OSWEGO, NY (September 15, 2013) – The Novelis Supermodified Road to the Championship came to an end Saturday night at Oswego Speedway with Canajoharie, NY’s Otto Sitterly once again conquering the ‘Steel Palace’ on Davis Bros., Inc. Fall Championship Weekend.
Sitterly started from the sixth position in the 75-lap season finale, blasted by point rival Joe Gosek on lap 16 for the runner-up spot, and then stole the lead from Michael Barnes on lap 44 to cruise onto his fourth victory of the season giving Sitterly a 13-point edge on Gosek for his sixth career Oswego Supermodified track title.
Sitterly, Gosek, and Shaun Gosselin entered the final Novelis Supermodified point event of the season separated by just 22-points, with Sitterly holding an 11-point edge on Gosek.
That lead would shrink to just 7-points prior to feature time after Sitterly spun in his qualifying heat race, driving hard with Budweiser International Classic champion Bob Bond.
Despite Gosek’s second place finish in his heat race, the driver of the No. 00 did not have enough come feature time to hold off Sitterly in the Nicotra Racing No. 7, as Gosek would have to settle for a runner-up finish in the main and the point championship.
Pat Lavery charged on hard at race’s end for the third position ahead of Barnes and Bond in the top five feature positions.
Sitterly spoke with infield announcer Keith Zehr in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane.
“The lapped traffic was actually a lot of fun,” said Sitterly. “The car was pretty good, that is Davey Hamilton’s car right there that is the car that was in the wall two weeks ago. We put it back together all fresh and after I put my car in the wall a few weeks back it just hasn’t been the same, it used up the right rear tire in the Classic like it has never done before, so something isn’t quite right there. We’ll take my car back together and straighten it out, but this car doesn’t need much of anything.”
Sitterly went on to comment on his heat race spin, racing with Bond.
“You know, you can take it easy out there,” said Sitterly. “But, Pat Lavery came over after that spin and said to me ‘what are you doing out there’, and I told him, ‘Well, I was racing’.”
With a total of six track titles on his side now at Oswego Speedway, Sitterly is on the cusp of entering historic territory with the likes of Shampine, Warren, and Swift.
“I’ve got a lot of appreciation for everyone that has ever done anything for me,” said Sitterly. “None of these championships is any better than the other; they are all very special to me. This was a tough year; this racing game is not easy for anybody here. There were a lot of emotional highs and lows and that can be tough.”
Keith Shampine and Barnes brought the 23-car Novelis Supermodified field to the Cam’s NY Pizzeria green flag with Barnes shooting out into the early race lead in the Strong Racing No. 99, but before one lap could be completed Supermodified new-comer Rob Pullen spun down the back chute in the Sharkey Motorsports No. 71.
Pullen, a long time veteran of the Pathfinder Bank SBS series, made his debut Saturday in the No. 71 but headed pit side after his spin.
On the restart Barnes again shot to the lead pulling championship hopeful Gosek with him into the runner-up spot form the outside of row number two. Gosek began to charge hard at the No. 99, needing at least one position between himself and Sitterly at race end to try and claim the championship.
From sixth, Sitterly quickly found the back bumper of Gosek, charging around Shampine in the third turn on lap 2.
From there a three car runaway ensued with Barnes, Gosek, and Sitterly leading the pack.
By lap 10 the front three had built a full straightaway advantage on Shampine, Brandon Bellinger, and fellow championship hopeful Gosselin running fourth through sixth on the Speedway. Gosselin could see Gosek and Sitterly checking away in pursuit of Barnes, and in two consecutive laps worked passed Bellinger and Shampine to climb to fourth, putting the top three in the championship in line on the fast 5/8 mile.
By the 15th circuit lapped traffic was already becoming a factor as Gosek was all over the rear deck of Barnes as they worked to the high side of slower cars. Sitterly sat back, waiting for an opportunity, and on lap 16 he would get it.
Gosek set himself up to work to the high side of Rookie of the Year Tony Steiner, and in doing so left the low lane open. As the trio of Steiner, Gosek, and Sitterly worked into the third turn, Gosek faltered slightly allowing Sitterly all he needed to blast ahead to the low side into the wide open third corner.
Sitterly would now ride second behind Barnes, putting himself in full control of his sixth Speedway championship.
Once cleared from traffic Barnes, Sitterly, and Gosek worked away on their own with Gosselin still riding in fourth keeping the championship battle honest.
On lap 23 Gosselin gained his first opportunity to race with the front runners as Lou LeVea Sr. found the back stretch wall in the No. 66 to bring out the caution. LeVea was ok, but the car was hooked off the Speedway.
As the green lights came back on Barnes led Sitterly, Gosek, Gosselin, Shampine, Bellinger, Dan Connors Jr., Lavery, Bond, and Dave Danzer in the top ten.
Once again the front three proved they were the fastest cars on the Speedway at the time, building another full stretch advantage on Gosselin in the matter of only a few laps.
With the lead trio checked out, the race further back was on between Lavery and Bond as they worked their way through the field. After restarting 8th and 9th on the grid at lap 23, Lavery and Bond managed to fly through the pack taking advantage of a slowing Shampine by lap 30 to move to 5th and 6th.
With all eyes briefly on Lavery and Bond working their way through the field, all eyes quickly turned back to the lead as lapped traffic again came into the mix by lap 36.
It was becoming evident that the Barnes No. 99 was picking up a push as the race wore on, and Sitterly seemed poised to take advantage. That was if he could hold of Gosek, who was still pressing hard to try and gain valuable championship points.
On lap 42 Gosek gave it one last ditch effort in traffic as he and Sitterly came up to lap the No. 24 of Jerry Curran going into the third turn.
Sitterly chose the low lane while Gosek shot high, looking as though he may be able to take advantage of Sitterly in traffic. However, the low lane was the fast lane, and Sitterly was able to sustain his runner-up position and now knew with Gosek on his heels he needed to charge at Barnes.
Just two laps later Barnes again developed a push to the top of the Speedway trying to lap the No. 02 of Bellinger, leaving the inside lane open for Sitterly to charge to point on lap 44 out of turn four.
With Sitterly now in clean air he sped away from the pack, lapping cars with ease, building a full straight advantage on Barnes in second.
As Sitterly took the lead, Lavery and Bond continued their spirited battle through the field, gaining another partner in the No. 26 of Gosselin.
Lavery, Gosselin, and Bond swapped positions back and forth for several laps with Lavery finally holding tight to the fourth spot on lap 68. Bond would follow through three laps later, dropping Gosselin to 5th in the order.
With Sitterly in a world of his own out front, Barnes began to back slide very late in the going, losing the second position to Gosek on lap 73 before dropping off the podium to Lavery on the final circuit of the 75-lap event.
Sitterly meanwhile comfortably hustled on to the win with his fist raised in the air as a 6-time Oswego Speedway Novelis Supermodified track champion.
Gosek, Lavery, Barnes, Bond, Gosselin, Dave Shullick Jr., Danzer, Joey Payne, and Bobby Haynes Jr. completed the Fall Championship 75 top ten positions.
Sitterly’s sixth track title brings him one step closer to Jim Shampine and Bentley Warren, who each won seven Supermodified championships at Oswego Speedway.
Legend Nolan Swift remains the all-time track title holder at Oswego with eight. Four of those championships came in the A-Modified era, with another four in the modern era of Supermodified racing at the Speedway.
Gosek, who was in search of his third Speedway championship, commented on his evening and year as a whole at the Speedway.
“Well, we gave it everything we had,” said Gosek. “We came in here with a bit of an unknown. I changed the set-up before Classic and never really got to race it, so we got what we got, second. Not good enough tonight. It has been a long year. We struggled, we didn’t get a win, I was hoping to here tonight. But, that is the way it goes, we just weren’t good enough.”
Lavery was very happy with his late race charge to third.
“I had a ball out there tonight,” said Lavery. “We started in the back and picked our way through traffic, racing with Bobby Bond there that was a lot of fun, he is a great racer. I just had a fabulous time with all these guys. My hat is off to the crew guys, they really set me up a great car tonight, maybe if we had a caution we could have done something there because we really had a great car tonight.”
Gosselin’s sixth place finish was enough to secure the Oswego native with a third place finish in the series standings, a career best by far.
Shampine, Barnes, and Connors took wins in Shell Shock Custom Helmet Paint heat races on Saturday.
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Saturday, September 14th, 2013
Davis Bros. Inc. Fall Championship Weekend
Feature (75-laps): 1. 7-Otto Sitterly, 2. 00-Joe Gosek, 3. 22-Pat Lavery, 4. 99-Michael Barnes, 5. 47-Bob Bond, 6. 26-Shaun Gosselin, 7. 2-Dave Shullick Jr., 8. 52-Dave Danzer, 9. 20-Joey Payne, 10. 44-Bobby Haynes Jr., 11. 50-Dave Gruel, 12. 55-Keith Shampine, 13. 24-Jerry Curran, 14. 02-Brandon Bellinger, 15. 23-Clayton Brewer III, 16. 07-Tony Steiner, 17. 01-Dan Connors Jr., 18. 51-Michael Muldoon, 19. 83-Lou LeVea Jr., 20. 66-Lou LeVea Sr., 21. 56-Hal LaTulip, 22. 14-Joe Chillemi, 23. 71-Rob Pullen
1st Heat (12-laps/All Qualify): 1. 55-Keith Shampine, 2. 47-Bob Bond, 3. 50-Dave Gruel, 4. 7-Otto Sitterly, 5. 44-Bobby Haynes Jr, 6. 23-Clayton Brewer III, 7. 66-Lou LeVea Sr, 8. 56-Hal LaTulip
2nd Heat (12-laps/All Qualify): 1. 99-Michael Barnes, 2. 00-Joe Gosek, 3. 22-Pat Lavery, 4. 52-David Danzer, 5. 51-Michael Muldoon, 6. 2-Dave Schullick Jr, 7. 07-Tony Steiner, 8. 14-Joe Chillemi
3rd Heat (12-laps/All Qualify): 1. 01-Dan Connors Jr, 2. 02-Brandon Bellinger, 3. 26-Shaun Gosselin, 4.24-Jerry Curran, 5. 20-Joey Payne, 6. 71-Rob Pullen, 7. 83-Lou LeVea Jr
PHOTO CREDIT: Bill Taylor