OSWEGO, NY – It is not unusual to have the International Supermodified Series season title to go down to the wire, but this year’s chase is a little different. There are two relatively new names on top of the leaderboard. Epping, NH’s Dan Bowes sits just 16 points ahead of Bartlett, TN’s Kyle Edwards; neither of them has ever won an ISMA championship and both have just this season logged in their first career ISMA feature wins.
The ISMA season opener at Monadnock had been rained out in May so Kyle Edwards started off the ISMA season with a surprise win at Delaware Speedway in June. Dan Bowes, who would become Kyle’s adversary in the 2018 ISMA point battle, parked his 25 in ninth spot and so the game was on with Edwards taking the initial point lead.
The Lancaster (NY) event run the next day, found Bowes in a podium finish (3rd) and Edwards back a few spots in 6th.
The ISMA contingent headed for Canada to the beautiful Jukasa Speedway, which many knew as the former Cayuga Speedway. Bowes took a liking to the modern facility and claimed his first career win. Edwards stayed just back a few spots to pick up a fifth place.
And, it was on to Sandusky Speedway, a place better known to Edwards, whose car is kept and maintained in his car owner and dad’s garage in Ohio. Edwards came home with dual sixth places with Bowes garnering an eight and in the Hy-Miler 100, his worst finish of the season, an eleventh.
But that eleventh place appeared to give Bowes a momentum for the next three race events where he finished with three podiums (a second and two thirds). Edwards stayed around in the point standings with an eighth, a fourth and a sixth.
Heading into the homestretch and to Oswego Speedway for the Super Nationals 60, Bowes had a 21 marker lead over Edwards. But, when all was said and done, Edwards had a seventh place to Danny’s tenth. Bowes’ lead had dwindled to just 7 points with two races to follow in the 2018 season.
At Star, 2017 ISMA Champion Jon McKennedy pretty much had his way to claim the coveted Bob Webber Sr. Memorial Classic 150. Bowes and Edwards finished seventh and eight respectively, one lap down to the highflying McKennedy 21.
So, once again as it has been for many years, the ISMA title will be fought for and decided on the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park turf. Bowes, the 2011 ISMA Rookie of the Year, might be said to be more familiar with the area speedways.
Dan will be the first to admit that his race program brightened in 2018 with a new car, commented in a recent interview, prior to Oswego’s Super Nationals, that he has been taking it one race at a time.
“The points have been pretty tight. At Jukasa we had a really good day and we were able to win. We’ve had a little bad luck here and there this season and those are pretty much the only races that we’ve not finished on the podium. One race we missed the setup and the other something happened but that was racing. Sometimes you have bad luck. All in all we’ve had a really, really good year. The car has been solid every race. We are hoping to finish out the season at the top of the points. It’s been close and we have to just take one race at a time and to try and be on our game every night.”
Edwards, a newcomer to Lee and tied with Bowes as leaders of the current ISMA points, said afterwards.
“We did well for our first time here. Something in the ignition started going haywire – I don’t know if we have a bad box or the magneto is going. I don’t know what it is but that happened about half way through and I just got too loose at the end. All in all a fourth place isn’t bad I would have liked to been on the podium but the car is one piece and we’ll move on.”
It’s a 16-point margin that sits between these two relative newcomers to the crown battle, but there are at least 230 points available for winner at Thompson. But there are a couple others sitting just behind in the points, which are not exactly strangers to the Thompson oval. Former ISMA champion Mike Lichty is 72 points away in third. Veteran Mark Sammut is 101 points out in fourth and has one feature to his credit this season, and Timmy Jedrzejek who drives the Lane 97. Lichty and Jedrzejek have feature wins this season (1 and 2 respectively). Lichty stands tenth on the all-time ISMA feature win list. Timmy J is in twelfth.
But, as any race fan knows, many things can happen at this season-ending race event. There are some definite hot shoes sitting behind that top five that certainly can be in victory lane at the end. Mike Ordway Jr., Trent Stephens, Michael Muldoon, and Ben Seitz are all potential winners with Ordway Jr., having collected two wins this season also. Former multi-time NEMA champion Seitz, driving for the Soule Racing Team this season, is the only driver in the top ten group who has won a feature at Thompson, going back to 2013.
And last but not least, when it comes to the World Series of Speedway Racing, there is one guy who can’t ever be counted out. Veteran race fans always have their eye on the black number 11 who just happens to have won the race a total of ten times. And this year, a second Miller car will be in competition with Mexico, NY’s Michael Barnes piloting the Miller racing Hawk-chassis car. Barnes ran a Miller car at Sandusky in August and came close to winning in an exciting event. It was only his second time in the car too!
Dave Shullick Jr. of Ridgeville, Ohio, has taken the last three straight wins, with Perley finishing second to Shoe II in 2017. The Bodnar 95, unfortunately, will not be going for win number four due to other commitments. Rounding out the top five in 2017, were Jon McKennedy, Trent Stephens and Timmy Jedrzejek, all aforementioned as potential winners.
It also has recently been announced that this year’s ISMA World Series winner will take home $5,000 with a guaranteed bonus of $1000 to start going to non-franchised cars and $1,200 to start for ISMA franchised cars. This year’s 50-lapper should be a barnburner for sure with the World Series roster growing day by day.