Barnes Avoids Late-Race Dramatics For First Win of 2019
July 7, 2019
Avoiding a late-race melee that eliminated the lead trio and surviving his own overheating No. 68 Novelis supermodified, Liverpool’s Michael Barnes became Oswego Speedway’s sixth different feature winner in seven events in 2019 on Saturday night. From the 17th starting position, Barnes would rise to the top and hold off Doug Didero on a green-white-checkered finish to claim career win No. 13.
With Dave Shullick, Jr. way out in front, Barnes would chase down Joe Gosek and Alison Sload for what appeared to be a three-car battle for the runner-up spot. However, Shullick’s fuel-starved No. 95 would begin to slow with just five trips remaining. His half-lap advantage would disappear in just two laps around Oswego’s five-eighths mile.
Sload would catch Shullick with a lap and a half to go, but as she passed him she would find the outside wall and make contact with Gosek’s No. 00. Gosek was sent spinning and would serve as a launching pad for Shullick. Shullick’s No. 95 would catch a wheel from the No. 00 and pop the upper portion of the third-turn wall, landing atop the foam and Gosek machine.
Running fourth, Barnes would end up choosing the correct lane of escape and avoid the carnage. After a red flag delay, Barnes’ No. 68 would initially fail to restart. After given a final attempt from track officials, his power plant finally fired up. Barnes would lead the field to the green flag and race the final two laps ahead of Didero and Dave Danzer to claim victory.
Up until Saturday night, it had been a frustrating season for Barnes and the Syrell Racing No. 68 crew. Having to adapt a new car that was built for an entirely different aero package than what ended up being mandated for the 2019 season has been a difficult challenge to say the least.
Listen to – Michael Barnes
Keith Shampine and Connors led the 25-car field to the green to begin the 75-lap feature event. Connors would nab the point early, brining Shullick, Shampine, Gosek and Sload across the line to complete the race’s maiden lap.
Shullick would find room under Connors on the second lap, but the Connors No. 01 would battle back on the high side to reclaim the lead. Again, Shullick would find solid ground under the race leader just two laps later, but the caution flag would fly for a flattened tire on Shampine’s No. 55. The ensuing restart would see another quick yellow flag for Tyler Thompson’s spun No. 98.
Connors held off Shullick on the next restart, but could only watch as the relentless No. 95 zipped by him on the 12th lap. The No. 95 was off and running, leading by 15 lengths by its 20th round. Four laps later, Shullick would dive into heavy lapped traffic.
Behind him, Gosek and Sload would best Connors, moving into the second and third-place positions. Shortly after Connors had fallen to fourth, a surging Aric Iosue would clock the wall in turn No. 2.
With 25 laps in the books, Shullick led Gosek, Sload, Connors and Logan Rayvals. Dan Bowes, Barnes, Jeff Abold, Didero and Dave Danzer rounded out the top 10. Tim Snyder, Shampine, Thompson, Camden Proud and Jack Patrick filled out the front 15.
Top 3 finishers - Michael Barnes (center), Doug Didero (right) and Dave Danzer (left). Photo - Jim Feeney
Michael Barnes (68) looks under Joe Gosek (00) behind the lapped car of Tim Snyder (0). Photo - Jim Feeney
Alison Sload (39) catches and eventually passed Joe Gosek for second late in the race. Photo - Jim Feeney
Joe Gosek (00) and Michael Barnes (68) battle for third late in the race. Photo - Jim Feeney
Logan Rayvals (94) battles with Jeff Abold (05). Rayvals would finish in eighth, Abold in fourth. Photo - Jim Feeney
Michael Barnes (68) finds room under Dan Connors, Jr. (01) for fourth. Connors would finish in sixth. Photo - Jim Feeney
Otto Sitterly (7) battles with ISMA regular, Dan Bowes (25). Sitterly would finish fifth, Bowes seventh. Photo - Jim Feeney
Aric Iosue slams the outside wall in the No. 11. Photo - Jim Feeney
Michael Barnes (68) battles with Doug Didero (3) early in the race. They would finish 1-2. Photo - Jim Feeney
Dave McKnight (70) races with Dave Danzer (52) early on. McKnight finished 18th, while Danzer landed in third. Photo - Jim Feeney
In the opening laps, Dave Shullick, Jr. (95) presses early race leader Dan Connors, Jr. (01). Photo - Jim Feeney
The Syrell Racing No. 68 team pose in victory lane at Oswego. Photo - Jim Feeney
Michael Barnes poses in victory lane at Oswego. Photo - Jim Feeney
Shortly after the restart, Barnes found himself in the top five, now battling with Connors for fourth. Up front, Shullick would find more lapped traffic on the 40th lap. Having dove in with a 20-car length advantage, Gosek had reduced it to just five by the 45th lap.
Just as Didero and Danzer were joining Barnes and Connors in the fight for fourth, Barnes would finally wrestle the spot away. A lap later, Didero and Danzer would get by the No. 01 as well, moving into the fifth and sixth-place positions.
Shullick would eventually clear traffic and begin to rebuild his advantage. As Gosek fell further behind the race leader, Sload’s No. 39 began pressing him harder for the runner-up spot. She would take it away with an inside move off of turn No. 4 on the 62nd lap. Barnes, who had just caught the duo, began to press Gosek for third.
On the 66th lap, Barnes would find room under Gosek, but loose momentum. Sload remained in sight, but with seven laps remaining, Shullick’s lead had grown to half a lap.
In the midst of battle, Barnes and Gosek would touch between turns three and four, but neither gave way. It was during this fight that Shullick’s No. 95 began to noticeably lose its momentum. Trying to nurse the Chris Osetek-owned machine a few more trips around, Sload would first find Shullick in the first turn of the 74th lap. She would take her No. 39 to the outside of the No. 95, but run into problems of her own.
A deflating left-rear tire, accompanied an outside bid that went amiss, leading to her pan-caking the outside wall. That flattened her right-rear and sent her into Gosek’s No. 00, which led to an exclamation point being stamped on Shullick’s demise. He would join Gosek in a trip into the third-turn wall. Having been on Gosek’s heels, Barnes would narrowly escape the carnage. Didero, Danzer and Abold would all avoid the scene.
Listen to – Alison Sload
Listen to – Joe Gosek
Listen to – Dave Shullick, Jr.
The red flag would fly for the Gosek-Shullick accident scene. Sload would limp her No. 39 to the frontstretch, but its damage was too severe to continue. With the front three cars now eliminated, Barnes would inherit the lead.
Following the drama of him trying to restart his No. 68, he would bring the field back to racing its final few trips. Didero admitted that at that stage of the race, he knew he would having nothing left to challenge for the lead. Barnes would take the checkered flag.
Listen to – Doug Didero
Having started back in the eighth row, Danzer was pleased with his third-place run.
Listen to – Dave Danzer
Fairly quiet for most of the day, Abold would race the family-owned No. 05 to a fourth-place finish.
Listen to – Jeff Abold
Running into a completely different fuel issue, Sitterly ended up righting the ship in the end, landing the John Nicotra-owned No. 7 in fifth.
Listen to – Otto Sitterly
After a horrific accident just two weeks ago, Vern LaFave was back at the track (as a spectator). LaFave is in the healing process and is reportedly looking to get back in the driver’s seat before the end of this season.
In what ended up being a tough week for supermodified drivers, Lou LeVea, Jr. was also back at the track after leaving the speedway his last time out with a heart issue. Like LaFave, LeVea is optimistic that he will be climbing back into the cockpit of his No. 83 before season’s end.
Listen to – Lou LeVea, Jr.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Oswego Grand Prix 75: 1. Michael Barnes (68), 2. Doug Didero (3), 3. Dave Danzer (52), 4. Jeff Abold (05), 5. Otto Sitterly (7), 6. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 7. Dan Bowes (25), 8. Logan Rayvals (94), 9. Tyler Thompson (98), 10. Tim Snyder (0), 11. Dave Gruel (50), 12. Brandon Bellinger (02), 13. Camden Proud (54), 14. Dave Shullick, Jr. (95), 15. Alison Sload (39), 16. Joe Gosek (00), 17. Keith Shampine (55), 18. Dave McKnight (70), 19. Mark Sammut (78), 20. Jack Patrick (90), 21. Jerry Curran (99), 22. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 23. Aric Iosue (11), 24. Hal LaTulip (56), 25. Ben Seitz (32)
Heat race wins were collected by Rayvals, Gosek and Connors.
Sitterly topped the charts during time-trials with a fast lap of 15.863. Iosue, Sload, Shampine, Barnes and Didero all recorded lap times under the 16.000 second mark.
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.