OSWEGO, NY – One week after blowing an engine in his No. 22 Pathfinder Bank SBS machine, Mike Bruce and team worked until the very last minute Saturday morning installing a freshened Pat Morrison power plant, and then promptly drove it to Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane at the Speedway as a part of Saturday’s Best Western PLUS/Quality Inn and Suites Fan Appreciation Night.
The victory for Bruce was his fourth career triumph at Oswego and his first since August 17, 2014.
Bruce now ranks tied for 21st on the Speedway’s all-time win list with Andy and Tom Jodway, Otto Sitterly, Josh LaRochelle, Kevin Knopp, Tim Barbeau, Cameron Rowe, Jack Patrick, Jay Andrews, and Dalton Doyle.
Camden Proud, who was quick to exit the Speedway for his junior prom at Oswego High School, took the runner-up position ahead of Doyle, Dave Cliff, and Andrew Schartner in the top five spots.
“Towards the end the tires were starting to get a bit slick and Camden was knocking on the door, he’s been hungry for a win every week and he’s fast,” said Bruce. “The car was starting to wash out a bit in the corners and I figured if he was going to take it that’s where it would happen but he never gave me any knocks and raced me clean and we took it.”
Opening night winner Mike Bond came home in sixth position ahead of Anthony Losurdo, Patrick, Rob Pullen, and Brad Haynes.
Greg O’Connor and Bruce led the 20-car Pathfinder Bank SBS field to the Cam’s Pizzeria green flag on Saturday night with Bruce immediately diving to the race lead in the No. 22.
Proud put himself in position to battle for the race lead early on in the No. 54, slipping to the low side of the O’Connor No. 90 in turn four on lap 2 bringing the Doyle No. 01 along with him into the top three.
O’Connor, who continues to show improvement in the No. 90, unfortunately found himself pointing in the wrong direction by lap 5 however, as the machine swapped ends in turn one to bring out the caution.
Once back to green Bruce led Proud, Doyle, Cliff, Scott Shafer, Patrick, Schartner, Kreig Heroth, Pullen, and Losurdo.
After the restart Patrick was able to battle his way into the top five passed the No. 76 of Shafer, with four-time champion Bond eventually charging through the pack as well to drive around Shafer into the seventh spot.
Bond’s teammate Losurdo did his best to trail Bond through the pack, working by Heroth for the ninth spot on lap 13 before diving under Shafer for eighth on lap 14.
Around the halfway point fans saw a familiar sight as Schartner and Bond would now battle bumper to bumper as the No. 74 of Bond chased the No. 18 of Schartner by the No. 9 of Patrick to move into the fifth and sixth positions passed halfway.
A second yellow on lap 18 for O’Connor tightened the pack one more time with Bruce continuing to hold court over Proud, Doyle, Cliff, Schartner, Bond, Patrick, Losurdo, Shafer, and Heroth.
Proud, Doyle, Cliff, Schartner, and Bond did their best to give chase to Bruce but only one more caution at lap 24 for Shafer and Heroth on the back stretch would give them hope.
With six laps remaining after the restart only Losurdo was able to advance driving by Patrick for seventh on lap 27 with Bruce able to hold off Proud by a mere .291-seconds at the line.
“My car was awesome tonight,” said Proud. “I have to give a shout-out to my dad and all my guys; they have busted their butts on this car all winter long. We really struggled at the end of last year, but to come out here just the second show out and put on a show like that racing with Mike for the lead is absolutely awesome. Now we have to get out of here to get my girlfriend to the prom. It is probably been the busiest day of my life, but this is a great start to the night.”
2015 championship contender Doyle finished on the podium for the first time in 2016.
“We kind of chased the car all night,” said Doyle. “We crashed last week and we were thrashing on the car until late last night to get ready. The car was bad loose in the heat race and we threw everything but the kitchen sink at the thing to try and make it go and we just tightened it up way too much. I’ll take bronze over loading it up in the trailer in shrapnel anytime.”
Shell Shock Custom Helmet Paint Heat Race Challenge victories went to Bruce, Heroth, and Schartner.
The D&S Landscaping Hard Charger was the No. 88 of Brad Haynes making his easo debut.
The Nice Price Auto Sales Up and Comer was Proud while Cliff earned the White’s Car Care 4th Place Award.
Bruce would go on to collect the Sherwood Racing Wheels Lap Leader Award, while O’Connor was declared the Bacc-Off Hard Luck Award recipient.