Castiglia Keeps it Together, Earns Summer SBS Championship at Oswego

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney

For Oswego’s Mark Castiglia, the 2015 racing season has been a journey riddled with mechanical woes and early exits. What’s added to his frustration is the fact that many of those DNF’s have occurred while leading races.

Admittedly near wit’s end, the pilot of the No. 69 small block supermodified was finally able to welcome a new ending to his Saturday night ventures at the Oswego Speedway. When exiting the racing surface this time, he would find himself not pulling in to his dimly lit pit stall, but into the bright lights of victory lane.

The win was the fifth of Castiglia’s career. He would end up leading all 30 laps, holding off Anthony Losurdo and Jack Patrick en route to his first triumph since commanding every circuit of the SBS feature on June 15, 2013.

Listen to – Mark Castiglia

Just after Castiglia was grabbing the early lead as the green flag fell to start the 30-lap Summer Championship event, the back end of the Jason Simmons No. 98 came around as he raced out of the fourth turn. While most of the field was able to avoid the third-row starter, three race favorites couldn’t avoid making contact. Three of the top five drivers in the championship points chase, Dalton Doyle, Mike Bond and Dave Cliff would all make contact.

The night would end early for Bond and Cliff, as both drivers would exit via the hook before they could even complete lap No. 1. Doyle was fortunate to escape the scene with minor scuffs.

A complete restart saw Castiglia take the point once again. Greg O’Connor, Dennis Rupert, Barry Kingsley and Losurdo chased the No. 69 across the checkered stripe to complete lap No. 1. However, the race leader would soon begin to ease away.

By lap No. 5, O’Connor would trail the point man by a dozen lengths. Knowing Castiglia’s recent history of dropping out with mechanical failures (often while leading), O’Connor remained optimistic.

The yellow flag would fly to signal the second caution of the race after Ray Sand, Jr. popped the outside wall in turn No. 2. With 11 laps in the books, Castiglia led O’Conner, Rupert, Losurdo and Kingsley. Patrick, Doyle, Mike Bruce, Russ Brown and Matt Magner rounded out the top 10.

Patrick would sail around Kingsley for fifth on the restart, but a caution for Brown’s spun No. 13 after a late pass attempt on Bruce for eighth entering the third turn would reset the action. Again, Castiglia would command the restart and begin to walk away.

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Rupert would drift high between turns three and four and would pay dearly. He soon found himself being freight-trained out of the top 10. Four laps later, third-place running Losurdo would work his way under O’Connor for second. However, his work would be cut out for him as the leader had built himself a 10-car advantage.

After moving under Kingsley, Patrick would slip under O’Connor as well, taking over third on lap No. 19. Doyle would follow Patrick and move into fourth.

Losurdo would find the gap between him and Castiglia sliced in half by their 20th trip around the speedway. Three rounds later, Losurdo was on the race leader’s tail. Patrick had closed the gap, as well – now just five lengths back.

With an inside look racing out of turn No. 2, Losurdo would take his first crack at the lead on the 24th lap. Castiglia held off the runner-up and now knew his lead was being challenged. A multi-car jingle between turns one and two would slow the action and put an end Losurdo’s momentum.

Bruce, fourth in points and already damaged from earlier contact with Brown, would end up being the lone small block towed from the scene. The race’s final restart would see Castiglia leading Losurdo, Patrick, Doyle and O’Connor. Kingsley, Camden Proud, Brown, Kreig Heroth and Magner restarted sixth through 10th.

With six laps to go, Castiglia would lead the pack back to racing. Losurdo would have a few high and low peeks around Castiglia, but would spend equal time fending off challenges from Patrick. Castiglia would hold off both challengers in the final laps around Oswego’s fast five-eighth’s mile, with the trio crossing the line in order, nose to tail.

Pocketing his second top-five finish of the year, Losurdo crossed the checkered stripe in second place.

Listen to – Anthony Losurdo

Landing his Mopar-powered No. 9 in third, Patrick would earn his first podium finish of the season.

Listen to – Jack Patrick

With a fourth-place finish, Doyle was able to pad his championship points lead. It was his fourth top-five finish in six events this season.

Listen to – Dalton Doyle

Flying through the field the second half of the race following an early spin, Brown would scoot past Proud and nip O’Connor at the line to land the Ray Hedger-owned No. 13 in fifth.

Listen to – Russ Brown

Earning a career-best finish, O’Connor raced his No. 90 small block super to a sixth-place finish.

Listen to – Greg O’Connor

Finishing behind seventh-place Camden Proud, Barry Kingsley drove Team Tapout Racing’s No. 91 to an eighth-place finish.

Listen to – Barry Kingsley

By virtue of his ninth-place run, Kreig Heroth remained the only driver to have scored a top-10 finish in every race this season.

Listen to – Kreig Heroth

Despite struggling with handling problems, Magner would win his heat before earning his Denise Merrill-owned No. 87 a 10th-place finish.

Listen to – Matt Magner

Simmons, Castiglia and Magner won the three, 10-lap prelims.

Pathfinder Bank SBS 30: 1. Mark Castiglia (69), 2. Anthony Losurdo (1), 3. Jack Patrick (9), 4. Dalton Doyle (01), 5. Russ Brown (13), 6. Greg O’Connor (90), 7. Camden Proud (54), 8. Barry Kingsley (91), 9. Kreig Heroth (04), 10. Matt Magner (87), 11. JJ Andrews (93), 12. AJ Bernys (24), 13. David LaTulip (97), 14. Josh Kerr (8), 15. Andrew Schartner (18), 16. James Babcock (15), 17. Mike Bruce (22), 18. Jason Simmons (98), 19. Dennis Rupert (99), 20. Ray Sand, Jr. (71), 21. Ron Pratt (88), 22. Alex McRae (14), 23. Dave Cliff (50), 24. Mike Bond (74)