By – Chris Porter
Photo – Oswego PR
Oswego native Shaun Gosselin etched his name into the Oswego Speedway’s record books as a Novelis supermodified feature winner after capturing the checkered flag Saturday night in the Port City. Gosselin’s No. 26 jumped ahead of co-front row starter, Michael Barnes at the start of the race, holding the lead for all 50 laps en route to career win No. 1. Taking the point at the drop of the green flag would prove critical as Barnes’ No. 99 would hound him nearly the entire distance.
Staving off early challenges from the Strong Racing No. 99, Gosselin would later successfully navigate his way through heavy lapped traffic – often going three-wide with Barnes, splitting their lapped competitors high and low. Upping the risk ante with every move, Gosselin’s split-second choices would pay off come race’s end.
“Every time I slipped up, I saw his bumper,” Gosselin said of his adventures with Barnes in lapped traffic. “I had to take chances to keep the lead. Luckily, we were able to not get into any trouble doing that.”
Seeking that first win, Gosselin’s bad luck a week ago actually made the decision to take more chances this week a little easier.
“Especially after last week with the engine issue, we’re really not racing for points,” he said. “Our goal from here on out was to win a feature and pretty much do anything I could to keep the lead and get through the traffic safely.”
A caution involving some of the duo’s nearest chasers would close the field back up and eliminate traffic concerns for the final few laps. However, Gosselin would find himself needing to survive a hip-check from Barnes and a final dash to the finish with Joe Gosek in the closing laps to seal the win.
“This isn’t going to sink in for a long time,” Gosselin said of his win. “This is a dream of mine since I could remember. This is awesome. It’s going to take some time to sink in, but I’m just going crazy inside. I don’t really know what to think.”
Listen to –Shaun Gosselin
Beating Barnes to the line to take the initial lead, Michael Muldoon, Dave Danzer and Tim Devendorf would fill out the top five to complete lap No. 1. Right from the drop of the green, last week’s feature winner and championship points leader, Otto Sitterly, had a thickening stream of smoke flowing from the right side of his No. 7. The smoke was from a severe right-rear tire rub that eventually led to the tire’s demise and a Sitterly spin.
Sitterly’s No. 7 ended up slapping the outside wall, just off turn No. 4. It was the first caution of the race and put an end to Sitterly’s night. Car owner, John Nicotra, believed that a rear suspension failure likely occurred at the end of the heat race, causing the body and tire to meet. Sitterly would end up losing his hold on the championship points race, falling to second behind Gosek.
A long green flag run would follow the ensuing restart. Barnes would take a few peeks to Gosselin’s inside, but none would provide enough room to make pass. As the lap board clicked to 10, the top five remained the same. Brian Sweeney, Tim Snyder, Gosek, Dan Connors, Jr. and Brandon Bellinger rounded out the top 10.
The leaders met the tail of the field on the 25th lap. Knowing the odds often fall the challenger’s way, Barnes would choose the opposite lane that Gosselin chose when maneuvering their way around lapped traffic. Barnes would draw alongside the race leader, often making it three-wide. However, Gosselin’s choice of lane would prove to be the best route and luck would fall his way.
After making their way through the first pack, each set sail into a march larger gaggle of supermodifieds on the 42nd lap. Again, Gosselin refused to hesitate. Barnes found a solid path underneath the race leader as they danced off of the fourth turn on the 43rd lap, but his No. 99 kicked sideways, losing its momentum.
Half of a lap later, their chasers ran into trouble navigating the same traffic the lead duo had just overtaken. The cars of Snyder, Devendorf, Sweeney and the lapped Clayton Brewer, III all came together just off of turn No. 2. Both Devendorf and Sweeney suffered night-ending damage.
Listen to – Tim Devendorf
With just seven trips around the lakeside oval remaining, Gosselin led Barnes, Muldoon, Danzer and Gosek. David Gruel, Connors, Pat Lavery, Jerry Curran and Bellinger completed the top 10.
With lapped traffic no longer an issue, Gosselin could focus his only challenge coming from Barnes. Glued to the race leader’s tail from the restart, Barnes saw room underneath Gosselin’s No. 26 as they raced into the first turn. However, his No. 99 could not hold its groove, sliding up and into Gosselin’s machine. The race leader would slide up towards the outside wall, but keep rolling. However, Barnes would loop his No. 99, collecting Muldoon, Danzer, Gosek, Muldoon, Connors and Bellinger.
Race officials would determine the post-wreck lineup. They ruled that Gosselin was not the cause of the accident and since he was able to keep going anyway, he would not be penalized. Muldoon and Gosek were each given their spots back as well, citing they were stopping to avoid the scene. The final restart would see Gosselin atop the field, with the wounded Muldoon and Gosek machines running second and third.
Gosselin looked solid on the restart, as Muldoon could not keep pace. Fighting an ill-handling car from contact with wall earlier, Muldoon was easy prey for Gosek’s No. 00. Taking second place, Gosek quickly moved in on the race leader.
Looking both high and low, Gosek searched for a way around the No. 26. For Gosselin to be overtaken, Gosek would need every ounce of grip. However, running with a badly damaged front wing from the Barnes incident, Gosek wouldn’t have the forward bite he would need to venture a pass.
Holding off a veteran driver who had visited victory lane dozens of times in his career, Gosselin would maintain his lead the final few laps and park his No. 26 under the flagger’s stand for the first time.
Broken front wing and all, Gosek would cruise across the checkered stripe in second. His second-place run, coupled with Sittely’s 21st-place finish, put the hometown hero atop the championship points standings with just two points races remaining.
Listen to – Joe Gosek
Running among the top five all night and surviving a few close calls along the way, Muldoon finished in third.
Listen to – Michael Muldoon
Able to avoid becoming another racer’s landing pad for the first time in a few weeks, Gruel drove the Double-Deuce Racing No. 50 to a fourth-place finish.
Listen to – David Gruel
Just behind teammate Gruel, Lavery would survive a few close calls to bring his No. 22 home in one piece, finishing in fifth.
Listen to – Pat Lavery
Novelis Supermodified Feature 50: 1. Shaun Gosselin (26), 2. Joe Gosek (00), 3. Michael Muldoon (51), 4. David Gruel (50), 5. Pat Lavery (22), 6. Dave Danzer (52), 7. Jerry Curran (24), 8. Tim Snyder (0), 9. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 10. Clayton Brewer, III (23), 11. Michael Barnes (99). 12. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 13. Brandon Bellinger (02), 14. Tim Devendorf (5), 15. Brian Sweeney (3), 16. Bob Bond (47), 17. Tony Steiner (07), 18. Hal LaTulip (56), 19. Joe Chillemi (14), 20. Ray Graham, Jr. (21), 21. Otto Sitterly (7), 22. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (44).
News & Notes: Heat race wins were collected by Gosselin, Barnes and Danzer. Former International Classic winner Bob Bond made his season debut Saturday night, piloting the brand new Four Sevens Motorsports No. 47. Wheeling the only big block supermodified in the team’s 6-car stable, Bond proved the Hawk Chassis’ potential, posting laps a half second faster than the leaders were running during the feature event. Bond started at the rear of the field and was just looking to break the new car in.