Oswego "45th International Classic" report

Tim Snyder Makes His First-Ever Career Win A Big One At Oswego Winning The 45th International Classic Oswego, NY - "That's why they call this a Classic" someone shouted as Pandemonium ensued in victory lane Sunday afternoon at Oswego Speedway.

Tim Snyder Makes His First-Ever Career Win A Big One At Oswego Winning The 45th International Classic

Oswego, NY - "That's why they call this a Classic" someone shouted as Pandemonium ensued in victory lane Sunday afternoon at Oswego Speedway. Tim Snyder had worked for eight years to win a feature race at the fast 5/8th's mile oval. Sunday he won the feature of a lifetime in spectacular fashion, beating out some veteran opponents in a most memorable Classic finish.

Two-time Classic winner Joe Gosek had led 153 laps before a sour motor found him off the pace a touch. Mike Ordway took over from Gosek and powered the Booth 61 out front, looking for his first-ever Classic victory. Ordway's reign ended abruptly when he ran out of fuel on lap 191, just nine laps shy of his elusive goal. Snyder, who had been running second, now suddenly was leading the race of his life. But, two-time winner Greg Furlong wasn't about to give in easily. Snyder and Furlong swapped the lead and some nerf paint as Furlong took the lead on laps 195 and 196. Coming up on a pack of lap cars, Snyder seized the moment and retook the front spot, leading the last four laps for the victory. A $20,000 check plus lap money and contingencies was Snyder's payday, but the rewards for the Oswego native, who now lives and works in Tilton, NH, was far greater than the money he garnered.

Snyder described his feelings in a post race interview:
"It's been a dream to just win a feature here. The car's been running great the last few weeks and we have almost been there. Oswego's a hard place to win. It's unbelievable that it happened on Classic weekend. It's always been our goal to win a race. It's been our goal every time we show up to race. I made a bet with the guys in the garage that if we didn't win a race this year, we were going to retire and quit.I guess we can't now. My wife Mary and son Nicholas will have to put up with me not being home on weekends for a while more now. We lost a couple close ones recently and I thought we could do it. So, I didn't try to win this race today. I just tried to pace myself and save the car. Believe it or not I was happy with fifth. Then I was happy with fourth, then second. Things were going our way. I was almost surprised when Ordway moved over and ran out of fuel. I was amazed I was in the lead and wondered 'now what's going to happen'. I could see the photographers jumping up and down as I went by. Then Furlong showed up from nowhere. I said 'here we go' with lap traffic again. I wasn't going to give up. I've always told people I didn't want to start on the front row and win a race. I wanted to race for the race. And, that's how we won- we raced for the race, by passing cars and moving up."

Snyder also wanted to thank his biggest fan, his dad Denny, who not only watches over the crew. "I couldn't do it without him. Billy, my brother, came to us about five years ago and he wanted to move to North Carolina to work in Winston Cup. I told him go ahead, we'd sell the car. Denny (dad) showed up and said 'don't sell the car, don't quit. I'll keep an eye on it.' He didn't know a thing about race cars or what was going on. But, he kept us going."

Canadian Dave McKnight, winner of the ISMA Super Nationals on Saturday was also the fastest time trialer on Sunday, without a wing. Sitting outside of him on the front row of the 45th annual Budweiser International Classic, was Mike Ordway - a formidable front line to say the least to lead the field of 35 down to the green.

Ordway grabbed the lead for two laps but gave way to Joe Gosek, driving the Holbrook 35 for only his second time.

Joe began a slow cruise out front as the race began. Several yellows doted the early going and ironically, Gosek's teammate, Dave Trytek was one of the first to exit the event with mechanical woes and finally gave in to a bad fuel pump on lap 32. Jamie Letcher, Randy Ritskes, in the Lane 27, Jamie Moore, Scott Eldred, and Jim Shirey were among the first yellow victims. Some re-entered the long grind. Some did not.

As Gosek paced the field, Bob Bond, Mike Ordway, Dave McKnight, Snyder, Furlong, Ray Graham, Todd Stowell and Chris Perley ran behind. Everyone knows you don't win a Classic in the first 100 laps.

Because of the cautions, traffic did not reach Gosek until nearing the midway mark. On lap 80, Joe had a couple cars in between his 35 and the second place runner Ordway. Bond started to slide backwards here as McKnight closed in on Ordway. Snyder ran a steady fifth at this juncture, and was very pleased with that spot. The last two years he'd not gone past lap 17. Said Tim later, "The last two years we haven't made it past lap seventeen - once being involved in that fire and then we got spun out on lap 17 last year. So, at lap 18 today, it was like a party in the pits. We made our Classic. I just followed the guys who had been there. Joe's won the race. Mike's come close. They knew what they were doing. I just stayed on their bumpers and watched them. Nobody really threatened to pass."

Gene Lee Gibson flew the yellow in the Kovacs 7 just as the race approached lap 100. On the green, Ordway put the 61 on Gosek's tail as McKnight did likewise to the 61. Bond, Snyder, Furlong, Stowell and Perley trailed slightly.

Gosek passed the midway mark out front, but the order behind changed with Ordway still tacked to Gosek's bumper but Snyder got by Dave McKnight who did one of two spectacular 360 spins of the race. McKnight was able to spin, gain control and drop back into a spot up front without losing much ground.

By lap 137, the clock was ticking, and the drivers began their game plans. The top six, which had been biding time, seemed to begin to come together with Gosek, Ordway, Snyder, McKnight, Furlong and Perley in a straight line. Moving into the picture here was Lou Cicconi in the Strong 99, up from 24th spot. Tim Gareau and Bob Goutermout were still in the picture as the the race wore on.

Gosek picked up his pace a little but a lap 150 yellow stuck the boys back together. This was the point where Joe's motor began to fail him. On lap 158, Gosek lost the lead and basically the chance to regain it. He said later: "I had a great car from the start to finish. It got tight on us at the end and we were afraid it might do that. It lost a cylinder right after Mike passed me. Around 160 or 170, the number seven cylinder started popping fuel out, so that killed it a little bit. The car then got tighter and tighter. I think if we hadn't dropped a cylinder and the motor had stayed sharp, we might have been in the hunt there. It went flat. The car was so easy to drive early. I never slipped it. We didn't go too hard - 17.9, 18.0. We didn't abuse the car at all. I just ran around on a string. It was really good mid-race and I still wasn't really going with it. When the fuel load went down, it started to push a little bit but I still think I could have given them a battle in traffic toward the end there if the motor hadn't flat. I had to get my rhythm back after the motor went south. I was trying to get the thing up off the corner. It was a good run. The second time in this car. The guys did a great job. The car was there the whole way. It's a good solid race car."

Mike Ordway, who has been trying to win a Classic for many years, was now the leader with 42 laps to go.

On lap 159, a cloud of tire smoke filled the track as Dave McKnight again spun wildly off turn 4, miraculously maintaining his fourth place spot. Said Snyder, who was close by at the time, "I saw a cloud of smoke and I thought someone just spun, but Dave just spins and spins and when he kept going we almost collided coming out of the smoke. I said 'this is not good.' "McKnight, who had hoped to possibly be the only man to ever win the Super Nationals and the Classic, and who probably had the potential, now slipped backwards with an obviously ill-handling car.

It was Ordway's turn to shine out front and he too, had a mission. He had led the Classic before, but never finished there. His 61 glided well out front at lap 170. On lap 180, Gosek, with Snyder and Furlong tucked up behind, closed back in on the 61, as Chris Perley ran by himself in fifth.

On lap 183, Snyder put the 0 past Gosek, who was now running on 7 cylinders in the 35. It was Furlong's turn to move as the race neared the 10 to go. Furlong was past Snyder for second as they approached a lap car, but he only held the spot a short time as Snyder came right back in the first of two position swaps for that duo. The second one was for the race win.

Suddenly out front, Ordway slowed and moved over. Snyder was by, Furlong was by. Ordway limped to the pits out of fuel. A faulty fuel check valve might have been the cause. He had started with 55 gallons, more than the winning team. The lead was now Snyder's and he was actually amazed that he might now have a chance at victory. "When Ordway moved out of the way I thought that then, that I had the chance to win. I hate to say we weren't trying to win the race, but we were just trying to finish it. Classic is an endurance race. It's the only race we race all year that the car that stays together, not the quickest, wins the race. Fuel mileage, saving the tires and getting the right setup after the fuel goes away is the key. So, we just bided our time. As I said, I was happy with fifth, fourth, second."

But now he had the lead and had to protect it from defending race winner Greg Furlong whose goal coming in was three-straight Classic wins. On lap 194 Furlong got by Snyder in traffic. But, Snyder now had a taste of pending victory. He retook the lead on lap 196 as the crowd cheered loudly each time a pass was made. The action was breath-taking. Tim later said this was the scariest moments of the race for him. "Furlong and I got together between one and two. A lap car came along and Greg took a hard right. If I didn't check up a little bit, we would have touched wheel to wheel, so I let him out and let him go. Second is better than wrecking in this race. It seemed like for a while in the race I was passing the same two laps cars. Then we came up on a whole pack of them. I could see Greg was going in hard. So, I just kind of let it slide in. I have to tell myself not to use the brakes. The brakes are the worse thing. I let it roll through. He went up high and I just put it in there. He came down thinking I was going to back out again. We just went wheel to wheel there. We hit pretty good. I'm not sure what he did to his car, but I have a pretty good dent in my nerf bar. He washed up and I made the move. He had to touch me. That was it. That's when I made the pass for the lead."

As the checkereds waved, Tim Snyder had met his dream. he had won a feature and the biggest one he could ever have hoped for. Greg Furlong, Joe Gosek, Chris Perley and Lou Cicconi were the top five in a "classic" Classic finish. Snyder, with a large contingent of family and friends celebrated to the max as the fans expressed their loud approval of the end results. It was the way it should be. A great end to a great race.

Furlong was a little disappointed as he waited for a top three photo. "We had a good car," said Greg, "We were basically just saving the tires. I worked my way up and got into second and began chasing Ordway. I had passed Timmy (Snyder) once and then he got back by me. We went back and forth. I took the lead. Timmy had the lead. I think when there were three or four laps to go, I got into one and messed up a little bit. Got her loose. Timmy just pounced. He ran an awesome race. he made a great move and won the race. . Hats off to Timmy for winning. He ran a veteran race. He did a great job. It must have been an exciting race. The fans must have liked this one. I'm disappointed we didn't win, but I'm happy we got second."

Chris Perley, who had finished the ISMA race the night before in 4th, picked up another one to match. After sitting in the grandstands in 2000 watching the race, it was a definite improvement.

"We're ecstatic.," said the Rowley Rocket. "I honestly figured we'd finish fifth because Ordway was out front there. I was sadden to see him pull over. I really was. That was a tough break. We were pitted near each other and I started thinking when he took the lead, ' a first and a fifth' that would be so cool. It didn't work out. You don't like to pick up a spot like that. Anytime you get a top five in the Oswego Classic is just phenomenal. The crew did a great job on the body. Eddie Page helped us. Little Phil was a key in the whole deal. He built a great body and that was the whole thing that made us go good. We've come here before and have just been no good. Obviously you have to prepare. These guys out at Oswego are prepared. You've got to step up the pace to run with them. "

Car owner of the fifth place finishing 99 car, Pat Strong, had a few words from and for his driver for the day, Lou Cicconi, who had left for his Pennsylvania home. Said Pat, "In time trials the motor was going away. It was breaking up bad. We chased it. Brad Lichty came over looking at it. They kept working on it and we finally got it back to where it was during the season, or pretty close. But, Lou said it just wouldn't pick up off the corners. He said the car handled great. He came from 24th to fifth and Lou said if he had had the motor to get more off the corner, he would have had something for them at the end. I want to say Lou is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He was great to work with. He was a gentleman to all my crew. It's not easy coming into a car for one race like this. he was one of the best drivers I've ever had in my car. Gary Morton recommended him. Steve Gioia recommended him. Howie Page said get him. I'm glad I did. I think he did just a great job. I was proud to have him in my car."


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