Oswego’s David Cliff earned with No. 3 on the season in the Pathfinder Bank SBS division at the Oswego Speedway on Saturday night. Starting in sixth, Cliff had made it up to third before a tangle with the second-place running car sent him to the rear of the field. From there, he clawed his way back to the front and used a double-file restart to take the lead away from Anthony Losurdo late in the race to earn the victory.
Listen to – David Cliff
Russ and Travis Bartlett led the field to the green to begin the 30-lap small block feature event. Russ and his No. 02 took the point, but before the field could complete its maiden lap, the caution flag flew for debris after Mike Bruce’s No. 04 climbed the back-end of David LaTulip’s No. 27.
A complete restart saw Russ Bartlett reassume command, bringing Greg O’Connor, Josh Sokolic, Losurdo and Andrew Schartner across the line to complete lap No. 1. Losurdo would conquer Sokolic for third before the caution flag flew for Travis Bartlett’s No. 03.
While under caution, Losurdo was summoned to the line to be inspected after a heavy plume of smoke shot out of the No.1 during the previous lap. Losurdo was cleared to go, but he’d lost his power steering.
Bartlett would hold his advantage on the ensuing double-file restart. Despite the loss of his power steering, Losurdo continued to charge to the front, passing O’Connor for second place. Schartner would slip into third behind him.
A few rounds later, Losurdo’s No. 1 would zip under Bartlett on the front straightaway to take command. He would promptly begin to pull away.
Back in the pack, Cliff was in the midst of his first charge towards the front. Working under Schartner through laps seven and eight, he would take over third place. Two trips later, a late venture under Bartlett led to the two coming together and gathering a half-dozen SBS onlookers in turn No. 1.
Minus O’Connor’s No. 90, all of the cars involved were able to pull away on their own. The double-file restart put Losurdo and Schartner – making his 2019 debut – on the front row. Bruce, Cameron Rowe, Brad Haynes and LaTulip filled out the first three rows.
The ensuing restart saw Schartner stay with Losurdo as the duo raced side-by-side through turns one and two. However, Schartner and his No. 18 would run out of room halfway down the backstretch, sending him hard, into the outside wall.
The former SBS track and Classic champ escaped injury, but he wasn’t thrilled about how he saw the incident.
Listen to – Andrew Schartner
It was Bruce’s turn aside Losurdo on the next restart, but the No. 1 would stay out in front. Bruce would race alone in second, while LaTulip pressed Haynes for third. Behind them, Cliff was just beginning his second venture towards the front.
On the 16th lap, Cliff took over fifth from Bartlett. On the 17th lap, another outside venture would pay off for Cliff’s No. 50, as he took over fourth place from LaTulip.
For the third straight lap, Cliff would move forward, using an inside move to take third away from Haynes. Two trips later he would work his way under Bruce’s No. 04 for second place.
With a commanding lead up front, Losurdo’s only enemy would be a caution flag. That flag would fly on the 20th lap after LaTulip and Haynes came together battling for fourth.
Cliff would line the Tim Barbeau-owned No. 50 up alongside Losurdo for the restart with 10 laps to go. At the drop of the green, Bruce would bring out a quick caution and drop to the rear of the field.
Travis Bartlett (03) races with Brad Haynes (88) early on in the feature - Jim Feeney Photo
Russ Bartlett (02) fends off Andrew Schartner (18) for second place near the halfway mark of the race - Jim Feeney Photo
Dave Cliff (50) zeros in on Andrew Schartner (18) near the halfway point. Cliff would go on to win, while Schartner would finish 11th - Jim Feeney Photo
Contact between Cliff's No. 50 and Bartlett's No. 02 started a chain reaction in turn No. 1 - Jim Feeney Photo
Anthony Losurdo (1) and Andrew Schartner (18) race through turns 1 and 2 - Jim Feeney Photo
Mike Bruce (04) and Anthony Losurdo (1) race through turns 1 and 2 - Jim Feeney Photo
On a late-race restart, Dave Cliff (50) seizes the lead from Anthony Losurdo (1)
Dave Cliff poses in victory lane at Oswego - Jim Feeney Photo
On what would end up being the race’s final restart, the track would stay green. Cliff would sail around the outside of Losurdo’s No. 1 and take the lead. The duo would quickly pull away from the rest of the field. With five laps to go, the lead they held 20 lengths on their chasers.
Cliff would take the white flag with a two-length advantage and cross the checkered stripe for career-win No. 17, putting him all alone in third on the all-time SBS feature win list.
Losurdo would finish in second.
“Before those last two cautions, I thought I had the win,” Losurdo said. “I could see on the screen I had about a straightaway lead. But on the double-file restarts Cliff had a really good and he beat me fair and square. So, congrats to those guys, they work hard and deserve it.”
Regarding the contact with Schartner, Losurdo says it was unintentional.
“I blew the rack on the first lap and had no power steering the rest of the race,” Losurdo said. “It was pretty hard to drive. I thought I cleared Andrew into turn one. And then I felt him hit my right rear and at that point I couldn’t do much. I tried holding the car down and every time we touched it just pulled me up the track even more. So, I’m sorry for tearing up Schartner’s car. This one is definitely on me.”
After having to hop out of his car during his heat race because of a small fire in the rear-end of the car, Haynes and his team were able to “fidangle” their way back out in time for the feature. The No. 88 team finished in third.
Listen to – Brad Haynes
Debuting the teams’ newest acquisition – the former Denise Merrill-owned No. 67, most recently driven last year by Tyler Shullick – Russ Bartlett raced to a fourth-place run.
Listen top – Russ Bartlett
Racing the Jody Dates-owned No. 04 to a fifth-place finish, Bruce had an evening of highs and lows.
Listen to – Mike Bruce
In response to Bruce’s comments, LaTulip expressed likewise discontent.
“It was a bit of a frustrating night,” LaTulip said. We were off all day from where we were a few weeks ago. It’s really frustrating to put all of this hard work into these cars only to get junked every week by the same couple of cars. The first lap, he (Mike Bruce) drives up the left side of the car, destroys the whole left side of my car. I don’t know. He never even backed off, he just kept going. Then, the very next restart, he runs into the side of me again. For people who complain when they get touched on the track, they do quite a bit of wrecking themselves.”
JP Jewelers ‘Retro Night’ SBS 30: 1. David Cliff (50), 2. Anthony Losurdo (1), 3. Brad Haynes (88), 4. Russ Bartlett (02), 5. Mike Bruce (04), 6. Josh Sokolic (26), 7. Steve Flack (32), 8. Ken Moody, Jr. (01), 9. David LaTulip (27), 10. James Babcock (15), 11. Andrew Schartner (18), 12. Greg O’Connor (90), 13. Cameron Rowe (77), 14. Travis Bartlett (03). DNS – Steve Wood (93) and Tony Pisa (89)
Josh Sokolic and Andrew Schartner won the qualifying heats.
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.