Photos – Jim Feeney
In his fourth year of small block supermodified competition, Oswego’s Mike Bruce captured his first checkered flag Saturday night at the Oswego Speedway, winning the 30-lap Spring Championship. Bruce’s No. 22 took the lead away from Mark Castiglia’s No. 69 with an outside move on the 16th lap, leading the pack the rest of the way.
Bruce has taken his share of criticism for his admitted aggressive driving style in the past. However, the young navigator appeared to have been able to find the right combination of patience and aggression to brew up a feature win on Saturday night.
“I just stayed to the outside,” Bruce said of where he found most of his success. “I just picked them off as I could. I tried being really smart and tried staying out of trouble … careful of the people who’ve had a little bit of tension with me the past few weeks.”
Bruce found himself sitting behind the race leader on a pair of back-to-back mid-race restarts. One of which followed a stuck throttle that had sent the former race leader, Dennis Rupert, hard into the outside wall between turns three and four.
Following the second restart, Bruce swung his small block super to the outside of Castiglia as the duo raced out of the fourth turn. They would battle side-by-side for a full lap until Bruce finally had him cleared. The pilot of the No. 22 FFB Racing Chassis wouldn’t see another threatening wheel the rest of the day. Mike Bruce:
Rupert and Dalton Doyle led the 24-car field to the start of the 30-lap main. Rupert struck first, nabbing the point from Doyle as the field dove into the lakeside oval’s first turn. Castiglia, Doyle, JJ Andrews and Tim Gareau filled out the top five behind the race leader.
After breaking into the top five with an inside move on Gareau, Bruce would sail around the outside of the Andrews No. 93 to take over fourth on the sixth lap. Two rounds later, the first caution flag would fly for Cameron Black’s spun No. 23.
With seven trips in the books, Rupert was still in command. Castiglia, Doyle, Bruce and Andrews held the top five. Gareau, Scott Shafer, Jon Tesoriero, Alex Hoag, Barry Kingsley, Jack Patrick, Andrew Schartner and Mike Bond filled out the first dozen.
On the ensuing restart, Bruce went back to the well again, using the outside lane to best Doyle for third. The top four would begin to ease away, leaving Andrews the leader of a hungry pack.
A great battle for fifth boiled over when Gareau’s No. 5 was sent into the outside wall, which he would ride before coming back down on all fours. Gareau managed to keep his No. 5 going, but the caution flag would wave, slowing the field.
Seeking his first feature win, Rupert led the field back to green flag racing on the restart. However, just two laps later, the race leader’s day would end dramatically, after a stuck throttle sent his No. 99 hard into the outside, turn-four wall. Rupert would not be injured, but his No. 99 would receive extensive front-end damage. Dennis Rupert:
Castiglia would inherit the lead. Bruce, Doyle, Andrews and Tesoriero would hold the top five. Hoag, Patrick, Schartner, Bond and Steve Abt rounded out the top 10.
The restart saw Hoag busting into the top five with an outside move on Tesoriero. Keeping his momentum going, Hoag would then slip underneath the Andrews No. 93 for fourth place. However, the pass would lead to some of their chasers checking up behind them. Bond hit the brakes a little too hard, sending his No. 74 around and collecting a slew of others.
Dan Abt, Jason Simmons, Kreig Heroth, Greg O’Connor, Jesse Bearup, Gareau and Black were all collected in the spin.
Again, Castiglia would lead the field back to racing. Doyle put a stop to Hoag’s march towards the front, holding off an outside bid by the No. 73. However, Just a lap and a half after the green flag flew, Bruce took to the outside of Castiglia for the lead. They would touch a few times as they danced for a complete lap before Bruce settled out in front.
Seeking his third win in as many weeks, Schartner would take over fifth. A five-car breakaway would follow, but end after Bearup’s No. 02 took a lone spin.
The five-car breakaway would resume on the restart, but the real battle would be for sixth. Patrick found room on Andrews’ high side to take away the spot. A resurging Bond would follow Patrick into seventh.
The final caution flag would wave on the 27th lap after a Steve Abt and Tesoriero brushed wheels, sending Tesoriero back and into the front bumper of Losurdo’s No. 1. Tesoriero would clock the front hub rail, ending his night.
The last restart went smoothly for the race leader, with most of the race action happening just behind him. Bond would best Patrick for sixth before pinning Schartner up high, behind Hoag’s No. 73. Bond and Schartner – the two top points contenders, would run the final lap and a half of the race two-abreast, with Schartner inching out the challenger to claim fifth.
Starting the season with two disappointing showings, Castiglia was pleased with his second-place finish. Mark Castiglia:
Piloting his brand new SBS Hawk Jr. Chassis through its first complete feature run, Doyle would earn the final podium spot. Dalton Doyle:
Bouncing back from a tough start to his season, small block super rookie Hoag, drove to an impressive fourth-place run.
Missing out on earning his third win in as many races, Schartner earned a hard-fought, top-five finish. Andrew Schartner:
Bond rebounded from an early spin to claim sixth in the final rundown. Mike Bond:
Patrick pocketed his second heat race win of the year, but couldn’t find the right path to get to the front come feature time. Jack Patrick:
Running a 35-lap main, the small block supermodifieds will be joined by the ISMA winged supers next Saturday night.
Pathfinder Bank SBS 30: 1. Mike Bruce (22), 2. Mark Castiglia (69), 3. Dalton Doyle (01), 4. Alex Hoag (73), 5. Andrew Schartner (18), 6. Mike Bond (74), 7. Jack Patrick (9), 8. Steve Abt (67), 9. JJ Andrews (93), 10. Kreig Heroth (04), 11. Josh Kerr (8), 12. Camden Proud (54), 13. Scott Shafer (76), 14. David LaTulip (27), 15. Jon Tesoriero (47), 16. Anthony Losurdo (1), 17. Danny Abt (57), 18. Jesse Bearup (02), 19. Jason Simmons (98), 20. Greg O’Connor (90), 21. Tim Gareau (5), 22. Cameron Black (23), 23. Dennis Rupert (99), 24. Barry Kingsley (91)
Heat race wins went to Bond, Doyle and Patrick.