by Bill Foley
OSWEGO, NY — Oct. 7, 2018 — “That will go down in history as one of the best at Oswego,” said announcer Shane Andrews as Shane Pecore and Robert Bublak Jr. diced through traffic in a nail-biting, heart-stopping final lap of the DIRTcar Sportsman Chevy Performance 75 during NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week XLVII.
When the checkered flag flew Cornwall, Ontario’s Pecore eeked out a fourth-tenths of a second win over Bublak with Adam McAuliffe right there in third just a couple of car lengths behind.
Pecore, after climbing out of his winning car, dropping to his knees and kissing the ground, said, “We are a very small team accomplishing big things. This is a dream come true.”
”I could see Rob was going to the bottom between three and four,” he continued, describing the wild ending. “I saw him behind a lapped can and knew he was going to get held up, and I just rode the top and it worked.”
The Chevy Performance 75 went from what appeared to be a one-car race to a four-car battle in the closing stages.
Pole-sitter Dave Marcuccilli jumped out to the early lead and by the 15th lap had a four-second lead. Breaks were going his way, as Kevin Root had said prior to the event, “lapped cars will determine who wins this race.”
However, as Marcuccilli approached traffic the race slowed for an incident, and once again he had a wide open track.
On lap 19 the most serious crash of the relatively clean event occurred high at the west end of the speedway as Mike Fowler slammed into the steel, lifting the entire front end high above the ground. He climbed out of the car and was checked out by the ambulance crew.
With a third of the race into the record book Marcuccilli, Bublak, Root, Pecore, McAuliffe, Dave Schilling, Connor Cleveland, Dave Constantino, Andrew Buff and Bob Henry Jr completed the top ten.
However, two time defending Champion Marcuccilli saw his hat trick effort disappear on the 28th lap as a plume of smoke poured out of the M1 with reported power steering issues.
Bublak inherited the lead and was able to put plenty of distance between himself and the rest of the field.
With 50 on the board Bublak, Pecore and McAuliffe appeared ready to fight it out. Completing the top ten were Cleveland, Buff, Constantino, Root, Martin Pellitier, Andrew Smith and Henry.
Pecore went to the outside, and took the lead momentarily on the 59th lap only to have Bublak grab it right back.
Shane began to challenge down low. There were times where he could pull alongside but simply couldn’t complete the pass.
With three laps to go McAuliffe made it a three car battle as lapped traffic provided a pretty invincible wall for the leaders.
There was no way to choose a lane on the final lap as leaders simply scrambled for any opening they could find.
As Root had predicted lapped traffic did determine the winner. And the winner was Pecore, who was in the right place at the right time and captured the lead in the final seconds.
”The lapped cars would not get out of the freakin’ way, but it is what it is,” said Bublak.
Third place McAuliffe noted, “I had a quick car today, but I thought traffic had slowed them up enough that I had a chance on the last lap.”
Following the top three across the line were Connor, Buff, Constantino, Pelletier, Root, Schilling and Smith.
The results stretched the point lead for Kevin Root over Brad Rouse and Dave Marcuccilli as entering the 75 lapper Root held a four point edge over Rouse (who finished 13th) and Dave Marcuccilli (seven points behind).
The 2018 Chevy Performance 75 at Oswego will be long remembered as one of those great races. This was a perfect example of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
CHEVY PERFORMANCE 75 DIRTCAR SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (75-LAPS): 1 Shane Pecore 2 Robert Bublak 3 Adam McAuliffe 4 Connor Cleveland 5 Andrew Buff 6 Dave Constantino 7 Martin Pelletier 8 Kevin Root 9 David Schilling 10 Andrew Smith 11 Bob Henry Jr. 12 Will Shields 13 Brad Rouse 14 Jeremy Pitts 15 Kyle Inman 16 Brianna Ladouceur 17 Zach Sobotka 18 Jackson Gill 19 James Friesen 20 Christopher Corbett 21 Jessica Power 22 Darryl Nutting 23 Willy Decker Jr. 24 Mike Stacey 25 A.J. Lloyd 26 Corey Barker 27 Robert Delormier 28 Ryan Macartney 29 Tyler Thompson 30 Dave Marcuccilli 31 Ryan Stabler 32 Mike Fowler 33 Alan Fink 34 Bucko Branham