Gruel, Gosek and Snyder win at Oswego. Gruel and Sitterly are 2009 Track Champions.

By Danny Johnson

Victory Lane at Oswego Speedway was a crowded place Saturday night, as Dave Gruel, Joe Gosek and Tim Snyder all won feature events on Twin Features night. Gruel swept the SBS 20 lap main events, on his way to clinching the 2009 SBS track championship. Joe Gosek led all 30 laps in the first supermodified feature, while Tim Snyder inherited the top spot with just three laps to g after leader Todd Stowell’s 89 spun while leading. Otto Sitterly raced to his third supermodified track championship in four years with his second place run in feature one, and seventh place run in feature two.

Saturday night also saw one of the most vicious accidents in a while as Jerry Curran catapulted his #24 along the front straightaway wall, and flipped wildly from the start finish line, all the way to turn one, along the top of the catch fence, early going outside the speedway. Curran pulled himself out of the badly damaged machine uninjured.

Joe Gosek and Todd Stowell led the 21 car parade to the line for the first 30 lap supermodified event, with the pair racing side by side to the back straightaway before Gosek inched out ahead. The field quickly fell in single file line, as Sitterly, Keith Shampine and Bobby Magner trailed early on. Lap 3 saw the first yellow flag as Greg Furlong’s 72 crashed in turn three, ending his night. Point leader Sitterly shot by Stowell on the restart to run 2.23 seconds behind Gosek, as second in points Joey Payne tried to get as far forward as he could, moving up to sixth in the first few laps.

Yellow again came over the speedway, this time on lap 9 as Jason Spaulding looped the #23 in turn one. Gosek remained in control of the race, while Sitterly rode just out of his shadows as it developed into a two car race. Gioia, Shampine, Magner, and Payne raced nose to tail for third, with Gioia remaining ahead of the pack. Spins for Danny Connors and Magner bunched the field, but nobody could run down Gosek, as he had the car to beat in the first race. Laps at 17.23 and 17.28 saw the 00 pull away, seemingly at will enroute to career win #39. Sitterly gave himself a bigger point cushion with his second place run, with Stowell, Payne and Pat Lavery filling out the top five.

“The car ran good in the first one,” Gosek said shortly after his win. “Starting up front helped, but when you have a car this good, you’re supposed to win. We’ll take the win, and look at it for the second race.”

The nightcap saw Gioia and Stowell draw front row starting assignments, as the main storyline here was that Sitterly had to finish thirteenth or better to clinch his third title. Stowell shot out from his outside pole spot to the lead, as Gioia, Snyder, Shampine and Keith Gilliam followed. Sitterly found the outside groove quickly, and followed Payne, his closest point competitor. Stowell stopped clocks at 17.64 and 17.55 in the initial laps, as he shot out to a comfortable advantage by lap 5. The 89 came into traffic for the first time on lap 13, which he handled with ease on the outside. He built the advantage to 3.06 seconds at the halfway point still with the 9, 0, 88 and 87 cars racing for second. Sitterly remained placed on the bumper of Payne’s 99, staying out of harms way.

Lap 22 saw the first yellow flag of race 2, for a third turn accident. Snyder moved to the outside of Gioia’s 9 on the take off for the second spot, but laps were winding down, and Snyder would need another slowdown to help catch the 89. That caution flag came on lap 27, as leader Stowell’s 89 spun in the middle of turn one, with the machines of Gosek, Bentley Warren, Dave McKnight, Pat Lavery, Hal Latulip, Sitterly, Bobby Haynes and Lou Levea Jr all coming to a rest. Stowell’s 89 broke a torque arm, while Warren’s 15 was the only other car eliminated in the late race scuffle. This handed the lead to Snyder, and he promptly put his foot into it and drove off for the checkered flag. Gioia, Shampine, Gilliam and Payne rounded out the top five. “We’ve tinkered with it all year, and we’re finally getting it to where we want it,” the last regular race winner of 09 stated. “Hopefully this will help us carry some momentum into Classic in two weeks.”

While Gosek and Snyder picked up feature wins, Otto Sitterly gathered the big prize, the 2009 Oswego Speedway supermodified track championship. It was the third championship in four years for the Nictora #7 team. “Having Johnny(Nicotra), you couldn’t ask for a better owner,” the newly crowned champ said gratefully. “We’re still measuring ourselves against Greg(Furlong) and all his accomplishments, and we have a ways to go, but this is great. It takes a lot of hard work by the crew, a lot of dedication, and a great owner like Johnny.”

Dave Gruel came into Saturday night with a one point margin over Russ Brown in the season long standings. Gruel did everything he could possibly do, as he won his heat race, turned the fastest last lap time to start on the pole for feature one, and then went out and swept both feature races, putting an exclamation point on his 2009 SBS season.

Gruel beat Andrew Schartner to turn one on the start of the first SBS 20 lap race. Brown followed Gruel through at the start, and the shootout was on between the two top point men. The lead duo tried to run away from the pack, but Mike Bond raced behind Brown, and the three top point drivers, ran in the top three positions inn race one. Brown followed closely behind Gruel, waiting for a mistake from the Fulton driver. Gruel’s concentration level was high, as he hit his marks, and never faltered in the feature race.

As Gruel and Brown raced five lengths ahead of the Bond, Brian Sobus, Schartner pack, this one was going to be decided between the 50 and 60 cars. Gruel never slipped, and drove under the checkered flag a car length ahead of Brown. “We did what we had to do,” Gruel said after the pressure packed run. “We need to make one change for the second race, but the car was good, and we’re happy with how the night has started. One more to go.”

Race two saw Shawn Walker and Barry Kingsley upfront, with Walker placing the #68 into the top spot when the race went green. Fans immediately watched Gruel, as he went from his inside third row starting spot, to eh outside groove early. The first lap, Gruel wheeled to third spot, staying in the high line. Gruel shot by Ron Pullen on lap two for second, and gave chase to Walker. Lap six, the drive to the front was complete, as Gruel stayed outside and moved by Walker on the front straightaway for the lead. Mike Bond followed the 50 to the front, and drove in his tire tracks looking for a way by.

The 50 and 26 pulled away by eight lengths with consecutive laps at 19.87, as Walker, Pullen and Brown tried to reel in the duo. Brown went by Pullen, then Walker, but time was running out on the 2009 season, and Brown needed something drastic to happen if he was going to catch, pass and overtake Gruel for the title. Gruel patiently worked his way through the lapped cars, and stayed in front enroute to his second win of the night, clinching his first ever Oswego championship.

“This is unbelievable,” the new champ exclaimed. “Timmy gives me a great car, and guys like Steve and the rest of my crew, I have to thank so much for all their hard work. This is a great feeling, and we couldn’t ask for a better year. We have a bunch of wins, a track title, and have mostly brought the car back in one piece most nights.”

News and notes…..22 cars were pitside in each division, for the final night of competition before Classic Weekend. Russ Brown, Andrew Schartner and Dave Gruel won SBS heats, while Keith Shampine, Todd Stowell and Joe Gosek won supermodified heats. Jerry Curran’s 24 was virtually destroyed in a first heat accident along the front straightaway. The 24 clipped the outside front straightaway wall, and vaulted along the wall, high into the air, coming to a rest upside down in turn one. There is no racing this weekend, with Classic Weekend next on the schedule on Labor Day Weekend.

Supermodified Feature 1:

1)Joe Gosek 00, 2)Otto Sitterly 7, 3)Todd Stowell 89, 4)Joey Payne 99, 5)Pat Lavery 2, 6)Keith Gilliam 87, 7)Tim Snyder 0, 8)Bentley Warren 15, 9)Jason Spaulding 23, 10)Keith Shampine 88, 11)Hal Latulip 56, 12)Dave McKnight 08, 13)Stephen Gioia 9, 14)Bobby Magner 22, 15)Danny Connors 01, 16)Lou Levea Jr 04, 17)Johnny Toresse 90, 18)Bobby Haynes Jr 07, 19)Jim Guyle 09, 20)Michael Barnes 66, 21)Greg Furlong 72

Supermodified Feature 2:

1)Tim Snyder 0, 2)Stephen Gioia 9, 3)Keith Shampine 88, 4)Keith Gilliam 87, 5)Joey Payne 99, 6)Pat Lavery 2, 7)Otto Sitterly 7, 8)Joe Gosek 00, 9)Dave McKnight 08, 10)Hal Latulip 56, 11)Jason Spaulding 23, 12)Lou Levea Jr 04, 13)Bobby Haynes Jr 07, 14)Todd Stowell 89, 15)Bentley Warren 15, 16)Michael Barnes 66, 17)Danny Connors 01, 18)Bobby Magner 22, 19)Johnny Toresse 90

SBS feature 1:

1)Dave Gruel 50, 2)Russ Brown 60, 3)Mike Bond 26, 4)Brian Sobus 79, 5)Andrew Schartner 18, 6)Rob Pullen 25, 7)Steve Abt 85, 8)Shawn Walker 68, 9)Tim Barbeau 58, 10)Barry Kingsley 23, 11)Dave Danzer 52, 12)Jack Patrick 9, 13)Ken Pierce 67, 14)Brian Haynes 86, 15)Chip Wood 2, 16)Mark Regan 4, 17)Dave Cliff 36, 18)Nick Demling 06 19)Stan Gates 28, 20)Sam Reakes IV 10, 21)Kevin Knopp 04, 22)Jason Simmons 91

SBS feature 2:

1)Dave Gruel 50, 2)Mike Bond 26, 3)Russ Brown 60, 4)Andrew Schartner 18, 5)Shawn Walker 68, 6)Rob Pullen 25, 7)Steve Abt 85, 8)Dave Danzer 52, 9)Tim Barbeau 58, 10)Dave Cliff 36, 11)Stan Gates 28, 12)Barry Kingsley 23, 13)Mark Regan 4, 14)Nick Demling 06, 15)Brian Haynes 86, 16)Chip Wood 2, 17)Sam Reakes IV 10, 18)Ken Pierce 67, 19)Kevin Knopp 04, 20)Brian Sobus 79, 21)Jack Patrick 9