Liverpool’s Michael Barnes earned his third Novelis supermodified feature win of the 2018 season on Saturday night, besting the field in his Syrell Racing No. 68. Coming from the outside of the third row, Barnes vaulted into fourth place on the opening lap.
Before the 10th lap was completed, Barnes had his car in second. On the 13th lap, he would sail around the outside of Aric Iosue’s No. 11 to take the lead. Moving forward, the pilot of the No. 68 would never be challenged, successfully navigating lapped traffic en route to the 13th win of his career.
It was “Retro Night” at the lakeside oval, as tribute paint schemes were paid to past greats, Fred Graves and Jim Shampine. Otto Sitterly had the John Nicotra-owned No. 7 dressed as the silver, four-wheel drive Fred Graves No. 39 from the mid-1970s. Keith Shampine had the Chris Osetek-owned No. 55 downing the famous eight-ball paint scheme of his uncle’s “radical offset” No. 8 supermodified from the late 1970s – the quintessential design of how a supermodified looks today. Both tributes would find themselves landing top-five finishes by night’s end.
Dave Danzer and Aric Iosue led the field to the green flag to start the 45-lap main event. Iosue was quick to pounce, leading Danzer, Tyler Thompson, Barnes and Brandon Bellinger across the checkered stripe to complete lap No. 1. Shampine would move into the top five one round later.
The first caution flag of the race flew on the fourth lap, after Bill Sharkey’s No. 71 clocked the fourth-turn outside confines. Extensive damage was done to the No. 71, as it exited the racing surface via the hook.
Iosue held strong as he led Danzer, Thompson, Barnes and Shampine back to racing. Bellinger, Joe Gosek, Dave Gruel, Sitterly and Dave Shullick filled out the top 10.
Barnes would conquer Thompson on the high side to take over third, but the pace would slow again after Gruel looped his No. 50 between turns one and two.
On the ensuing restart, Barnes would best Danzer on the outside for the runner-up spot. Immediately, his No, 68 would begin to pressure Iosue for the lead. Behind the duo, Shampine had moved the eight-ball under Thompson and Danzer, advancing into third.
Before Shampine could join the battle for the lead, Barnes would set sail around the right side of Iosue’s No, 11, taking the top spot on the 13th lap. He would quickly begin putting distance between himself and his chasers.
Six laps later, Barnes would dive into lapped traffic with a 10-car advantage over the No. 11 and No. 8.
Coming from the 11th and 12th starting positions, Shullick and Sitterly had been dicing their way through the field while battling one another. Shullick would lead the duo into the top five on the 21st lap, slipping under Thompson’s No. 98.
The hard-luck season for the pilot of the No. 11 continued, as Iosue’s power plant began smoking after expiring on the 25th lap. He would limp into the pits, finishing 16th.
Shampine would back off the throttle to avoid the No. 11, allowing Shullick and Sitterly to close in, lengthening the No. 68‘s lead to a full straightaway. Barnes would maintain the advantage as he closed in on heavy lapped traffic with 10 trips remaining.
The race leader would tip-toe his way through the tail-end of the field, as the trio of chasers began eating away at his advantage. However, time and track position were on his side.
Shampine’s No. 8 would begin to lose its grip in the final laps, allowing Shullick and Sitterly to move in for a challenge. With just over a lap to go, Sitterly would find an opportunity on the inside, between the third and fourth turns. With Shullick squarely behind the No, 8, Sitterly’s No. 39 darted under the third-place runner and rounded the fourth turn underneath Shampine, taking over the runner-up position in one fell swoop.
With Barnes taking the win, Sitterly would finish in second place.
Shullick would roll under the No. 8 as well, grabbing the final podium spot on the final five-eighths.
Shampine would settle for fourth.
Running an experimental rear wing, Bellinger would land his No. 02 in fifth,
JP Jewelers “Retro Night” 45:1. Michael Barnes (68), 2. Otto Sitterly (39), 3. Dave Shullick (2), 4. Keith Shampine (8), 5. Brandon Bellinger (02), 6. Dave Danzer (52), 7. Joe Gosek (00), 8, Dave Gruel (50), 9. Jeff Abold (05), 10. Tim Snyder (0), 11. Jeff West (01), 12. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 13. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 14. Hal LaTulip (56), 15. Tyler Thompson (98), 16. Aric Iosue (11), 17. Jerry Curran (73), 18. Bill Sharkey (71), DNS-19. Roger Clark (4)
Heat race wins went to Shullick, Sitterly and Danzer. Sitterly’s lap of 16.151 seconds was tops in time-trials. Shampine’s 16.190 and Barnes’ 16.247 filled out the top three.
O’Conner Leads Them All For Second Small Block Win
Oswego’s Greg O’Connor earned the second win of his racing career on Saturday night, leading all 30 laps of Pathfinder Bank small block supermodified division‘s feature event. The win was the first of the year for the pilot of the No 90, who grabbed his first checkered flag last July.
Never leading by more than a few car lengths, O’Connor held strong the entire distance. His only serious challenge would come on the final circuit by division points leader, Anthony Losurdo. The race would go green to checkers, caution-free.
The win was a much-needed shot in the arm to the No. 90 team who’d appeared to have taken a step back from their 2017 breakout season. Having landed six top-five finishes in that campaign, this was only their second in 2018.
Cameron Rowe and O’Connor led the field to the green to begin the 30-lap venture. O’Connor nabbed the point, leading Rowe‘s No. 77, Dan Kapuscinski‘s No. 00, Jack Patrick’s No. 9 and Rookie of the Year points leader, Joshua Sokolic‘s No. 26.
Hoping to change his own luck, second-place running Rowe would have nothing for the race leader, but was positioned for his first top-five run of the year.
Having started ninth on the grid, Losurdo quickly navigated his way into the top five. Slipping under the Dodge-powered No. 9, he would take over fourth. With Kapuscinski searching for a way around Rowe’s No. 77, Losurdo would end up carefully maneuvering his way under his teammate, Kapuscinski.
With the race leader still in plain sight, third-place running Losurdo began challenging Rowe for the runner-up spot, with out delay. Just behind them, Andrew Schartner would race under Patrick on the 18th lap to break into the top five.
With O’Conner enjoying his largest lead of the race, just four lengths behind him a trio of chasers jousted for position. On the 22nd lap, Rowe would feel the bumper of Losurdo’s No. 1 as he charged out of the fourth turn. The No. 77 would slide sideways, but not give way.
However, with three rounds remaining, Losurdo would lead Kapuscinski under Rowe in the midst of lapped traffic. With only two laps to go, Losurdo quickly erased O’Connor’s slim advantage.
The lead trio would take the white flag running nose to tail. O’Connor would hold the inside lane down the back straightaway and feel Losurdo’s bumper leaning on him from the entrance of the third turn to the exit of the final corner. Their last contact backed the No. 1 into bumper of Kapuscinski’s No. 00. O’Connor would survive the home stretch for the win, with Kapuscinski edging Losurdo for second place at the line.
Losurdo’s third-place finish, coupled with 10th and 8th-place finishes by Russ Brown and Mike Bond ballooned his championship points lead to 50 heading into the final two weeks of the season.
Rowe would earn his first top-five of the year, landing his No. 77 in fourth.
In his last regular season race of the year, Schartner says the team made great gains on Saturday night, earning them a fifth-place finish.
JP Jewelers SBS 30:1. Greg O’Connor (90), 2. Dan Kapuscinski (00), 3. Anthony Losurdo (1), 4. Cameron Rowe (77), 5. Andrew Schartner (18), 6. Camden Proud (54), 7. Dalton Doyle (01), 8. Mike Bond (74), 9. Jack Patrick (9), 10. Russ Brown (13), 11. Dave Cliff (50), 12. Josh Sokolic (26), 13. Barry Kingsley (91), 14. Cameron Black (23), 15. Russ Bartlett (62), 16. David LaTulip (27), 17. Kyle Reuter (15)
Heat race wins were earned by Schartner, Patrick and Kapuscinski.
Losurdo’s lap of 18.675 seconds earned fast time, with Brown’s 18.815 and Doyle’s 18.884 filling out the top three.
Chris Porter is a motorsports journalist whose reporting has been published in multiple print and online media sources since 2004.
Chris has primarily covered Oswego Speedway, ISMA and other asphalt auto racing in upstate New York.