Graham Leads All 45 Laps, Back on Track With Win #2

By – Chris Porter
Victory Lane Photo – Jim Feeney

Heading into the 2009 racing season at the Oswego Speedway, Ray Graham, Jr. wanted to contend for the track championship in the supermodified division. He kicked off his season earning his first Oswego feature win on opening night. However, a combination of typical handling frustrations and the occasional freakish gremlin attack all but punted him out of track title contention.

Just winning races has since become his goal. Saturday night, Graham was able to conquer those early season woes and put himself back atop the field, winning the supermodified feature event at the Oswego Speedway.

Taking the lead away from Oswego’s Tim Snyder, Graham survived challenges mounted by Double-Deuce Racing’s Pat Lavery and New Jersey native Joey Payne to claim the win.

Listen toRay Graham, Jr. on his second feature win

Graham and Snyder led the 22-car field to the green to start the 45-lap Oswego Bagelry/Days Inn & Scottish Inn-sponsored feature event. Graham took the early advantage, leading Snyder, Bob Magner, Jason Spaulding and Stephen Gioia, III across the line to lead lap No. 1.

While Graham sped away, Magner slipped under Snyder for second and Lavery, bested Gioia for fifth.

At the 10-lap mark, Graham maintained a comfortable lead over Magner. A ways back, Snyder, Spaulding and Lavery fought for third. A few more lengths behind, Gioia, Payne and Dave McKnight did battle for sixth.

Otto Sitterly joined the fight for sixth after moving around McKnight’s No. 08 on the 12th lap. It soon became a 7-car battle for third as the foursome caught the trio ahead of them.

Having been running just outside the top-10 with Joe Gosek, Doug Didero brought out the caution flag after something went amiss on the back-end of his No. 3 between turns three and four. It was unclear whether contact with Gosek’s No. 00 resulted in the demise of the No. 3. Didero was able to keep it off of the wall, but the weekly contender was done for the night.

Graham’s advantage was erased. With 15 laps in the books, his No. 90 led Magner, Snyder, Spaulding and Lavery. Gioia, Payne, Sitterly, McKnight and Jerry Curran completed the top 10. Gosek, Keith Shampine, Keith Gilliam, Todd Stowell and Lou LeVea filled out the top 15.

On the restart, Lavery maneuvered his way around the outside of Spaulding to take away fourth. He was then quickly promoted to third after Magner’s No. 22 suddenly slowed and pitted with terminal problems.

On the 18th lap, Graham was dancing 15 car lengths ahead of the field when contact in turn No. 1 between Stowell’s No. 89 and Gilliam’s No. 87 brought out the caution flag.

When Graham brought the field back to racing, Lavery shot underneath Snyder’s No. 0 in turn three, moving into the runner-up position. Graham had already built a significant advantage, but Lavery’s No. 2 appeared to be quick enough to bite into it.

One lap later, Payne put his No. 99 under Snyder for third. Gioia and Sitterly moved into the fourth and fifth-place positions after bettering Snyder on the 22nd lap.

With every lap passing, Lavery was slicing away at Graham’s real estate. On the 25th lap, his No. 2 car recorded the fasted lap of the race.

Lavery had just closed in on Graham’s No. 90, when the two entered lapped traffic. Lavery was following Graham around LeVea, Jr.’s No. 04 car when he became crossed up and skidded high between turns three and four. Lavery skated through the turns until he came into contact with a foam block that lay askew in turn four.

His No. 2 car punted the foam monster into the air, placing it in the racing groove. The caution lights flashed and Lavery was sent to the rear for having been the culprit for blocking the racing surface. It essentially ended his bid to pick up his first checkered flag. Lavery would end up finishing 10th.

Listen toPat Lavery on his feature run

While under caution, Snyder pulled pitside, giving up sixth place. He returned to eventually finish in 11th.

Like Lavery, Payne was seeking his first Oswego win as well. He followed Graham’s rear bumper back to green flag racing. Graham tip-toed out in front, leaving Payne to fend off Gioia and Sitterly.

Sitterly attempted a sling-shot move on Gioia on the 34th lap, but the No. 9 was running too strong. When he tried it again on the 35th lap, the trio found themselves right behind the race leader.

Graham had begun to develop a push between the turns, allowing his chasers to move in for and gun for the kill. However, Graham wasn’t about to give in.

Payne took a few peeks around No. 90, but to no avail. Sitterly gave up on bettering Gioia off of turn four after he was able to shoot under him in turn three with just two to go.

Payne wasn’t able to find the room he needed to mount a serious bid for the lead. Graham took the white flag with a full length advantage and maintained it the final 5/8 of a mile to seal the win.

Picking up the Super Racing News Up & Comer award, Payne finished with a solid second place.

Listen toJoey Payne on his second-place featuer finish

Taking a podium finish away from Gioia with just two laps to go, the division’s points leader raced across the line in third. He now holds a 37-point advantage on Payne in the points chase for the track title.

Listen to2008 Track Champion Otto Sitterly on his third-place finish

After pocketing a heat race win earlier in the evening, Gioia earned another top-five feature finish, crossing the checkered stripe in fourth.

Listen toStephen Gioia, III on driving his No. 9 to a fourth-place finish

McKnight earned a top-five finish for car owner, Gary Syrell.

Listen toDave McKnight, Jr. on landing the No. 08 in fifth place

Magner, Gioia and Gosek picked up heat race wins.

Supermodified Heats Pics:

Oswego Speedway is closed next weekend, but returns on August 1 with its annual Mr. Supermodified $10,000 dollar to-win 50-lapper. After winning last weekend’s $10,000 dollar to-win King of Wings MSA-sanctioned event, Ohio’s Charlie Schultz will attempt to collect a $20,000 bonus by winning the Mr. Supermodified event. He could end up walking away with $30,000 dollars that night, a $40,000 dollar two-race total.

Oswego Bagelry/Days Inn & Scottish Inn 45:
1. Ray Graham, Jr. (90), 2. Joey Payne (99), 3. Otto Sitterly (7), 4. Stephen Gioia, III (9), 5. Dave McKnight, Jr. (08), 6. Keith Gilliam (87), 7. Todd Stowell (89), 8. Jason Spaulding (23), 9. Keith Shampine (88), 10. Pat Lavery (2), 11. Tim Snyder (0), 12. Lou LeVea (61), 13. Jerry Curran (24), 14. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 15. Joe Gosek (00), 16. Greg Furlong (72), 17. Hal LaTulip (56), 18. Lou LeVea, Jr. (03), 19. Bob Magner (22), 20. Doug Didero (3), 21. Bob Bogwicz (09), 22. Michael Barnes (66)