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Curran & Abt Show Their Might on 60th Anniversary Night at Oswego

By – Chris Porter
Photo – (Jerry Curran)  BSPimages.com
Photo – (Steve Abt) Debbie White

Oswego’s Jerry Curran and Syracuse’s Steve Abt pocketed feature wins Saturday evening on Oswego Speedway’s 60th Anniversary night. After taking the lead early, Curran staved off challenges from defending track and International Classic champ, Otto Sitterly. In the small block supermodified (SBS) main, Abt raced to the point early as well, keeping 2009 SBS Classic winner, Mike Bond, at bay to earn the win.

Each victory was a much-needed shot in the arm for the bad luck-stricken drivers.

Curran was just happy to be racing Saturday night. A devastating crash that destroyed his supermodified at the tail-end of the 2009 racing season, coupled with suffering a blown motor only a few races into 2010 couldn’t keep the fan favorite down.

Listen toJerry Curran

For Abt, memories of the two DQ’s earlier in the year were buried by an impressive triumph that passed tech with flying colors. His No. 85 has been fast all season and he knows he’s been put under a microscope. The official win can perhaps ad some more legitimacy to his performance and put the team’s focus back on where it needs to be.

Jerry Curran poses in victory lane after winning Oswego's 60-lapper Photo – BSPimages.com

Listen toSteve Abt

Tim Snyder and Dan Connors, Jr. led the 20-car field to the green to start the 60-lap main event. Snyder wrestled the early lead away, bringing Connors, Curran, Dave McKnight and David Gruel across the stripe on lap No. 1.

Massive shuffling up front during the first few laps saw Curran, Joey Payne and Gruel bounce Connors back to fifth. Things only got worse for the pilot of the No. 01 when he slapped the backstretch wall on the fourth lap.

Connors was able to limp his machine around the high side of turns three and four before coming to a stop at the beginning of the front straightaway.

With three laps in the books, Snyder led Curran, Payne, Gruel and McKnight. Sitterly, Ray Graham, Jr., Davey Hamilton, Keith Shampine and Pat Lavery completed the top 10. Greg Furlong, Shaun Gosselin, Andy Noto, Joe Gosek and Cody Graham rounded out the top 15.

On the ensuing restart, Sitterly took flight. Going to the outside, he moved around McKnight for fifth and Gruel for fourth. While the No. 7 was soaring behind him, Curran saw an opening under Snyder and snuck through in turn No. 1, taking the lead on lap No. 6.

Curran quickly built a 10-car length advantage as Snyder fended off Payne and Sitterly 10 laps into the race.

Finally, on the 19th lap, Payne was able to put the Strong Racing No. 99 underneath Snyder for second. However, he now faced a 20-car length deficit to Curran’s screaming  yellow No. 24.

By the 25th lap, Payne had nearly sliced Curran’s lead in half. Behind him, Sitterly had just bested Snyder for third.

The racing action slowed on the 27th lap after Gosselin spun his No. 26 around in the fourth turn. Curran’s advantage was wiped away.

On the restart, Payne, Sitterly, Snyder and McKnight chased Curran to the green. McKnight darted under Snyder for fourth one lap before Furlong broke into the top five, ousting Snyder from it in the process.

At the halfway mark, Curran held a comfortable five-car length lead over Payne, Sitterly and McKnight.

The caution flag reared its ugly head again on the 35th lap. Lavery bounced his No. 22 off the inside, first-turn hub rail before ricocheting  into Snyder’s No. 0 machine. Snyder was sent into the foam barriers.

Again, Curran had no problems on the restart. Sitterly began working harder on Payne’s No. 99 as he watch the race leader begin to walk away. Finally, Sitterly found room under Payne between turns three and four on lap No. 39.

Initially, Sitterly began cutting into Curran’s lead. However, with 15 trips to go, Curran continued to command 10 lengths on his nearest chaser.

Sitterly continued to slowly reel in the race leader, but unaccommodating lapped traffic put a dagger in giving the challenger a legitimate shot at the No. 24.

Curran was setting a blistering pace. He successfully navigated his No. 24 around a few more lapped competitors before taking the checkered flag with much room to spare.

Sitterly collected another runner-up finish, crossing the checkered stripe in second.

Listen to
Otto Sitterly

Payne claimed third, while McKnight held on to finish in fourth.

Listen toDave McKnight

Graham developed some braking issues, relegating the recently crowned “Mr. Supermodified” driver to a fifth-place finish.

Listen toRay Graham, Jr.

Supermodified Feature Results (60 laps):
1. Jerry Curran (24), 2. Otto Sitterly (7), 3. Joey Payne (99), 4. Dave McKnight (08), 5. Ray Graham, Jr. (90), 6. Greg Furlong (72), 7. Davey Hamilton (6), 8. Joe Gosek (00), 9. David Gruel (50), 10. Jeff Holbrook (35), 11. Pat Lavery (22), 12. Kody Graham (21), 13. Keith Shampine (88), 14. Shaun Gosselin (26), 15. Larry Muroski (38), 16. Tim Snyder (0), 17. Andy Noto (19), 18. Lou LeVea (61), 19. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 20. Joe Chillemi (14)

Snyder, McKnight and Gruel won the 12-lap preliminaries.

In the 30-lap SBS feature, Simmons jumped out into the lead for the third straight week. The previous two races saw his No. 25 car fall ill while leading, handing the lead over to his closest challenger. However, Saturday night’s result would be different.

Steve Abt poses in victory lane after winning the SBS 30-lapper Photo – Debbie White

Starting third on the grid, Abt moved in behind Simmons on lap No. 1. He took a peek on the outside of the No. 25 on the third lap and a gander down low on lap No. 4. Two rounds later, he went with the gander down low, taking the lead away from Simmons.

Bond – Abt’s closest eventual challenger – busted into the top five on just the fifth lap, after starting 11th on the grid. One lap later, he took to the high side of Guard Nearbin for fourth. Bob Henry, Jr. could only hold off Bond one trip around the speedway before he watched the No. 26 slide under him on the eighth lap.

Next up for Bond was teammate, Simmons. However, before he could take a shot for the runner-up spot, Abt’s teammate, Tim Barbeau, brought out the caution flag after slowing dramatically down the backstretch. The precautionary yellow for Barbeau’s No 58 erased Abt’s 20-car length lead he’d commanded over Simmons.

With just under a third of the race complete, Abt led Simmons, Bond, Henry and Nearbin. Barry Kingsley, David Cliff, Dave Danzer, Kreig Heroth and Brian Sobus rounded out the top 10.

As Abt walked away on the restart, Bond soared around the outside of Simmons down the front stretch for second. Abt held a five-car length lead that Bond was unable to bite into.

At halfway, Abt continued to set the pace, with Bond five lengths back. Simmons and Henry raced a full straightaway behind the lead duo. Nearbin continued to hold off points leader Cliff for fifth.

One lap after the halfway mark, a two-car tangle in turn No. 1 closed things up, once again.

The ensuing restart saw Mike Bruce get too early of a jump on Danzer, only to then be promptly tagged by Danzer’s No. 52. Bruce’s No. 2 was sent spinning and the lights changed back to yellow.

Again, Abt raced away unchallenged on the restart. Further back, Nearbin, Cliff and Sobus continued to fight for fourth. A suddenly surging No. 79 moved past both Cliff and Nearbin on the outside on lap No. 27. He began to close in on Simmons, but time expired.

Abt’s lead actually increased in the closing laps, taking the white flag with a dozen lengths on Bond.

He cruised the final .625 miles to capture his second feature win of the season.

Bond landed the Terry Solazzo-owned No. 26 in second. His feature finish, coupled with his heat race win, put him back in the title hunt. He’ll enter the final points night 30 behind Cliff.

Listen toMike Bond

Simmons was happy to finish the race, collecting a podium finish on the side. He finished in third.

Listen toJason Simmons

Sobus raced his No. 79 to a fourth-place run. He was able to slice off a few more points from Cliff’s lead in the championship run. He’ll go into the final week only 18 points behind.

Listen toBrian Sobus

Unable to take the green in last week’s feature due to an accident in the warm-up laps pre-ceding the race, Henry landed the JJ Andrews-owned No. 93 in fifth.

Listen toBob Henry, Jr.

SBS Feature Results (30 laps):
1. Steve Abt (85), 2. Mike Bond (26), 3. Jason Simmons (25), 4. Brian Sobus (79), 5. Bob Henry, Jr. (93), 6. Guard Nearbin (78), 7. David Cliff (06), 8. Kreig Heroth (44), 9. Rob Pullen (22), 10. Dave Danzer (52), 11. Jack Patrick (9), 12. Mark Castiglia (90), 13. Tim Barbeau (58), 14. Doug Williams (10), 15. Mike Bruce (2), 16. Barry Kingsley (23), 17. Dennis Richmond (7), 18. Brian Osetek (00), 19. Ryan Crawford (7), 20. Ron Loveless (18), 21. Lou LeVea, Jr. (95), 22. Terry Solazzo (91), 23. Cameron Rowe (50)   DNS – Will Hadcock (heat race accident)

Simmons, Bond and Abt collected heat race wins.