Photos – Jim Feeney
Mark Castiglia sped to his third career Pathfinder Bank Small Block Supermodified Racing Series feature win Saturday night at the Oswego Speedway, leading all 30 laps of the main event. It was a much-welcomed result for the No. 67 team, following last weekend’s dismal season-opener that saw them time-trial at the rear of the field, finish last in their qualifying heat and 22nd in the feature.
“We’ve had some motor issues the past two weeks that we’ve been trying to fix,” Castiglia said. “We tore the whole car apart last week and finally found it this week. It was a carburetor issue. I finally got some laps under my belt to try and dial it in a little better and we got the motor running.”
Unchallenged most of the way, Castiglia said the lapped traffic ahead of him proved more challenging than his chasers.
“There was quite a bit of lapped traffic going in and out,” he said. “Some cars, they just didn’t want to get out of the way. It was kind of scary there for a little bit, but I made it through unscathed. A yellow came out after that so we kind of re-circulated, which was good because I didn’t think it was going to come out in my favor.”
Listen to – Mark Castiglia (#7)
Starting on the pole, Castiglia nosed FFB Racing Chassis ahead of outside front-row starter, Mike Bruce, to take the lead at the drop of the green. Jason Simmons, Tim Gareau and Cameron Rowe filled out the top five behind them as the field completed its maiden lap.
The first caution flag of the race fell on the fourth lap, following a minor mishap involving rookies Zach Amo and Greg O’Connor.
Unchallenged on the restart, Castiglia began to ease Bruce and Simmons away from the thick of the pack. Behind them, a caution-free jingle between turns three and four caused most of the field to break its pace, thinning the pack and fattening the front trio’s advantage.
At the halfway mark, Castiglia continued to lead Bruce and Simmons. Rowe, Mike Bond, Kreig Heroth, Gareau and Andrew Schartner commanded positions fourth through eight.
Things began to tighten up at the point as the leaders began navigating their way through heavy lapped traffic. Bruce had a few shallow peeks under Castiglia, but had Simmons watching his every move from behind. However, a caution for a minor miscue in turn No. 1 allowed for a breather and reset the field.
Castiglia would have no issues on the restart. The same could not be said for Bruce’s No. 22. As a result of previous contact with Simmons while battling through lapped traffic, Bruce’s No. 22 had begun to lose its handle and it was starting to show. Simmons was quick to bounce Bruce back to third as the field returned to racing with eight trips to go.
Behind them, hard-charging Russ Brown took to the high side to move in front of defending track champ Heroth for sixth. Three laps later, he mirrored the move on Bond’s No. 74 for fifth. On the 27th lap, both he and Rowe flew past Bruce’s fading No. 22. However, time was running out as the lead duo ahead raced towards the white flag.
Still seeking his first feature win, Simmons wasn’t able to challenge Castiglia in the waning laps. The No. 67 took the one-to-go signal from the flagger’s stand with a length to spare, speeding across the checkered stripe with an equal advantage for the victory.
The No. 67 is one of car owner Denise Merrill’s five FFB small block supermodifieds that make up Four Sevens Motorsports. With Rowe and Bond being Four Sevens Motorsports members as well, the mega-team racked up an impressive three of the top five finishing spots.
Speaking for Merrill, team manager Bob Andrews says the five-car season endeavor is no easy task.
Listen to – Bob Andrews (#8)
Simmons added another runner-up result for his12th top-five finish of his SBS career.
Listen to – Jason Simmons (#4)
Behind the lead duo, Brown had inched ahead of Rowe for third. However, as the two raced out of the fourth turn, a kiss by the bumper of Rowe’s No. 77 sent Brown’s No. 13 up against the outside retaining wall and reeling back fifth. In turn, Bond was in position to snag himself a fourth-place finish.
Listen to – Cameron Rowe (#2)
Listen to – Mike Bond (#3)
Listen to – Russ Brown (#5)
Heroth and Schartner came across the stripe running sixth and seventh. Recovering from a frustrating opening night, Patrick landed his No. 9 in eighth place.
Listen to – Jack Patrick (#6)
Gareau and Tesoriero completed the top 10.
Opening night feature winner, AJ Bernys, finished 11th.
Listen to – AJ Bernys (#1)
After falling out of the top three, Bruce faded through the field quickly, eventually pitting shy of the checkered flag. He finished 20th.
Listen to – Mike Bruce (#9)
Oswego is off on May 18th, but springs back into action on the 25th with a Memorial Day Weekend triple header, featuring 75 laps for the Novelis supermodifieds, 35 laps for the Pathfinder Bank small blocks and 75 laps for the Race of Champion modifieds.
Pathfinder Bank SBS Series 30: 1. Mark Castiglia (67), 2. Jason Simmons (98), 3. Cameron Rowe (77), 4. Mike Bond (74), 5. Russ Brown (13), 6. Kreig Heroth (04), 7. Andrew Schartner (18), 8. Jack Patrick (9), 9. Tim Gareau (17), 10. Jon Tesoriero (47), 11. AJ Bernys (24), 12. Anthony Losurdo (1), 13. Scott Shafer (76), 14. Jeremy Pitcher (14), 15. JJ Andrews (93), 16. Rob Pullen (2), 17. Dan Abt (57), 18. Josh Kerr (8), 19. Justin Connell (07), 20. Mike Bruce (22), 21. Dalton Doyle (01), 22. Zach Amo (44), 23. Nate Noto (19), 24. Dennis Rupert (99), 25. Greg O’Connor (90)
Qualifying heat races were won by Heroth, Patrick and Bond