The Port City’s own, Joe Gosek, captured the checkered flag Saturday night at the Oswego Speedway, winning the Novelis supermodified 75-lap main event. It was the 43rd feature win at the lakeside oval for the 58-year old veteran driver. Gosek leads all active drivers in feature wins – his last trip to victory lane having come nearly two years ago, on August 18, 2012.
The pilot of the Al Archer and Rob Gunther-owned No. 00 nabbed the lead from co-front row starter, Brandon Bellinger, at the drop of the green flag and never looked back, leading all 75 laps. He would successfully navigate his way through lapped traffic, maintain command on numerous race restarts and never allow a chaser to mount a challenge for the lead en route to the win.
Listen to – Joe Gosek
Pat Lavery, Kody Graham, Bellinger and David Gruel chased Gosek across the stripe to lead the maiden lap. Points chase leader and defending track champ, Otto Sitterly joined the fray on the fourth lap, bouncing Bellinger out of the top five.
10 laps in, Gosek led Lavery and Graham towards the tail-end of the field. Three trips later, the traffic began to get a little heavier. As Gosek diced high and low, Lavery and Graham drew the race leader in, picking their own lanes of choice through the maze.
On the 15th lap, Graham would split a lapped car with Lavery on the backstretch. Going three-wide, Graham’s No. 90 would reach the third turn ahead of Lavery’s No. 22 and take over the runner-up spot. One lap later, Bellinger would get turned around in the midst of a mid-pack battle and bring out the caution flag.
With 15 laps in the books, Gosek led Graham, Lavery, Gruel and Bob Bond. Michael Barnes, Keith Shampine, Joey Payne, Michael Muldoon and Jerry Curran rounded out the top 10.
While under caution, sixth-place running and recent feature winner Ritskes would retire for the evening with suspension issues on the Ken Locke-owned No. 37. Also, fifth-place running Sitterly would take the John Nicotra-owned No. 7 into the pits. He would come back out, but soon return pit-side for the evening, as well.
Nicotra offered up what delivered the series points leader a DNF.
Listen to – John Nicotra
After a quick spin by Lou LeVea, Sr. on the ensuing restart, Gosek would lead the pack back to racing. The front six would soon find themselves heading back into lapped traffic near the 25-lap mark.
Around lap No. 30, the left rear wheel on fourth-place running Gruel’s No. 50 would begin to glow brightly for all to see as it made its way around Oswego’s fast five-eighth’s mile. The rear brakes were overheating and with it, Gruel’s times were slowing.
A precautionary yellow would fly for a near spin in the back of the pack on the 38th lap. While under caution, seventh-place running Shampine would exit the racing surface with overheating issues on the Chris Osetek-owned No. 55.
Again, Graham was unable to mount a charge on Gosek on the restart. The No. 00 was looking solid as it quickly put a comfortable margin between itself and its nearest chasers. At the lap No. 50 mark, Gosek had built himself a 15-car length advantage. That margin would come in handy as he would soon hit his only speed bump of the race.
Coming out of turn No. 2 on the 59th lap, Gosek’s No. 00 would bobble and lose momentum. Not knowing the cause, the race leader would slow and cautiously begin to regroup. Graham, Bond, Lavery and Barnes were quick to pounce on the suddenly vulnerable point man. However, Gosek would cash in on the lead he had built and regain control before the nose of any challenger could pull alongside.
On the 65th lap, battling in traffic behind Gosek, Graham and Bond would take high and low lanes around Lou LeVea, Jr.’s No. 83 heading towards the first turn. Fighting for the runner-up position, the two would race to the same preferred lane to make the turn and come together. Bond would maintain control, but Graham would eventually lose the handle and slide in front of Lavery’s No. 22. Lavery would slow, but make contact with Graham, ending up climbing atop the No. 90.
After a heat race win early on and a strong feature run, Graham’s night would end with a 13th-place finish.
Listen to – Kody Graham
With 10 trips to go, Gosek would have a new challenger in Bond on his tail for the restart. Barnes, Payne and Gruel rounded out the top five. The ensuing green flag saw Muldoon and LeVea, Sr. tangle between turns three and four. This caution would end up putting the field over its lap limit for fuel and the race was red flagged for refueling. Lavery would use the extended caution period to make quick repairs and rejoin the race on the lead lap.
Despite a new challenger behind him, Gosek was solid on the restart, once again. A few green flag laps would be run before the final yellow flag would fly for Muldoon’s No. 51, after it pounded the third-turn wall.
Gosek would take the last green flag and run the final seven laps unchallenged en route to the win.
Driving the Four Sevens Motorsports No. 47, Bond would cross the checkered stripe in second.
Listen to – Bob Bond
Backing up his feature win his last time out, Barnes finished in third.
Listen to – Michael Barnes
Collecting his third top-five finish this season, Payne drove the Strong Racing No. 99 home in fourth.
Listen to – Joey Payne
Driving with little to no brakes left on his No. 50, Gruel still managed to cut into Sitterly’s points chase lead and earn himself a fifth-place finish.
Listen to – Dave Gruel
Getting a late start to the 2014 season and unsure how many races he’ll be able to make, Curran drove his No. 24 to a solid sixth-place finish.
Listen to – Jerry Curran
Novelis Supermodified Grand Prix 75: 1. Joe Gosek (00), 2. Bob Bond (47), 3. Michael Barnes (47), 4. Joey Payne (99), 5. Dave Gruel (50), 6. Jerry Curran (24), 7. Pat Lavery (22), 8. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 9. Bobby Haynes (44), 10. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 11. Stephen Gioia, III (9), 12. Michael Muldoon (51), 13. Kody Graham (90), 14. Tim Devendorf (5), 15. Keith Shampine (55), 16. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 17. Jeff Abold (05). 18. Otto Sitterly (7), 19. Brandon Bellinger (02), 20. Randy Ritskes (37), 21. Hal LaTulip (56), 22. Brian Sweeney (3), 23. Howard Page (18), 24. David Danzer (52), 25. Tim Snyder (0)
Heat race wins were earned by Keith Shampine, Michael Barnes and Kody Graham.