JEDRZEJEK TAKES AWAY THIRD OSWEGO SUPER NATIONALS WIN IN TEN YEARS
By Carol D. Haynes; photos by Jim Feeney
Oswego, NY – In 2002, Timmy Jedrzejek drove the May 77 to a flag to flag victory at Oswego’s ISMA Super Nationals on Classic weekend. Then he came back in 2009 for a second win in the car that almost beat him Saturday. But, this third victory, in the Soule Racing 32 was probably the most exciting of the three. Just past the midway mark he could have sworn he was racing for third with a high flying Ryan Coniam and veteran Mike Ordway far out in front of him. Then Ordway faded, but Coniam was out of sight in traffic until just over ten laps to go when the complexion of the race changed.
As Timmy J explained, “I thought at first we were a little loose. Then the car just seemed to settle in real nice. I thought we had something but the 46 and 61 were gone and I thought we were running for third tonight. Then the 61 faded and we got by him. Then the 46 was next on the list and I couldn’t even see him. Then I saw that he was smoking a little bit and we were catching him. And then he got in a bunch of lapped traffic and he slid up and we went by.
“At that point we were the leader and we kept going. I thought I heard Mikey or a car behind me. The high side wasn’t that good for me tonight so I was trying to stay on the low side and pass some cars. I wasn’t going to give it away if I stayed on top. Then Mikey got underneath me going into three on the last lap and I had no choice but to give the car everything it had. It stuck on the outside and we got around the 28 and to the checkered flag.
The Soule team, which had won two features this year and were locked in the ISMA point battle, had fallen off pace of late. Timmy went on to say, “We’ve been down in the dumps in the last few races. I think the best we could finish was 8th or 9th in the last four races. We were not happy as a team. No one was made at each other we just weren’t satisfied with the results. I send Danny an email this week and said what doesn’t kill us is going to make us stronger. And, maybe that’s what made us stronger today. Danny and the guys really worked hard this week. They went through the entire car and replaced a lot of parts and components. Danny sent me an email on Thursday and said he thought we were going to be pretty good this weekend and if we’re not any good it won’t be due to lack of effort on their part. We worked on the car pretty much through practice and made a lot of adjustments. We were pretty pleased with what we had at heat time. It’s hard to gamble on adjustments when the track changes from afternoon until a cooler night. I am really excited for the team and the guys. We’ve had some crew issued this year with the death of Donnie and now my good friend Slim is in the hospital. This one goes out to him as well.”
While Jedrzejek held on to his first place spot, held up by a slower car out front of the lead pack, with less than ten to go, teammates Johnny Benson Jr. and Mike Lichty were each battling for the win and they were hot on the 32’s tail. While John tried for the win, Lichty got by for second and made a valiant attempt at taking Jedrzejek when the time ran out.
Said Lichty of his run. “At the end there, there was a lot of lapped traffic and a lot of passing. We didn’t start out too well and we didn’t finish the greatest. The car was a little too neutral in the center. We started eighth and we ran quick time today. We passed a lot of racecars. I knew that Johnny was getting loose. I got to give him a lot of credit. This is why he won in NASCAR. He’s a badass driver. It’s pretty cool to watch the moves he makes. So I just followed him for a little bit. I knew he was going for the lead. He washed up a little bit and I got by him. Timmy wasn’t right down on the hub rail but with one or two laps to go he kind of washed up. He was getting fairly loose and just hanging on .We were loose too. We had a good car, much better than a lot of them out there, but we just ran out of time.”
Benson, still looking for that Oswego win in a supermodified, stated, “I wanted to win this race but Timmy J was pretty good. Our car and Mike’s was obviously pretty good. I thought I had another shot at it but Mike was smoking the tires pretty good on four there. I was underneath him and he kind of cut down on me and took my shot away. Hopefully it was a good race for the fans because it was good from where I was at. 60 is long way for these cars to go green. Everybody was kind of loosing the tire bite. It kind of evens things up.”
After a long day of time trials and heats, the ISMA winged supers took to the track for their finale. Sitting on the front row were Ryan Coniam and Mike Ordway Sr. with Coniam eking out the lead after the first circuit. The young second generation driver took off and hid as Ordway chased. Jedrzejek, from his fourth starting spot, took up the chase. Joe Gosek, Benson, Tim Ice, Lichty, Eddie Witkum, Jeff Locke and Rob Summers were among the next in line.
The race flew by with no yellows to stop it. Coniam was diving into lap traffic as Ordway pursued. Timmy J stayed in third but a distance away with Gosek, Benson, Lichty and now Dave Gruel in the Miller 16, the top six as the halfway mark approached.
A couple of the hotshoes including Moe Lilje, Joe Gosek and point contender Lou Cicconi, dropped by the wayside as things heated up, up front.
And, all the time the 46 dove in and out of traffic, smoke emanated from the side of the car, but it was determined that it was not enough to take Coniam off the track and so he sped on. On lap 47 the leader’s nearest contender started to fade off the pace allowing Timmy J to slip into second as Benson, Lichty, Gruel, Witkum, Summers and Ice were still in shooting range.
Coniam led his last lap on the 50th when the aforementioned slide occurred and Jedrzejek got by for the lead, a couple laps later, Benson and Lichty put Coniam into fourth as they pursued the 46 with guns blazing. It was now a three-way battle for the gold with a slower car blocking the progress out front of the 32. The exciting four lap finish saw Benson make a great attempt at the leader only to not only fail in the attempt, but to allow his teammate Lichty to take over second.
In the remaining two laps, Lichty tried his best to pass the 32, but it was not to be as the checkereds dropped for Jedrzejek moments later on the entirely green flag race. Lichty, Benson, Coniam and Dave Gruel, who had won the King of Wings in the Miller 16, finished up the top five.
Coniam, after losing what would have been his first Oswego win to follow in his famed father’s footsteps, commented. “The car was smoking fairly early in the race. There was a little bit of oil pumping out. It wasn’t the end of the world. It did start to get progressively worse. It started making the car one-dimensional. I couldn’t get through traffic like I needed to. I just got greedy in lap traffic and tried to do something that the racecar wasn’t going to allow me to do. I didn’t know how much real estate I had between me. I slid up the racetrack and those guys got by me. Tonight the race car was better than the driver.”
Dave Gruel was unavailable for comment as he made a hasty retreat to get his Sunday ride’s hauler.
Summers, McKennedy, Ice, Witkum and Locke rounded out the top ten.
Summary 21st Bud Light ISMA Super Nationals at Oswego Speedway
Fast time:Mike Lichty 15.317
Heat 1: Bob Dawson, Lou Cicconi, Timmy Jedrzejek, Joe Gosek, Craig Rayvals, Moe Lilje, Dan Bowes, BJ MacDonald
Heat 2: Rob Summers, Mike Ordway Sr., Mark Sammut, Eddie Witkum, Jeff Locke, Jon McKennedy, Mike McVetta, Rich Reid
Heat 3: Tim Ice, Mike Lichty, Johnny Benson, Ryan Coniam, Dave Gruel, Brandon Bellinger, Bob Magner, Lou LeVea Sr., AJ Russell (dns)
Super Nationals 60: 1. Timmy Jedrzejek (32), 2. Mike Lichty (84), 3. Johnny Benson Jr. (74), 4. Ryan Coniam (46), 5. David Gruel (16), 6. Rob Summers (11), 7. Jon McKennedy (79), 8. Tim Ice (65), 9. Eddie Witkum Jr. (97), 10. Jeff Locke (37), 11. Bobby Dawson (28), 12. Mark Sammut (78), 13. Bobby Magner (40), 14. Craig Rayvals (94), 15. Dan Bowes (18), 16. Mike McVetta (22), 17. BJ MacDonald (66b), 18. Mike Ordway Sr. (61), 19. Lou Cicconi (75), 20. Joe Gosek (77), 21. Brandon Bellinger (02), 22. Moe Lilje (8), 23. Rich Reid (48), 24. Lou LeVea Sr. (96)