Stan Gates lost the race lead at the halfway mark of Saturday night’s small block supermodified 35-lap feature at the Oswego Speedway. However, the lead would later find him – on the final lap of the race, giving him his first feature win and crowning him Mr. SBS.
Starting on the pole, Gates took and maintained the early race lead. On the 17th lap, he saw championship points leader, Dave Gruel, take it away from him as the two raced down the front stretch. 10 laps later, Gates lost second place to Brian Sobus. At that point, earning a podium finish was all that he was hoping for.
On the white flag lap, the pilot of the No. 28 Ford-powered Big Dog Chassis watched the two race leaders come together as they raced one another through the final two turns. Gates inherited the lead and was able to hold off multi-time track and SBS Classic winner Mike Bond on a one-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Listen to – Stan Gates on his Mr. SBS win
Gates and Guard Nearbin led the 22-car field to the green flag to start the caution-plagued main event. However, a mid-pack jingle parked the No. 67 of Ken Pierce before the field could make it through the first turn.
A full restart saw Gates earn the advantage. Andrew Schartner and Dave Danzer moved Nearbin back to fourth, as Rob Pullen rounded out the top five at the completion of lap No. 1.
By the eighth trip around the lakeside oval, Gates held a three-car length advantage over Schartner. Just behind the Crow Motorsports No. 18, Pullen, Danzer and Russ Brown tussled for third.
Battling for third, Pullen and Brown came together down the front stretch on the 13th lap. Cutting across the front-end of the No. 60, Pullen slammed the outside wall hard, shaking the grandstands and inflicting significant damage on the Terry Solazzo-owned No. 25. Brown suffered minor front-end damage and pitted for repairs.
With 12 laps down, Gates led Schartner, Gruel, Sobus and Abt. Danzer, Bond, Nearbin, Shawn Walker and Jason Simmons completed the top 10.
On the restart, contact between Sobus and Gruel created a jam-up in the front of the pack, sending DanzerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 52 careening into the outside wall. Walker, Bond and Abt were involved as well.
The new top five of Gates, Schartner, Gruel, Sobus and Nearbin led the field back to racing.
On the restart, Gruel maneuvered his No. 50 under SchartnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 18. Quickly, he drew in the race leader, looking to the inside of the Gates No. 28 on the 15th lap. He took a shot at the top spot on the 16th lap, but fell short.
On the next lap, he mirrored the move again, cocking his small block super sideways off of the fourth turn to take the lead.
On the 20th lap, Sobus bested Schartner with a bonsai move down low in turn No. 1. Gruel held a three-car length advantage on Gates as the Sobus No. 79 machine began to reel the No. 28 in.
Nearbin continued to lead a great battle for the fifth position, between his No. 78, the Simmons No. 91 and CliffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 06. Coming from the back of the field, BondÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No. 26 joined the fray on the 24th lap.
With 10 trips remaining, Gruel held a 10-car advantage over Gates and Sobus. Schartner continued to run in fourth, but had the four-car gang battling for fifth barreling down on him.
Sobus bested Gates for second place on the 27th lap, but faced a large deficit to the leader.
On the 28th lap, as Nearbin took to one side of Schartner, Bond made it a three-wide drag race to the third turn. His No. 26 won the dash, earning him fourth place. Nearbin moved into fifth. Schartner dropped to sixth, but just a half lap later, his No. 18 spun in turn No. 1.
The caution was just what Sobus needed in order to mount any kind of charge on the leader.
With just seven laps to go, Gruel held his ground as the top four SBS racers eased away on the restart. With the No. 79 glued to his rear bumper, Gruel wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t able to ditch his nearest chaser.
As Brown worked his way under Nearbin for fifth, Sobus prepped for a last lap assault on Gruel. On the final lap, Sobus moved to the outside of the race leader down the backstretch. He was able to carry his momentum into the third turn and move aside Gruel as the duo raced towards the checkered flag.
However, Gruel drifted high to protect his lead, but ended up drifting into SobusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ No. 79 – taking both cars out of contention. The No. 79 ripped off a 360 degree spin that kept his car rolling, but Sobus was relegated to join Gruel at the tail-end of the pack.
Listen to – Brian Sobus on his run and last-lap crash
Listen to – Dave Gruel on his run and incident with Sobus
Suddenly, Gates found himself back atop the field. With only a one-lap dash to the finish remaining, Gates was able to hold off Bond and race his No. 28 into victory lane.
Admitting that his No. 26 had nothing for the race winner at the end, Bond settled for second place.
Listen to – Mike Bond on his second-place feature finish
Having to battle from the back of the pack, Brown finished where else, but third. It was his seventh top-five finish this season.
Listen to -Ã‚Â Russ Brown on finishing third (CAUTION – strong language)
Landing only his second career top-five finish, Nearbin was thrilled with his fourth-place run.
Listen to – Guard Nearbin on his fine fourth-place finish
Earning himself his first top-five run this year, Simmons brought his No. 91 home in fifth. It was his fifth top-10 finish in 2009.
Listen to – Jason Simmons on his first 2009 top-five finish
Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS 35:
1. Stan Gates (28), 2. Mike Bond (26), 3. Russ Brown (60), 4. Guard Nearbin (78), 5. Jason Simmons (91), 6. Barry Kingsley (23), 7. David Cliff (06), 8. Dave Gruel (50), 9. Brian Sobus (79), 10. Shawn Walker (68), 11. Jack Patrick (9), 12. Chip Wood (2), 13. Mark Castiglia (90), 14. Andrew Schartner (18), 15. Tim Barbeau (58), 16. Steve Abt (85), 17. Dave Danzer (52), 18. Rob Pullen (25), 19. Kevin Knopp (04), 20. Brad Haynes (86), 21. Nick Demling (36), 22. Ken Pierce (67)
Heat #1: 1. Gruel (50), 2. Gates (28), 3. Abt (85), 4. Pullen (25), 5. Cliff (06), 6. Pierce (67), 7. Castiglia (90)
Heat #2: 1. Knopp (04), 2. Bond (26), 3. Barbeau (58), 4. Schartner (18), 5. Kingsley (23), 6. Simmons (91), 7. Haynes (86)
Heat #3: 1. Sobus (79), 2. Brown (60), 3. Nearbin (78), 4. Danzer (52), 5. Patrick (9), 6. Walker (68), 7. Wood (2), 8. Demling (36)