Yellow Fever: Proud Wins Choppy, Shortened SBS Feature at Oswego

By – Kenny Copps
Photos – Jim Feeney

Chris Proud won the small block super modified (SBS) feature at the Oswego Speedway on Saturday night in a race that featured seven yellow flags. Originally scheduled to go 30 laps, the feature was shorted to 25 due to what track officials believed was fast-approaching inclement weather.

Chris Proud poses in victory lane after winning his second small block supermodified feature at Oswego Speedway

Proud led the final 19 laps of the race after passing pole-sitter Jason Simmons to claim his second feature victory in 2010.

Despite Proud’s strong run, the frequent cautions stole the show. Third-place finisher Dave Cliff discussed the difficulty of a race with so many yellows.

“It’s really hard, it really is very frustrating,” Cliff said. “I think for a lot of us it does take a couple laps to get into a good rhythm and good flow of the race. Cautions like that are real tough on us too, not just you fans.”

Proud echoed Cliff’s sentiments, saying that the best way to react to so many cautions is to “just shake your head. You just try to stay focused and do what you have to do to win.”

Brian Sobus took home second place. After starting in ninth, Steve Abt finished behind Cliff in fourth. Kreig Heroth saw the checkered flag in fifth after starting 14th on the grid.

Sobus was pleased with his solid, second-place effort.

“The car was really good, just a little bit loose … ” Sobus said. “There were so many yellows and there was so much bumping and banging, there was a lot of bumper checking and stuff like that. It was a brutal one.”

Cliff’s car provided a snapshot of the brutal nature of the race. There was severe sheet metal damage on the right-front side of Cliff’s car, and he ran the last eight laps with it flapping in the warm, late-spring breeze. Cliff acknowledged the beating his machine took during the race.

“It’s pretty wadded up,” he said. “I felt bad about getting in the back of Brian (Sobus)  … it wrinkled the back of his car and pulled the front of mine under.”

Tim Barbeau had the fastest car by far, leading the first 10 laps after flying past Simmons in the first turn of lap No. 1. The frequent cautions were the only thing that kept the rest of the 20-car field close to Barbeau during the first 10 laps.

Barbeau would not finish his 11th lap, however, as his engine gave out between turns three and four. He was forced to park his No. 58 small block super in the fourth corner.

Simmons inherited the lead after Barbeau’s misfortune, but he promptly yielded it to Proud after leading a single lap. Proud barely beat Simmons to the finish line on the outside to complete lap 12, which proved to be a major turning point in the race. Moments later, last week’s feature winner, Mike Bond, hit the wall while exiting the second turn.  His car sustained heavy damage, and he did not return.

With cars wrecking and going off the track all around him, all Chris Proud essentially had to do was stay on the track for the full race to have a great chance at claiming the win. That’s exactly what he did, and even though it wasn’t pretty.

“We’ll take it,” Proud said. “The car was jumping in the heat race, we just had to hold on there. We made some changes . . . We just had enough to stay ahead of them.”

Four of the top five starters in the race were involved in bringing out the yellow flag at some point in the main event. Barbeau’s engine betrayed him on lap No. 11, Dennis Richmond and Barry Kingsley (who started third and fifth, respectively) crashed into each other on lap No. 5 and fourth-place started  Mike Bruce spun out on his own in the second turn during the seventh lap.

All of those miscues helped propel Proud to the front of the pack. Cliff was happy to praise Proud, while summing up the nature of the race.

“Congratulations to Chris,” Cliff said. “He had a bad wreck a couple weeks ago and it’s good to see him have a good run. And man, if there was another five laps, God knows what would have happened.”

SBS Feature Results:
1. Chris Proud (50), 2. Brian Sobus (79), 3. Dave Cliff (06), 4. Steve Abt (85), 5. Kreig Heroth (44), 6. Jason Simmons (91), 7. Bob Henry (18), 8. Barry Kingsley (23), 9. Mike Bruce (2), 10. Vern LaFave (05), 11. Dennis Richmond (37), 12. Dave Danzer (52), 13. Guard Nearbin (78), 14. Mike Bond (26), 15. Tim Barbeau (58), 16. Zack Crawford (7), 17. Stan Gates (60), 18. Mark Castiglia (90), 19. Brad Haynes (43), 20. Brian Osetek (00)

Heat race wins went to Barbeau, Simmons and Abt.