OSWEGO, N.Y. — official track release — Bill Taylor photo —
When the green flag drops on Oswego Speedway’s 66th consecutive racing season on Saturday, May 14, the Novelis Supermodifieds will embark on their 55th consecutive campaign as the Speedway’s headline division.
Since 1962, Oswego Speedway has been the Home of the Supermodifieds, with Novelis presenting Oswego’s unique brand of racing every week since 2005.
Novelis is the world leader in rolled aluminum products, delivering unique solutions for the most demanding global applications, such as beverage cans, automobiles, architecture, and consumer electronics.
In 2016, Novelis will begin its 12th season as the title sponsor of the Novelis Supermodified division, with an historic season on tap featuring the 30th running of the $10,000 to win Mr. Novelis Supermodified event on July 23, as well as the 60th running of the prestigious Budweiser International Classic 200 on September 4.
The 2016 Novelis Supermodified lineup is shaping up to be one of the most competitive and intriguing in several years, with many top flight competitors in action and the return of independent front suspension to the Novelis Supermodified regulations.
Defending Novelis Supermodified champion, and the 2015 winner of the Budweiser International Classic 200, Bob Bond is registered and ready for opening night in the Four Sevens Motorsports No. 47. However, Bond’s weekly plans are not yet set in stone, but of course they weren’t in 2015 either. If 2016 starts as well as 2015, expect Bond to be a weekly threat to repeat as Oswego champion.
John Nicotra Racing has been hard at work preparing three Novelis Supermodifieds for its 2016 driver lineup including seven-time Speedway champion Otto Sitterly as well as 1997 Budweiser International Classic champion Davey Hamilton and 2015 ISMA Supermodified champion Dave Shullick Jr.
Sitterly and Hamilton will be on hand opening night, with Sitterly looking to capture his record-breaking eighth Supermodified title in 2016.
Since 2006, Sitterly has won the Speedway opener five times, including last season. Four of those opening night wins resulted in a track title by season’s end. Hamilton won the Oswego lid lifter in 2013, driving for Nicotra.
Both Sitterly and Hamilton will compete May 14 in Supermodifieds sporting a front axle, while the third Nicotra entry for Shullick is being converted to independent front suspension. Nicotra and Shullick hope to debut that ride in competition during the Port City 160 ‘Super Spectacle’ on May 28.
Danzer Racing will once again bring two Novelis Supermodifieds to the Speedway weekly in 2016 for driver Dave Danzer. Driving the No. 52, Danzer entered championship territory in 2015, landing one main event win and finishing just 49 points shy of the track title.
With a front row qualifying effort in last year’s Budweiser International Classic 200, along with a handful of laps led in the crown jewel, Danzer seems to have all the pieces in place to chase Bond, Sitterly, and the rest in a chase for the championship.
With the No. 52 as the primary Danzer ride, there have been no announced plans for the back-up No. 72 at this point, which was driven sparingly by Dave Cliff in ’15.
Dave Gruel was another feature winner at Oswego in 2015, and looks to once again return to the championship form he displayed in 2014, when he landed 43 points short of a first-career track title to Sitterly. Despite not coming as close to a championship in 2015, Gruel joined Danzer and Sitterly as the only three drivers within 100 points of champion Bond. Gruel will no doubt be a threat for victory on opening night in the potent No. 50.
In a surprise move this off-season, Oswego veteran Pat Lavery will move from Double Deuce Racing to sit behind the wheel of a silver Graham Racing machine this season, driving as No. 12.
Known as one of the most consistent drivers at the Speedway, car owner Ray Graham hopes that Lavery can bring the speed and consistency to the table that he did back in 2012 when he narrowly missed the title, finishing five points behind Sitterly.
Plans are for Lavery to pilot the former No. 91 Supermodified that was driven in last year’s International Classic by Bobby Santos III.
Joining Lavery in the Graham Racing stable will be the father/son duo of Ray and Kody Graham, as well as 2015 Rookie of the Year Aric Iosue. Ray is set to pilot the No. 90 machine that was abandoned half way through last season and retrofit to now be equipped with independent front suspension, while Kody is said to be driving a new Supermodified for 2016 as No. 21, built similar to that of the No. 11 Supermodified that Iosue will again compete with this season.
Added to the Graham lineup for opening day will also be defending Bud Light ISMA Super Nationals champion Timmy Jedrzejek, driving the No. 91. This racecar will be the former No. 21 driven to victory lane late last season by Kody Graham.
One of the many Oswego talents looking for their first feature win is Jeff Abold, driver of the Abold Racing No. 05. Finishing a career best sixth in the driver’s standings one year ago, Abold was the only driver finishing in the top ten in points in 2015 that has never won an Oswego Supermodified main.
After taking a couple seasons to work the bugs out of their homebuilt machine, Abold scored nine top ten finishes in 2015 marking him as one of the most consistent drivers in the field last year. Brandon Bellinger had a breakout season in 2015, earning his first career feature win, and the No. 02 will return in 2016 with a new look.
Bellinger will be one of the drivers this season sporting independent front suspension, as the Xtreme Chassis shop made the needed conversions to the racer over the offseason. Looking for an edge on the field, Bellinger believes the move will be a positive one for his team, as they search for yet another Oswego main event victory.
Joining Bellinger in the IFS camp will be two-time Speedway champion Joe Gosek in his patented No. 00 ride. Sharing time last year between his own ride and the Nicotra Racing No. 00, Gosek showed glimpses of winning speed in ’15, but believes the allowed change to IFS will make his own machine a more consistent weekly runner.
IFS had been banned from the Speedway regulations following the 2007 season, a year in which Gosek won four feature events driving his current No. 00, sporting an independent front end.
Tim Snyder and Tim Devendorf will also join the opening night roster on May 14, piloting machines used at the Speedway in 2015.
Joining them will be Syrell Racing driver Michael Barnes in the team’s No. 68 machine. The Syrell team and builder Joey Hawksby have been working away at an all new IFS Hawk chassis, but whether or not that ride will be ready for opening day is unknown.
It is known that Barnes will be in the opening night lineup for the first time in a few years, putting his hat into the ring for the track championship discussion for the first time since driving for Syrell.
Lou LeVea Jr. will be ready for opening night driving the Nicotra Racing machine wheeled by Joe Gosek in 2015. Setting his older Belfiore chassis aside, LeVea will enter the Steel Palace gates with renewed enthusiasm behind the wheel of a new No. 83.
Other confirmed weekly entrants include Dan Connors Jr., Michael Muldoon, Keith Shampine, and Hal LaTulip. Connors and Shampine are another of the weekly aces looking for career win number one. Connors will continue in 2016 with his beautiful new No. 01 ride, debuted halfway through last season. Many point to Connors as finally breaking through to victory lane this coming season.
Shampine is tabbed to pilot a brand new Chris Osetek designed IFS Super this year, once again as No. 55. Close to victory on several occasions in the past, Shampine is hoping to bounce back this season after a dismal end to his 2015 campaign at the Big O.
Fresh off two wins in 2015, Muldoon will have two Supermodifieds at his disposal in 2016. Sticking with the winning mount from 2015, the Muldoon camp has also built a brand new Supermodified for the coming year and the team will run as No. 14 and No. 15.
Muldoon will obviously be a candidate for victory at the opener, with potential plans for his back-up ride still in the air. Other drivers expected to be on hand for the opener include Bill Sharkey and Joey Moriarty.
Moriarty, who only ran the International Classic in 2015 driving his all new Hawk chassis, is said to be at the Speedway for action on May 14 and May 21 in the No. 51.
Sharkey, driving the former Syrell Racing Hawk chassis last driven by Mike Lichty, will be ready for opening night in the No. 71 and will likely end up being a weekly contender at the Speedway.
The Canadian racing shops of Gary Morton and Craig Rayvals have been working away this offseason for drivers Dave McKnight and Logan Rayvals. While neither driver has officially stated that they will be at the Speedway on May 14, look for these Supermodifieds in Oswego sooner rather than later.
The nuclear banana of Jerry Curran has also registered for the season, with his team hard at work trying to ready the No. 24 for opening night, although the team has not yet committed to the event.
Other teams registered that are not believed to be ready for May 14 include the Bob Bogwicz No. 09, the Jeff Locke No. 37 and the Strong Racing No. 99.
Kids 16 and under will again be admitted free at all Speedway events in 2016 with the exception of Budweiser International Classic Weekend and Race of Champions Weekend.
On track activity beings at Oswego Speedway on Saturday, May 7 with the annual open test session for all racing divisions. Testing will run from 1-5pm on May 7 and is free for spectators to sit in the main grandstand.
Racing action at the Speedway begins on Saturday, May 14 featuring the Speedway’s 66th consecutive opening night highlighted by the Race of Champions Modified Richie Evans Memorial 61 as well as kick-off events for the Novelis Supermodifieds and Pathfinder Bank SBS.
For more information on Oswego Speedway, visit www.oswegospeedway.com.
CREDIT: Oswego Speedway