OSWEGO, N.Y. (race report by Keith Shampine, ISMAsupers.com / photos by Jim Feeney) — Second generation supermodified standout Mike Ordway Jr. raced the Clyde Booth-built and owner No. 61 “Silver Bullet” to his second ISMA / MSS feature win of the season Sunday afternoon in the rain delayed Circle T Ready Mix / Shea Concrete Oswego / ISMA / MSS Challenge Race #4 at Oswego Speedway.
The 50-lap feature, scheduled for Saturday night, was pushed back to Sunday morning shortly after Ordway drew the pole starting position after the event’s three heat races concluded. With over 12 hours to think about the race, Ordway did his job and drove to a wire-to-wire victory with continuous pressure from his brother-in-law, Trent Stephens, who would finish a close second.
The win marked Ordway’s second career feature triumph at Oswego — exactly one year to the day after winning his first career main event at the Steel Palace.
“Hats off to all these guys,” Ordway said in victory lane. “Clyde Booth’s been around here for years, and he’s getting better with age. Week in and week out he brings fast racecars, so hats off to him and Susan and everyone at Booth Racing Components. All the guys who help out — my parents, Ed and Nancy, Doc, Ryan and Kailee, and my wife for letting me do this.”
Ordway and series points leader Kyle Edwards led the 23-car field to the green flag and the race wouldn’t get past Turn 1 before a quick yellow slowed the action. Edwards entered the corner on the outside of Ordway when a front-end part failed on his No. 11E. The Bartlett, Tenn., driver went straight into the foam-protected wall with a heavy hit causing substantial damage. His race would be seconds after it began, and the incident will surely shake up the ISMA / MSS championship battle with only one event remaining.
Edwards’ misfortune gave the P2 spot to Michael Muldoon, who’d give Ordway a good run for his money on the restart. After Muldoon’s No. 15 edged ahead between turns 1 and 2, Ordway out-gunned the Baldwinsville, N.Y., driver down the backstretch to hold onto the top position.
Ordway would lead Muldoon for the first eight circuits until the second caution came out for rookie Kenyon Zitzka, who appeared to lose the right-front wheel on his No. 25 in Turn 3. Zitzka’s machine hit the wall and suffered heavy front-end damage. He’d be done for the day.
The second restart saw Ordway saw a shakeup in the top five with Stephens moving into second past Muldoon, Rich Reid settling into fourth and Otto Sitterly slipping from third to fifth. A few circuits later Sitterly would get loose between turns 3 and 4 and lose two more positions to Mike McVetta and Ben Seitz. Shortly after that, Reid’s bad luck would continue when he retired his No. 55, moving McVetta to P4 and Seitz to P5 behind Ordway, Stephens and Muldoon.
Ordway’s closest call came on lap 17, when he got stuck behind Tim Snyder’s No. 0 while trying to lap him. This allowed Stephens to close and make a bid for the lead. Stephens would edge ahead of Ordway in Turn 3 while Ordway had to back out on the inside behind Snyder. Stephens went to the high side of both Ordway and Snyder and likely would have taken the lead, but Snyder moved up the track just enough between turns 3 and 4 to give an inside lane to Ordway, who was able to shoot past the lap car and Stephens as the trio exited Turn 4. Stephens continued to pressure Ordway on the outside in Turn 1 until he slipped just a bit, allowing Ordway to maintain the lead after a tense couple of a laps.
Aric Iosue would bring out the third and final caution of the race on lap 29 when his No. 27 spun just ahead of the leaders in Turn 2.
The final double-file restart saw Stephens bog on the outside and Ordway easily maintain the lead. Stephens would settle back into P2 after a challenge from Muldoon, while Seitz overtook McVetta for P4.
The remaining 21 laps were relatively quiet. Stephens was able to pull up on the rear bumper of Ordway on several occasions, but didn’t have enough to mount a serious challenge.
Ordway would hold on for the win — the 12th of his ISMA / MSS career — over Stephens, Muldoon, Seitz and Sitterly, who passed McVetta for P5 in the closing laps.
McVetta, Mike Lichty, Dave Danzer, Michael Barnes and Mark Sammut finished sixth through 10th. Oswego 350 Super regular Josh Sokolic got the nod to drive the Danny Soule No. 32 for Sunday after regular driver Moe Lilje had to return to Ohio for work. Sokolic impressed in his first career big-block supermodified start, passing a number of cars and finishing 11th.
Just after crossing the checkered, Ordway’s engine began to smoke as he slowed on the cooldown lap — another close call in what’s been an up-and-down season for the Windham, Maine, driver.
“It seems like the oil cooler broke,” Ordway said when asked about the smoke. “We had that issue earlier this year and we thought we had it fixed, but it clearly wasn’t. Luckily it happened with just a couple laps to go.
“I have to thank everybody at Booth Racing Components, JRi Shocks, Performance Engines by Billy the Kid, High Performance Lubricants and Sweet Mfg. They make it happen for us, and I can’t thank those guys enough. Thanks to the Toresses, Johnny Nicotra and Chuck Handley and everybody at the speedway for putting in the effort to get this show in this weekend, and all the fans for coming back today. The race (International Classic 200) we all want to win is a couple weeks from now on Sunday, but we’ll take this one.”
Stephens spoke about his solid P2 run.
“I guess I tried to keep (Ordway) honest. We had a really good car today, and he had a good car, too. I was just happy to be able to race with him and push him a little bit. There were a couple of times I saw him kind of taking it easy, and I’d jump on him and he’d have to push again. I was hoping if I could make him push hard, he’d burn some up and I’d have something at the end. I think we were pretty even, so it was kind of a cat-and-mouse game. I got him at Lorain earlier this year, and he got me here, so I guess we’re even at Thanksgiving,” Stephens said.
Muldoon commented on his podium finish.
“The car wasn’t bad. We got really loose in lap traffic, so it made it kind of hard on the restarts. I thought we had a chance to jump (Ordway) on the outside on those restarts, but they had a little too much on us. Good run to Mike, good run to Trent — it was a nice, clean race, and we’re happy with it,” Muldoon said.
One race remains on the 2023 ISMA / MSS schedule. The series will be back in action Saturday, September 16 with the John Burr Classic / Championship Night at Evans Mills Speedway in the North Country of Upstate New York. The 100-lap race is the first winged big-block supermodified event at three-eighths-mile oval.
Jim Feeney race photos —
Oswego Super Challenge #4
Oswego Speedway • Oswego, N.Y.
Super Challenge #4 50 — 1. MIKE ORDWAY JR. (61), 2. Trent Stephens (19), 3. Michael Muldoon (15), 4. Ben Seitz (11), 5. Otto Sitterly (7), 6. Mike McVetta (22), 7. Mike Lichty (84), 8. Dave Danzer (52), 9. Michael Barnes (68), 10. Mark Sammut (78), 11. Josh Sokolic (32), 12. Dan Connors Jr. (01), 13. Lou Levea Jr. (83), 14. Russ Wood (41), 15. Aric Iosue (27), 16. Tim Snyder (0), 17. Johnny Benson Jr. (74), 18. Tyler Shullick (88), 19. Brandon Bellinger (02), 20. AJ Lesiecki (14), 21. Rich Reid (55), 22. Kenyon Zitzka (25), 23. Kyle Edwards (11E).
Jim Valentine-sponsored Fast Qualifier: Mike Ordway Jr. (14.779
Heat Races Top 3 —
Heat 1: 1. Ben Seitz, 2. Trent Stephens, 3. Michael Muldoon.
Heat 2: 1. Rich Reid, 2. Michael Barnes, 3. Mike Lichty.
Heat 3: 1. Dave Danzer, 2. Mark Sammut, 3. Mike Ordway Jr.
Special Awards —
4th Turn Crazies-sponsored Hard Charger: Ben Seitz
NY Racing Mom-sponsored Last Car Running: Tim Snyder
Hoosier Free Right-rear Drawing: Mike Lichty