Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – Last September, Oswego’s Guard Nearbin lived out a lifelong dream in starting the Budweiser International Classic 200 behind the wheel of his self-funded No. 78 Supermodified.
After six years off from racing, the speedway veteran brought his 1994 Lavery built car back to Oswego Speedway several times last year and also to the Sandusky Speedway for the Hy-Miler, allowing Nearbin to make starts in two of the largest Supermodified events in the world during his return.
This season, Nearbin will be back in full-time form for the first occasion since his Small Block Super days as the longtime Oswego driver / crewman has now been tabbed as the wheelman of the Shark Motorsports No. 71 Supermodified.
The news comes after word getting out that car owner Ron Sharkey and his former driver Bill Sharkey had parted ways prior to the beginning of Oswego’s 2018 season.
“I guess I have been a little remiss on this, but I will not be running the Shark Motorsports 71 anymore,” Bill Sharkey announced on his Facebook page this past weekend. “After lengthy discussions it became apparent that as a team, we were not on the same page. I wish all of the team good luck and I hope for the best for all of them. I have not turned my last laps. I will be back.”
Last season Sharkey showed speed and improvement behind the wheel of his brother’s car, which is the former Syrell Racing No. 08 driven by Dave McKnight and then Mike Lichty in the 2012 and 2013 Classics.
Now, it will be Nearbin’s turn for a go behind the wheel and he is very much looking forward to getting a shot at driving what is a very capable Hawk-built piece.
“I want to thank Ronnie for giving me a shot, this will be by far the best car I’ve ever driven,” stated Nearbin, who was wrenching on the No. 71 in his Scriba race shop Wednesday evening. “It’s very exciting to have a full-time ride. If we were racing Saturday, we’d be done. It’s pretty much a roller with no wheels right now. We just have to put the headers and radiators in, oil, primer, put the body on, and scale it. It’s an exciting time for me.”
Originally, Nearbin had planned to be back with his own No. 78 this year both at Oswego as well as on the ISMA trail, but when Ron contacted him about driving the Shark car, all of those plans changed.
“For now we just plan on running Oswego with the 71 and seeing how that goes,” offered Nearbin. “I actually bought a newer motor for my car this offseason which was the motor Jerry Curran ran last year for Classic in the 24. It was a couple of months ago when I purchased that, so I’m actually still hoping to put my car together and put a wing on it.”
Nearbin’s showing at Sandusky was his first time giving the wing a try and he looks forward to doing that again this season, more than likely at a track that isn’t too far from home when ISMA rolls into Lancaster, N.Y. on Saturday, June 2.
“I really am hoping to race Lancaster,” mentioned Nearbin. “It’ll be tough because I remembered that the race used to be in July, but this year its in June so I’m hoping to get started on my car probably by next week. We’ll do that show with the wing on and maybe a couple more after the Oswego season is over depending on how everything goes.”
Although Guard has never won a feature at Oswego, he’s been a front runner before, especially in the Small Block Super class where he has four top five finishes including a couple of them that nearly wound up being feature wins. However, everyone knows just how hard it is to reach victory lane at the ‘Steel Palace’ and that’s why Nearbin is looking forward to focusing on one major goal; having a whole lot of fun.
“I’m just looking to finish the races we enter and have a lot of fun,” Nearbin said. “This is a great opportunity I have to get behind the wheel of this car and go out and drive so I want to thank Ron Sharkey again and hopefully I can make the most of it. I’m really looking forward to a good season. If we can break into some top ten finishes or maybe even a little better, that would be pretty awesome. This is very exciting.”
Nearbin will begin his 2018 campaign with Shark Motorsports at Oswego’s Open Practice session scheduled for Saturday, May 19 before returning a week later for the first ever edition of the Jim Shampine Memorial Twin 50’s on Opening Night, Saturday, May 26.