OSWEGO, NY – It was only fitting to have another thrilling Oswego Speedway finish during its 65th Anniversary campaign as Mexico’s Bob Bond passed Michael Barnes with just over a lap remaining to claim the $15,000 prize as the champion of the 59th annual Budweiser International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds on Sunday.
For the second consecutive year the International Classic went into overtime, taking 210 laps to reach completion.
After starting in the 9th position, Bond took advantage of spinning race leaders David Danzer and Otto Sitterly to put himself in position for the victory, his third International Classic win since 2010.
Starting from pole position, Barnes led the first 123 laps before giving way to Danzer who eventually spun while leading at lap 133.
Sitterly then inherited the lead before spinning himself at lap 191.
At that point Barnes regained the point before giving way to Bond at the completion of lap 209.
“I didn’t really have a position I wanted to be in,” said Bond in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane. “I just sort of let the race play out and I think Mike (Barnes) may have hurt himself some there at the beginning. The race worked itself out for me. It came down to the end there and it’s the Classic, you just have to go for it.”
Joey Payne, who announced that Sunday’s 200 would be his final, took third with Davey Hamilton, Dave Shullick Jr., Tim Devendorf, Danzer, Brian Sobus, Dave Gruel, and Brandon Bellinger finishing the top ten.
Barnes and Danzer led the 34 car field to the Cam’s Pizzeria green flag on Sunday, with Barnes charging to the point in the Syrell Racing No. 68.
Barnes quickly built a large cushion between himself and Danzer out front as Danzer paced Sitterly, Hamilton, Devendorf, Shullick, Joey Moriarty, Michael Muldoon, Bobby Santos, and Bond.
Going through the motions in the first quarter of the event, Sitterly found an opportunity to work by Danzer for second at lap 50, and took it.
A lap later caution lights came on for a slowing Jeff Abold.
Abold , who earned $500 from Total Seal for being the fastest second day time trialer, pulled pit side with a broken rear panhard bar, ending with a 31st place finish.
By lap 68 the top four runners of Barnes, Sitterly, Danzer, and Hamilton began to bunch up with Shullick trailing further behind. At this juncture the Bond No. 47 sat all the way back in the 12th position.
Yellow lights came on again at lap 72 for a stalled Howard Page in the fourth turn, with Mike Lichty and Aric Iosue taking the opportunity to pit for tires.
When the race went back to green at lap 78, Barnes turned up the wick some to try and give himself some breathing room over defending Classic champion, Sitterly.
After qualifying in the top ten and running there for the early portion of the day, Muldoon hit the pit area at lap 85 with mechanical issues and then on lap 92 Santos stalled on the back stretch, ending his day to bring out another caution.
The race would go back to green just prior to halfway with Barnes leading Sitterly, Danzer, Hamilton, Shullick, Devendorf, Kody Graham, Moriarty, Joe Gosek, and Bond, but as the field rushed out of turn four Canadian Ryan Litt lost the handle on the No. 88, sliding to a stop on the main straightaway.
As a result, Barnes would claim the $1,500 Insinger Performance Racing Fuel halfway bonus under caution.
Once back to full song, Danzer decided it was time to make a move, driving around Sitterly to retake the runner-up spot that he had previously held.
Now running second, Danzer immediately gave chase to Barnes out front, as they pulled away from the remainder of the field.
As the lap counter ticked to lap 110, Barnes and Danzer began to reel in more lap traffic, with Danzer licking his chops behind the wheel of the fastest car on the race track.
Trying the outside on several occasions, Danzer was finally able to use the lapped car of Bellinger as a pick to sail by Barnes for the point, completing lap 123.
After Barnes led for so long, the race now entered its second chapter as Danzer quickly sped away from the field.
While the No. 52 charged away in strong fashion, Barnes began to fade a touch as Sitterly was also able to take advantage and slip by for second.
Unable to gain any immediate ground on Danzer, Sitterly sat and waited for more lap traffic to try and mount a challenge. He would not have to wait long, and he would not have to make a move.
To the crowd’s surprise Danzer, who was showing the speed necessary to run away with the race, spun in the second corner while leading, making Sitterly the new race leader at lap 134.
During this caution, the pits opened at lap 135 with the cars of Sobus, Shaun Gosselin, and Pat Lavery all coming in for service.
Sobus and Gosselin each lost a lap in the process, while Lavery once again made a masterfully prepared stop for a left rear tire, rejoining the field on the leader lap.
Back to green Sitterly led Barnes, Hamilton, Shullick, Devendorf, Graham, Gosek, Bond, Payne, and Gruel in that order.
At this point it looked as though the event was setting up to be another Sitterly run away in the 200 with only 50 laps to go.
Running near the top five all day, a great run for Graham ended at lap 152 in the No. 21 as apparent electrical issues sideline his machine.
With 170 laps showing on the board Gosek began to make some moves in the No. 00. Starting his 36th consecutive International Classic from the 11th position, Gosek was now fifth in the order and with only 20 laps to go looked like he may be able to press for more.
Unfortunately for Gosek, the late dash would come to an end at lap 184 as the No. 00 sputtered to the pit area, out of fuel.
With 13 laps remaining Sitterly appeared well in control leading Barnes and Hamilton as Bond began to position himself in the No. 47 after working by Devendorf earlier on.
A stunning turn of events however would chase the course of the races finish, as for the second time in the event, the race leader spun in the second corner.
Working the lap car of Sobus in turn two, Sitterly stepped to the high side to complete the pass, but was never able to do so as the rear end of the No. 7 stepped out, sending Sitterly into a turn two slide.
With caution lights on and the help of a healthy lead, Sitterly was locked back into gear and fired off without losing a lap in the process.
With Sitterly now at the tail of the lead lap, Barnes would return to the race lead ahead of Hamilton, Bond, Shullick, Payne, Devendorf, and Lavery.
On the restart it was apparent that Barnes had a handful in the No. 68 and that Bond was now the class of the field, gaining momentum late in the going.
Bond drove by Hamilton for second with inside of five laps to go and immediately drew to the back of Barnes at the point.
With only three laps to go Bond dove underneath Barnes down the front stretch, but before the pass was completed, a three-car crash in the third turn slowed the race one more time.
Gosselin, Lavery, and Sitterly would all collide at the end of the back stretch, knocking all three out of the remainder of the event at lap 197.
The lengthy cleanup meant for the second year in a row that the Classic would go beyond 200 laps.
Barnes would have to try and hold off Bond yet again, this time in a green, white, checkered finish.
The green flag would wave for the final time at lap 208 and with Barnes trying everything he could to keep Bond at bay, the No. 47 slid by to complete lap 209, taking the white flag.
As Bond blasted to the point on the final lap, Payne continued his stellar drive in the Strong No. 99, rushing by Hamilton for third and nearly taking second from Barnes at the stripe.
Bond would be the victor on Sunday after running outside of the top ten early on and running sixth with only 20 laps to go.
Pole sitter Barnes said afterward he gave it absolutely everything he had.
“I tried it all to hold him back,” said Barnes. “I was brake checking, I was running the thing sideways down the straight away, I tried everything but didn’t have enough. It was a great run to finish second, but I just lost the Classic on the last lap.”
An emotional Payne shared the excitement of a race winner with his podium finish.
“I can’t think of a better way to run my last Classic than to battle Michael Barnes to the line for a second place finish,” said Payne. “Thanks to the Strongs, they are junkyard dogs, they worked so hard to get this old girl done and ready and here we are. This is great.”
Payne would earn $500 from Total Seal as the International Classic Hard Charger, coming from 24th position to third.
Other Total Seal ‘Total Package’ $500 bonuses were awarded to Michael Muldoon as the Hard Luck recipient, Aric Iosue as the Rookie of the Race in 12th, and Logan Rayvals as the Bubble Car.
The Radical Racegear Lap Leader was Barnes.
Howard Page won the Bud Light B-Main to gain access into the Classic along with rookie Kreig Heroth, Shawn Muldoon, Hal LaTulip, and Lou LeVea Sr.
Lou LeVea Jr. was the races 34th starter, using his provisional starting spot.
Rayvals and Jack Patrick failed to qualify for the 200 as well as Mike McVetta and Keith Shampine, who were sidelined earlier in the weekend.
Oswego Speedway’s racing season comes to a close on September 19 with the Fall Championship 125, which will conclude tight point races in the Pathfinder Bank SBS and Novelis Supermodified divsions.