OSWEGO, NY – Oswego Speedway had not seen the likes of an Andretti on its racing surface since 1967, but that all changed on Sunday as Jarett Andretti, 19, took his first laps not only at the Speedway but in a Supermodified.
Behind the wheel of the Burke’s Do-It-Best Home Center, Strong Racing No. 99, Andretti quickly became comfortable, easily clocking laps in the mid to low 17 second range.
“I can’t thank Pat and Terry Strong and the whole Strong Team, Burke’s Home Center, and Oswego Speedway enough for this opportunity,” said Andretti. “I’ve driven on tracks that my father has raced on, but never a track that both Mario and Aldo have. It means so much to walk through the same gates they did, and take on this Speedway. Hopefully we will be back to do some racing in the future.”
Projected rain showers moved the announced test from May 8 back to May 6; just one day after Oswego Speedway opened its gates for racing. Both Jarett and his father John arrived in Syracuse in time for racing and took in some of the action during the 62nd Annual Opening Night at the ‘Steel Palace’ on Saturday presented by Gater Racing News and the Palladium-Times.
“We spent a lot of time in the pit area talking and meeting with people,” said Jarett. “It was great to see all the different ideas that each of the car builders had, and it really allows for great racing. The racing was awesome, lots of passing.”
Father John, an Indianapolis 500 veteran and winner on NASCAR’s premier Cup circuit, was also impressed.
“This is the first time I’ve actually been here,” said John. “I think I’m more impressed with the race track than anything else. It has so much character. One minute you are going up hill, the next down. One turn is as wide as can be, the next narrow, like turn one at Indy. It is one of those tracks where your line really dictates your lap, so you have to hit your marks. I think Jarett can really learn a lot racing here and in these cars.”
Throughout young Andretti’s nearly two hour test session, he certainly did learn a lot. With the guidance of 2-time Novelis Supermodified feature winner Jerry Curran, Andretti quickly found his line and before long hit a fast lap of 17.4 seconds at an average speed of approximately 129 mph.
“I knew a good bit about Supermodifieds and Oswego Speedway coming into this, I did my homework,” Jarett said. “I just told myself that Oswego is a race track and the Supermodified is a racecar. The transition reminded me of going from a Focus Midget to a National Midget. The acceleration is certainly quite different, and it was the same going from the National Midget to the Supermodified with double the horsepower. The first few times hitting the throttle really pushed me back in the seat; it was like riding in a space shuttle. After a while though, you get used to it, you pick the throttle up earlier and smoother and before long it became somewhat routine.”
Sunday’s successful test session at the Speedway has Andretti wanting more.
“I’d love to come back here and actually race at Oswego,” Jarett said. “We would like to run 4,5,8,9 races if we could, at least the Classic, that is at the top of my list. It is just a matter of getting things worked out logistically and seeing where the rest of my racing schedule falls.”
Jarett’s father is also eager to make it back to Oswego, and believes the timing is right to make a bid at Supermodified racing at the ‘Steel Palace’.
“I love that the box these cars work within is big enough that a guy can sleep at night and dream up an idea, then go into the garage and make it happen,” John said. “Everyone welcomed us with open arms, showing us ideas on their cars, which they built themselves. It is really old school, grass roots racing, but at such a high level. Oswego Speedway is riding a wave right now, and we would like to be a part of that wave.”
For more information on Jarett Andretti and his racing career visit his website at www.jarettandretti.com.
The next event on Oswego Speedway’s racing schedule is the Mitchell’s Speedway Press Memorial Day Weekend Tripleheader on Saturday, May 26 featuring the Novelis Supermodifieds, Pathfinder Bank SBS Series, and the Race of Champions Modifieds.
For more information on Oswego Speedway be sure to visit www.oswegospeedway.com. You can also LIKE the (Official) Oswego Speedway page at facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway, or FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway. To purchase tickets or order merchandise please call the Speedway box office at (315) 342-0646.
About Oswego Speedway:
Oswego Speedway, a sports entertainment company, is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego.
It has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August, 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at Oswego Speedway making Oswego the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds accompany the full blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September.
Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, arguably the greatest driver of all time, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, along with former International Classic champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.