OSWEGO, N.Y. — Story By RaceChaser Senior Editor Tom Baker — Bill Taylor photo — In four years of competition in Oswego Speedway’s Pathfinder Band SBS (Small Block Supermodified) division, Andrew Schartner has built himself a pretty good resume.
Two SBS Classic wins, two Race of Champions wins, a Tony White Memorial victory are among his accomplishments at “The Big O”.
But there was one thing missing until this year. Andrew wanted a track championship for his team, Crow Motorsports, and for himself.
As long as he starts the Fall Championship race during Race of Champions weekend in mid- September, he’ll finally have it. He’s led the points since he won the season opener back in May. Still…it comes down to the final race for him to know he has the crown firmly in his grasp. He has to take the green flag. That’s it. Everything else after that is a bonus.
He reflected on his season-to-date.
“This year has been the polar opposite of how our season usually goes,” Andrew said. “Usually we come out of the box and struggle through the first few weeks and then get stronger down the stretch. When you’re trying to win a championship, that’s not going to work. This year, we’ve been much more consistent from the first week all the way through. We did what we had to do early and then focused on maintaining. Even when we’ve been off, we’ve still been able to finish in or around the top five. Our tire management has been awesome. My father has taken good care of that. I could have lived without all the nonsense these last few weeks, but we were still able to put ourselves in position to control our own destiny for the track championship and that’s all that matters. That was the one achievement we didn’t have as a team and I really wanted to get it for us because everyone works so hard.”
The nonsense Andrew refers to was a three-week period where he was wrecked by other competitors, preventing him from locking the championship up earlier. “Stuff is going to happen in the course of a season,” Andrew said. “But some of it was total stupidity. Hopefully all of that is behind us now and everyone can go into the classic focusing on finishing and using their heads instead of on crashing each other and trying to win it on the first lap.”
Now, he focuses on adding another classic ring to his collection.
What does Andrew think it will take in order to accomplish that?
“Finding a way to beat the handicap system and start on the pole would help,” he laughed. “It’s pretty confusing. I think you have to pull a pill when you walk in the gate, then look at which direction the sun is shining, and shoot a bow through a hoop, or something like that. I don’t think there is any one person who truly understands how they determine the starting lineup, but I believe that in the last five years the winners have all started in the top five, so being one of the six fastest in time trials on Friday is going to be huge. Whatever it is, it’s the same for all of us, so if we do whatever it is better than everyone else does, we’ll probably be OK.”
While some would suggest that, with 75 laps, starting position shouldn’t be as important, Andrew explains that it’s going to be more important than ever this year. It has everything to do with the fact that this year’s starting lineup could well be the fastest field in SBS history.
“The problem with starting further back is that once everyone gets in a rhythm and gets in clean air, it gets really hard to pass. With so many really fast cars this year, you’re going to want to get up front early so you don’t wear out your stuff or get caught up in a wreck trying to work your way up through the field.”
One opportunity that it seems may have to wait is the chance to run the “big race”, the Supermodified Budweiser International Classic 200, for the big block Supers. Andrew earned a guaranteed starting spot for this year’s 200 by virtue of leading the SBS points at the end of June, but hasn’t been able to line up a ride in a Super to run the race in.
“We had a deal working, but it fell through,” he said. “It takes money to buy a ride in a Super, and we didn’t have enough for that particular deal to happen. I’d love to run that race of course, but nothing has fallen our way so far. We’ll see what this week brings, but for right now I’m focused on winning the SBS Classic. If something opens up in a Super, we definitely will be open to doing that as well. I would love to be able to use the guaranteed starting spot and run that race. You don’t get that opportunity very often.”
Anyone who has watched Andrew run the past four years at Oswego knows he belongs in a Super. They also would list him as one of the odds on favorites to win his third SBS Classic.
If lady luck and the right opportunities fall his way over the next 7 days, he just might end up doing both.