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Sobus Scores NORA Win at Oswego

By – Chris Porter
Photo – Jim Feeney

Brian Sobus won the NORA-sanctioned 30-lap small block supermodified event at the Oswego Speedway Thursday night, leading the final 28 laps en route to pocketing the checkered flag. It was the second SBS win for Sobus in 2009, his first ever on the NORA tour.

Russ Brown challenged Sobus much of the way, but neither he nor third-place finisher Dave Gruel could mount a solid pass attempt.

Listen to -  Brian Sobus on his NORA win

Sobus and Stan Gates led the 24-car field to the start of the 30-lap Andrews Auto Sales/Lakeside Racing News-sponsored main event. Gates, last week’s feature winner, nabbed the early lead. Sobus, David Cliff, Brown and Kevin Knopp chased the leader as the No. 28 crossed the checkered stripe to complete lap No. 1.

On the third lap, Sobus ducked under Gates to take away the lead. Half a lap later, when Cliff looked to follow Sobus under Gates, he and Gates came together. Gates maintained control while Cliff’s No. 06 spun to the inside off of turn No. 4.

In the aftermath, Chris Proud’s No. 44 and Andrew Schartner’s No. 18 came together on the front stretch. Neither car was seriously damaged.

Because a lap hadn’t been fully completed, Gates was given the lead back. Sobus, Knopp, Brown and Shawn Walker held the top five positions. Gruel, Jason Simmons, Barry Kingsley, Mike Bond and Jack Patrick completed the top 10.

Sobus wasted no time on the restart, slipping under Gates to take the lead. Knopp and Brown followed the No. 79 into second and third place respectively. Brown quickly worked his way back around Knopp as Sobus began to ease away.

The action was slowed for a lone spin by Kingsley’s No. 23 and on the ensuing restart, Gruel bested Knopp down low to move into third.

Brown pressed the leader through the first few green flag laps, but once things started to settle, Sobus was able to inch away.

At the lap No. 10 mark, Sobus held a two-car length lead over Brown. Knopp trailed Brown’s No 60 car by 10 lengths and held a slight advantage over fourth and fifth-place running Gates and Bond.

The caution lights flashed once again, after Rob Pullen tagged the suddenly slowing No 46 of Chris Lupa. Oddly enough, Pullen was given his position back as track officials decided that the yellow flag should’ve been for the nearly stopped No. 46 car, not the contact between it and Pullen.

At the halfway mark (15 laps in the books), Sobus led Brown, Gruel, Knopp and Bond. Gates, Pullen, Proud, Patrick and Tim Barbeau completed the top 10.

Sobus was able to avoid being challenged on the initial restart. However, Brown began to apply pressure as the field reached the 20-lap mark. Knopp joined the lead duo on the 22nd lap.

The caution bug bit the race again on the 24th trip around the “O.” Two rookies – Mark Castiglia and Bryan Haynes – had come together between turns three and four.

On the restart, Brown was all over the No. 79, looking both high and low. However, the pressure on Sobus was relieved on the 26th lap, when Kingsley dove into the fourth-turn foam blocks.

With just five laps remaining, Sobus led the field to its final restart. Again, Brown mounted challenges both high and low. He wasn’t able to pull alongside the No 79, though. He often needed to fend off attacks from all sides by Gruel’s No. 50, making any pass attempt on Sobus risky at best.

Sobus cruised the final few laps to take the checkered flag.

Following the race there was some concern expressed by NORA’s tech inspector over the legality of the motors belonging to the first two finishers, primarily the No. 79. However, according to Steve Reynolds – President of NORA – NORA’s final decision to allow the race results to stand was based on the tech inspector’s final decision that said that a disqualification was not in order.

Unfortunately, the fact that the tech inspector had even initially questioned the legality of the feature winner’s car left a sour taste in some of the mouths of the finishers. Further investigation into the questioned rule infractions may have resolved the issues, but none was conducted. This too, steered some of the comments made by drivers following the race. It’s likely to be an issue that will need tending to soon, and not just within the confines of NORA, simply because of the implications resulting from the events that unfolded.

Like most drivers try to do, Sobus says he’s willing to push the limits of what he can get out of his car, as long as it stays within the confines of the rulebook.

Nearly every driver tries to ride the paper-thin line of the rulebook. Racing has always been a game of seeing how far one can tip-toe to the edge of the page, with out falling off the binder.

Listen toBrian Sobus on the post-race inspection issue

Brown collected his second runner-up finish of the season, his eighth top five finish in nine races.

Listen toRuss Brown on his second-place finish

Gruel crossed the line in third. He was happy with his run, but disappointed with how the events unfolded after the race was over.

Listen toDave Gruel on his third-place finish and tech issues

After two straight DNF’s, Knopp was just happy to be able to roll his No. 04 on the trailer in one piece and in working order.

Listen toKevin Knopp on his fourth-place finish

Bond won his heat race, but with a poor starting position and running on old tires, could do no better than fourth in the feature. He too, was unhappy with the overall outcome of the final results.

Listen toMike Bond on running the Terry Solazzo-owned No. 26 to a fifth-place finish

After a bone-jarring hit last weekend, the crew on the second Solazzo-owned car thrashed to put their small block supermodified back together to make the show. Pullen and his No. 25 team were rewarded with a fine sixth-place finish.

Listen to
Rob Pullen on his sixth-place run

Patrick was happy with his solid top-10 run, but seemed even happier with a visit from another fan of Dodge.

Listen toJack Patrick on his eighth-place feature finish

Andrews Auto Sales/Lakeside Racing News NORA SBS 30:
1. Brian Sobus (79), 2. Russ Brown (60), 3. Dave Gruel (50), 4. Kevin Knopp (04), 5. Mike Bond (26), 6. Rob Pullen (25), 7. Chris Proud (44), 8. Jack Patrick (9), 9. Stan Gates (28), 10. Jason Simmons (91) – OTHER RESULTS POSTED WHEN AVAILABLE

Qualifying Heats:

Heat #1:
1. Brown, 2. Kingsley, 3. Walker, 4. Simmons, 5. Pullen, 6. Moore, 7. Richmond, 8. Rupert

Heat #2:
1. Sobus, 2. Knopp, 3. Patrick, 4. Gates, 5. Proud, 6. Lupa, 7. (93), 8. Haynes

Heat #3:
1. Bond, 2. Cliff, 3. Gruel, 4. Schartner, 5. Pullen, 6. Barbeau, 7. Nearbin, 8. Castiglia (DNS)