Just one week after taking over the lead in the championship points chase, David Cliff kept the momentum rolling on Saturday night at the Oswego Speedway, winning the 35-lap Pathfinder Bank small block supermodified Independence Grand Prix. The victory was the first of the season for Cliff – 13th of his career. Having started sixth on the grid, the Oswego native would inherit the lead a third of the way through the event after two separate incidents eliminated the three cars that had been racing ahead of him. The pilot of the Tim Barbeau-owned No. 50 would keep Russ Brown and Rob Pullen at bay the remainder of the race to secure the win.
Listen to – Dave Cliff
After two attempts to start the 35-lapper were nixed by yellow flags, Scott Shafer’s No. 76 would finally lead the field to complete it’s maiden lap. However, before lap No. 2 could be scored, Mike Bond’s No. 74 would make contact with Barry Kingsley’s No. 91, sending both machines into the outside wall at the onset of the front straightaway. Kingsley was shaken up, but was able to walk away. Both cars exited the racing surface via the hook.
Shafer would lead Mark Castiglia, Mike Bruce, Cliff and Brown back to racing, but not for long. One too many taps on the rear bumper of the race leader by Castiglia sent Shafer skating through and out of the second turn. As a result, Shafer would spin and Castiglia would find his No. 69 slamming the outside wall. Like Kingsley, Castiglia would be shaken as well. However, back and neck pain would send him to the hospital for further evaluation.
This would put Bruce atop the field. Fresh off his small block super win at Evans Mills and his heat race win earlier in the evening, Bruce would bring the field back to green flag racing. Cliff stayed glued to the back of Bruce’s No. 22. Pullen would press Brown‘s No. 13, leaving Patrick to fend off challenges from Andrew Schartner for fifth.
On the 13th lap, after nearly making contact with the outside wall, Greg O’Connor’s No. 90 suddenly darted back down across the track in front of the leaders. The lead trio were racing tight and Bruce would have nowhere to go, making contact with the No. 90 machine before rolling to a stop. With Bruce eliminated, Cliff would assume command.
With two-thirds of the race remaining, Cliff brought Brown, Pullen, Patrick and Schartner back up to speed. Cliff’s FFB Racing Chassis would inch out to a five-car length advantage and race comfortably atop the field, hacking away at the lapboard.
All was well until Cameron Rowe’s No. 77 spun heading out of turn No. 2. With 19 rounds to go, Brown would have another shot at the race leader on the restart, but to no avail.
Cliff was quick to put five lengths on Brown and hold the advantage until the race’s final caution flag waved on the 31st lap. Dennis Rupert and Alex McRea would tangle between turns three and four, with both finding the wall. A fire would erupt on the McRea No. 14, sending the driver rolling out of the cockpit and away from the flames.
The fire was short-lived and both cars were done for the night. Cliff would lead the remaining contenders back to racing. Cliff’s restart was solid, and no challenge from Brown was to be found. Cliff would coast the final five laps to secure the victory.
Brown and his Ray Hedger-owned No. 13 would settle for second.
Listen to – Russ Brown
Earning his third top-five finish of the season, Pullen grabbed the final spot on the podium, landing his No. 2 in third.
Listen to – Rob Pullen
Schartner and Patrick rounded out the top five.
Pathfinder Bank Grand Prix 35: 1. Dave Cliff (50), 2. Russ Brown (13), 3. Rob Pullen (2), 4. Andrew Schartner (18), 5. Jack Patrick (9), 6. Kreig Heroth (04), 7. Camden Proud (54), 8. Anthony Losurdo (1), 9. Brad Haynes (88), 10. Scott Shafer (76), 11. James Babcock (15), 12. Cameron Rowe (77), 13. Alex McRae (14), 14. Dennis Rupert (99), 15. Cameron Black (23), 16. Mike Bruce (22), 17. Greg O’Connor (90), 18. Dalton Doyle (01), 19. Mark Castiglia (69), 20. Barry Kingsley (91), 21. Mike Bond (74), 22. Matt Magner (87), 23. Jesse Bearup (37)
Heat Race #1: Jack Patrick (9), 2. Mark Castiglia (69), 3. Barry Kingsley (91), 4. Mike Bond (74), 5. Jesse Bearup (37), 6. Alex McRea (14), 7. Camden Proud (54), 8. James Babcock (15)
Heat Race #2: 1. Mike Bruce (22), 2. Dave Cliff (50), 3. Rob Pullen (2), 4. Russ Brown (13), 5. Andrew Schartner (18), 6. Brad Haynes (88), 7. Dennis Rupert (99), 8. Cameron Black
Heat Race #3: 1. Anthony Losurdo (1), 2. Matt Magner (87), 3. Kreig Heroth (04), 4. Scott Shafer (76), 5. Dalton Doyle (01), 6. Cameron Rowe (77), 7. Greg O’Connor (90)