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Bond Busts Through Field, Ends Gruel’s Streak

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Pinner Johnson

Mike Bond raced his way into victory lane in Oswego’s small block supermodified division Saturday night, spoiling a Cinderella-bid by rookie driver Andrew Schartner with just two laps to go. Driving the Terry Solazzo-owned No. 26,  Bond battled his way towards the front, never skipping a beat en route to earning his 16th-career feature win.

Listen toMike Bond on his first feature win of 2009

Stan Gates and Schartner led the 21-car field down the front stretch to start the 30-lap Pathfinder Bank SBS Racing Series main event. Gates nosed out ahead of the rookie driver, but Schartner refused to fall in behind the Gates No 28. Fighting back around the outside, Schartner slowly inched his the Crow Motorsports No. 18 out ahead of Gates, moving solidly into the lead by the second trip around the “O.”

Gates slid back to the fifth position, as Rob Pullen, Jack Patrick, Russ Brown raced second through fourth behind the young leader on lap No. 5.

Schartner continued to hold his own as the first four small block supermodifieds began to distance themselves from Gates and the field.

Fighting for the fifth position, Barbeau dashed underneath the No. 28 on the eighth lap. Coming from the 10th starting position, Bond followed Barbeau, moving into sixth place.

Barbeau and Bond were chasing down the leaders when the caution flag flew for a tangle between a trio of rookie drivers off turn No. 4.

With 10 laps in the books, Schartner continued to command the field. Pullen, Patrick, Brown and Barbeau filled out the top five positions. Bond, Gates, Kevin Knopp, David Cliff and Brian Sobus filled out the top 10. Guard Nearbin, Dave Gruel, Dave Danzer, Barry Kingsley and Jason Simmons rounded out the top 15.

On the restart, Brown worked his No. 60 car under Patrick to take over third place. Brown began to hound Pullen as Schartner raced a length ahead.

Just a few laps were recorded before the caution lights flashed for a top-10 tangle between Gates and Cliff in turn No. 1. Cliff was able to pull away, but the Gates No. 28 suffered extensive damage, exiting the racing surface via the hook.

With 18 trips to go, the No. 18 remained atop the small block super field. The lead trio crept away on the restart, leaving Patrick, Barbeau and Bond behind. However, Bond’s second-half charge was just getting under way.

With 11 to go, Bond’s No. 26 shot underneath Barbeau for fifth place. He was working his way under Patrick’s No. 9 when a quick caution slowed the action.

However, the caution failed to slow Bond, as he raced by Patrick down the backstretch on the restart, moving into fourth place. Behind the No. 26, Knopp bested Barbeau before moving in front of Patrick and into the top five.

Quickly, Bond pulled Pullen and Brown to within his grasp. Pressured by Bond, Brown pulled aside Pullen. With six laps to go, the two raced side-by-side behind the leader. Choosing the faster lane, Bond followed Brown as the No. 60 car inched ahead of Pullen’s No. 25.

With five trips remaining, Schartner led two multi-time track and SBS Classic champions into the first turn. With little time to spare, Bond shot underneath Brown on the 27th lap.

With out delay, Bond went to work on the rookie leader. Again, using the inside line, Bond dove below Schartner’s No. 18 as they raced towards the white-flag lap. The duo raced side-by-side through the third and fourth turns, until Bond was able to take command at the line.

Bond walked away on the final lap, leading Schartner, Brown, Pullen and Knopp to the checkered flag.

With two of his drivers landing in the top five, car owner Terry Solazzo was pleased with the performance of the TMS Motorsports No. 26 and No. 25 machines.

Listen to  – Terry Solazzo on landing two drivers in the top five

Schartner guided the Crow Motorsports No. 18 to a second-place finish. Schartner came up just a two laps short, but says it’s all just part of the learning process.

Listen to – Andrew Schartner on his 2009 journey through the SBS class and near win

Brown captured his third top-five finish of the season, bringing the Pike Bros. No. 60 home in third.

Listen to – Russ Brown on his third-place finish

After weeks of bad luck and chasing a motor problem, Pullen seemed to have had things figured out on Saturday, landing the No. 25 car in fourth.

Listen to – Rob Pullen on his fourth-place feature finish

Still looking for Lady Luck to pay his No. 04 car a visit, Knopp brought his defending track championship ride home in fifth.

Listen to – Kevin Knopp on back-to-back fifth-place finishes

Heat race wins were earned by Barbeau, Pullen and Bond.

RJ Caruso Tax & Accounting/Mitchell’s Speedway Press 30:
1. Mike Bond (26), 2. Andrew Schartner (18), 3. Russ Brown (60), 4. Rob Pullen (25), 5. Kevin Knopp (04), 6. Brian Sobus (79), 7. Dave Gruel (50), 8. Jack Patrick (9), 9. Dave Danzer (52), 10. David Cliff (06), 11. Tim Barbeau (58), 12. Guard Nearbin (78), 13. Barry Kingsley (23), 14. Steve Abt (85), 15. Greg Davis (68), 16. Jason Simmons (91), 17. Chip Wood (2), 18. George Knight (1), 19. Dennis Ruppert (90), 20. Mark Castiglia (90), 21. Stan Gates (28).