OSWEGO, NY – In the 25 year history of the $10,000 to win Mr. Novelis Supermodified event at Oswego Speedway, three previous drivers had won their very first Oswego Supermodified main event in the high stakes spectacular.
Saturday night, on a hot and slick ‘Steel Palace’ oval, young Kody Graham made it four behind the wheel of the Xtreme Chassis No. 21. Graham passed fellow up and coming pilot Michael Muldoon for the lead on lap 17, then held off the advances of Supermodified veterans Mike Barnes and Joe Gosek in a three car grudge match to collect the $10,000 pay day in the 75-lap special presented by Novelis.
Gene Lee Gibson (1987), Mike Muldoon (1988), and Tim Gareau (1997) were the original members of the Mr. Supermodified first time fraternity which Graham now joins. Standing in Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane at race’s end, Graham was asked if he ever thought it would happen.
“No, not at all,” said Graham, the 21 year old first time winner. “We went back to where the car was good, and it was tight the whole time until about lap 50 when it started getting sideways. I thought, well in a normal feature I would have had it, but I had to dig down deep and find something the last 25 laps.”
Graham, Barnes, and Gosek waged an epic battle over the final 25 laps of the race with Barnes in the No. 99 appearing to be the fastest car on the Speedway. Several times he made attempts on the Graham No. 21 but just couldn’t quite make the move stick.
“I was sideways,” said Graham. “I bumped into Mike on accident, and with all those lap cars I thought he’d get me then if he could, but he didn’t.”
Barnes dogged Graham for several laps and at lap 60 made his first charge at the point. Trying high and low, in traffic and out, and on lap 67 nearly lost the handle in the 4th turn giving Gosek the runner-up spot. Just one lap later, Barnes would pull pit side with overheating issues in the Strong Racing No. 99.
“Kody and I were racing really hard there,” said Barnes after the event. “We actually weren’t really all that good, the car was really loose. I got up alongside Kody there and he took me up high, which he has to do there, and I got all crossed up and Gosek got by me. The motor had been running hot the whole race to that point and I was trying my best to keep it cool, but right when Joe got by it was pegged at 240 so at that point we didn’t have a shot at $10,000 to fix it if I blew it up, so I just pulled it in.”
Gosek, who had finished second in the Mr. Novelis Supermodified five previous times (’88, ’89, ’91, ’06, ’11), would try his hand at Graham in the closing stages but was also unable to up-end the No. 21 on his way to victory.
Muldoon, Dave Gruel, Joey Payne, Otto Sitterly, Pat Lavery, Ray Graham, Brian Sobus, and Jeff Abold would complete the Top 10 runners at the conclusion of 75 laps.
Muldoon and Bobby Haynes Jr. would bring the Novelis Supermodified field down to the Cam’s NY Pizzeria green flag for the $10,000 to win Mr. Novelis Supermodified main event, with Muldoon edging out in front behind the wheel of the No. 50m.
Muldoon, as he has done a few different times in 2012, would immediately blast out to a sizeable lead in the early stages leaving Haynes, Jerry Curran, Kody Graham, and Gruel in his tire tracks. By lap 10, drivers running 2nd through 10th were in a tight freight train, and by lap 13 Muldoon jumped out to a half straightaway lead on the remainder of the field.
The race’s 15th circuit would see the first caution period of the race and this one was for Curran, who lost the handle out of turn four running inside of the Top 5 in the No. 24. During the caution the Gosek No. 00 was stopped at the flag stand to check for a possible leak, but Gosek was passed and allowed to rejoin the field.
At the restart Muldoon led Haynes, Graham, Gruel, and Stephen Gioia III to the green flag. At this point Barnes and Gosek rode just outside the Top 5, with championship leader Sitterly in 9th and two time defending Mr. Supermodified Ray Graham in 13th.
Graham would use the restart at lap 15 to begin his run at the lead, as he pulled to the low side of Haynes to take the runner-up spot coming to green. The No. 21 would quickly pull up to the back bumper of Muldoon and just two laps later again pulled low to take the top spot on the 17th circuit. From there, Graham jumped out to a healthy lead over Muldoon, Haynes, Gruel, and Gioia.
From laps 20-25 Barnes and Gosek began to position themselves within the Top 5.
In consecutive laps Barnes worked underneath both Gioia and Gruel to move into 4th, with Gosek following suit into the Top 5 positions. Each then began to work the Haynes No. 44, but another caution at lap 26 would impede their progress.
Shaun Gosselin and Dave Danzer would turn on the yellow lights in turn four. Gosselin was pushed away from the scene, while Danzer was hooked to the pit area. Each would be done for the night with finishes of 20th and 21st.
The restart order showed Graham, Muldoon, Haynes, Barnes, and Gosek now in the Top 5 ahead of Gruel, Gioia, Payne, Sitterly, and Lavery.
As the green flag waved yet again, Barnes and Gosek continued their pursuit.
Barnes worked low on Haynes into turn three on the restart to 3rd with Gosek making his way under Haynes in turn one on lap 30. From there, Barnes bested Muldoon to the low side in turn three on lap 31 showing the way for Gosek to make the move the following lap into turn three.
At the halfway point of the event the scoreboard now showed Graham, Barnes, and Gosek with a substantial lead over Muldoon, Haynes, Gruel, Gioia, Payne, and Sitterly.
As the Top 3 runner’s lead continued to grow over the rest of the field, the race’s final caution waved on lap 42.
Gioia and Payne were pitted in a heated battle for 7th when the two cars narrowly touched coming out of turn four. The Gioia No. 9 would lose traction as a result, spinning across the main straight, making contact with the inside hub rail. Gioia immediately climbed out of the car, walking to the pit area, while the new No. 9 was hooked to the pit area.
The Payne No. 20 was undamaged and continued on, now into the 7th position on the Speedway.
With 33 laps remaining at the restart, a true battle was shaping up for the top spot between Graham, Barnes, and Gosek. By lap 50 the Top 3 runners had built over a full straightaway lead on fourth running Muldoon, making it clear it would be a three horse race to the finish.
If that wasn’t enough, that full straight lead built to over a half a track by lap 60, with Graham clearly slowing slightly and Barnes beginning his charge.
Both Graham and Barnes were visibly loose, leaving Gosek to sit in the wake looking for an opening. Starting on lap 63 Barnes tried the high side on Graham in consecutive laps in turn three, trying to use the heavily building lapped machines as picks. But Graham used every inch of the track forcing Barnes out of the groove and too high, leaving the No. 99 unable to take the lead. On several occasions, Barnes was so high that Gosek gained looks to the low side, but he too was unable to make any headway.
Finally, on lap 67 Barnes appeared to have the pass made until he and Graham touched wheels out of turn four in traffic forcing Barnes to have to gather up his machine with a great save. That save however allowed Gosek to slip by for second, and just one lap later Barnes pulled pit side ending his night.
With five laps remaining Gosek now began to give the Graham No. 21 fits in lapped traffic, as each were in search of their first Mr. Novelis Supermodified crown. But as the laps ticked away it became evident that Gosek did not have enough to work to the high side of Graham was Barnes did, and it was clear that Graham was not going to leave the bottom side of the Speedway.
With that said, Graham would speed on to his first career Oswego Supermodified win worth a whopping $10,000 as he became the 14th different winner of the event in its 26 year history.
Gosek would be left to his 9th career Mr. Novelis Supermodified Top 5 finish, tying him with Greg Furlong all-time.
“We’ve got a good piece here, we were just off a little bit tonight,” said Gosek in post-race. “Congratulations to Kody, he ran where he needed to and he didn’t slip up when I got to him. I couldn’t get up to the outside; it was too slick out there, so I really couldn’t give him a run unless he slipped on the bottom.”
While Gosek was happy with another podium finish after destroying his No. 00 back in June, he was clearly dejected with his 6th career runner-up finish in the $10,000 event, which he has yet to win.
“We’re happy with 2nd but not tonight, we’ve done that too many times in this stupid race,” said Gosek. “Bridesmaid is no good tonight, but we’ve got a good car, and that is something to build on. We’ve got a great gang and a great team, I just wish we could have got it done tonight, it would have been a nice celebration after coming back.”
After leading the early portion of the event, Muldoon was happy to end another night on the podium in the No. 50m.
“The car went the complete opposite on us in the feature,” Muldoon said. “We thought it would be tight and instead it got really loose after about 15 laps, and it was pretty impossible to drive by the end of the race. I couldn’t compete with these two (Graham and Gosek), I had no chance, but I’m pretty happy. I really wanted to win, but we’ll take third, because with the car we had tonight I would not have expected a third anyways.”
Bernys Banks $1,500 with Career First in Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS
AJ Bernys became the 19th different winner in the Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS 35 on Saturday night at Oswego Speedway after passing Dalton Doyle on lap 12 on his way to the victory. Bernys, who began racing in the SBS series back in 2010, was able to fend off hard charging Tim Barbeau and Jason Simmons en route to the big win worth $1,500.
“Man, it feels really good,” said Bernys, in Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane. “The car was fast all night with a little push in the feature, but it felt real good and I’m just really happy with it.”
Barbeau hounded Bernys in the late stages of the event, staring at the back of the No. 24 machine. A sight that Barbeau was not used to, as he used to drive the machine that Bernys took to victory lane.
“I was trying to forget that he (Barbeau) was behind me,” said Bernys. “I was just looking ahead, focusing on the marks and trying to hit them every lap, and be as smooth as I could and not let him by.”
Barbeau, Simmons, Rob Pullen, and Mike Bond filled the Top 5 positions ahead of Mark Castiglia, Kreig Heroth, Chris Proud, Barry Kingsley, and Andrew Schartner.
Bernys would start the Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS main event from the pole position, but it was Doyle leaping out front early on in the No. 01. Barbeau would quickly position himself inside the Top 3 behind Bernys followed by Cameron Rowe and Jack Patrick.
The field would file in line early on before the cautions lights came on at lap 3 for a spinning Josh Kerr in No. 8. Kerr and Kingsley made contact in turn one with Kerr getting the shorter end of the stick. The No. 8 would re fire and join the field at the rear.
After the restart yet another altercation would occur, this time between Heroth in the No. 04 and the Mike Bruce No. 22. The two would touch wheels coming down the front straight with Heroth taking a ride into the outside main straight retaining wall. Each car would continue, although the Heroth No. 04 had significant cosmetic damage.
As the field came back to green with Doyle leading Bernys, Barbeau, Rowe, and Patrick; Jason Simmons began to apply pressure from outside the Top 5 and in doing so was able to surge on by Patrick in turn two to take the 5th spot. As the laps ticked away a 10 car freight train would build including Patrick, Pullen, Bond, Schartner, and Castiglia just outside the Top 5.
As the race approached the 1/3 mark, Bernys really began to apply the pressure to the back of Doyle. On lap 12 it paid off, as Bernys worked to the low side of the No. 01 in turn one to take the top spot. Just one lap later Barbeau moved to the low side as well in turn three to take second.
As the lap counter turned to 14, Bernys had built a 10 car length lead on Barbeau, and at the same time the caution lights came on for a pivotal jingle in turn four.
Just outside the Top 5 Schartner, Pullen, Bond, and Patrick were all running tight and in a good battle until something happened up front to jumble the field. Schartner was forced into the rear end of the car in front of him, pushing him up to the outside wall in turn four. Patrick was involved as well and would call it a night ending in 20th.
Schartner would rejoin the field, but the incident was crucial as at the time he and point leader Bond were running in tandem, and now Schartner would have to restart from the rear of the field.
As the green lights came back on Bernys led Barbeau, Doyle, Rowe, Simmons, Pullen, Bond, Castiglia, Kinglsey, and Proud across the stripe.
Simmons would continue his charge in the No. 98 working around Rowe for 4th in turn three on lap 17. Rowe apparently was having issues with the No. 77, pulling pit side thereafter.
With 15 laps to go Barbeau had managed to reel in Bernys and was all over the back of the No. 24 in the closing stages. With the battle for the lead heating up, Simmons looked to join as well moving passed Doyle on lap 23 to 3rd.
Just as Barbeau looked to have something for Bernys and the race lead, Bernys seemed to find another gear, as he began to again distance himself from the No. 79 as the lap counter reached 30. As Bernys seemed to be able to relax out front, a caution flag hit the air erasing the No. 24’s edge.
The Doyle No. 01 would be the cause of the race’s last caution as he and Pullen came together in turn one. Doyle rejoined the race, finishing 13th overall, after having another fine run going up front.
The race’s final restart showed Bernys ahead of Barbeau, Simmons, Pullen and Bond in the Top 5. As the green lights switched on, it became evident once again that Bernys was the class of the field on this night as he streaked underneath the Cam’s NY Pizzeria checkered flag for his first career main event win as a part of Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS night at the Speedway.
Barbeau, who has been nearly as consistent as anyone at the Speedway this season is still in search of his first win in 2012, but was pleased with the effort despite losing ground on Bernys late.
“The car went away there a bit at the end,” said Barbeau. “I know that car is a great car (the Bernys No. 24), I sold it to these guys, and AJ did a great job tonight. He just was a little bit quicker than me coming off the corner. I have to thank all my sponsors, the FFB guys and the Heagerty’s for giving me this opportunity.”
Simmons settled for third with his brand new Ford powered Hedger chassis, but the podium finish was bitter sweet as the No. 98 is in search of career win #1.
“It was pretty good for the first night out in the car,” said Simmons. “We are still working on the setup and everything, and we didn’t really have anything for Timmy or AJ. We’ll take what we got tonight, and we will be back with a better car next week.”
The next event on Oswego Speedway’s schedule will be presented by C’s Beverage as well as Days Inn/Travelodge featuring a 50-lap Novelis Supermodified feature event, a 30-lap Pathfinder Bank SBS Series main as well as the Tobias SpeedSTR series coming next Saturday, August 11.
Racing will begin at 6:30pm with general admission pricing set a $17. Tickets are also available for this Saturday at any Price Chopper Supermarkets location for just $14. Kids 16 and under are FREE with paid adult, as well as any active Military with ID.
For more information on Oswego Speedway be sure to visit online at www.oswegospeedway.com. Fans can also like the Speedway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway or follow on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway.
For tickets or merchandise call the Speedway box office at (315) 342-0646.