Oswego Speedway Race of Champions summary

52nd annual Race of Champions goes to Webster, NY's Tim Mangus. Oswego, NY - The 52nd annual Race of Champions held at Oswego Speedway Saturday capped a season for winner Tim Mangus that began horrifically.. Surviving a bad accident earlier in...

52nd annual Race of Champions goes to Webster, NY's Tim Mangus.

Oswego, NY - The 52nd annual Race of Champions held at Oswego Speedway Saturday capped a season for winner Tim Mangus that began horrifically.. Surviving a bad accident earlier in the season, Mangus' run to RoC gold was one of drama and excitement. Mangus sat third with ten to go, but a wreck out in front of him gave him the lead when the smoke had cleared. Mangus was pressured to the flag by runner-up Buck Catalano in a caution-filled event that was checkered at lap 204. Mangus, whose father Dick fielded early modifieds at Oswego Speedway, was doubly ecstatic with the $10,000 win and the prestige and glory it holds.

"I don't know what to say," Tim said quietly as cheers erupted from all areas of the speedway.. "Anybody who has followed racing knows what we've been through this year. I'm really lucky just to be here. We had a really serious accident earlier this year. Things were really bad. I guess this really, really puts an exclamation point on an otherwise dismal year. There have been some really good things happening to us . We hooked up with the Schum family - Scott and Pat - and we're going to drive their car next year and we're proud to be doing that. I'm so proud to win this race for Sunoco because they have supported our team for many,many years. And, they are a real friend of modified racing. A lot of the races upstate wouldn't happen if it weren't for Sunoco. "

In victory lane, Tim replayed the last 50 laps that gave him the opportunity for the coveted win. "We went 150 laps on our tires There was just nothing left. Buck was behind me. He's a champion. He raced me clean, but I knew he pitted and I knew he probably had better tires. I just couldn't believe it when Beers took out Hossfeld. He just about took me out going into one with about 20 to go. He tried the same move on Chucky and wasn't as lucky."

His final words were those of thanks and gratitude. "First of all I'd like to thank my wife and kids who had to put up with all the stuff while I was lying in bed almost dead for about a month. And, then my mom and dad. They've supported me since day one. All the guys - Jimmy Grandits and his family have done so much. Bob, Gino and just all the guys who have sponsored us throughout. Sunoco, Wilbur's Buick and GM Parts - we've been fortunate to have a lot of good people support us and that's the reason we have been able to have the equipment we have and be able to get to this level.

"My dad has a storied past at Oswego, he concluded. "This has always been our family's favorite track. I always wanted to win a race here. He won the Classic as a car owner here in 1959. It's been my goal in my racing career to win it at this race track.... to have the Race of Champions and Sunoco is just the icing on the cake."

The second, third and fourth place finishers Buck Catalano, Zane Zeiner and Billy Putney started in some of the more unenviable spots in the field. Pa. driver Zeiner was in 22nd, Buck Catalano gridded 39th, while Billy Putney sat 42nd in the huge 46-car field when the green dropped. Survival and persistence was the key for all. Zeiner and Catalano benefitted from some of the late race cautions to move up in the field, while Putney actually was hurt by them.

Said a smiling Catalano after the grueling 200-plus lap event, "It was a great run for me. You know I did the most complaining all weekend about not getting enough practice and other things going on. This definitely makes it a little bit better. This is my best finish in the Race of Champions. We had a great year. We won the Northeast Region in NASCAR. We'll get a little bit of money here and we're going to have a party! I'd like to thank Joseph Neri's Chevrolet, LensCrafters, Will Billy's Catering, Snap-On Tools, Lancaster Motorsports Park and Jennifer Fidanza Advertising."

Zeiner, who had copped the sportsman main earlier, was definitely happy with his day. "Early in the race we sort of struggled. We missed the setup. We came in and made a couple early pitstops. Toward the end of the race the car was really good until we had a right side header gasket that started blowing. The crew just told me to hang out there and be patient. We just avoided the big wreck there with ten to go Actually the car was pretty good then and we're pleased to put the Sunnieside Landscaping car into third place tonight. I have to thank Morgantini Motors. Without those guys we wouldn't be here. I can't complain today - a first in the sportsman race and a third here." And, finally, Putney had this to say for his struggle to finish fourth. "We had a rough start. We had to start 42nd. We had to qualify through the consi and then take our provisional spot. It was not an easy day. We got up to fourth and then pitted. And, then we got back up to third, and Eric Beers dumped us on his way to dumping Hossfeld. With ten to go, we had to come back up through and we were fortunate to finish fourth. The crew did a great job. We had a real strong car. Unfortunately we didn't pick a good number for qualifying. We have a lot of bent parts here but we were able to limp her home into fourth."

A beautiful race day greeted the large crowd on hand to watch a lot of racing and to catch a glimpse of W.C. stars Tony Stewart and Ken Schrader. A last minute change by the Joe Gibbs team left Stewart to sign autographs and Schrader to race the 20 modified. Schrader had run Oswego before in the Ed Cloce modified and was not a stranger. Neither Christopher or teammate Schrader would finish due to accidents, but both were in the hunt while in the fray.

Over 70 modifieds filled the pits and 46 of them would get the change to vie for the illustrious cup. Chuck Hossfeld, fresh off a Mod Tour win at NHIS, and T.J. Potrzebowski headed the field at the green with Hossfeld taking the point.

Numerous cautions dotted the early going with supermodified competitor Dave McKnight being the first to exit the race on lap 19.

While Hossfeld led, Ted Christopher's 00 was forced into the wall in 4 and his day began a downward spiral there.

Hossfeld, out of Ransomville, NY, who has entered Mod Tour competition in 2002 on a regular basis, continued to lead while chasing were Potrzebowski, Don Saubitz, Pete Brittain, Bob Silvernail, Tom McGrath and the ever threatening RoC defending champ George Kent.

A slew of pitstops began just after a lap 50 yellow allowed the pits to open for the mandatory stop, including leader Hossfeld, giving the lead to the 72 of Potrzebowski.

On lap 62 Tom Cloce, Ted Christopher, Jeff Ulrich and several others flew the yellow and it was here Christopher parked the car. At least nine others made treks to the infield here. And, it was here too that as the cautions ticked off on the board, that defending champ George Kent would lose his chance at a repeat victory when his 26 stopped in four at the lap 67 mark. Kent got back into the field, but could never make up the lap deficit. But, he certainly tried.

As the race approached the midway mark, T.J. led the pack, trailed by Matt Hirschman, Eric Beers, Putney, Kenny Schrader and Hossfeld, sifting his way back up through traffic.

A major tangle occurred on lap 104 with at least four cars spinning and crashing wildly off turn four. Hooks were required for the 8 of Chris Finocchario, the 9 of Staubitz, the 2 of Jim Flanigan while others, including Putney, Schrader, Hirschman and Beers, darted around and into the pits. Potrzebowski had Hossfeld on his tail now after this round of pitstops, with yellows falling that did not allow a lot of lap traffic maneuvering. T.J. came in for his stop on a 127 yellow handing the lead back to Hossfeld. Sitting in second, not an unusual sight, was Kent. What was unusual was that he was down to the leader. Kent managed to take away one lap when he passed Hossfeld on lap 144, but it didn't help much. Kent sat out front of the 22 until a lap 150 yellow for Karl Hehr and others saw Kent go back toward the tail.

Out front a great battle developed as Hossfeld led Tony Hirschman, Catalano, Mangus, Sege Fidanza, and Putney.

At the 160 mark, all eyes were on Catalano and Magnus, Putney and Fidanza as they ran side by side, nose to tail on more than one occasion around the fast 5/8th's. By 165, Mangus had put the 93 in third behind Hossfeld and Hirschman. Lap 167 saw the demise of the Schrader 20 when a brush with the 50 of Matt Hirschman sent Ken into the pits. The crew pounded on the front tire trying to free it, but to no avail. Schrader, in order not to lose a lap, ran around the speedway on three tires for one circuit and back into the pits he came as the crowd applauded his effort. The effort proved fruitless, however, and Schrader would have to settle for a 21st finishing spot. After coming into victory lane to congratulate winner Mangus afterwards, Schrader smiled and said, "That was fun." Schrader and Stewart, who spotted for Ted Christopher from the roof, headed back to Dover, DE to race Sunday.

Back in action, the end loomed with 25 to go. Mangus made a great move around Tony Hirschman, with Putney following him by.

Hirschman's run to the front ended on lap 178 when he and Tony Hanbury had to pit after an altercation. Hanbury parked while Billy Putney also had to come in after the aforementioned tap by Beers. A long road awaited the eventual fourth place finisher with less than 20 to go.

Mangus chased Hossfeld now while Beers sat in third after eliminating Putney. Beers ran alongside Mangus for three or four laps in the 19 before he over took the 93 for second.

The 50 of Matt Hirschman was planted in the foam on lap 188 and this yellow set up the dramatic race end. Green fell on lap 191 and soon after it did, Eric Beers made his attempt at the lead with the result being, Hossfeld was now into the wall in turn one. Several others behind were collected in the melee with Putney, Fidanza, Jim Willis, Hossfeld, and Potrzebowski, pitting. Beers was sent to the tail of the field for his involvement after a little flag persuasion by track officials.

Green fell on new leader Mangus on lap 195 who had to survive one more slowdown before victory was his. A quick yellow flew on 198 for the 1 of John DeMinck. Mangus put his heart into the last few laps and flew under the checkereds as the counter ticked to 204. Several car lengths behind was Catalano, followed by Zeiner, Putney and Dan Kurzejewski, in the top five. Hossfeld, Jim Willis, Josh Blewett, Potrzebowski and Sege Fidanza rounded out the top ten, closing the books on the 52nd annual Race of Champions.

Summary 52nd Annual Race of Champions:
Heat 1: Pete Brittain (99)
Heat 2: George Kent (26)
Heat 3: Bob Silvernail (55)
Heat 4: Ted Christopher (00)
Heat 5: Matt Hirschman (50)
Heat 6: Dan Staubitz (9)
Consi 1: Ryan Holland (82)
Consi 2: Dave McKnight (02)

Feature: 1 Tim Mangus (93), 2 Buck Catalano (98), 3 Zane Zeiner (76), 4 Bill Putney (88), 5 Dan Kurzejewski (21), 6 Chuck Hossfeld (22), 7 Jim Willis (11), 8 Josh Blewett (7), 9 TJ Potrzebowski (72), 10, Sege Fidanza (77), 11, Richie Coy (14), 12 Bill Chandler (42), 13 Eric Beers (19), 14 George Kent (26), 15 Tony Hirschman (48), 16 John DeMinck (1), 17 Ryan Holland (82), 18 Matt Hirschman (50), 19 Rick Kluth (44), 20 Tony Hanbury (45), 21 Kenny Schrader (20), 22 Jeff Ulrich (75), 23 Rick Zacharias (29), 24 Pete Brittain (99), 25 Bobby Osgood (09), 26 Karl Heher (59), 27 Chris Finocchario (8), 28 Patsy Catalano (4), 29 Jim Flanigan (2), 30 Larry Havens (43), 31 Bob Silvernail (55), 32 Dan Staubitz (9), 33 Rusty Smith (34), 34 Josh Gregg (18), 35 Mike Ordway (66), 36 Tom McGrath (12), 37 Kenny Troyer (6), 38 Ted Christopher (00), 39 Mike Leaty (25), 40 Jan Leaty (16), 41 Tommy Cloce (69), 42 Robert Jones (01), 43 Josh Philpott (30), 44 Tim Santee (06), 45 JR Bertuccio (32), 46 Dave McKnight (02)

-os-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Tony Stewart , Ken Schrader , Chuck Hossfeld , Robert Jones , Ted Christopher , Eric Beers