By – Chris Porter
Two weeks may seem too long, but it certainly builds a lot of anticipation. The last checkered flag to fly in the small block supermodified division at Oswego Speedway awarded Mexico’s Mike Bond with a feature win, ending Dave Gruel’s early-season stronghold on the field.
However, Gruel struck back quickly at Spencer Speedway the following Friday night, capturing NORA’s SBS 25-lap main event. Following Gruel to the end, David Cliff extended his top-10 finish streak this season, bringing the Gnomey Racing No. 06 home in second place. Gruel and Cliff are the only two drivers to land 5 top-10s this season.
Jason Simmons looked impressive at Spencer. Scoring his first career heat race win at the Williamson-based raceway a few years ago, Simmons landed his No. 91 small block supermodified in victory lane, once again. In the first heat race, Simmons took the lead away from Chris Lupa and drove away for the win. Later, he sped to a fourth-place finish in the Lakeside Racing News-sponsored 25-lap feature.
This week, Simmons will be hoping to take advantage of a decent handicap and perhaps pull off an Andrew Schartner-like performance from the front. Still seeking his first feature win, keep your eye on the Simmons No. 91 this weekend.
Barry Kingsley is also looking to capitalize on a nice handicap this weekend. Kingsley earned a confidence-boosting fifth-place finish at NORA’s Friday night show. At the very least, doubling up on his number of top-10 finishes at Oswego this season shouldn’t be a problem come Saturday evening.
Look for two drivers who’ve had their share of bad luck this season to bounce back with solid finishes this week. Both, Stan Gates and Steve Abt have capable cars that could prove difficult to overcome given the right situation.
Welcome back, Ken Pierce! You’ve been awarded with scratch position in the handicap this week! Not quite the proper greeting for someone who’s had to put in countless hours and dollars to get their car race-ready. However, Pierce should have the beautiful No. 67 back in action this weekend, after being bit by the hard luck bug a month ago.
If it’s not the would-be underdog’s night to be, who will win the race to the front? Will Ray Hedger have the Pike Bros. No. 60 cooking for Russ Brown to earn his first trip into victory lane? Brown wasn’t thrilled one bit last time out, despite earning another podium finish. Fourth place in points with three out of a possible four top-five finishes only seems to tease the Mannsville native. Brown and crew want to win. It’s the only reason they’re there.
Will Gruel, Kevin Knopp, Bond and Cliff have anything left once they reach the front? The four extra laps only help those making the extra-long hike from the back.
We’re going to go with Cliff earning the win this week. Too many bridesmaid gowns for the No. 06 crew this season will force Cliff to settle for nothing less than be this week’s winner.
This is the weekend that the Oswego Speedway sets aside to remember the late, great Tony White. Look for the White’s Car Care No. 4 car to be in the pits on Saturday, adding a little extra something to atmosphere.
Before the racing begins, an autograph session on the front stretch offers up the opportunity for fans and drivers to get a little friendlier. Always popular with the fans, a pre-race autograph session was the opportunity I had the pleasure of talking with Tony White. It was an interview that never made it to press, but featured the humor and cautious optimism I remember him having.
Next Friday night, NORA will be holding a fundraiser at Lighthouse Lanes. The event kicks off at 8:30pm. From 9-11pm, attendees can bowl, scarf down pizza and take their chance at a 50/50 drawing or a lotto board. The cost is only $15 at the door and the event will be a nice way to end the night following the WSEN Mid-Summer Super Cruise at the track earlier that evening.