OSWEGO, N.Y. — The happiest man at Oswego Speedway when the checkered flag flew to end Sunday night’s Budweiser Int’l Classic might have been first-time winner Dave Shullick Jr., but across the pit area, there was another driver standing next to a yellow No. 70 that was arguably equally as relieved.
Don’t misunderstand, Dave McKnight has never come into Classic weekend hoping for a 12th-place finish (and never will, as long as he’s racing), but after the mountain of adversity he and his Gary Morton-led team have been through in 2017, simply making it to the finish line “felt like a win.”
After all, they entered the weekend with a record of three blown motors during the year, and barely had the car put back together in time to even roll through the gates for qualifying Friday afternoon.
But they made it. That was the first step.
Getting through the weekend was a whole lot tougher, though.
After qualifying 22nd for the Classic 200, the McKnight-Morton duo set to work preparing the No. 70 for winged competition, as they’d also filed an entry for the ISMA Supernationals on Saturday night.
That was where it all went wrong.
On lap 19, McKnight went hard into the Turn 2 foam with an apparent mechanical issue that saw his car sustain heavy front end damage. A damper came over the track and it seemed as though McKnight’s participation in Sunday’s big race would be extremely doubtful, at best.
But in a display of sportsmanship so known to Oswego Speedway fans and regulars, McKnight’s peers stepped up to not only give him a place to repair his battered machine — they helped him do so.
Jerry Curran loaned space in his race shop, friends including Pat Strong and others familiar to the supermodified world came in to help McKnight and Morton repair the car and some 20 hours later — aided by a rain delay that pushed the start of the classic back roughly five hours — the Morton No. 70 was in its grid spot solely on manpower, determination and racing grit.
“Crazy isn’t even the word for it … ridiculous is more like it,” McKnight told Race Chaser Online. “It took a Herculean effort. Jerry let us use his shop, Pat and a bunch of others offered their services to help get the car repaired … it was unbelievable how everyone came together.”
“Between fixing the front end, fixing the fuel tank, fixing the rear end and changing the car back over (from a winged setup to the team’s non-winged setup) … I honestly was amazed we pulled it off. We couldn’t have done it without all the help that we were blessed to have, so my thanks and kudos go out to all those people who lent hands and time to get us back to the track.”
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