May 24, 2002 – Chemung (JOE GOSEK)


By Carol D. Haynes; photos by Jim Feeney

Chemung, NY – A lot of the racing cliches fell on the description of Friday night’s inaugural ISMA 75 lapper at the Chemung Speedrome. “You’ve got to be there at the end.” “You win some and lose some” “That’s racing.” Oswego, NY’s Joe Gosek was the victor of the event after Lou Cicconi and Dave McKnight crashed out while battling for the lead. It was simply one heck of a battle out front until their demise. Gosek, who had led from lap 6 until lap

19 when McKnight took over, retook the lead after the lap 53 incident between the 2001 ISMA Champ McKnight and two-time feature winner in 2002, Cicconi.

Gosek was aware that he had been in the right place at the right time. “We didn’t have a great car tonight. Dave and Lou were both faster than me in practice. We decided we were junk and changed the whole setup on the car before the heat race. I liked that setup better, but I knew we were still too loose and they were still too quick. They got racing there like wild men with about thirty to go and in the meantime I had changed the brakes after that restart just before they crashed. My car felt better. And, you hang in there

and get the best you can from it. The next time I came around the lead cars were out and I was in front. You win some and lose some. This time we were fortunate. The guys worked hard and it’s nice to turn the season around after those first two races where we weren’t too good.”

From the start, the race purported to be a fast one. Howie Lane took up the point from the green but Joe Gosek quickly charged up to overtake the 97. Gosek was able to pull away from several caution restarts but fighting tooth and nail behind were Lane, Timmy Jedrzejek, McKnight, Scott Martel, Russ Wood, Lou Cicconi, and Chris Perley.

Greg Furlong was an early victim of a yellow when something broken in the right front of his 72 sending him sparking and high on the track. Furlong was ofn on lap 13.

Another quick yellow for the 27 of Jamie Timmons bunched the madly racing pack behind Gosek. In one fell swoop on the green, McKnight was by the 26, taking the lead by lap 20 It was now McKnight, Gosek, Jedrzejek, Martel and Cicconi and then Cicconi and Martel. Cicconi was on a mission – three in a row! Dropping by the wayside in the interim were Pat Shullick and Bob Smith, subbing for an injured John Payne in the 67.

McKnight was tucking into traffic by lap 27, while Cicconi moved by Gosek for second. The chase was on.

A yellow for debris, set up the Cicconi -McKnight show and what a show it was. Time after time Lou slung the sleek 75 alongside McKnight. Dave slammed the door. Lap after lap this battle continued with the crowd going wild each time. All eyes were out front.

A lap 46 spin by the 84 of Brad Lichty, gave everyone a chance to breath but not for long. The order was McKnight, Cicconi, Jedrzejek, Gosek, Wood, Perley, Joey Payne, in his first outing in the Lane 9, Martel and Page.

On the restart Jen Chesbro had some help in a spin which brought out the yellow and red for refueling. Early caution laps for an oil spill had taken its toll on fuel.

With less than 30 laps looming until the finish, McKnight knew that Cicconi was coming again. On the green there was a lap car between he and Aston, PA driver, but not for long. Lou put the 75 high on lap 51 off 4. McKnight shut the door once more. On lap 52, Lou actually took the lead but holding onto it was another thing. Coming out of turn 2 just after the clock ticked to 53, the pair suddenly tangled. Lou came around sparking and spewing while McKnight spun wildly toward the inner guard rail trying to make a save. The spectacular front run was over for the pair. McKnight gave his recount of the accident.

“Louie and I got together racing for the lead. He got in a little heavy and lost it. He came back across the track and hit us. It was a racing incident. But we’re okay. We’ll get back together for tomorrow. Hey, it’s racing. That’s the way it goes, right?”

Cicconi basically confirmed McKnight’s story.

“When I was going into the car the car came out from underneath me and I started to spin out. I slowed way down to try and save it. I was like blocking up the whole track and Dave barely touched me. But it was enough to break a panard bar mount put us both out. Then I messed up the car more trying to drive it into the pits to fix it. I should have stopped. I feel bad for Dave. I took him out but it wasn’t intentional.”

But, hey fans the racing wasn’t over yet. Gosek took up the lead and took off and left the battle to Timmy J and Joey Payne who now played the cat and mouse game. Gosek’s teammate Russ Wood left a top five battle, exiting the speedway on lap 55 while storming up through the field was McKnight’s teammate and car owner, Brad Lichty. The night wasn’t over for that team either. Lichty got by Chris Perley on lap 63 for fourth while Timmy J and Payne went wheel to wheel in front of him. Scotty Martel closed in on Perley to try for that fifth place spot which has eluded him this season.

At the checkered it was Gosek, Timmy J, Payne, Lichty and Perley. Jedrzejek came out of his machine all smiles. He too was aware he had a little luck tossed his way. “It was exciting out there. I think we had a top 5 car and then Louie and Dave got in that little wreck. That opened the door for a top 3. We were ahead of Joe (Gosek) there earlier. We swapped back and forth a few times then he got me in traffic. Obviously at the end he had a better car. All the guys on the Kovacs crew did a helluva job today. Enerco and Mr. Heater and all the sponsors – thanks – we had a good night.”

And, Payne, in a first time ride, could say nothing bad about his run either. “From 13th to 3rd is good. I was trying to save my tires at the beginning of the race. This track is hell on tires with such tight corners. I saved them in the first 40 laps and then decided to go. I got some luck and some guys fell out. I got up on Timmy (J) and thought I was going to catch him but I got in too deep and I wore out my brakes. Third in a new ride… I’ll take it. I’m looking forward to tomorrow at Oswego.”

The fourth place finisher Lichty, who had at one point been a lap down, said “It would have been nice if the car had been that good from the get-go. It was pushing so bad at the start of the race. When the red came out we came in and made some minor adjustments. The car was a rocket after that. But, when you’re short on laps, what do you do.”

Chris Perley, always a consistent top five finisher said simply, “I guess we’re happy with fifth. We made a bunch of changes to the car and ended up in the top five. I can’t complain.”

Scott Martel, Jon Gambuti, Howie Page, Eddie Witkum Jr. and Ken Bell rounded out the top ten.

ISMA is at Oswego Speedway May 25 for the Jim Shampine Memorial and then travels the Ohio-Michigan circuit on June 14-15 at Toledo and Berlin.


Heat 1: Eddie Witkum Jr., Russ Wood, Greg Furlong, Ken Bell, Joey Payne, Howie Page, Doug Kells, Pat Shullick, Jen Chesbro

Heat 2: Scott Martel, Timmy Jedrzejek, Lou Cicconi, Chris Perley, Brad Lichty, Jack Smith, Bob Smith, Jamie Letcher, Joey Hawksby (ofn)

Heat 3: Dave McKnight, Joe Gosek, Howie Lane, Jamie Timmons, Eric Shirey, Jon Gambuti., Randy Ritskes, Dave Shullick Jr.

Chemung 75:

1. Joe Gosek (26), 2. Timmy Jedrzejek (7), 3. Joey Payne (9), 4. Brad Lichty (84), 5. Chris Perley (84), 6. Scott Martel(14), 7. Jon Gambuti (88), 8. Howie Page (18), 9. Eddie Witkum Jr. (85), 10. Ken Bell (32), 11. Dave Shullick Jr. (83), 12. Jack Smith (09), 13. Jen Chesbro (33), 14. Russ Wood (29), 15. Lou Cicconi (75), 16. Dave McKnight (94), 17. Randy Ritskes (16), 18. Jamie Timmons (27), 19. Howie Lane (97), 20. Jamie Letcher (58), 21. Pat Shullick (49), 22. Bob Smith (67), 23. Greg Furlong (72F), 24. Eric Shirey (72s).

Doug Kells was unable to take the green due to an oil problem.

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