Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – In what was perhaps the Novelis Supermodified race of the year at the Oswego Speedway, Tyler Thompson started on the fifth row inside and muscled the Jason Simmons No. 98T to the front – emerging victorious for the seventh time in his career.
Thompson would really have to work for the win, starting sixth row on the inside and having to come by the stout field including Brandon Bellinger, Alison Sload, Dan Connors Jr, and Timmy Snyder, but it was the exciting battle with outside polesitter Lou LeVea Jr. and Jeff Abold in the closing laps that was certainly most memorable.
Finding his way around third running Snyder after a restart with 14 to go, Thompson wasted little time reeling in race leaders LeVea Jr. and Abold, who had started in eighth. Quickly, a three car battle for the race lead had ensued as the front three were nose to tail.
With 9 laps remaining, Thompson made a tremendous run into the first corner, barely squeezing under the 05 to make a bid for second. The duo of Abold and Thompson stayed side by side for a complete lap, but Thompson hit the drain in turn one, knocking the car out of shape before the two cars made contact, with both drivers somehow able to keep their cars straight.
Now, Thompson had taken over second just as race-long leader LeVea Jr, looking for his first ever feature win, crossed the line with 8 laps remaining.
Unfortunately for LeVea, Tyler had other ideas as he continued his tremendous drive, reeling in the race leader in no time, and using the outside of turn number three to steal the top spot from ‘Little Dog’ with 6 to go.
It didn’t take long for Abold to do the same, as it became apparent right away that LeVea had run into issues with the fuel going dry on the No. 83. Abold also used the high road to bypass LeVea headed into turns one and two, with Bellinger and Snyder also going by down the back stretch to drop ‘Little Dog’ back to fifth after a phenomenal run.
But by now, Tyler was on cruise control, and when the checkered flag flew on lap 50, he had a big advantage over the top five of Abold, Bellinger, and Snyder; who had run second and third for the duration in what was certainly the best run of the year for the Zero team.
Filling in the remainder of the top 10 were LeVea Jr. in fifth, Jack Patrick, who won his first ever heat race earlier in the evening and rebounded nicely for sixth, followed by Sload, Joe Gosek, Logan Rayvals, and Bruce.
Celebrating with a shower of beer from his crew in victory lane, Thompson said “I did not think it was going to stick, honestly. I’ve been tight all night with no grip and I just said ‘screw it man, I’m going for it.’I have to thank the usual; my Mom, Dad, girlfriend and her best friend, the crew and all my guys. Without them I wouldn’t be here.”
Despite not starting the feature, Dave Shullick Jr. clinched the 2023 Novelis Supermodified track championship by simply showing up. In a very close race amongst the remainder of the top five, defending champion Bellinger would be the runner-up over Thompson and Abold, who ironically tied for third. Sload and Danzer were fifth and sixth.
The 50-lap regular season finale for the Supermodifieds was marred by only one incident and this came on lap 4, when Danzer and Connors tried to make it three wide, with Danzer inside and Connors outside, sandwiching the 66 of polesitter Lou LeVea Sr.
All three cars made contact with LeVea getting the worst of it and taking a hard trip into the third turn foam. Connors was also collected, along with Aric Iosue and Brian Osetek. All four of those cars were done for the night.
Ratcliff Races to Second Career Win and First Ever Speedway Championship
It has been a more than memorable month of August for the Jake’s Automotive / Ratcliff Racing team starting with teenaged driver Noah Ratcliff winning his first ever Pathfinder Bank SBS feature at Oswego on August 5 – and it hasn’t stopped there.
Noah’s teammate and cousin Drew Pascuzzi put together an impressive drive of his own to do the same a week later on August 13, becoming the second consecutive first-time feature winner in as many weeks, with both out of the Ratcliff stable.
And finally, this past Saturday, August 19, Ratcliff put the icing on the cake after starting in sixth, taking the lead on a restart with 12 to go, and dominating for not only another feature win; which was the third straight for the family team, but also the 2023 track championship.
“The car has been great on the outside all day, and I was just thinking ‘please be a caution’ right before it happened and luckily there was,” mentioned Ratcliff. “It was a perfect opportunity and the car was real good. It was kind of getting loose towards the end, but I was able to hang onto it and we were lucky enough to get the championship and the win. We’ve had a year with a lot of highs and a couple of lows, but this makes up for all of it. It’s been a long year and I’m kind of thankful that it is starting to slow down a little bit right now, but man, I can’t even express how excited I am. This is a dream come true and I have to thank my Mom, my brother, Travis, Tash, John, Kendra and Mark, Vinnie, Drew, Jake’s Automotive, and Total Fire Protection and I know I’m probably forgetting a few, but this is awesome.”
Settling for second, and bouncing back from a heavy hit one week ago was Griffin Miller. It was the second runner-up effort of the month for the No. 9 team.
“It’s definitely better than last week,” Miller said. “That obviously didn’t end well. We destroyed the car a bit, but made some adjustments and got it back together. We started tonight not bad, but then it got a little loose towards the end. I’m just glad we got up to second. It wasn’t a bad night after last week. Congrats to the Ratcliff team and family on the championship. They all deserve it and had a hell of a year. We’ll try and keep getting better for Classic. I’d like to thank PCA Paperworks, La Parrilla, Steve’s Body Shop, Miller Machine & Mechanical and everyone that helps on the car. It means a lot.”
Settling for third was Tony Pisa, who has led a combined (42) laps between the past two feature events, with restarts biting the driver of the No. 89, which was re-numbered 90 for championship night owner’s points, on both occasions. Pisa certainly made his presence known at the front in the last week or so as he continues to fight for his first career win.
“This is actually my car, but we just re-numbered it,” mentioned Pisa in victory lane. “Greg’s car was in too bad of shape to fix for this week. It’s really frustrating to lead two thirds of the feature the last two weeks and lose both on a late race restart, but glad to finish on the podium for two weeks in a row. This finish is great for our team and for Greg (O’Connor). We hope that he gets back on the track soon and I’d like to thank my sponsors as well as his; Munski Automotive first and foremost, Bodified, Arts Parts & More, CME Electrical, Indigo Inkwell, and Compass Credit Union.”
At the drop of the green, the polesitter Pisa jumped out in front of rookie Jake Brown with third starting Mike Fowler moving into second ahead of Miller while Brown dropped into fourth over Ratcliff in fifth.
Ratcliff was the next car to bypass Brown for the four spot with Drew Pascuzzi, Tony DeStevens, and Camden Proud following him through to take over positions five, six, and seven.
Early on, it was the front seven cars of Pisa, Fowler, Miller, Ratcliff, Pascuzzi, DeStevens, and Proud, nose to tail.
On lap 11, Miller was the first to move out of line, looking to the outside of Fowler for second in between turns three and four, but the No. 9 went wide and opened the door for Ratcliff to look low and take over third.
Just one circuit later, Ratcliff ran the high road around Fowler, now riding second just prior to the halfway point.
A yellow on lap 18 for a spinning DJ Shuman bunched the field one more time and would set Ratcliff up perfectly to take the lead from the outside of Pisa on the restart.
Pisa tried to hang onto second, but got too free off the exit of turn two, allowing Miller underneath as the No. 90 dropped in line ahead of Fowler and Pascuzzi.
Meanwhile, DeStevens would run into issues on the restart, dropping back several spots, as the outside log jam allowed eleventh starting Cameron Rowe, as well as the G.O. Racing No. 29 of former Supermodified feature winner Shaun Gosselin, to move up several spots.
Rowe would bypass both DeStevens and Proud for sixth with Gosselin doing the same, coming all the way from seventeenth to seventh in his first night back at the Speedway since 2018.
Back out front, however, Ratcliff was long gone. The No. 73 was on cruise control for the final 10 laps, leading the top five of Miller, Pisa, Fowler, and Pascuzzi across the line as he clinched his first ever track title.
Rowe, Gosselin, Proud, DeStevens, and Brown, completed the top ten.
With his runner-up effort, Miller passed DeStevens for third in points, and things just kept getting better and better for the Ratcliff Racing team as Pascuzzi’s fifth place finish was good enough to jump the No. 72 two spots in the standings for a one-two finish in the championship.
Fowler, who won his first heat race earlier in the evening, held on for fourth, and that was good enough to tie Brown in the Pathfinder Bank SBS rookie standings, meaning the pair are now co-rookies of the year.
Battle Drives from Ninth to His Sixth Career Oswego Speedway Feature Win
Jeffrey Battle, a three-time Classic champion from Westford, Massachusetts, invaded the Steel Palace for a Championship Night shakedown and once again made the trip back home victorious following his ninth to first drive at Oswego.
After starting fifth row on the inside, Battle was up to sixth in just one lap before a caution came out for a spin by Robbie Wirth. He then would use the ensuing double file restart to make work of rookie Brendan Young, his brother Ryan Battle, and Nick Barzee to crack the top five.
By lap 6, Battle had gotten past Nick Kinney for fourth, but when Dave Cliff broke, again slowing the field with 8 laps complete – Jeffrey also used this restart to his advantage as he immediately drove around track champion Josh Sokolic before taking the second spot from Kyle Perry a lap later.
The car Battle had the toughest time with was polesitter and early leader Talen Hawksby. The 16 year old rookie; shooting for his first ever feature win, held his own, keeping the multi-time Star Speedway champion at bay for a number of laps.
When Kinney spun out of sixth place on lap 13, the restart was again key for Battle as he made a bid to the outside of Hawksby between turns one and two, taking over the lead with 12 laps to go.
Two circuits later, Sokolic, who had already secured his first Speedway championship simply by taking the green flag, broke while running third with right front hub issues on the No. 26.
This bunched the field up once more with Battle the leader, Hawksby still second, Perry moving back up to third, Ryan Battle fourth, and Nick Barzee fifth for the restart.
Although Ryan did his best to join his brother with a podium finish, Perry was able to muscle his way back into third on the low side of the Speedway, while Jason Spaulding stole fifth away from Barzee.
Battle would dominate the rest of the way for the sixth Oswego Speedway victory of his career. Hawksby settled for a strong second with Perry third, Ryan Battle fourth, and Spaulding fifth.
Completing the top ten were Barzee, rookies Noah Ratcliff, Dan Kapuscinski, Young, and Wirth, who locked up the Rookie of the Year title this past weekend.
It’s safe to say the Rich Witkum No. 14 is in pretty good shape ahead of the 6th annual, 50-lap J&S Paving 350 Super Classic next Sunday, September 3.
“I hope that I gave Talen enough room,” mentioned Battle. “That was fun racing. Congratulations to whoever won the championship. I know it’s a big night for all the Oswego guys. We were just out here to have fun and come back soon for the Classic, but it means a lot to me to be out here racing. We have a lot of fun here. I have to thank my uncle Rich at Witkum Crane. Without him none of this would be possible. We did a lot of work to the car this week to try some things out here. Also Essex Seafood, Westford Glass, John Young Landscaping and doing this in memory of Chris Siembor tonight.”
Hawksby, who impressed with his third podium of the season, was pleased with his performance racing wheel to wheel with one of the very best in the 350 Supermodified division.
“It was kind of a crazy night,” said Hawksby. “You go into the race saying you’re not going to be nervous, but the entire time you’re just wondering who is behind you or how close they are, but you have to try to just keep your cool and I think they did a good job of that. Restarts obviously, I think we did pretty good, I was just getting tight towards the end, but that was a good battle with Battle. He got us. He was the faster car and congrats to him. I’d like to thank IPC Indy, Acro-Fab and Top Quality Construction.”
Perry came home with a third in the No. 20, for his division best ninth top five finish in 10 events this season. The Fulton, NY driver fell 28 points short of Sokolic for the track title.
“First off I’d just like to congratulate Josh (Sokolic) and the whole 26 team,” stated Perry. “They had a great season. Congrats to Jeffrey on winning tonight and Talen had a good run. It was a fun race. We were pretty good, but just weren’t as good as the 14 and 79 tonight. The car is in one piece, we learned a little bit, and will come back for Classic in two weeks. Thanks Bellinger Auto, Gibby’s Irish Pub, 21 Tequila, and Orange Crate Brewing Company. We wouldn’t be here without them.”
With the regular season in the books, the 350 Supers will square off in their 50-lap Classic next Sunday, September 3rd alongside the 60-lap Bud Light Classic for Pathfinder Bank SBS and the 67th annual Budweiser International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds. Tickets are on sale at OswegoSpeedway.com or at the track box office.
Heat 1 (12 Laps): 1. 90-Jack Patrick; 2. 39-Alison Sload; 3. 66-Lou LeVea Sr; 4. O1-Dan Connors Jr; 5. 94-Logan Rayvals
Heat 2 (12 Laps): 1. 27-Aric Iosue; 2. O2-Brandon Bellinger; 3. 52-Dave Danzer; 4. O5-Jeff Abold; 5. 75-Brian Osetek
Heat 3 (12 Laps): 1. 98T-Tyler Thompson; 2. 0-Tim Snyder; 3. 22-Mike Bruce; 4. 83-Lou LeVea Jr; 5. OO-Joe Gosek; 6. 99-Jerry Curran
Qualifying 1: 1. O1-Dan Connors Jr, 00:15.799; 2. 98T-Tyler Thompson, 00:15.820; 3. 95-Dave Shullick Jr, 00:15.851; 4. 52-Dave Danzer, 00:15.885; 5. 39-Alison Sload, 00:15.918; 6. 22-Mike Bruce, 00:15.940; 7. O2-Brandon Bellinger, 00:15.954; 8. 94-Logan Rayvals, 00:16.202; 9. 83-Lou LeVea Jr, 00:16.230; 10. 27-Aric Iosue, 00:16.258; 11. 90-Jack Patrick, 00:16.351; 12. 0-Tim Snyder, 00:16.577; 13. 75-Brian Osetek, 00:16.626; 14. 66-Lou LeVea Sr, 00:16.798; 15. O5-Jeff Abold, 00:16.867; 16. (DNS) 99-Jerry Curran; 17. (DNS) OO-Joe Gosek; 18. (DNS) 41-Russ Wood Sr
Hot Laps 1: 1. 98T-Tyler Thompson, 00:16.283; 2. O2-Brandon Bellinger, 00:16.482; 3. 27-Aric Iosue, 00:16.622; 4. O1-Dan Connors Jr, 00:16.625; 5. O5-Jeff Abold, 00:16.687; 6. 0-Tim Snyder, 00:16.703; 7. 22-Mike Bruce, 00:16.751; 8. 95-Dave Shullick Jr, 00:16.771; 9. 99-Jerry Curran, 00:16.799; 10. 52-Dave Danzer, 00:16.813; 11. 39-Alison Sload, 00:16.879; 12. 94-Logan Rayvals, 00:16.904; 13. 83-Lou LeVea Jr, 00:16.967; 14. 66-Lou LeVea Sr, 00:17.181; 15. 90-Jack Patrick, 00:17.355; 16. 41-Russ Wood Sr, 00:17.573; 17. 75-Brian Osetek, 00:17.847; 18. (DNS) OO-Joe Gosek
Hot Laps 2: 1. 98T-Tyler Thompson, 00:16.177; 2. 95-Dave Shullick Jr, 00:16.465; 3. 52-Dave Danzer, 00:16.489; 4. O2-Brandon Bellinger, 00:16.499; 5. O5-Jeff Abold, 00:16.573; 6. 27-Aric Iosue, 00:16.638; 7. 22-Mike Bruce, 00:16.682; 8. 39-Alison Sload, 00:16.784; 9. 0-Tim Snyder, 00:16.830; 10. 83-Lou LeVea Jr, 00:16.948; 11. 94-Logan Rayvals, 00:16.972; 12. 99-Jerry Curran, 00:16.994; 13. 90-Jack Patrick, 00:17.102; 14. 66-Lou LeVea Sr, 00:18.057; 15. (DNS) O1-Dan Connors Jr; 16. (DNS) OO-Joe Gosek; 17. (DNS) 75-Brian Osetek; 18. (DNS) 41-Russ Wood Sr
J&S Paving 350 Supermodifieds
A Feature 1 (25 Laps): 1. 14-Jeffrey Battle; 2. 79-Talen Hawksby; 3. 20-Kyle Perry; 4. 21-Ryan Battle; 5. 23-Jason Spaulding; 6. 31-Nick Barzee; 7. 73-Noah Ratcliff; 8. 32-Dan Kapuscinski; 9. 75-Brendan Young; 10. 4-Rob Wirth; 11. 26-Josh Sokolic; 12. 7-Nicholas Kinney; 13. 50-Dave Cliff; 14. 19-Bailey Groves
Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. 14-Jeffrey Battle; 2. 20-Kyle Perry; 3. 79-Talen Hawksby; 4. 75-Brendan Young; 5. 7-Nicholas Kinney; 6. 73-Noah Ratcliff; 7. 19-Bailey Groves
Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. 26-Josh Sokolic; 2. 31-Nick Barzee; 3. 50-Dave Cliff; 4. 21-Ryan Battle; 5. 32-Dan Kapuscinski; 6. 4-Rob Wirth; 7. 23-Jason Spaulding; 8. (DNS) 24-Tony DeStevens
Qualifying 1: 1. 26-Josh Sokolic, 00:16.839; 2. 14-Jeffrey Battle, 00:16.867; 3. 31-Nick Barzee, 00:17.051; 4. 20-Kyle Perry, 00:17.056; 5. 79-Talen Hawksby, 00:17.103; 6. 73-Noah Ratcliff, 00:17.116; 7. 21-Ryan Battle, 00:17.170; 8. 75-Brendan Young, 00:17.265; 9. 50-Dave Cliff, 00:17.268; 10. 32-Dan Kapuscinski, 00:17.301; 11. 7-Nicholas Kinney, 00:17.314; 12. 24-Tony DeStevens, 00:20.792; 13. 19-Bailey Groves, 00:22.155; 14. (DNS) 23-Jason Spaulding; 15. (DNS) 4-Rob Wirth
Hot Laps 1: 1. 26-Josh Sokolic, 00:17.133; 2. 79-Talen Hawksby, 00:17.298; 3. 31-Nick Barzee, 00:17.341; 4. 32-Dan Kapuscinski, 00:17.347; 5. 75-Brendan Young, 00:17.412; 6. 73-Noah Ratcliff, 00:17.460; 7. 21-Ryan Battle, 00:17.490; 8. 20-Kyle Perry, 00:17.513; 9. 7-Nicholas Kinney, 00:17.622; 10. 50-Dave Cliff, 00:17.859; 11. 23-Jason Spaulding, 00:17.954; 12. 4-Rob Wirth, 00:17.972; 13. 24-Tony DeStevens, 00:19.576; 14. 14-Jeffrey Battle, 00:20.084
Hot Laps 2: 1. 14-Jeffrey Battle, 00:16.888; 2. 26-Josh Sokolic, 00:17.046; 3. 73-Noah Ratcliff, 00:17.158; 4. 79-Talen Hawksby, 00:17.176; 5. 20-Kyle Perry, 00:17.199; 6. 50-Dave Cliff, 00:17.207; 7. 31-Nick Barzee, 00:17.214; 8. 21-Ryan Battle, 00:17.308; 9. 75-Brendan Young, 00:17.315; 10. 32-Dan Kapuscinski, 00:17.359; 11. 7-Nicholas Kinney, 00:17.475; 12. 23-Jason Spaulding, 00:17.564; 13. 4-Rob Wirth, 00:17.633; 14. 24-Tony DeStevens, 00:23.553
Pathfinder Bank SBS
A Feature 1 (30 Laps): 1. 73-Noah Ratcliff; 2. 9-Griffin Miller; 3. 90-Tony Pisa; 4. 10-Mike Fowler; 5. 72-Drew Pascuzzi; 6. 77-Cameron Rowe; 7. 29-Shaun Gosselin; 8. 54-Camden Proud; 9. 24-Tony DeStevens; 10. 26-Jake Brown; 11. 88-Brad Haynes; 12. 22-DJ Shuman; 13. 35-Anthony Larkin; 14. OO-Jude Parker; 15. 55-Carter Gates; 16. 2-Jordan Sullivan; 17. 20-Tessa Crawford
Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. 10-Mike Fowler; 2. 72-Drew Pascuzzi; 3. 54-Camden Proud; 4. 26-Jake Brown; 5. 90-Tony Pisa; 6. 77-Cameron Rowe; 7. 22-DJ Shuman; 8. 20-Tessa Crawford; 9. 29-Shaun Gosselin
Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. 73-Noah Ratcliff; 2. 9-Griffin Miller; 3. 88-Brad Haynes; 4. 24-Tony DeStevens; 5. 2-Jordan Sullivan; 6. 35-Anthony Larkin; 7. (DNS) OO-Jude Parker; 8. (DNS) 55-Carter Gates; 9. (DNS) 27-Steven Bradshaw
Qualifying 1: 1. 54-Camden Proud, 00:18.755; 2. 73-Noah Ratcliff, 00:18.792; 3. 72-Drew Pascuzzi, 00:18.955; 4. 24-Tony DeStevens, 00:18.993; 5. 90-Tony Pisa, 00:19.018; 6. 9-Griffin Miller, 00:19.101; 7. 10-Mike Fowler, 00:19.114; 8. 35-Anthony Larkin, 00:19.183; 9. 77-Cameron Rowe, 00:19.301; 10. OO-Jude Parker, 00:19.329; 11. 29-Shaun Gosselin, 00:19.445; 12. 88-Brad Haynes, 00:19.501; 13. 26-Jake Brown, 00:19.539; 14. 2-Jordan Sullivan, 00:20.056; 15. 20-Tessa Crawford, 00:20.248; 16. 55-Carter Gates, 00:22.036; 17. (DNS) 27-Steven Bradshaw; 18. (DNS) 22-DJ Shuman
Hot Laps 1: 1. 73-Noah Ratcliff, 00:18.852; 2. 72-Drew Pascuzzi, 00:19.147; 3. 24-Tony DeStevens, 00:19.148; 4. 54-Camden Proud, 00:19.190; 5. 90-Tony Pisa, 00:19.295; 6. 9-Griffin Miller, 00:19.410; 7. 29-Shaun Gosselin, 00:19.509; 8. 10-Mike Fowler, 00:19.654; 9. 35-Anthony Larkin, 00:19.696; 10. 26-Jake Brown, 00:19.731; 11. 88-Brad Haynes, 00:19.909; 12. 20-Tessa Crawford, 00:19.945; 13. 2-Jordan Sullivan, 00:20.236; 14. OO-Jude Parker, 00:20.237; 15. 55-Carter Gates, 00:20.388; 16. (DNS) 27-Steven Bradshaw; 17. (DNS) 77-Cameron Rowe; 18. (DNS) 22-DJ Shuman
Hot Laps 2: 1. 24-Tony DeStevens, 00:18.936; 2. 73-Noah Ratcliff, 00:18.966; 3. 54-Camden Proud, 00:19.009; 4. 90-Tony Pisa, 00:19.056; 5. 9-Griffin Miller, 00:19.119; 6. 10-Mike Fowler, 00:19.200; 7. 29-Shaun Gosselin, 00:19.363; 8. 35-Anthony Larkin, 00:19.383; 9. OO-Jude Parker, 00:19.457; 10. 26-Jake Brown, 00:19.538; 11. 22-DJ Shuman, 00:19.581; 12. 88-Brad Haynes, 00:19.591; 13. 20-Tessa Crawford, 00:19.610; 14. 2-Jordan Sullivan, 00:20.163; 15. 55-Carter Gates, 00:20.228; 16. (DNS) 27-Steven Bradshaw; 17. (DNS) 72-Drew Pascuzzi; 18. (DNS) 77-Cameron Rowe