OSWEGO, NY – Two-time Oswego Speedway Novelis Supermodified track champion Joe Gosek has been behind the wheel at the lakeside oval since 1980, and over the years has visited Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane on several occasions; 40 to be exact.
A number of those wins have surely been memorable, from his three International Classic triumphs to his 1986 Memorial Day Weekend victory in honor of Richie Evans. However, a pending 41st career win at the Speedway may prove to be most memorable as the Oswego native looks to tie Speedway legend Nolan Swift on the All-Time Oswego Speedway Supermodified win list.
Swift, a member of the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame, had 42 total wins at the Speedway from 1953-1961 in the A-Modified division at Oswego. When the Supermodified class became a weekly division at the ‘Steel Palace’ in 1962, Swift continued his astonishing success, adding another 41 career main event wins in the open-wheel headliner putting his overall win total at an amazing count of 83.
In looking back through the pages of Oswego Speedway history only Ed Bellinger Jr., Bentley Warren, and Jim Shampine have more Supermodified wins than Swift. As Gosek looks to add his name to this iconic list and potentially tie the mark originally set forth by the ‘Old Grey Fox’, ‘Double O’ Joe is quick to recognize the amazing company he seeks to join.
“Those are guys you look back as the number one drivers of the day,” said Gosek. “I guess maybe you don’t look at it until you are winding down, but to be in the same record book with those guys is pretty impressive. When I started out those guys were my heroes, and now you are hand in hand with them as far as winning races at Oswego Speedway, its impressive really.”
Gosek, who picked up his first Oswego Supermodified main event win on August 3, 1985 in a 75-lap double point special, has not been to victory lane since August 21, 2010. The driver of the Burke’s Do-It-Best Home Center No. 00 sees a second career Memorial Day Weekend triumph, his first since 1986, as the perfect way to grab historic win #41 in another 75-lap affair.
“It would be something special,” said Gosek, in his Oswego race shop. “Having been friends with Richie Evans, it would mean a lot. I didn’t get to know Jimmy too well personally, but he was so sharp overall as an engineer-driver-mechanic-builder, he had the whole package and I think his record proves that. It’ll come for us this year, if anything comes from the feeling I got the first week out, I think we’ll have a shot at many wins this year.”
In looking toward the future, Gosek sees another driver in the current Novelis Supermodified field as being the next shoe to potentially challenge the marks of Shampine, Warren, Bellinger and Swift.
“Otto (Sitterly) with the team he has, and I don’t know how long he’ll keep racing, the way he is rolling and with what you saw from opening night he is going to be tough,” said Gosek. “He drives hard; he is probably one of the most aggressive guys up there. He has got everything rolling for him. He has a great crew, great sponsorship, great team, and I think his team is the number one team and if you are going to beat him you need to be on your A game every time. Again, I don’t know how long he will race, but he has half as many wins as me and if he keeps going I think he will have a shot at it.”
In all of his years at the Speedway, Gosek has won nearly everything there is in Supermodified racing. With that said, the former Indianapolis 500 starter still has a couple notches leftover on his belt.
“We haven’t won a Classic in ten years,” said Gosek. “I like the long races and I would like another shot at Classic. I’d like to win with a wing on, which I’ve never done at Oswego. That’s tough when those guys come in from out of town, and we don’t do it all the time. This year though I am going to run those shows for Dave and Lori May and they have cars that have been in the Top 5 in the last so many shows here.”
With more than 30 years behind the wheel at Oswego Speedway, and a strong supporting cast of characters behind him, Gosek plans no stop in his momentum for a least the next few years.
“I still enjoy it,” said Gosek. “It’s still fun and I still have that desire to be up front, but finding the time anymore to do it 100% is hard, but if we can make it safe and do the best we can equipment wise and financially and our results are decent that’s fine with me. I’ve done it enough where you want to be up top every week or you wouldn’t be there, and we’re trying, but when you look at the big picture you get what you put into it. I’ve got a lot of people that still love it and are pushing me. I don’t see myself going much longer than three years, I think there are a lot of other things I would like to do, but it’s still fun and we’re still competitive so that’s the two ingredients that keep you going.”
Despite not finishing the opening night main event at the Speedway on May 5 due to steering issues, Gosek looks to mark his next place in Oswego Speedway history at the next event on the Speedway’s racing schedule, which is the Mitchell’s Speedway Press Memorial Day Weekend Tripleheader on Saturday, May 26 featuring the Novelis Supermodifieds, Pathfinder Bank SBS Series, and the Race of Champions Modifieds.
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