For the second week in a row, a Novelis supermodified driver tasted victory lane for the very first time at the Oswego Speedway. Second-year driver, Aric Iosue, captured the checkered flag on Saturday night, winning the 75-lap Independence Grand Prix. He would guide his Ray Graham-owned No. 11 the final 15 laps en route to winning the caution-free event. The victory was the third to come out of the Graham Racing stable in 2016.
Having led the first seven laps of the race from the pole position, Iosue would watch third-row starter, Dave Gruel, zip past him on the eighth circuit and command the race for the next 52 laps. However, Gruel’s No. 50 would begin to lose its might and a patient, steady Iosue would retake the lead on the 61st lap.
Listen to – Aric Iosue
Iosue and Joe Gosek led the field to the green to start the evening’s main event, with Iosue edging out Gosek’s No. 00 to lead the maiden lap. Michael Muldoon, Brandon Bellinger and Gruel filled out the top five behind the lead duo.
Gruel was aggressive early, after taking fourth away from Bellinger on the second lap he would then chase Muldoon four trips before taking over third. Not letting up, Gruel would use the outside lane to muscle his way around Gosek and Iosue, vaulting from third to first on the eighth lap.
Gruel and his No. 50 were quick to put distance between themselves and their nearest chasers. By the 17th lap, Gruel’s lead had grown to nearly a full straightaway.
However, the race leader’s pace would slow after catching the tail-end of the field on the 26th lap. Iosue would close the gap by the 30th lap, but as soon as Gruel found a path his lead began to grow again.
At the lap No. 35 mark, Gosek and Muldoon continued to hold the third and fourth positions. Having started ninth, Michael Barnes had just moved around Bellinger to break into the top five. Pat Lavery, Keith Shampine, Bob Bond and Kody Graham filled out remainder of the top 10.
By the 50th lap, Iosue had again closed up on the race leader. Gosek had been racing 20 lengths off the pace, but had begun reeling in the two leaders. Gruel’s No. 50 was beginning to run out of steam.
Having yet to have taken a shot at the front-runner, Iosue would see a golden opportunity on the 61st lap after Gruel bobbled in the fourth turn. Iosue would take aim at the opening left by the race leader and reclaim the top spot. His No. 11 would continue to move forward, building itself a solid lead as laps began to near their end.
Iosue would carefully navigate his final few trips around the lakeside oval’s five-eighth’s mile. His lead would grow to 10 lengths and then 20 before the checkered flag finally fell on the sophomore racer.
Gruel would stay ahead of Gosek, salvaging a second-place run and unofficially taking over the lead in the championship points chase.
Listen to – Dave Gruel
Landing his first top-five of the season, Gosek was finally able to avoid exiting the speedway via the hook, earning himself a third-place finish.
Listen to – Joe Gosek
Muldoon and Barnes rounded out the top five.
Novelis Grand Prix 75: 1. Aric Iosue (11), 2. David Gruel (50), 3. Joe Gosek (00), 4. Michael Muldoon (15), 5. Michael Barnes (68), 6. Bob Bond (47), 7. Brandon Bellinger (02), 8. Otto Sitterly (7), 9. Pat Lavery (12), 10. Kody Graham (21), 11. Jeff Abold (05), 12. Timmy Jedrzejek (91), 13. Dave Danzer (52), 14. Tim Snyder (0), 15. Davey Hamilton, Jr. (14), 16. Keith Shampine (55), 17. Dave Cliff (99), 18. Jerry Curran (24), 19. Ray Graham (90), 20. Dan Connors (01), 21. Hal LaTulip (56), 22. DNS – Lou LeVea, Jr. (83)
Heat Race #1: 1. Ray Graham (90), 2. Bob Bond (47), 3. Joe Gosek (00), 4. Aric Iosue (11), 5. Jerry Curran (24), 6. Davey Hamilton, Jr. (14), 7. Hal LaTulip (56), 8. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83)
Heat Race #2: 1. Michal Muldoon (15), 2. Jeff Abold (05), 3. Dave Gruel (50), 4. Michael Barnes (68), 5. Dave Danzer (52), 6. Timmy Jedrzejek (91), 7. Dan Connors (01)
Heat Race #3: 1. Brandon Bellinger (02), 2. Keith Shampine (55), 3. Pat Lavery (12), 4. Kody Graham (21), 5. Otto Sitterly (7), 6. Tim Snyder (0), 7. Dave Cliff (99)