Oswego Classic Sunday report

JOE GOSEK MAKES IT CLASSIC WIN NUMBER THREE IN MULDOON 50 Oswego, NY Multi-time Classic winner and Indy 500 veteran Joe Gosek sat in the pits Saturday night at Oswego Speedway when his ISMA supermodified did not fire just prior to the Super ...

JOE GOSEK MAKES IT CLASSIC WIN NUMBER THREE IN MULDOON 50

Oswego, NY Multi-time Classic winner and Indy 500 veteran Joe Gosek sat in the pits Saturday night at Oswego Speedway when his ISMA supermodified did not fire just prior to the Super Nationals event. He was extremely disappointed not to run before his hometown crowd. Sunday, he made up for the disappointment when he drove the Mike Muldoon-owned 50 supermodified into victory lane at the 46th Annual Budweiser International Classic. It was the third win of the prestigious event in Gosek's 22-year career. But it wasn't the $35,000-plus payday that Gosek enjoyed. It was the win at his home track that meant the most for the native Oswegonian. And, it meant a lot to his enormous group of fans who have followed him throughout his long and illustrious career.

"This one feels just as good as the first one," said Joe at the post-race interview. "You work hard for this. Mike gave me a great car. I had a lot of confidence in his ability to set up a car for this race. I told him I'd stick with it. I've won this race twice in 1991 and 1992, but it was his call today. This hasn't sunk in yet. It will when I get down to the see the fans. That's what it's all about. It's nice to see all the people. I've had a good following all these years. It gives me a good feeling. The race is a long one and a tough one. You have to use your head. To come out on top is an accomplishment. But, that's what I love to do and it all worked out today."

He continued, "I've got to thank all Mike's sponsors Hough Construction, Riccelli Enterprises, Seaboard Atlantic, Granby Discount Carpet, Law Offices of Ed Izyk, Darrell Coir Hardwood Floors, Laqua's 481, Sandy's Bumper Mart, and Tri R Karts. I have a couple that came on today Burke's Home Centers and of course all the Handley family who have been with me for almost twenty years. They stand behind me all the way. Fairway Manor and Breaker's Bar also helped me out with this ride. Thanks to Irish at Hoosier also my hats off to anyone else who has helped in this organization."

Gosek took the lead from Fulton's Tim Gareau on lap 145 and never was really threatened until late in the race when several cautions caused the race to extend to 205 laps. This left the door open for Greg Furlong to close up Gosek's large lead and make it a race at the end. Said Furlong, a two-time Classic winner himself, "It was the same scenario. You kind of wait and let the race come to you. You always think maybe you wait too long. At the end there, when I started to go, I looked up and my brother was violently waving go, go, go. The car was good. Joe was way out front and I thought maybe he's out too far. Then we got one caution, but I had all those lap cars between. Then we had that other caution and it put me on his back bumper. That was my opportunity. He was tight, I think and I was loose. He gave me the opportunity and I just couldn't capitalize on it."

Behind Gosek and Furlong and several lap cars, was a battle for third between Bob Bond and Tim Snyder, the defending Classic champ. A bonsai move as the checkereds waved, saw Bond and Shawn Muldoon touch while Snyder stayed high and grabbed third. Snyder, who had started 29th in the field, fought his way to a top three and he was ecstatic in regard to what he had just done. "Holy shit what a race. Can I say that? We really screwed up during time trials and it put us back to starting 29th. There was a long pack of cars out there. The way the tires were we thought we'd have to burn them up and have to make a pit stop. The car felt pretty good there at the end. I lost a couple spots to Bobby Bond and Chris Perley there. They were running pretty good, but then I said I just have to conserve myself. On the last lap we just made that shot to try and get Bobby. We were racing Shawn. I guess he was a lap down in fifth. That was surprising. But, we got third out of it. We take it after the day we had. Oswego Quality Carpets, Raby's, Amerigas all of my sponsors plus the crew. I couldn't do it without them."

The 46th annual Budweiser Classic saw a strong field of 45 supermodifieds pared to 35 early in the afternoon with Russ Wood, in the Holbrook 35 taking the pole with Greg Furlong sitting alongside as the white dropped on the field at 4:00 pm. But, irony reared its head right at the start as the Mike Ordway 61 - the car that was said to be the one to beat, was pushed into the infield pit. It had not started. It would not. Magneto and motor incompatibility were the cause. Ordway climbed dejectedly from the car while the push truck pushed bubble car Pat Lavery into the field for his first-ever Classic. The race rookie would end up eleventh given the last minute reprieve.

Russ Wood took up the early lead but handed it over to Timmy Jedrzejek, who had been a first-time winner the previous night in the ISMA Super Nationals. Timmy J set a comfortable pace as things sorted out.

Yellow flew on lap 13 for the 97 of Vern LaFave and this restart found Otto Sitterly taking the point, then several laps later, it was 2002 Oswego champ Shawn Muldoon out front in the Gosek team car owned by Shawn's brother Mike.

A couple more cautions flew on lap 21 for Mike Brubaker and then on lap 30 for the 00 of Dave Trytek and the 90 of Ray Graham.

Out front on the green were Muldoon, Tim Gareau and Timmy Jedrzejek as that trio pulled away from the pack, all laying down their game plans out back.

Bob Goutermout and Howie Page were next to tangle in a series of cautions that fell between lap 47 and 52. Also involved or making pitstops were Gary Morton, Pat Shullick and Dave McKnight.

On the green on lap 49, Tim Gareau took over the point from Muldoon to become the fifth race leader. Muldoon, Timmy J, Joey Payne, Furlong and Russ Wood were top runners at this juncture.

The race played out for a dozen or so laps with Gareau the leader, but coming up strong was Payne, in the Lane 91, and he took over the point on lap 66 in a low move on Gareau in turn one.

Payne took off in the lead, but never lost Gareau while Muldoon, Timmy J and now Jamie Moore were top five.

A scary incident involving the Ken Bell 32 brought the race to a halt on lap 75. Bell's 32 caught the wheel of a car in front of him, probably Lou Cicconi's 75, off turn 3 and he went airborne into the wall, flipping over and landing on his top side. Bell was shaken but okay. The car was destroyed. Refueling was allowed while the cleanup ensued.

Joey Payne continued his reign out front as he pulled Gareau behind him through lap cars. Slowly picking up the pace was Joe Gosek, who until this point sat about eighth in the field. Joe said later laughing, "I probably had Mike worrying a little for a while. I dropped back. The car was a little antsy early and a lot of guys were on the get go. I was afraid that was going to happen. You can't let it bother you. You go back and run where you feel comfortable and if you don't go back to far, you are fine. As the race went on, I just thought I'd pick guys off clean don't get in trouble - and it played out down the line. I don't know what anybody had for me. I was loose at the end but you just have to puppy it to keep the tires at the end."

The field slowed once again on lap 103 for a Dave McKnight and Jerry Curran incident. The green dropped and Payne led the way once again with Gareau right behind, but Joey's fine run ended shortly thereafter on lap 111 when the car suddenly slowed off turn four. Miraculously the leaders made it by as the 91 was hooked into the pits with a broken front suspension bolt. Heading for the pits for a tire here were Trytek and Chris Perley at a perfect pit time if the need was there.

As the clock showed 111, the green dropped and Tim Gareau reassumed the lead he had held previously. Timmy J and Joe Gosek were the main contenders now with Jamie Moore, Greg Furlong, Tim Snyder, Russ Wood and Shawn Muldoon, who had also pitted on lap 49, racing behind. A lap 87 yellow for Keith Gilliam brought in more drivers for shoes as the race wore down, and so did the tires. In came Bobby Santos, the 16-year-old race wonder from Franklin, Mass., Russ Wood, Muldoon again and more.

The race resumed with the lead battle settling into a Gareau-Gosek chase. Sliding back and out of the action was Tim Jedrzejek who lost his rack and pinion and a chance at a good Classic finish.

Gosek made his move on Gareau off turn four and the lead was his. At the 150 mark, Gosek held a healthy lead over Gareau, Furlong, Moore and Snyder. Moving up quickly was Chris Perley, who obviously benefited from his earlier pit stop.

Jamie Moore was the next to fly the yellow bunting on lap 169 and into the pits went the Auburn veteran to return later.

Gosek had half dozen lap cars in between his 50 and the 72 of now second place runner Greg Furlong on the restart. Tim Gareau lost his momentum here and would pit on lap 177 out of the action.

By lap 175, Gosek looked to be on cruise while Perley had picked his way through the pack to run third behind Furlong. A couple more laps for the Rowley Rocket and he'd be a main challenger. It was not to be however, as Perley, coming off turn four, caught the wheel of the 91 of Joey Payne who was laps down and just struggling behind some other lap cars. Perley was sent hard into the steel in four and his 11 was shortened a couple feet in the process. Chris was sore but okay. He said later that the motor and everything in the front end was gone.

The restart here now put Furlong right on Gosek's tail and with time running down, all eyes were up front. Several more yellows caused hope for Furlong and anxiety for Gosek. On lap 194, Bobby Santos' 88 brought out the flag. Green fell on 196. Gosek was able to hold off Furlong. The white fell on Gosek, Furlong, Muldoon, who was fifth, but running a lap down behind the leaders, then Bond and Snyder, who were in the lead lap.

Everyone held their breath as the checkered was in hand and the end in sight or so they thought. Yellow flew instead on lap 200 when the 00 of Trytek spun down the front straight. Dave corrected, but Gosek had to go through the scene one more time. Joe said afterwards, "The restarts were killers especially because I was getting loose late in the race. When it went green and then white and then we were coming for the checkered and the yellow came out, we had to do the same thing again. There were three more laps to go. It plays on a driver's mind. You don't know where that guy behind is going to try you or whether he is or not. Basically you try to use the car up the best you can and get away as quick as you can on the green. It worked out. I was waiting for Greg to show me but it didn't happen."

On lap 202, white finally flew for the last time as Furlong made a meager attempt at Gosek and that's how they crossed one lap later when the crossed checkered flew, while Snyder, Muldoon and Bond came wildly across the finish line several car lengths behind. The top three Gosek, Furlong and Snyder were the same trio standing on the podium as in 2001 but in a different order. The race had 8 different leaders with Gareau leading during two sequences. Only the top four were in the lead lap with Muldoon finishing fifth one lap down.

Said Bond as to his run. "It was a hectic one. We got hot there. We got lucky the red came out when it did because we wouldn't have made it much further. We got back up to the front. I thought Shawn might have given me some room because he was a lap down, but he didn't. I might have been able to catch Furlong. The car was pretty good, but Shawn got in the way. Snyder ended up getting by me there when Shawn and I touched. But, this is my best Classic finish and we're definitely happy. This makes up for a bad season. This is a good way to end it.

Fifth place finisher and race rookie Shawn Muldoon indicated, . "I went to the front a little bit too soon and kind of burned some tires off it. I learned a lot. We'll be okay. I didn't even think I was in the top five there. I thought maybe the top ten. I don't pay attention to the board. It was a good run for us."

Scott Martel, Russ Wood, Brian Sweeney, Jeff Holbrook and Holbrook's third car, the 00 of Trytek, rounded out the top ten.

-iama-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Bobby Santos