Only six points separated the pair going into the regular-season finale, and just 13 markers were the difference prior to feature time with Kapuscinski still holding the narrow edge.
The duo started eighth and ninth on the grid, and while Josh stormed the No. 26 to the front in short order; Danny K did exactly what he knew was a must; simply kept pace with Sokolic, and in doing so, was able to secure the title by a slim seven points.
19-year-old Sokolic, meanwhile, would have to settle for his third win of the 2021 season and the extra payday for becoming the first teenaged driver to be crowned ‘Mr. SBS’ in Speedway history.
“That was a crazy race,” Sokolic said. “Starting in eighth, we were actually a little loose at the start, but then it came in and got too tight. I knew if I held my line I would probably catch up to the guys at the front. It was a good run. Good job to the 23 crew. They have been solid all year, and came out tonight and did what they had to do to win the track championship. I am proud of this whole crew for all of their hard work; my parents, my sister, all the sponsors; All-Weather Power Equipment, Lakeland Auto, J&S Paving, Logos Custom Embroidery, Ed, and everyone that has helped out all year. We have progressed a lot this season and we’ll take the win and second in points.”
Finishing in second was Kapuscinski, who earned the sixth podium finish of what has been a masterful four-win season for the Flack Racing No. 23 team. It was enough for the Speedway veteran to take home the first track championship of his career.
“I figured I would only be as aggressive as Josh was tonight,” Kapuscinski commented. “I tried to points race last week and it got me in a lot of trouble. I was being patient and when I got to his bumper, I was content where I was. The car is pretty banged up though. The toe is off, the rear end got knocked, and we were actually lucky we finished the race because we got jingled up from the back a couple of times. It doesn’t matter now though. I had a feeling when I started driving for Steve Flack and Mikey O’Connor this year that a championship was possible. They have given me a great race car every single week. When we didn’t put ourselves in trouble or get caught up in someone else’s trouble, we’ve been fast. I have to thank Burger Construction, Burger Masonry, Oscar Roofing, Hedger Fabrication, Mohawk Northeast, Billy Whittaker Cars & Trux, Stephen Gioia’s Farmers Insurance, Premiere Landscaping, Cooper’s Custom Canvas, and my Mom. Now we’ll come back in two weeks and try to beat that 74 car.”
Coming from seventh to finish third both in the race and the point standings was Bryan Haynes, who had a strong 2021 campaign with his No. 86. It was the fourth podium finish of the season for the Odenton, MD driver.
“This is my first actual full-time season in twelve years of doing this so I really have to thank my brother Brad, Ron Pratt, Brian Langer, Dennis Lyons, and Greg. We would not be here if it was not for them,” Haynes said. “It’s been a blast out here racing in front of the fans, racing with all of these guys, and more importantly my brother and putting on a show for everyone. The car was not great tonight, hats off to Noah (Ratcliff). We were racing for third on the track and third in the points. He has a huge, bright future in front of him and the only thing that beat him tonight was a little more experience on the restarts. He was a little bit better than me, but I just muscled it out and we ended up third.”
Veteran Greg O’Connor and rookie Griffin Miller led the field to the green flag for the 35-lap special and it was O’Connor leading the way in the No. 90.
Sokolic and Kapuscinski wasted no time starting their respective drives to the front, with Sokolic going by four cars in the first two laps to crack the four spot.
Kapuscinski, who started one position behind his championship rival, would ride sixth, settling in behind Noah Ratcliff early on.
With five laps complete, it was O’Connor, Miller, Brad Haynes, Sokolic, and Ratcliff the front five.
On lap 6, Kapuscinski was able to look low underneath Ratcliff to move in behind Sokolic in the top five.
One lap later, Sokolic made the same move to get by Brad Haynes for third going into turn three, with Danny K following suit for fourth on the ensuing lap.
At this point, O’Connor and Miller had built a comfortable lead out in front, but by halfway, both Sokolic and Kapuscinski were hot on their heels.
The front three were nose to tail in a battle for the lead for ten laps, but things went south for leader O’Connor with 8 laps remaining as Miller got into the back of the No. 90 going into turn three, sending the race leader around.
O’Connor would have to tag the tail and Miller was also penalized for the contact.
This meant that the points leaders would now make up the front row for the double-file restart with eight laps remaining.
From the inside lane, Sokolic was able to grab the point with Kapuscinski right there for a second.
Riding third was Ratcliff, as he did his best to keep Bryan Haynes at bay in their duel for the third spot in the point standings.
The yellow flag would come back out again, though, for a Brad Haynes spin in turn three which collected Miller.
On the restart, there were still 8 to go for the leaders and it was again Sokolic able to keep the lead from the low lane with Kapuscinski in second.
This time, Haynes was able to get the jump on Ratcliff for third with the rookie now fourth and David LaTulip coming from tenth to crack the top five.
The field would remain nose to tail for the closing five laps and that is the way they would finish with Sokolic the winner, Danny K second, Bryan Haynes third, Ratcliff fourth, and LaTulip fifth.
O’Connor, Robbie Bruce, Darrick Hilton, AJ Larkin, and Mark Denny Jr. completed the top ten.
With five top 5 finishes, 16-year-old Ratcliff was able to close the deal on Rookie of the Year honors by a healthy 43 point margin over Griffin Miller.
Oswego County Federal Credit Union and C’s Beverage Center Track Championship Night
- $1,500 to Win Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS
- Saturday, August 21, 2021
- Oswego Speedway
- Oswego, NY
Feature (35-laps): 1. 26 JOSH SOKOLIC, 2. 23 Dan Kapuscinski, 3. 86 Bryan Haynes, 4. 73 ® Noah Ratcliff, 5. 27 David LaTulip, 6. 90 Greg O’Connor, 7. 32 ® Robbie Bruce, 8. 66 ® Darrick Hilton, 9. 35 ® AJ Larkin, 10. 14 ® Mark Denny Jr, 11. 88 Brad Haynes, 12. 9 ® Griffin Miller, 13. 77 Cameron Rowe, DNS 29 ® Andy Loden, 49 ® Josh Wallace
Heat 1 (10-laps): 1. 73 ® Noah Ratcliff, 2. 86 Bryan Haynes, 3. 9 ® Griffin Miller, 4. 90 Greg O’Connor, 5. 66 ® Darrick Hilton, 6. 32 ® Robbie Bruce, 7. 29 ® Andy Loden, 8. 14 ® Mark Denny Jr.
Heat 2 (10-laps): 1. 27 David LaTulip, 2. 23 Dan Kapuscinski, 3. 26 Josh Sokolic, 4. 77 Cameron Rowe, 5. 88 Brad Haynes, 6. 35 ® AJ Larkin DNS 49 ® Josh Wallace
Group Time Trials: 1. 23 Dan Kapuscinski - 19.128, 2. 29 ® Andy Loden - 19.345, 3. 86 Bryan Haynes - 19.500, 4. 26 Josh Sokolic - 19.501, 5. 9 ® Griffin Miller - 19.609, 6. 27 David LaTulip - 19.611, 7. 73 ® Noah Ratcliff - 19.683, 8. 32 ® Robbie Bruce - 19.897, 9. 77 Cameron Rowe - 20.010, 10. 90 Greg O’Connor - 20.019, 11. 88 Brad Haynes - 20.073, 12. 66 ® Darrick Hilton - 20.179, 13. 35 ® AJ Larkin - 20.457, 14. 14 ® Mark Denny Jr. - 20.639 DNS 49 ® Josh Wallace
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger: #26 Josh Sokolic
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #73 ® Noah Ratcliff
White’s Car Care 4th Place Finisher: #73 ® Noah Ratcliff
2021 Track Champion: #23 Dan Kapuscinski
2021 Rookie of the Year: #73 Noah Ratcliff