Rougemount, NC - Joe Gosek was the first to admit that he probably shouldn't have been the winner at ISMA's Orange County 75 Friday night, but it was his 26 which sat in victory lane after a night of attrition. Gosek was running third on the ...
Rougemount, NC - Joe Gosek was the first to admit that he probably shouldn't have been the winner at ISMA's Orange County 75 Friday night, but it was his 26 which sat in victory lane after a night of attrition. Gosek was running third on the track when first and second place runners, Lou Cicconi and Nick Fornoro, crashed passing a lap car, sending both to the pits. Gosek took over the lead and went on to his second Orange County win this year, holding off Joey Payne and Scotty Martel at race end.
"Those other guys were better than we were tonight," said Gosek in victory lane. "The car was just too tight. The track didn't come to us at all. We just hung in there and did the best we could with what the car had. It came around and then Lou and Nick got knocked out. Luckily I was back far enough at that time. In the last laps I just tried to hold off the rest of them. I didn't know where they were. The crew did a heck of a job - Paul Dunigan, Brian Allegresso, Eddie LaPage work their butts off every week. All the guys work hard to give me a great car. It all goes to them really. The prepare the car, make it go and make it last. That's what is really important."
Ohioan's Dave Shullick Jr. and Doug Saunier swapped the lead in the early going of the race and it was Saunier who took off and hid while Shullick began to drift backwards as Scott Martel and Randy Ritskes moved by. Lap 23 saw a slowdown due to a spin by Jamie Timmons, who went pitside. On the green, Randy Ritskes dove under the 7 of Saunier to steal the lead. Saunier wasn't long for second either as Nick Fornoro was on the move, grabbing second soon thereafter.
On lap 30, Ritskes' lead was jeopardized as Timmons lost the handle of the 97 right as he was about to go a lap down to Ritskes. Randy tagged the 97, but was able to continue. In the interim, the 3 of Brian Sweeney coasted into the first turn with flames blowing out the side. Red was called for refueling as the cleanup ensued.
Ritskes was almost overtaken on the restart by Fornoro and Saunier, but held onto his lead. Three laps later, however, the 29 went up in smoke due to a power steering malfunction and into the pits went Ritskes, reentering the field at the tail.
Fornoro was now the leader with Saunier, Martel, Cicconi, Gosek, Payne, McKnight and Timmy Jedrzejek all looking to move up.
By lap 45, Fornoro was in command, chased by his teammate Cicconi. Saunier held third with Gosek, Martel, McKnight, Payne and Jedrzejek still fighting tooth and nail for position.
On lap 49, things bunched up as Doug Boisvert spun in 2.
Fornoro and Cicconi pulled easily away once again on the restart, but three laps later they had to but the brakes on once again when the 61 of Mike Ordway spun.
Lou Cicconi got by his teammate on this restart to take over the lead while Saunier, Gosek and Martel still held onto top five spots. Saunier would drop off the pace moments later and pit on lap 63.
With 12 to go, Cicconi and Fornoro approached yet another lap car, but this time, they did not get easily by. Cicconi tried to go low while Fornoro was high and outside. The 30 of Brubaker was the middle of the sandwich and when he and Cicconi brushed, a tire blew sending Lou into the wall, collecting Fornoro at the same time. Ray Graham Jr. was also involved as he had no where to go. All were hooked and out for the night.
Joe Gosek was suddenly in the lead with McKnight, Martel, Payne and Jedrzejek the top five. Randy Ritskes was on a tear and moved up to third by lap 65. Unfortunately, Randy had moved a little too fast on the previous restart, causing him a penalty of going to the rear if another yellow came. And, it did on lap 72 as the rear end of the 94 gave out, leaving Dave McKnight a broken car instead of a second place finish.
Gosek took off on the green, knowing three laps sat between him and victory. Joey Payne was second with Martel, Timmy Jedrzejek and Doug Saunier back up to fifth. A duel for that spot came on the last lap when Ordway tried to grab it, but it was Saunier in fifth by a nose as the checkered flew for Gosek.
Joey Payne, battling the flu, was a fatigued second place finisher. "I was worn out. I think with about ten to go, we were running about seventh," said Payne. "I was trying to stick it out and something happened and we found ourselves second. It was just patience. We were sort of loose at the beginning of the race and I thought we were pretty bad. When we got fuel in the car again on that red, it started to tighten up. We were able to run pretty decent. It was unfortunate for those guys who crashed and fortunate for us and we found ourselves in second. We're still learning the car. If you go to a race track and don't learn anything, you shouldn't be here. So, we keep learning and hopefully one of these days we'll pull one off. Maybe tomorrow night."
Scotty Martel, who has a host of fourths and fifths to his credit this season, stated, "I'm happy, It was a tough race, but we were able to persevere and not get caught up with any of the stuff going on on the track. I'm happy for the crew to be finally able to get in the top three. I really want to win one though, real bad. We only need two more spots and there's only two more races. We have two chances left. One of these days we'll get one. I'd like to thank all our sponsors who help us out. They've been with us from the start. Actually to come away from a race like this with a third and going into tomorrow night, we're looking forward to Southern National. We'll take this third and hopefully regroup and have a good run there."
Timmy "J", who had a bad heat race, was pleased with fourth. "Fourth is a long way from our heat race. The guys work very hard on this crew and we changed so many things before the feature that we made a joke it was like rolling the dice. As soon as we started, the car seemed like it was running really well and I thought we had a chance to make a top ten. I didn't imagine we'd get all the way up to fourth. I need long runs. On short runs after a caution, I'd loose the pack and then as tires heated up, I needed the long runs to get my car to work. The longer the run, the happier I was. <pre> ORANGE COUNTY(NC) ISMA SUMMARY Heat 1: Doug Saunier, Randy Ritskes, Dave Shullick Jr, Mike Ordway, Denny Fisher, Timmy Jedrzejek, Mike Brubaker, Ray Graham Jr Heat 2: Dave McKnight, Nick Fornoro, Joe Gosek, Howie Page, Doug Boisvert, John Payne, Brian Sweeney, Jamie Letcher(Soule 32), Jon Henes Heat 3: Jamie Timmons, Joey Payne, George Brothers, Ken Bell, Bob Smith, Mark Sammut, Brad Lichty(Kovacs 77), Lou Cicconi(broken rack) Johnson Auto ISMA 75: 1. Joe Gosek(26), 2. Joey Payne(06), 3. Scott Martel(14), 4. Timmy Jedrzejek(91), 5. Doug Saunier(7), 6. Mike Ordway(61), 7. Randy Ritskes(29), 8. Ken Bell(31), 9. Howie Page(18), 10. George Brothers(6), 11. Bob Smith(67), 12. Mark Sammut(78), 13. Dave McKnight(94), 14. Jamie Letcher(32), 15. Lou Cicconi(4), 16. Nick Fornoro(5), 17. Mike Brubaker(30), 18. Ray Graham Jr.(90), 19. Doug Boisvert(66), 20. Jamie Timmons(97), 21. Brian Sweeney(3), 22. John Payne(16), 23. Dave Shullick Jr.(38), 24. Jon Henes(36), 25. Brad Lichty(77), 26. Denny Fisher(81).