OSWEGO, N.Y. — Story by Race Chaser Online Senior Editor Tom Baker — Oswego Speedway audio — Bill Taylor photo —
When Fall Championship Night began at the famed Oswego Speedway, Bobby Bond held a 12.5 point lead over seven-time Novelis Supermodified track champion Otto Sitterly, and his brother Mike Bond was 6.5 points ahead of Dave Cliff and 18.5 points ahead of defending champion Andrew Schartner in the Small Block Supermodified division.
Rains overspread Central New York and before a race was run, the entire program had to be postponed to Sunday afternoon.
When the final checkered flag flew, neither brother won the race — but both won their respective wars as Four Seven Motorsports swept both championships and Mike and Bobby became the first-ever sibling act to win the track championship in the same year.
Sitterly won the Supermodified race and Dalton Doyle took down the Small Block Supermodified event.
Once qualifying heat races were over, Tim Devendorf and Tim Snyder led the field down and set the pace in the 75-lap Supermodified feature. Devendorf jumped out front while Sitterly shot from fourth to second and Jeff Abold followed him into third. That shuffled Snyder to fourth ahead of Dave Cliff by lap five. On that lap, Bobby Bond blasted by both Michael Barnes and Cliff to take over fourth.
Sitterly bumped wheels with Devendorf on lap seven going for the lead in turn one as the crowd gasped, but everyone kept going. Sitterly took over the lead with Abold, Devendorf, Bond and Danzer now the top five.
Five laps later, caution waved for the first time as Devendorf’s No. 5 stopped on the track, with a drive shaft possibly being the culprit. Barnes pitted but returned to action and eyes were on the No. 7 of leader Sitterly as his right rear appeared to have a bit of a wobble.
When the green flag came back out, Shullick moved quickly to fifth with his Nicotra Racing No. 2, shuffling Snyder back to sixth. Sitterly and Bond were now first and third, with Abold in the middle, and fans realized if it finished this way, Otto would have his record-tying eighth track championship.
Shullick’s strong run ended on lap 18 when he slowed and pulled to the pits and out of the action.
The second yellow of the event happened on lap 20 when Shawn Muldoon spun his No. 1 on the front straightaway and Mike Barnes, trying to avoid, caught the Muldoon car slightly and damaged one of the front wings on his No. 68. Barnes went off on the tow truck while Muldoon was pushed into the pits.
Both were done for the day, and 19 of the original 25 starters were still on the track at that point.
The No. 7 of Sitterly got a huge jump on the restart as the field sorted out into single file fashion quickly. Danzer was working on the back of Bond for third, but Bond was winning that battle. Sitterly built up a straightaway lead, and everyone wondered if Bond, needing just one more spot to hang onto the points lead and win the championship, might be just saving his tires for a strong run at the end.
Debris caused the third yellow of the event on lap 34 as a part from the Ron Silk No. 91 fell off on the track, bringing the high-flying Sitterly back to the field again. Sitterly, Abold, Bond, Danzer and Ray Graham still ran first through fifth.
Bond went to work on the back of the Abold No. 05 and passed him for the second spot on lap 35. That was the spot Bond needed, as it put him in the position to win the championship if he could hang on.
The race continued to have issues staying green though. Lap 42 saw another yellow flag wave as Dave Cliff’s No. 72 had a mechanical failure. He pitted, as did Brian Sobus in his No. 79, but Sobus returned before the restart.
Bond did not challenge Sitterly for the lead when the race went back to green, knowing he was in control of the title race, while Abold still ran third and Danzer fourth. Brandon Bellinger finally worked his way into fifth, making the pass of Snyder on lap 34.
Also coming on strong were the No. 00 of Joe Gosek and the No. 91 of Ron Silk, and they passed Snyder at the same time, moving to seventh and eighth, respectively.
Yellow number five came over the track on lap 45 as the No. 9 of Stephen Gioia crashed in turn four, causing heavy front end damage. The cars were brought to a red flag for refueling due to the high number of caution laps, while Gioia was carefully removed from his car and transported to the Oswego Hospital for further examination.
When the action got back underway, the No. 00 of Joe Gosek went on a tear. “Go Joe” took sixth from Gruel then blasted by Bellinger and into fifth before the 52 lap mark went up on the board. Sitterly pulled a half-straightaway lead and Bond was sitting all alone in second, unchallenged, and in the points lead.
The top ten at lap 60 read Sitterly, Bond, Abold, Danzer, Gosek, Bellinger, Gruel, Gosselin, Silk and Sobus. Sitterly was comfortably in front with Bond remaining a secure second.
Silk went underneath Gosselin and went by for eighth place with 11 laps left as the Modified hotshoe continued to get comfortable in his first ever Supermodified outing.
As the leaders approached traffic with five to go, Dave Danzer got by Bellinger, Bellinger made contact with Gosek and got him sideways as Silk and Gruel slid in and the track became blocked in turn two. Officials put out the red as a precaution.
Everyone but Bellinger got back underway and the green back out on lap 70. Sitterly pulled away one last time from Bond, Danzer, Abold and Gruel.
The battle for fourth through tenth got hot again in the final five laps as Gruel and Silk both got by Abold, but at the checkered flag it was Sitterly who won the battle, while Bobby Bond finished second and won the war and his first-ever Oswego Speedway Supermodified track championship by a scant 3.5 points.
Danzer came across in third, Gruel finished fourth and Ron Silk rounded out the top five in his first ever Supermodified appearance.
But the story of the day was all about Bond, who swept both the Budweiser International Classic as well as the season-long points title.
“We didn’t expect to run the whole season,” Bond admitted. “We just started off running good and kept going. We didn’t make the decision to go for it until midseason. This has been quite a year.”
“We’ll have to see about next year — we’re not sure yet. We’ll see what happens. Thank you to everyone who played a part in this championship run.”
After the race, Sitterly was gracious and humble of his defeat, paying respect to Bond on the hard-fought fight.
“Congratulations to Bobby Bond and his whole team on their championship,” Sitterly said. “They did what you have to do. We had the fastest car most weeks but we had too many silly mistakes and just didn’t finish races we needed to in order to win. We’ll be back next year and we have something to fight for now. We’re going to fight to knock Bobby Bond off the top!”
The Small Block Supers lined up for their 50 lap finale with Camden Proud and Mark Castiglia making up the front row and 13 cars still in mathematical contention for the championship.
Proud jumped out front with Dalton Doyle, one of the four leading drivers in the title fight, quickly to second. Doyle took the lead with an outside move in turn one on lap three, shuffling Proud to second with Castiglia third followed by two more championship contenders — Andrew Schartner and Dave Cliff.
The first caution flag fell on lap five when James Babcock spun his No. 15 in turn two. He restarted under his own power and rejoined the field at the tail.
Doyle, Proud, Castiglia, Schartner and Cliff were top five at this point with Alex Hoag, Jack Patrick, Greg O’Connor, Dennis Richmond and retiring J.J. Andrews (in his final race at Oswego) rounding out the top ten. Mike Bond was running 11th at that stage of the event.
On the ensuing restart, second and third tangled as Proud and Castiglia got together and the yellow came right back out. Both cars were sent to the rear as the top five now read Doyle, Schartner, Cliff, Hoag and Patrick.
Doyle pulled away on the restart while Bond charged from ninth to fifth in five laps and reeled in fourth place Hoag. Bond raced the No. 7 high and low for several laps with Hoag stubbornly holding onto fourth as the top three were each running by themselves.
Finally, with 17 laps going in the books, Bond got a good run underneath Hoag and took over fourth, setting sail after Doyle, Schartner and Cliff.
At halfway, Schartner was trying to close on leader Doyle, running identical lap times, but slower traffic was playing a part in the chase.
Dennis Richmond spun on the front straightaway on lap 26, bringing out another caution. Doyle now had Schartner once again on his tail for the restart, but the biggest winner in the exchange was fourth place Mike Bond, who was able to close up on the power trio in front of him.
Doyle once again powered away when the green waved, as Schartner, Cliff, Bond and Hoag settled into their own real estate heading into the final 20 laps. It was the final two laps, however, that had some drama as the yellow waved again on lap 48 for Greg O’Connor’s stalled racer in turn four.
Schartner had been a bit faster in the previous five or six laps, but Doyle had a lead. Now it was Doyle, Schartner, Cliff, Bond and Hoag racing for the restart with Bond claiming the title in that scenario.
And that was the exact scenario that played out, because as hard as Schartner tried, he couldn’t stay with the No. 01 of Doyle, who won the race as Bond became the track champion by 5.5 points over Cliff.
“I can’t thank all my sponsors and Denise (Merrill, car owner) for letting me drive this car and sticking with me through my good and bad times,” Mike Bond said. “This is a great day for Four Sevens Motorsports, winning both championships!”
NOTES: SBS Racer Camden Proud had a transmission break on his No. 54 in practice but the team had the car ready for his heat… Former Indy Racing League star Adrian Fernandez was on hand to watch the action, and was quite impressed with the Supermodifieds… Ray Graham moved into Kody Graham’s No. 21 on Sunday when Kody could not make it back for the rain date, while Silk ran some impressive 17.0 second laps right out of the gate in practice before picking the entire front end of the car up off the ground two straight laps on the back straightaway in heat race action trying to get through to a qualifying spot…
RESULTS: Fall Championship 125; Oswego Speedway; September 20, 2015
Novelis Supermodified Fall Championship (75-laps): 1. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 2. 47 – Bob Bond, 3. 52 – Dave Danzer, 4. 50 – Dave Gruel, 5. 91 – Ron Silk, 6. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 7. 05 – Jeff Abold, 8. 00 – Joe Gosek, 9. 79 – Brian Sobus, 10. 22 – Pat Lavery, 11. 0 – Tim Snyder, 12. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 13. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr., 14. 24 – Jerry Curran, 15. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 16. 72 – Dave Cliff, 17. 21 – Ray Graham, 18. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 19. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 20. 1 – Shawn Muldoon, 21. 68 – Michael Barnes, 22. 88 – Ryan Litt, 23. 2 – Dave Shullick Jr., 24. 5 – Tim Devenford, 25. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr.
Audio with race winner Otto Sitterly:
Audio with race runner-up and divison champion Bobby Bond:
Pathfinder Bank SBS Fall Championship (50-laps): 1. 01 – Dalton Doyle, 2. 18 – Andrew Schartner, 3. 50 – Dave Cliff, 4. 74 – Mike Bond, 5. 7 – Alex Hoag, 6. 9 – Jack Patrick, 7. 99 – Rob Pullen, 8. 93 – JJ Andrews, 9. 1 – Anthony Losurdo, 10. 98 – Jason Simmons, 11. 87 – Matt Magner, 12. 14 – Alex McRae, 13. 24 – Dennis Richmond, 14. 90 – Greg O’Connor, 15. 76 – Scott Shafer, 16. 15 – James Babcock, 17. 91 – Barry Kingsley, 18. 97 – Jeremy Pitcher, 19. 04 – Kreig Heroth, 20. 54 – Camden Proud, 21. 69 – Mark Castiglia, 22. 71 – Ray Sand Jr.
Audio with division champion Mike Bond:
About the Writer
Tom Baker is the Owner and Senior Editor of Race Chaser Online, as well as creator of the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show — airing Thursdays at 7 p.m. Eastern on the Performance Motorsports Network.
With 27 years of motorsports media, marketing and managerial experience, Baker serves as coach and mentor for several next generation racers, as well as Race Chaser’s passionate lineup of rising motorsports journalists.
Email Tom at: AskCoachTom@carolina.rr.com
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