Star Speedway report 2001-09-08

Epping, NH - After a lengthy power outage at Star Speedway Saturday night, Joe Gosek took his second-career Classic win after the Epping Police Dept. helped by lowering the checkered flag 50 circuits early. After being warned that the race might...

Epping, NH - After a lengthy power outage at Star Speedway Saturday night, Joe Gosek took his second-career Classic win after the Epping Police Dept. helped by lowering the checkered flag 50 circuits early. After being warned that the race might not go to the end at the quarter mile, because of a Town of Epping curfew, the drivers had to quickly change their game plans. Some worked, some didn't. During a caution just before the midway mark, the drivers got the message that race might not reach 200 laps. Gosek, running second, stepped up his pace as the green waved on lap 95 and took the lead from Lou Cicconi. That's where he planned to stay. Said Joe later, "Chuck Handley said at that lap restart around lap 90 that there might be only 25 to go and that's when I took the lead. From there on out I figured we might just as well hang on to it. So I decided to try to stay out front and we'd go from there."

The win was Gosek's second of the ISMA season and his second at the Star Classic. Gosek and Bentley Warren remain the only two supermodified drivers to have won the Star Classic, the Oswego Classic and the Sandusky Classic. Now Gosek has two of each. "Somebody just told me," said Gosek, " that now I have two Star Classics, two Oswego Classics and two Sandusky Classics, so it's time to start working on one more of each next year. This is just a great way to get us back on the right deal."

He went on to praise his crew for getting an ill-handling 26 back in shape for the feature grind. "The car was really good. Eric Lewis and the whole crew worked really hard all day because we didn't have much of a car earlier or last night. Brian, the whole crew got together and helped. Unfortunately, the race didn't go until the end. A lot of people probably thought they could have won. I think Russ got me a few times there, but lap traffic worked to my advantage today. I was working the outside and it paid off. The last couple laps the car got loose on me. I thought at one lap to go, Russell might get me and I'd lose the race, but things worked out. This one-two finish is a good way to get our team back in the winning mode. Star's a tough little race track and because things didn't go until the end, guys are disappointed. We were in the right place at the right time when they decided to call it. My thanks to Paul Dunigan and the crew and all the sponsors." Russ Wood, who swapped the lead a few times with Gosek before the curtain fell, commented after finishing a strong second, ""It was a good show. Too bad it got shortened. It would have been a good shootout at the end. We had a 200 lap plan, but I think everyone else did too. Second place. I think I passed Joe a few times, but it was going to go how the traffic went. If the low side went, I would have pulled ahead. I think traffic worked a little bit in Joe's favor. I think Joe's car worked better on the outside. And, he just got the line. "

The day started out routinely with 28 supermodifieds taking time trials, locking in the fastest 16 into the field of 22 starters. Fast time went to Russ Wood, but handicapping of the top 8 put Joey Payne and Chris Perley on the front row when the 36th running of the Classic began. Payne jumped out to a powerful lead, chased down quickly by defending race champ, Lou Cicconi. He overtook Payne by lap 16 to take over the lead

A lap 23 yellow flew for the two cars of Jen Chesbro and Rick Wentworth who had spun off the speedway in different places.

Cicconi took off on the restart, but it wasn't long before another yellow flew for the 88 of Steve Knowlton. Under the caution, the track was left dark on the front straight when a wire shorted out, sending a shower of sparks up down several of the light poles. Red flew on lap 46. While track crews tried to remedy the situation, the clock ticked past the mandatory curfew time. The scenario was explained to the local officials by phone and they extended the race, but not too long.

When green flag racing resumed, Cicconi was in the lead, but Perley was on the prowl chased by Joe Gosek, Russ Wood, Mike Ordway, Brian Wood and Dave McKnight.

It was Cicconi, Perley and Gosek melding into lap traffic when a lap 61 incident ensued for the 16 of Randy Ritskes whose car had flown off turn two and actually chopped down a 20 foot pine tree. With tree planted firmly on car and time ticking away, the officials deemed that leaving the car there until after the race, was the answer and green quickly dropped again. On lap 73, Gosek made a move on Perley for second setting his sights on leader Cicconi.

Gosek and Cicconi had a great battle going in traffic while Perley, Russ Wood, Brian Wood, Dave McKnight and Ordway laid down their game plans for the second 100.

On lap 87, Brian West took a hard drive into the first turn outer wall and now the Epping officers on hand were getting antsy. Track management bought a little more time with pleas of just a few more laps and it was here ISMA president Handley issued the warning to all drivers. He couldn't guarantee how much longer the race would continue.

So, Gosek, as the green dropped, was hell bent for the lead, passing Cicconi in turn three as the pair slightly brushed wheels in the the exchange. Gosek tried to get out as far as he could as fast as he could.

The green flag laps continued as Russ Wood moved by Cicconi for second and headed for his teammate. At lap 120, it was Gosek, Wood and Cicconi with Perley, Ordway and Brian Wood the next three. Lap traffic played a big role on the small track as Wood and Gosek began to swap the lead. Wood edged slightly ahead of Gosek coming out of four on lap 126, but Gosek retook the lead before the circuit was done. Again on lap 132, Wood put the 29 alongside and by, but he just couldn't hold Gosek back. Joe was back out front again. By lap 137, there were no less than seven laps cars between the battling boys out front and the third place car of Ordway who was in a battle of his own with Cicconi and Perley. Ordway gained the third spot on lap 135. Brian Wood moved into fourth on lap 140 as the clock was really ticking now and the drivers all knew it.

A spinning 27 of Jamie Timmons brought the action to a halt at 145 and basically it might have ended there if not for one more plea for a green-checkered finish. Wood, therefore, got one more shot at Gosek but the lap transpired before he could mount a credible attack. At the checkered at 150, Gosek crossed for the win with Russ Wood, Mike Ordway, Brian Wood and Dave McKnight the top five. While Gosek and Wood were not unhappy with the finish at 150, Ordway was less than pleased. "This race is b.s." said Mike afterwards. ". They knew that there was a curfew and it was 11:30, quarter to twelve when we restarted. They knew we couldn't finish it. The race should have been run on Sunday afternoon. That's all I can say. We had a 200 lap plan and we were just coming on."

Brian Wood, one of the Dunigan triumvirate, was content with fourth. "Fourth is good. I haven't raced really all year. I'm happy with fourth. I stayed out of trouble. It'd good for the Dunigan team - first, second and fourth. So, I'm happy. Everybody's happy. I don't think the other 50 laps mattered much to me. I think I was about where I was going to end up. I don't think I was going to get too much further. The shortened race may have been to my benefit. Who knows."

Point leader Dave McKnight, whose Star record is less than illustrious, settled nicely for fifth. "It could have been better. We're in one piece. You know what Star's like, it's a battle zone. We were solid. We had a little tangle and it hurt a little. But, a race shortened by 50 laps definitely played a part as to who was going to be where at the end. Hey, again, my guys did a great job. We're chasing the points and it's one more race out of the season. Now there are only three to go. So, we'll see how it goes from here." Perley, Howie Lane, Nokie Fornoro, Brad Lichty and Eddie Witkum Jr. finished up the top ten. ISMA heads right back into action Friday night, Sept. 14 at Kawartha Speedway and Sept. 15 at Cayuga Speedway in Canada.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Bentley Warren