OSWEGO, NY (September 16) – On a cool overcast Saturday night at Oswego Speedway, Canajoharie, NY’s Otto Sitterly once again prevailed in the Novelis Supermodified division behind the wheel of the brand new Nicotra Racing No. 7. Based on the qualifying inversion draw Sitterly, the reigning champion of the Budweiser International Classic 200, started on the pole position and led all 75-laps to earn the top prize of $2,500 as the champion of The Post-Standard and Syracuse.com Fall Championship at the Steel Palace.
Sitterly had to hold of the late charge of Mexico, NY driver Mike Barnes on his way to the victory. Barnes passed several cars in the final circuits to close on Sitterly, but was unable to make the final pass off of the fourth corner to earn the win. The 2012 championship runner-up Pat Lavery finished in the third position ahead of Jeff Holbrook and Kody Graham in the Top 5 positions. Ray Graham, Brian Sobus, Stephen Gioia III, Dave Gruel, and Shaun Gosselin filled the Top 10 order.
“Starting position really means everything,” said Sitterly in Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane. “Mike Barnes was really coming on there at the end, so nice run for those guys. This is a great way to end the season it was just unfortunate that it was such a long race for everyone, but that is how it goes sometimes.”
Sitterly went on to comment on the newer Hawk chassis he piloted on Saturday night, which earned its first Oswego Speedway main event win.
“It will go around the outside, but it really is a handful to drive,” said Sitterly. “It sounds foolish, but it is really not that good right now. The car just isn’t that good in traffic and it changes dramatically from when you start to the end of the race. At points in time it is all over the track, it really is a handful.”
Sitterly and Randy Ritskes brought the field to green under the Cam’s NY Pizzeria starter stand with Sitterly gaining the early edge on the field. The field of 23 Supermodifieds quickly went to work, but before the first lap could be completed there was trouble on the main straightaway.
The Brian Sobus No. 60 lost the handle in front of the field causing a mad scramble for racing room on the front stretch. Several cars would tangle, blocking the race track, and forcing a red flag to be waved. Sobus, Gosselin, and Bob Bond were able to continue on however Jerry Curran, Shawn Muldoon, and Dan Connors Jr. were all forced out of the event with damage before one lap could be completed.
After the clean-up was completed the field would come back to green with Sitterly leading Ritskes, Jeff Locke, Gruel, Joe Gosek, Lavery, Barnes, Holbrook, Kody Graham, and Dave Danzer.
As the green lights flashed on, Sitterly quickly charged away from the field building a healthy lead, leaving the battle on the Speedway for the runner-up position between Ritskes and Gruel, who wasted little time in getting by the No. 37 of Locke.
As the lap counter crossed ten Sitterly was clearly in command of the field, however Gosek was beginning to make a charge in the No. 00. On lap 14 Gosek worked underneath Locke to move to fourth and began to draw in on the intense battle for second between Ritskes and Gruel. As Gosek began to look for room on the No. 88 and No. 50, those two would actually come together in turn one bringing out another caution at lap 20. Both Ritskes and Gruel would be able to continue on despite Ritskes having a small oil fire in the engine compartment of the Daratt Farms Racing machine.
With the field tightened up one more time the race for the lead would now come down to the two drivers who battled for the point during the International Classic just two weeks ago, Sitterly and Gosek.
Locke would restart third ahead of Lavery, Holbrook, Barnes, Kody Graham, Ray Graham, Danzer, and Sobus as they came back to green.
Another caution would wave on lap 20 for a spinning Hal LaTulip in turn one. LaTulip took on minor front end damage on the No. 56 and at this time race control brought on another red flag to allow teams to refuel.
After a few minute delay to fuel, the green flag would wave once again with Sitterly and Gosek taking their torrid battle away from the rest of the field. Passed lap 30 the two drivers had built a sizeable lead and looked to charge away until another caution hit the Speedway on lap 33.
Third running Locke came to a stop in turn two with a flat LF tire on the No. 37 ending another great run for the non-wing Supermodified rookie from New England. Locke’s issues would move Lavery into third for the restart.
The 33rd circuit would have a hard time being completed after the Locke caution as on two consecutive restarts cars would spin coming back to green. The first would be for the No. 50m of Bond, the second for the No. 52 of Danzer. Each driver would pull in and call it a night after their loops with finishes of 16th and 17th respectively.
The field did manage to come back to green and complete five more laps with Sitterly and Gosek pacing the field until Brandon Bellinger spun on lap 38 providing another caution on the Speedway. Bellinger would rejoin the field, but would end the night one lap down in 12th position.
After the Bellinger spin the race managed to gain some momentum with Sitterly and Gosek continuing their battle for the lead. On lap 41 Gosek looked as though he may have something for the leader, as Sitterly began to develop a major push condition in the No. 7. However, just two laps later Gosek suddenly developed problems with the No. 00 and pulled pit side, leaving Sitterly all alone in front of the field.
With 25-laps to go Sitterly held a straight away advantage on Lavery, Barnes, Holbrook on Kody Graham. But the car on the move was no doubt Barnes in the Strong Racing No. 99.
At lap 59 Barnes made a bold pass under Lavery for second in turn three and then began to turn up the wick as Sitterly hit lapped traffic. Barnes initially closed in on Sitterly, but as the defending Classic champ cleared traffic he would also clear Barnes. That all changed on lap 63 however as Keith Gilliam oiled the track with the No. 87 forcing yet another red flag.
After another quick clean-up, this time in turns one and two, Sitterly would bring the field back to green ahead of Barnes, Lavery, Holbrook, Kody Graham, Ray Graham, Sobus, Gioia, Gruel, and Gosselin.
Sitterly would get a tremendous restart on Barnes but it would all be for not as Ritskes took a wild spin down the front straight in the No. 88, but somehow managed to keep the car rolling and under power. A pre-cautionary yellow would hit the Speedway, and it would be the final caution of the grueling 75-lap event.
On the next restart Barnes would this time keep in touch with Sitterly and he stalked the No. 7 over the final ten laps of the event. Sitterly continued to tighten up in the final stages, giving Barnes one final look to the low side out of turn four on the final lap. The two cars barely touched wheels out of turn four, but it would be Sitterly powering on to his fourth win of the season with a Fall Championship triumph.
Barnes talked about his run with infield announcer Keith Zehr.
“This car doesn’t fall off as much as some of the other cars seem to,” said Barnes. “I knew we really weren’t that good, but I could tell the guys in front of me, they were going to be in trouble. Maybe if we had another twenty laps I would have had something for Otto? But you know, we’ll take second and start building for next year.”
Barnes continued to talk about his last ditch effort on the final circuit to try and steal the win.
“I was trying to be careful,” said Barnes. “The only thing I really could have done was drive over the top of him; he only gave me enough room to just get a wheel in there. There wasn’t really enough there to roll up next to him, so I just tried to keep it off the wall and roll it on the trailer.”
Lavery came home with yet another podium finish in the Lighthouse Lanes No. 22, which sustained heavy damage in the International Classic, but was repaired in time for the Fall Championship.
“This has been a great year,” said Lavery. “I obviously would have liked to have been a couple cars further up, but I really need to think my crew for getting this car back together, and maybe next year we can get a win here for everyone.”
Saturday, September 15, 2012
The Post-Standard & www.Syracuse.com
Supermodified Time Trials : 1. 22 – Pat Lavery: 16.481, 2. 00 – Joe Gosek: 16.551, 3. 50 – Dave Gruel: 16.586, 4. 37 – Jeff Locke: 16.612, 5. 88 – Randy Ritskes: 16.706, 6. 7 – Otto Sitterly: 16.716, 7. 99 – Mike Barnes: 16.723, 8. 35 – Jeff Holbrook: 16.738, 9. 21 – Kody Graham: 16.800, 10. 52 – Dave Danzer: 16.832, 11. 26 – Shaun Gosselin: 16.878, 12. 60 – Brian Sobus, 13. 1 – Shawn Muldoon: 16.973, 14. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 15. 81 – Kelly Miller, 16. 50m – Bob Bond: 17.233, 17. 02 – Brandon Bellinger: 17.281, 18. 24 – Jerry Curran: 17.343, 19. 87 – Keith Gilliam: 17.345, 20. 9 – Stephen Gioia III: 17.543, 21. 56 – Hal LaTulip: 17.564, 22. 14 – Joe Chillemi: 17.770, 23. 33 – Rod Sauder: 18.252
Feature (75-laps): 1. 7-Otto Sitterly, 2. 99-Mike Barnes, 3. 22-Pat Lavery, 4. 35-Jeff Holbrook, 5. 21-Kody Graham, 6. 11-Ray Graham, 7. 60-Brian Sobus, 8. 9-Stephen Gioia III, 9. 50-Dave Gruel, 10. 26-Shaun Gosselin, 11. 88-Randy Ritskes, 12. 02-Brandon Bellinger, 13. 37-Jeff Locke, 14. 87-Keith Gilliam, 15. 00-Joe Gosek, 16. 50m-Bob Bond, 17. 52-Dave Danzer, 18. 56-Hal LaTulip, 19. 14-Joe Chillemi, 20. 33-Rod Sauder, 21. 24-Jerry Curran, 22. 1-Shawn Muldoon, 23. 01-Daniel Connors Jr.
1st Heat (12laps/6qualify): 1. 7-Otto Sitterly, 2. 60-Brian Sobus, 3. 21-Kody Graham, 4. 50-Dave Gruel, 5. 1-Shawn Muldoon, 6. 9-Stephen Gioia III, 7. 02-Brandon Bellinger, 8. 33-Rod Sauder
2nd Heat (12laps/6qualify): 1. 26-Shaun Gosselin, 2. 88-Randy Ritskes, 3. 00-Joe Gosek, 4. 35-Jeff Holbrook, 5. 24-Jerry Curran, 6. 01-Dan Connors Jr, 7. 56-Hal Latulip, 8. 44-Bobby Haynes
3rd Heat (12laps/6qualify): 1. 52-Dave Danzer, 2. 99-Mike Barnes, 3. 22-Pat Lavery, 4. 37-Jeff Locke, 5. 11-Ray Graham, 6. 50m-Bob Bond, 7. 87-Keith Gilliam, 8. 14-Joe Chillemi