Witnessing a first-time Supermodified winner at Oswego Speedway is always a special moment.
Saturday night’s JP Jeweler’s 50-lap Novelis Supermodified main event provided fans of the “Steel Palace” that feeling for the second time this season, as Enfield, Conn., driver Shaun Gosselin led green to checkered holding off a hard charging Joe Gosek to collect his first career payday at Oswego.
While Gosselin circled the Speedway out front for all 50-laps, the victory was anything but easy, especially rebounding from a blown engine just one week ago in the $10,000 to win Mr. Novelis Supermodified.
Gosselin first had to outwit “The Hustler” Michael Barnes through heavy lapped traffic past the halfway point of the race, endure two red flag periods and make an incredible save after he and Barnes came together after a lap 43 restart.
The Gosselin/Barnes tangle with only seven laps to go dropped Barnes from the main event and gave Gosek the chance he needed to slip by Michael Muldoon on a late restart to give chase to Gosselin. But Gosselin was simply too strong leading Gosek, Muldoon, Dave Gruel and Pat Lavery across the start/finish stripe.
Entering his fourth season in Supermodified contention, Gosselin was the 2012 Most Improved Driver, and becomes the 95th different Supermodified winner in the history of the speedway and seventh this season in only nine races.
“I was just trying not to think about everything during the red flags,” said Gosselin in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane. “I know it stinks when the person on the pole wins, but man that was awesome. The crew guys needed this more than anything. They have changed the motor the last two weeks and they have just been working their butts off. I just can’t believe it, this isn’t going to soak in for a while, this is crazy.”
Gosselin and Barnes put on a show in their battle for the lead through lapped traffic, routinely going three wide attempting to work their way through the pack. A red flag at lap 43 involving Tim Snyder, Tim Devendorf, Brian Sweeney and Clayton Brewer III helped lessen the load on Gosselin late in the event.
“They (lapped cars) are running for position out there,” said Gosselin. “For the most part it was alright. I really don’t know what would have happened there at that first red flag, I really hate trying to pass the No. 02 car. I just hope it was a good show for the fans, that is why we are here.”
The lap 43 restart following the first red flag situation provided a last effort for Barnes to try to snag the lead. On lap 44 Barnes dove low on Gosselin into the first corner with the two cars coming together. Barnes would spin around and be collected by both Dan Connors Jr. and Brandon Bellinger, while Gosselin miraculously kept his car going in a broad slide to remain the leader.
“I saw him (Barnes) at the very last second and that is just the nature of this kind of racing with the inside hub rail,” said Gosselin. “I don’t know whose fault it was, if it was anyone’s fault, or if it was just one of those racing deals? But I love racing with Mikey Barnes. I think he is a great driver, one of the best drivers out here. So there are absolutely no complaints from me. It was just a racing deal.”
Gosselin and Barnes brought the 22-car Novelis Supermodified field to the Cam’s NY Pizzeria green flag on Saturday night with Gosselin gaining the edge right from the get-go in the No. 26 machine. Michael Muldoon, Dave Danzer, Tim Devendorf and Brian Sweeney would check into line early on behind the race leaders.
Series point leader Otto Sitterly started deep in the pack in the No. 7 machine and developed problems early on with a rubbing right rear tire.
Sitterly would make it around the Speedway for nearly two circuits before the right rear finally gave out, coming out of turn four on lap 7 to bring out the first caution flag of the main event.
Sitterly’s car spun into a full 360, making a considerable impact with the outside main straight wall with the nose of the Nicotra Racing mount. The damage would be too much to continue, leaving Sitterly with a 21st place finish.
On the restart, Gosselin showed the way in front of Barnes, Muldoon, Danzer, Devendrof, Sweeney, Snyder, Connors, Bellinger and Gosek.
At the drop of the green, with Sitterly out, Gosek began to mount his charge.
On lap 25, Gosselin approached Lou LeVea Sr., Tony Steiner and Brewer and for the next two circuits both Gosselin and Barnes put on a wild display, masterfully driving through traffic.
When it was all said and done, using the high side of the speedway, Gosselin was able to remain in the lead. Eventually, Gosselin would be locked in behind the lapped car of Bellinger, looking high and low to find a way by with Barnes chomping at the bit.
Fortunately for Gosselin, another mishap would occur on lap 43 out of turn two that would wind up bringing out the first red flag of the night.
A slowing Snyder was tagged from behind by Lavery, sending the No. 0 around collecting Devendorf, Sweeney and Brewer. Muldoon, running third, made a nice save in the No. 51 to slip by on the high side despite making contact with the outside wall. Sweeney and Devendorf would be done and Gosselin would be able to restart with a clear track.
On the restart, Gosselin brought Barnes, Muldoon, Danzer, Gosek, Gruel, Connors, Lavery and Bellinger to green with the front duo steaming out on their own.
Just one lap later Barnes found the bite he felt he needed coming out of turn four to the low side on Gosselin and as the two reached the first corner they would brush wheels.
The momentum sent Barnes around and forced Gosselin into a wild broad slide through the first corner. Barnes was unable to keep going and was tagged by Connors and Bellinger, ending their night.
Gosselin, however, was somehow able to keep his car going.