Dave Gruel Steals Oswego Speedway Win from a Fuel Starved Michael Muldoon
by Carol D. Haynes
OSWEGO, NY (June 6, 2015) –What would have been win number one in Michael Muldoon’s supermodified career, went rapidly away from him in the last laps after a late yellow restart found him falling out of the lead due to lack of fuel. Second place runner Dave Gruel, crossed under the checkers for his fifth career Oswego Speedway Novelis Supermodified win as a benefactor of Muldoon’s demise. Muldoon would finish eighth.
Muldoon and Ray Graham Jr., who had not made it past lap one in the Jim Shampine Memorial on May 23, started in the front row of the Novelis Spring Championship 50 with Stephen Gioia III and Dan Connors in row two of the 24 car field. After a false start of the first lap, Muldoon and Graham came side by side off four with Muldoon taking the lead with Graham and Connors right there as Tim Devendorf and Gioia immediately began a top five battle.
Muldoon and Graham didn’t take long to pull away from the pack and Connors settled into third in the early laps. But some wheel to wheel battles behind ensued between Gioia and Pat Lavery, then Devendorf, Gruel, Bob Bond and Tim Snyder a distance back. Joe Gosek, driving the Nicotra 6, was first to exit.
Lap ten of the 50-lapper saw Muldoon and Graham moving farther away as Gruel put his 50 into third on lap nine. Connors and Lavery ran top five a bit away from the fray behind going on between Connors, Gioia, Devendorf, Dave Danzer, Bob Bond and Otto Sitterly, who had started back in sixteenth spot.
A Whole Lotta Yellow Flags-
All hell seemed to break loose in the next dozen laps as one after one, damaging yellows flew. On lap 11 Keith Shampine’s supermodified was hooked in with bad damage to the front end after an incident on the backstretch. Into the pits for adjusting were Brandon Bellinger and Tim Snyder.
Muldoon fled the scene quickly on the restart, but yellow slowed the race one lap later when Aric Iosue’s car had been planted in the front pit entrance tire-covered barrier. Pit stops were made by Hal LaTulip, Bellinger, Michael Barnes and Dave Cliff at this juncture as the 11 was extricated.
But, in simultaneous incidents, Bob Bond was towed in as was the 66 of Lou LeVea Sr. Bond was able to get repaired and return to action.
While Muldoon was able to pull away once again out front, Graham had Gruel trying hard to take second on the green. Graham was able to hold the spot a Gruel, Lavery and Connors ran top five with Devendorf, Danzer, Sitterly, Gioia and Shaun Gosselin right there in the top ten.
Yet another slowdown came on lap 16 which saw Bellinger, Cliff and Bond in the pits with only Bellinger making it back out after adjustments.
Graham Gains and More Cautions-
Things seemed to settle down as the race approached the lap 20 mark. As Muldoon still held a strong lead, things were heating up behind particularly with the Sitterly seven who was moving methodically toward the front in a deja vu scenario of his May 23rd run.
When yellow fell on lap 22 for Gioia who was against the inner hub rail near turn four, Sitterly had moved stealth-fully into fifth behind Muldoon, Graham, Gruel and Lavery. But the flag negated his pass of Connors which he just made again on the restart.
Just past the halfway mark, it looked as if Graham was gaining ground on Muldoon as Gruel, Lavery and Sitterly ran several car lengths behind the lead duo which begin encountering lap slower tail-end cars by lap 33.
Muldoon and Graham sliced smoothly through the traffic but Sitterly used the opportunity to get by Lavery for fourth. The 7 was still very much in contention. But, so was Gruel.
Gruel Starts His Charge and More Yellow-
On lap 37, Gruel made a bonsai move by Graham to take over second behind leader Muldoon.
Yellow flew to reformat the line for after Lavery was found facing the wrong way. Bob Bond used the time to come in and return as did Tim Snyder who was facing a spring problem.
With ten to go and a restart behind them, Muldoon now had Gruel, Graham and Sitterly closing in behind. Danzer, Connors, Gosselin, Kody Graham, Jeff Abold and Brian Sobus showed in the top ten on the pylon, with Bellinger just a tick out.
But things weren’t over yet as Muldoon still held real estate over Gruel, Graham and Sitterly with just five to go. But, Muldoon felt something was amiss just before a lap 47 yellow. His car was burping due to lack of fuel. The yellow came for Lavery’s 22 who nosed into his pit stall while Tim Snyder made one last pit stop still fighting handling.
The lineup on the restart was Muldoon, Gruel, Graham, Sitterly and Danzer. Gosselin, Kody Graham, Sobus, Abold and Bellinger in the top ten.
Muldoon Runs Out-
On lap 49, that changed dramatically up front as Gruel went out front as Muldoon drifted backwards. Sitterly and Graham were in a heated fight for second which Otto finally won when Graham was relegated to third less than half a track away from the checkered flag. Muldoon, who was obviously disappointed after having his hopes evaporate, still finished in the top ten. Danzer and Gosselin completed the top five. Kody Graham, Sobus, Muldoon, Abold and Bellinger rounded out the top ten.
The elated Gruel thanked his team, especially Steve Miller who had loaned the Gruel team an old engine built in 1991. The “whizzer” as Miller called the motor was refreshed by Enders Racing Engine and inserted in the 50 after Gruel’s Enders-built motor had been broken in the May 23rd race.
“We were either good on restarts or really bad,” said Gruel. “We would lose some ground, but we were able to catch back up. Michael ran an awesome race. I don’t know if he ran out of fuel, or buzzed the tires, but I was able to get out around him and make the pass. Awesome night. We have Steve Miller with us this year helping to set the car up, along with his motor “Whizzer” in the car, and we just keep getting better and better.”
The Champ Comments-
Sitterly, who finished deep in his qualifying heat, had to work his way to a runner-up finish.
“There are a lot of fast cars and drivers in the heat races,” said Sitterly. “Everyone is good on new tires in a 12-lap race, but we hoped we could rebound in the feature. The car was just too tight in the feature and it is tough to chisel your way through the field.”
Graham rode to a third place finish, but said brakes were an issue on the No. 91.
“We’ll take third place,” said Graham. “We have been having brake problems, this is the second week in a row. It is hard to race when you don’t have brakes, and we were a little too free. Considering all that we are pretty happy with it.”
Shell Shock Custom Helmet Paint Heat Race Challenge victories went to Muldoon, Graham, and Snyder.
The Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger was Sitterly with Sobus collecting the Lighthouse Lanes Up and Comer Award.
Road to the Championship
presented by Century 21 Galloway Realty/www.OswegoCountyToday.com
- Oswego Speedway
- Oswego, NY
- Saturday, June 6, 2015
Novelis Supermodifieds (50-laps): 1. 50 – Dave Gruel, 2. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 3. 91 – Ray Graham, 4. 52 – Dave Danzer, 5. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 6. 21 – Kody Graham, 7. 79 – Brian Sobus, 8. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 9. 05 – Jeff Abold, 10. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 11. 47 – Bob Bond, 12. 0 – Tim Snyder, 13. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 14. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr., 15. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 16. 22 – Pat Lavery, 17. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 18. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 19. 68 – Michael Barnes, 20. 06 – Dave Cliff, 21. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr., 22. 55 – Keith Shampine, 23. 11 – Aric Iosue, 24. 6 – Joe Gosek
- Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger: #7 – Otto Sitterly
- Lighthouse Lanes Up and Comer: #79 – Brian Sobus
- Radical Racegear Lap Leader: #51 – Michael Muldoon
Heat #1 (12-laps): 1. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 2. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 3. 22 – Pat Lavery, 4. 52 – Dave Danzer, 5. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 6. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 7. 06 – Dave Cliff, 8. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr.
Heat #2 (12-laps): 1. 91 – Ray Graham, 2. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 3. 47 – Bob Bond, 4. 50 – Dave Gruel, 5. 68 – Michael Barnes, 6. 79 – Brian Sobus, 7. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr., 8. 56 – Hal LaTulip
Heat #3 (12-laps): 1. 0 – Tim Snyder, 2. 55 – Keith Shampine, 3. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 4. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 5. 21 – Kody Graham, 6. 05 – Jeff Abold, 7. 11 – Aric Iosue, 8. 6 – Joe Gosek