By Camden Proud
OSWEGO, NY (August 20, 2023) – It has been a more than memorable month of August for the Jake’s Automotive / Ratcliff Racing team starting with teenaged driver Noah Ratcliff winning his first ever Pathfinder Bank SBS feature at Oswego on August 5 – and it hasn’t stopped there.
Noah’s teammate and cousin Drew Pascuzzi put together an impressive drive of his own to do the same a week later on August 13, becoming the second consecutive first-time feature winner in as many weeks, with both out of the Ratcliff stable.
And finally, this past Saturday, August 19, Ratcliff put the icing on the cake after starting in sixth, taking the lead on a restart with 12 to go, and dominating for not only another feature win; which was the third straight for the family team, but also the 2023 track championship.
“The car has been great on the outside all day, and I was just thinking ‘please be a caution’ right before it happened and luckily there was,” mentioned Ratcliff. “It was a perfect opportunity and the car was real good. It was kind of getting loose towards the end, but I was able to hang onto it and we were lucky enough to get the championship and the win. We’ve had a year with a lot of highs and a couple of lows, but this makes up for all of it. It’s been a long year and I’m kind of thankful that it is starting to slow down a little bit right now, but man, I can’t even express how excited I am. This is a dream come true and I have to thank my Mom, my brother, Travis, Tash, John, Kendra and Mark, Vinnie, Drew, Jake’s Automotive, and Total Fire Protection and I know I’m probably forgetting a few, but this is awesome.”
Settling for second, and bouncing back from a heavy hit one week ago was Griffin Miller. It was the second runner-up effort of the month for the No. 9 team.
“It’s definitely better than last week,” Miller said. “That obviously didn’t end well. We destroyed the car a bit, but made some adjustments and got it back together. We started tonight not bad, but then it got a little loose towards the end. I’m just glad we got up to second. It wasn’t a bad night after last week. Congrats to the Ratcliff team and family on the championship. They all deserve it and had a hell of a year. We’ll try and keep getting better for Classic. I’d like to thank PCA Paperworks, La Parrilla, Steve’s Body Shop, Miller Machine & Mechanical and everyone that helps on the car. It means a lot.”
Settling for third was Tony Pisa, who has led a combined (42) laps between the past two feature events, with restarts biting the driver of the No. 89, which was re-numbered 90 for championship night owner’s points, on both occasions. Pisa certainly made his presence known at the front in the last week or so as he continues to fight for his first career win.
“This is actually my car, but we just re-numbered it,” mentioned Pisa in victory lane. “Greg’s car was in too bad of shape to fix for this week. It’s really frustrating to lead two thirds of the feature the last two weeks and lose both on a late race restart, but glad to finish on the podium for two weeks in a row. This finish is great for our team and for Greg (O’Connor). We hope that he gets back on the track soon and I’d like to thank my sponsors as well as his; Munski Automotive first and foremost, Bodified, Arts Parts & More, CME Electrical, Indigo Inkwell, and Compass Credit Union.”
At the drop of the green, the polesitter Pisa jumped out in front of rookie Jake Brown with third starting Mike Fowler moving into second ahead of Miller while Brown dropped into fourth over Ratcliff in fifth.
Ratcliff was the next car to bypass Brown for the four spot with Drew Pascuzzi, Tony DeStevens, and Camden Proud following him through to take over positions five, six, and seven.
Early on, it was the front seven cars of Pisa, Fowler, Miller, Ratcliff, Pascuzzi, DeStevens, and Proud, nose to tail.
On lap 11, Miller was the first to move out of line, looking to the outside of Fowler for second in between turns three and four, but the No. 9 went wide and opened the door for Ratcliff to look low and take over third.
Just one circuit later, Ratcliff ran the high road around Fowler, now riding second just prior to the halfway point.
A yellow on lap 18 for a spinning DJ Shuman bunched the field one more time and would set Ratcliff up perfectly to take the lead from the outside of Pisa on the restart.
Pisa tried to hang onto second, but got too free off the exit of turn two, allowing Miller underneath as the No. 90 dropped in line ahead of Fowler and Pascuzzi.
Meanwhile, DeStevens would run into issues on the restart, dropping back several spots, as the outside log jam allowed eleventh starting Cameron Rowe, as well as the G.O. Racing No. 29 of former Supermodified feature winner Shaun Gosselin, to move up several spots.
Rowe would bypass both DeStevens and Proud for sixth with Gosselin doing the same, coming all the way from seventeenth to seventh in his first night back at the Speedway since 2018.
Back out front, however, Ratcliff was long gone. The No. 73 was on cruise control for the final 10 laps, leading the top five of Miller, Pisa, Fowler, and Pascuzzi across the line as he clinched his first ever track title.
Rowe, Gosselin, Proud, DeStevens, and Brown, completed the top ten.
With his runner-up effort, Miller passed DeStevens for third in points, and things just kept getting better and better for the Ratcliff Racing team as Pascuzzi’s fifth place finish was good enough to jump the No. 72 two spots in the standings for a one-two finish in the championship.
Fowler, who won his first heat race earlier in the evening, held on for fourth, and that was good enough to tie Brown in the Pathfinder Bank SBS rookie standings, meaning the pair are now co-rookies of the year.
With the regular season in the books, the Small Block Supers will square off in their 60-lap Bud Light Classic next Sunday, September 3rd alongside the 50-lap Bud Light Classic for the 350’s and the 67th annual Budweiser International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds. Tickets are on sale at OswegoSpeedway.com or at the track box office.
For more information, please visit the track website online at OswegoSpeedway.com or LIKE on Facebook at Facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway or FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway or Instagram @OfficialOswegoSpeedway.
Best Western PLUS / Clarion Hotel & Suites Riverfront / LaGraf’s Pub & Grill Track Championship Night
Pathfinder Bank SBS 30
Saturday, August 19, 2023
Feature (30-laps): 1. 73 NOAH RATCLIFF, 2. 9 Griffin Miller, 3. 90 Tony Pisa, 4. 10 ® Mike Fowler, 5. 72 Drew Pascuzzi, 6. 77 Cameron Rowe, 7. 29 Shaun Gosselin, 8. 54 Camden Proud, 9. 24 Tony DeStevens, 10. 26 ® Jake Brown, 11. 86 Brad Haynes, 12. 22 DJ Shuman, 13. 35 AJ Larkin, 14. 00 Jude Parker, 15. 55 ® Carter Gates, 16. 2 Jordan Sullivan, 17. 20 ® Tessa Crawford
Heat 1 (10-laps) 1. 10 ® Mike Fowler, 2. 72 Drew Pascuzzi, 3. 54 Camden Proud, 4. 26 ® Jake Brown, 5. 90 Tony Pisa, 6. 77 Cameron Rowe, 7. 22 DJ Shuman, 8. 20 ® Tessa Crawford, 9. 29 Shaun Gosselin
Heat 2 (10-laps): 1. 73 Noah Ratcliff, 2. 9 Griffin Miller, 3. 86 Brad Haynes, 4. 24 Tony DeStevens, 5. 2 Jordan Sullivan, 6. 35 AJ Larkin, 8. 00 Jude Parker, 9. 55 ® Carter Gates
Group Time Trials: 1. 54 Camden Proud – 18.755, 2. 73 Noah – 18.792, 3. 72 Drew Pascuzzi – 18.955, 4. 24 Tony DeStevens – 18.993, 5. 90 Tony Pisa – 19.018, 6. 9 Griffin Miller – 19.101, 7. 10 ® Mike Fowler – 19.114, 8. 35 AJ Larkin – 19.183, 9. 77 Cameron Rowe – 19.301, 10. 00 Jude Parker – 19.329, 11. 29 Shaun Gosselin – 19.445, 12. 86 Brad Haynes – 19.501, 13. 26 ® Jake Brown – 19.539, 14. 2 Jordan Sullivan – 20.056, 15. ® 20 Tessa Crawford – 20.248, 16. 55 ® Carter Gates – 22.036 DNS 22 DJ Shuman
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger ($25): #29 Shaun Gosselin
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer (Pizza & Wings): #90 Tony Pisa
White’s Car Care 4th Place Finisher ($25): #10 ® Mike Fowler