Photos – Jim Feeney
Newly crowned 2009 Small Block Supermodified Classic Champion, Mike Bond, scored his second straight win in the Terry Solazzo-owned No. 26 Saturday night, winning the NORA-sanctioned portion of the Race of Champions event at the Oswego Speedway. With the circumstances surrounding last weekendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s win, this was a victory that he and his crew can truly celebrate this time around.
The Mexico, N.Y. native used a familiar third-turn dive move to take the lead away from Steve Abt on the 17th lap. The same move had proved successful for the division veteran on more than one occasion this season. It was the fourth feature win of the year for Bond, who finished third in the 2009 SBS points chase.
Abt and 2007 SBS Rookie of the Year, Kreig Heroth, led the 16-car starting field to the green to begin the 35-lap feature event. Abt nabbed the early lead away from Heroth, who saw his Crow Motorsports No. 18 lose a half-dozen positions in the opening lap before finally settling in.
At the close of lap No. 1, Abt led Dave Danzer, Dave Gruel, Bond and Stan Gates. Right from the start, Bond was eager to get to the front. On lap No. 2, Bond moved along side the Gruel No. 50, but couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make the pass. On the flipside, Gruel made the outside groove work on the fourth lap, bettering DanzerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No 52 car for the second position.
Hoping to beat Bond to the point, Gruel took a look on the outside of AbtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 85 on the seventh lap, but to no avail. Gruel soon found Bond on his tail again, after Bond moved past Danzer down low for third on lap No. 8.
Gruel was relentless with his outside pressure on the Abt No. 85. Again, as the two raced off of the fourth turn, Gruel looked to have a solid look on AbtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right side, only to have to back out as the No. 85 drifted towards the wall.
GruelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s outside looks eventually opened the inside door for Bond. On the 13th lap, Bond had worked his way underneath Gruel. However, before Gruel gave way, the caution flag flew for Dennis RichmondÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s broken No. 4 car.
With 12 laps in the books, Abt led Gruel, Bond, Danzer and Gates. Jason Simmons, Shawn Walker, Heroth, Tim Barbeau and Guard Nearbin completed the top 10.
On the restart, Gruel had another solid look on the high side of Abt. As the duo raced into the first turn, Gruel ran out of room up top, allowing Bond to slip underneath him to take over second place. Gruel immediately fought back on the outside, but came up empty.
A few trips later, Gruel would again find himself aside Bond as the two race behind AbtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 85. Gruel was hoping to pin the No. 26 machine behind the leader, but instead, Bond found room under the No. 85. Bond shot under Abt as the trio raced into the third turn on lap No. 17. It was a familiar move that Bond had often used during the 2009 season and it paid its dividends once again, Saturday night.
Once up front, the No. 26 car started to pull away. Behind him, Abt continued to hold Gruel, Danzer and Gates at bay.
Suddenly, Gruel raised his hand to alert his closest chasers that he was slowing down. For the second time in as many races, the Tim Barbeau-owned No. 50 pulled pit-side with motor woes, falling out near the halfway mark.
By lap No. 25, Bond held an advantage of a full straightaway over Abt and Danzer. Gates raced alone in fourth and Barbeau owned fifth.
The second and final caution flag of the race occurred on lap No. 27. Simmons had spun this No 91 in turn No. 1.
Bond led the field back to racing with just nine laps remaining. Abt had nothing for the 2009 Classic champ, as the No. 26 simply sailed away. Bond coasted the rest of the way to collect win.
Abt, Danzer, Gates and Barbeau filled out the top five. Rob Pullen, Heroth, Walker, Nearbin and Simmons completed the top 10.
News & Notes: Bond and Heroth won their respective heat races. Only 16 cars took the green in the 35-lap feature – the smallest number to do so all season. 18 cars were on hand, but two could not start the race. Bob Andrews drove his brotherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (JJ Andrews) No. 93 SBS racer to an 11th-place finish. Jason Simmons scored a second-place finish in his first SST modified race Saturday afternoon. Simmons recently took possession of the car and a deal to sell his small blocker to Dennis Rupert is currently in the works.
Heat Race #1:
1. Kreig Heroth (18), 2. Steve Abt (85), 3. Tim Barbeau (58), 4. Shawn Walker (68), 5. Stan Gates (28), 6. Chris Natoli (33), 7. Bob Andrews (93), 8. Dennis Richmond (4), 9. Rob Pullen (25)
Heat Race #2:
1. Mike Bond (26), 2. Dave Gruel (50), 3. Dave Danzer (52), 4. Jason Simmons (91), 5. Guard Nearbin (78), 6. Barry Kingsley (23), 7. Bill Moore (20), 8. Cameron Rowe (59), 9. Mike Mullen (32)