled away on the restart, while Pullen maneuvered his No. 25 around Simmons for second.

Cliff darted under Bond’s No. 26 to move into fourth place before moving by the left side of the No. 91 to take away third. However, before the field could complete its lap, Danzer and Knopp brought out the yellow flag in turn No. 3. A half-dozen other SBS racers spun trying to avoid the scene, including Abt’s No. 85, which ended up getting stuffed into the foam.

Cliff went back to work on the restart, moving around Simmons for third down the back stretch. One lap later, Bond followed the No. 06 into fourth place.

Having fought back from the rear of the field, Brown ducked under the Sobus No. 79 to move into sixth on the 12th lap before finally breaking back into the top five on the next trip around by passing Simmons.

Gruel had the field covered by seven lengths at the lap No. 15 mark. Pullen and Cliff battled for second as Bond and Brown began to close in from behind.

As they raced off of the fourth turn, Pullen and Cliff touched, allowing Gruel to nearly double his lead and Bond and Brown to now join their battle for second place.

When Cliff took a shot on the outside of Pullen, Bond and Brown were right there to pin the challenger on the high side. They both raced under him, putting the No. 06 back to fifth. Cliff was able to maneuver his way around Pullen and the trio of Bond, Brown and Cliff set sail for the leader.

Not content to run in fourth, Cliff was making a pass on the Pike Bros. No. 60 machine, but a caution for a spin by Danzer sent him back behind Brown.

The caution erased Gruel’s comfortable lead and set the stage for battle for the lead. With just 12 trips remaining, Gruel led Bond, Brown, Cliff and Pullen. Barbeau, Sobus, Simmons, Knopp and Schartner made out the top 10.

This time, Gruel was unable to pull away on the restart. The No. 26 was glued to his bumper. Bond pulled to the inside of the leader on the 24th lap. The two raced side-by-side a full trip around as Bond inched out ahead of the No. 50 car.

Desperately not wanting to relinquish the top spot, Gruel made one last effort to pull back ahead on the outside of the No. 26. However, his No. 50 was too far out of the groove and lost its footing. Ready to attack, Brown and Cliff buzzed under the former leader, bumping Gruel back to fourth place.

With Bond beginning to ease away, Cliff fought high and low to get around Brown’s No. 60. On the 30th lap, Cliff and Brown touched as they raced out of the second turn. Cliff tagged the inside hub, nearly coming to a complete stop in front of Gruel. With nowhere to go, Gruel popped the No. 06 squarely on the rear bumper and the No. 06 slapped the outside wall.

The incident ended the day for Cliff, but Brown and Gruel were able to continue. With just five trips around Oswego’s 5/8 remaining, Bond led Brown, Gruel, Pullen and Barbeau back to racing.

Bond eased away on the restart and took the white flag with a two-car advantage. With out further challenge, he cruised on to collect his second win of the year.

Coming all the way from the tail-end of the field, Brown wound up with a second-place finish.

Listen toRuss Brown on his runner-up finish

Gruel finished the race in third.

Listen toDave Gruel on his Tony White Memorial feature run

Pullen crossed the stripe in fourth.

Listen toRob Pullen on his fourth-place finish

Barbeau drove the Steve Abt-owned No. 58 to a fifth-place finish.

Listen toTim Barbeau on his fifth-place feature run

In heat race action, Knopp fended off challenges from Cliff to secure his win of the season. Bond bested Simmons on a mid-race restart and pulled away for his third heat race win of 2009. Gruel collected his third heat win of the year, leading Brown, Patrick and Pullen to the stripe.

Burritt Motors/Davis Brothers Tony White Memorial 34:
1. Mike Bond (26), 2. Russ Brown (60), 3. Dave Gruel (50), 4. Rob Pullen (25), 5. Tim Barbeau (58), 6. Kevin Knopp (04), 7. Brian Sobu (79), 8. Jason Simmons (91), 9. Ken Pierce (67), 10. Barry Kingsley (23), 11. Andrew Schartner (18), 12. Greg Davis (68), 13. Dave Danzer (52), 14. Guard Nearbin (78), 15. Chip Wood (2), 16. Brian Haynes (86), 17. David Cliff (06), 18. Stan Gates (90), 19. Dennis Ruppert (95), 20. Bill Moore (20), 21. Steve Abt (850, 22. Jack Patrick (9), 23. George Knight (1)