After racking up 36 career top five finishes without a victory over a career that spans back to 1999, Lavery boldly added career top five number 37 in the fashion he has dreamed about for so long, removing his name as the driver with the most top five finishes at Oswego without a victory.
Taking the lead from Kody Graham on lap 29 of the June 1 Novelis Supermodified make-up feature early Saturday evening, Lavery sped away, holding off defending track champion Otto Sitterly for his first career win at Oswego Speedway presented by Best Western PLUS/Quality Inn and Suites Riverfront of Oswego.
The victory was an emotional one for Lavery and crew, including team owner Bob Hoefer, who has stood behind Lavery for several years. Since forming his racing team with Bill Samuels nearly a decade ago, the Hoefer/Samuels duo has now provided first time victories for four Supermodified pilots at Oswego Speedway.
Lavery joins Michael Barnes, Bob Magner, and Dave Gruel in the fraternity of first time winners in a Hoefer/Samuels prepared machine.
After hugs and tears of joy in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane, Lavery tried to express his emotions, dedicating the victory to his mother who passed away just weeks ago.
"This is for my mom who we lost a month ago," Lavery said. "I didn't know if this was ever going to come, it has been a long time. I appreciate these guys sticking with me for this long. I knew I could do it, they did too. This is what I have worked at for the last 20 years; this has been a long time coming."
Lavery and Graham dueled on several occasions for the victory, with Lavery finally making the winning move stick out of the fourth corner using the lapped machine of Tony Steiner as a pick.
"I knew I was getting into the corner a little bit better than Kody (Graham), but he was coming out a lot better than me," Lavery said. "Somehow I had to get him to slow down coming out, and with that lap car there I thought if I could get along side of him I could slow him down and that's just about how it happened."
Sitterly charged on in the late going to overtake the runner-up spot with championship leader Michael Barnes also crossing on the podium ahead of Dave Gruel and Shaun Gosselin in the top five positions.
Joe Gosek, Michael Muldoon, Jeff Holbrook, Brandon Bellinger and Dan Connors Jr. filled the top ten.
Graham and Lavery brought the 23-car Novelis Supermodified field to the Cam's NY Pizzeria green flag with Graham gaining the early edge in the No. 21. Graham, Lavery, and Gosselin hooked up early on building a gap between themselves and Keith Shampine, Gruel, Barnes, Sitterly, and Muldoon in tow.
Early on Sitterly was on the move in the No. 7 driving around Barnes, Gruel, and Shampine in a matter of four laps to quickly pull from seventh up to fourth in the order in an attempt to chase down the three front runners.
The race's first caution would slow the field on lap 14 for a three car jingle in the second turn involving Connors, Dave Danzer and Hal LaTulip. Connors would continue on but Danzer and LaTulip would drop out of the event finishing 21st and 22nd respectively.
The DNF for Danzer would be his first of the season after finishing in the top five in the first two events of the season.
The restart order showed Graham still ahead of Lavery, Gosselin, Sitterly, Shampine, Gruel, and Barnes.
As the green lights came back on the lead pack would now be a four car tandem with Sitterly joining Graham, Lavery and Gosselin at the point.
A good early run for Shampine, in the Chris Osetek No. 55, would come to an end at lap 24 as he pulled pit side running fifth. Commuting from Cornelius, N.C., Shampine and team have found a good deal of stability in the brand new Supermodified creation and will look to return to Oswego in 2013 on a semi-regular basis.
Just beyond halfway things began to shake up as Lavery continued to apply heavy pressure on the Graham No. 21. With Lavery looking for racing room to gain the lead, Gosselin gassed up the No. 26 and tried to head high on Lavery, but in doing so left the lane open low for Sitterly to shoot by into third. Gruel would follow Sitterly through as well, dropping Gosselin from third to fifth in a heartbeat.
Many felt that with Graham and Lavery on the front row to begin the main event, whichever speedster was out front first may likely get the victory. With Graham in the lead completing lap 28, Lavery aimed to prove that theory wrong.
As the lead duo pulled up to the lap car of Steiner down the back chute, Lavery sized Graham up, rolling to the high side to block Graham's No. 21 behind the Steiner No. 07, and before long Lavery was the new race leader, much to the joy of the healthy crowd on hand in the 'Steel Palace' bleachers.
With Lavery in the lead, as he has been so many times before, a green flag finish would be all the Double Deuce Racing team could ask for. However, that would not be the case, as just three laps after taking the race lead the yellow lights came on again.
Jerry Curran, Brian Sweeney and Randy Ritskes, driving the Locke Racing No. 37, would all collide in turn one on lap 32 to slow the field. All three cars would be done for the event.
The caution allowed Graham to pull back onto the rear deck of Lavery with Sitterly, Gruel, Gosselin, Barnes, Muldoon, Gosek and Holbrook in line behind.
Green once again, championship leaders Barnes and Sitterly tried to gain all they could in an effort to move to the point as Barnes dove under Gosselin for fifth in turn three, while Sitterly managed to pull under Graham for second into the third corner at lap 34.
After falling to third Graham began to fade, losing positions to both Barnes and Gruel in short order as well, eventually pulling into the pit area for a 15th place finish after losing pace with the leaders.
2012 championship combatants Lavery and Sitterly now were at the point, but Lavery had managed to build what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. That was until the unthinkable happened, one final yellow flag at lap 42 for a spinning Steiner on the front straight.
As the cars pulled into line under caution, Sitterly rolled to the outside of Lavery to let him know he was there, setting up a final eight lap shootout for the main event win.
Barnes would now restart third ahead of Gruel, Gosselin, Gosek, Muldoon, Bellinger, Holbrook and Connors.
As the green lights came on for the final time, odds makers could have predicted that something would happen to Lavery, after all he'd been in this position before only to have a victory wrestled away.
By lap 44 though it was clear that Lavery would not be denied on this day, not even by his 2012 championship rival Sitterly, as Lavery burst to a comfortable margin racing his way across the line in front of a pleased Oswego Speedway crowd that stood and waved the No. 22 to victory.
A hard fought day for Sitterly would see him end with a runner-up finish in the No. 7.
"Congratulations to Pat, Hoef, Billy and all those guys," Sitterly said. "It is long overdue of course, everybody knew it was coming. Now he'll probably rattle off about six of them here in the next couple years. It was a little bit of a crap shoot as to what we were going to have today; we don't run too many day features. We were good, a little tight, but no excuses they were better than us today."
Championship leader Barnes continued his consistent season in the Strong Racing No. 99 with another podium finish under the bright Oswego sunshine early Saturday night.
"We were pretty good running by ourselves, but as far as making a move on anyone to pass it was pretty tough," Barnes said. "We were skating around there some, loose off. Our car usually doesn't like the sunlight, once the sun goes away and it cools off that is what our car likes. I'm really happy though, third place, we survived and get to run later tonight."
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To purchase tickets for the 2013 racing season call the Speedway box office at 315-342-0646.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Century 21 Galloway Realty Night at the Races
June 1 Make-Up Feature (50-laps): 1. 22-Pat Lavery, 2. 7-Otto Sitterly, 3. 99-Michael Barnes, 4. 50-Dave Gruel, 5. 26-Shaun Gosselin, 6. 00-Joe Gosek, 7. 51-Michael Muldoon, 8. 35-Jeff Holbrook, 9. 02-Brandon Bellinger, 10. 01-Dan Connors Jr., 11. 83-Lou LeVea Jr, 12. 23-Clayton Brewer III, 13. 07-Tony Steiner, 14. 66-Lou LeVea Sr, 15. 21-Kody Graham, 16. 3-Brian Sweeney, 17. 37-Randy Ritskes, 18. 24-Jerry Curran, 19. 0-Tim Snyder, 20. 55-Keith Shampine, 21. 52-Dave Danzer, 22. 56-Hal LaTulip, 23. 5-Tim Devendorf
Lighthouse Lanes 'Hard Charger': Dan Connors Jr.
Lighthouse Lanes 'Up & Comer': Pat Lavery
Saturday, June 29 – RJ Caruso Tax & Accounting/C's Farm Market and Beverage Center Night at the Races – Novelis Supermodified 50/Pathfinder Bank SBS 30