OSWEGO, NY – Joe Gosek continued his climb through the Oswego Speedway record books on June 2, 2012, with a lap 24 pass of Dan Connors Jr., picking up his 41st career Novelis Supermodified main event win tying him for 4th on the All-Time Speedway win list with Syracuse Sports Hall of Famer Nolan Swift.
Gosek, who won his first feature at Oswego on August 3, 1985, had not visited Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane since picking up a shortened Twin 30-lap checkered flag on the last night of the regular season in 2010.
“It is an honor to be in the presence of all those great drivers who have raced here in the past,” said Gosek, beneath the Cam’s NY Pizzeria starter stand. “I don’t know if we’ll catch those guys (Ed Bellinger Jr., Bentley Warren, Jim Shampine) those are some big numbers there, but we’re fortunate to get where we got and we’ll work from there.”
Pat Lavery, who is in search of his first career Novelis Supermodified win, made a brilliant drive in the Lighthouse Lanes No. 22 near race end to come on for a strong runner-up finish.
Connors, Dave Danzer, and Otto Sitterly completed the Top 5 order ahead of Randy Ritskes, Dave Gruel, Mike Barnes, Joey Payne, and Jeff Abold.
Connors and Stephen Gioia III started the Best Western Plus/Quality Inn and Suites Riverfront 50-lap Supermodified main event from the front row, with Connors gaining the edge early on in the No. 01. Connors, who led much of the Jim Shampine Memorial event one week earlier, immediately put some distance between he and Gioia in the No. 9.
Gosek however was on a mission in the Burke’s Home Center No. 00, and after starting the race from the 4th position, made an inside move on Gioia into turn three to take the runner-up spot by just lap 2.
By the 5th circuit Connors and Gosek had checked away from the field, but at the same time smoke began to show from the back of the Gosek machine. As it turned out the smoke would show for the entire 50-lap distance, and did not seem to have any effect on the No. 00.
An early caution would see Gosek pull below the starter stand for an official’s inspection.
After a tense moment for the Gosek crew it was deemed that the machine was not a risk to the field and was allowed to continue.
When the field came back to green Connors led Gosek, Gioia, Kody Graham, Jerry Curran, Danzer, Lavery, Payne, Shaun Gosselin, and Ray Graham in the Top 10.
This time the top three would distance themselves from the field as Gioia, in a brand new home built No. 9, looked the best he has all season keeping pace with Connors and Gosek. As the front three made their paces out front, Danzer in No. 52, dived his way into the Top 5 with an inside pass of Curran in turn three.
After another quick caution it became evident Gosek was ready to get out front and on lap 24, just before the halfway point, he pulled to the high side on Connors in turn one to take the top spot. Just two circuits after taking the race lead, Gosek pulled out to nearly a full straight advantage.
Just past the halfway point the scoring pylon showed Gosek, Connors, Gioia, Kody Graham, and Danzer in the Top 5 ahead of Curran, Lavery, Sitterly, Ritskes, and Barnes.
A lap 30 restart would prove to be the most exciting circuit of the race as the Lavery No. 22 passed four cars in just one lap. Lavery, who has been as aggressive as anyone on restarts in 2012, jumped to the high side and drove around Graham, Danzer, and Curran off turn four before coming around and underneath Gioia in turn one to leap to the 3rd position. Danzer would also take advantage of the Gioia machine, pushing himself to the 4th spot.
Sitterly, who won the first two events of the season at Oswego, took note of Lavery’s charge, as the No. 7 moved from 8th to 5th in the two laps after the restart. With Lavery, Danzer, and Sitterly moving forward, the great drive by Gioia began to slip away as the No. 9 started to fade back through the field.
With just 15-laps remaining it appeared as though it was now or never for Lavery as Gosek again pulled away from the field. Lavery went to work on the high side of Connors for the runner-up spot to no avail, as the race’s final caution waved on lap 36.
With the Gosselin No. 26 facing backwards in turn two, the field was bunched up one more time for a 14-lap charge to the finish.
The Top 10 would read Gosek, Connors, Lavery, Danzer, Sitterly, Ritskes, Gruel, Barnes, Gioia, and Kody Graham.
With starter Don Forbes’ green flag back in the air it was no surprise to see Lavery swing to the outside yet again, this time making the pass stick around Connors in turn two to move to 2nd. Gosek, looking for win No. 41, now led Lavery in search of his first career win.
Further back in the field Ritskes and Payne were charging. Ritskes, who had considerable damage to the No. 88 after a heat racing incident, put on a great drive from the rear of the field to get up to the 6th spot. Payne, who pit early on in the 50-lap main, was able to race his way back into the Top 10 of the competitive field by lap 40.
Out in front though it was all Gosek and Lavery, and the No. 22 simply did not have enough to catch the smoking No. 00, as Gosek sped across the line for historic win No. 41.
Gosek talked about his early season woes with infield reporter Keith Zehr.
“We struggled the first two,” said Gosek. “We knew we had a decent car, but we lost the handle on it some last week, so we sat down and made some changes and came back and I knew it was really good all night. We’ve got the monkey off our back now, it feels good to win.”
Gosek knew he was showing smoke on his way to victory lane, and hoped his ride would hold out.
“The motor started breaking down at the end,” said Gosek. “They checked it out, but I don’t think it was leaving anything behind me or on me so they let me go. It just smoked the whole way, and then at the end the engine went away. We were fortunate tonight, anymore laps and we probably wouldn’t have made it.”
Lavery, who used a lap 30 restart to gain several positions, was not content to sit on the inside of the race track.
“I think I got a little lucky there on that restart,” said Lavery. “Everyone got boggled up trying to protect the inside, and our car hooked up on the outside.”
The driver of the No. 22 noticed the smoke from Gosek and hoped it may play to his advantage.
“I saw it the whole way,” smiled Lavery. “I never want to wish bad luck on anyone, he (Gosek) deserves this win, he is a great driver, but I kind of hoped his motor would go sour on him. He had a great car and he was fast, even if I could have got to him I probably could not have got around him.”
Ironically on the night of Gosek’s 40th win at Oswego Speedway, Lavery also finished 2nd.
Connors, who has been the hard luck driver of the past season at the Speedway, was more than pleased with his 3rd place effort.
“It was a lot of fun being out there tonight,” said Connors. “We got lucky with a good starting spot; there are a lot of competitive cars out there this year. I have to thank my team and sponsors, we have had such bad luck the last two weeks and even last year, I’m surprised they didn’t give up on us but we all pulled it together.”