OSWEGO, NY – Story/Photo by RaceChaser Online Senior Editor Tom Baker –
Oswego Speedway opened for their 65th straight season on Saturday night with a tripleheader that featured the Novelis Supermodifieds, the Pathfinder Bank Small Block Supermodifieds and the Richie Evans Memorial for the Race of Champions Modified Tour.
Sunshine and above average temperatures (in the 80’s) saw a strong crowd and a pit full of cars for the season’s first show.
The No. 25 of Mike Leaty and Kevin Timmerman in the No. 45 led the Modifieds down for their 75-lap feature. When the green flag flew, Leaty jumped out to the lead with Tyler Rypkema moving from third to second. Timmerman slipped back to fifth as Patrick Emerling and Tony Hanbury also passed him in the first two laps
Meanwhile, “Money Matt” Hirschman was charging from his fourteenth starting spot and was up to tenth by lap four. Hirschman and hotshoe Chuck Hossfeld both started outside the top 12, and Hossfeld had started 20th and charged his way to 14th on lap 6 as he passed the No. 53 of Brian DeFabo.
With ten laps in and no yellows appearing, the top ten went single file and settled into a racing groove. Leaty, Rypkema, Emerling, Hanbury and Rusty Smith comprised the top five followed by the No. 3 of Darren Scherer, Andy Jankowiak in the No. 57, Karl Hehr in the No. 8, T.J. Potrzebowski in the No. 51 and Hirschman. Hossfeld was running 12th.
The first yellow appeared on lap 18 when a quartet of cars tangled in turn three. Amy Catalano, Karl Hehr and Bryan Sherwood all had damage along with Nick Pecko. Daryl Lewis Jr. stopped but then pulled away without hitting anything.
Leaty, Rypkema, Emerling, Hanbury and Smith were still the top five. Rypkema, the 18-year-old second generation racer who showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season last year, was running solidly in second and keeping the leader honest prior to the yellow.
When the race got back underway the top 10 quickly spread out and settled back into single file formation. Leaty opened up about five car lengths as Rypkema stood his ground ahead of Emerling for second. Hirschman and Hossfeld, both heavy favorites going into the night, still sat 10th and 11th, respectively, while Bobby Santos in the new Ray Graham owned LFR Chassis No. 90 was mired back in 18th.
The top three began to pull away as the race progressed into the middle stages, with Leaty maintaining a dozen or so car lengths over Rypkema and Emerling. Hanbury and Smith lost touch with the leaders as Scherer, Jankowiak, Potrzebowski, Hirschman and Bobby Holmes filled the top ten.
Two yellows on lap 53 and lap 57 slowed the field temporarily but didn’t slow leader Mike Leaty. Rypkema, Emerling and Hanbury kept the pressure on through the last 20 laps or so as they pulled away from the rest of the field but Leaty was never seriously challenged as the lap counter kept rolling.
Hanbury was working the inside and outside of Emerling for third. Emerling had his hands full as he tried to steal second from Rypkema but had to play defense for third place as well! In the last four laps of the race, Emerling did everything he could to rattle the teenager Rypkema into giving up the runnerup spot but Rypkema was having none of it.
And then the white flag came out, followed by the yellow.
Lee Sharpsteen, running tenth, had a bout with the inside steel wall out of turn four as the left front tire went flat. This set up a green-white-checkered finish.
Emerling dove under Rypkema on the restart and took second as Hanbury also slipped by for third. At the checkers it was Leaty , Emerling, Hanbury, Rypkema and Smith in the top five.
RoC Richie Evans Memorial Modified heat winners – Andy Jankowiak, Rusty Smith, Brian Defabo and Mike Leaty.
Next on the agenda was the 50-lap feature for the Novelis Supermodifieds. Danny Connors and Joe Gosek (driving a Nicotra Racing car) set the pace from row one, followed by Dave Gruel and Jeff Abold in row two.
Ray Graham pitted with his No. 90 before the green and was out for the night. Tim Devendorf, who crossed the line earlier as the winner of his heat race but had blown the motor on the last lap, also did not start.
The green flag waved and Connors immediately jumped out to the lead with Gosek following. Abold, Sobus and Bond filled the top five with Sitterly and Santos right behind as the lap counter hit two. Sitterly went to work on the top side of Sobus’s No 79, just before the the first yellow flag flew on lap four.
Dave Cliff and Stephen Gioia III came together on the front stretch after Gioia apparently tagged the outside wall. Cliff ended up with heavy front end damage. Gioia also climbed out of his car, though he suffered much less damage, also had to be hooked off.
At that point, the leaderboard read Connors, Gosek, Gruel, Abold, and Sitterly. Sobus, Bond, Santos, Hamilton and Danzer rounded out the top ten.
Otto Sitterly was on the charge after the restart as he quickly passed Gruel for fourth. Hamilton, his teammate, was also charging up through the top ten as the sharp blue Nicotra Racing cars were making their presence felt.
The No. 96 of Lou Lavea, Sr. brought out yellow flag number two on lap 8 as he spun out of turn four. Brandon Bellinger also pitted at this time and returned after some adjustments.
Connors, Gosek, Abold, Sitterly and Gruel restarted in the top five but Sitterly took advantage of the restart to pass Gruel, take third and close on the bumper of his teammate Gosek. The Nicotra Racing Stable now ran second, third and eighth as Davey Hamilton quickly took 8th.
Lap 11 was wild as Gosek dove under Connors to take the lead on lap 11 and Sitterly followed him through for second. The race was on now as Sitterly went to work on Gosek as they ran away from the field.
Bond got under Connors for third on lap 15 and Santos sent Connors back to fifth with a strong outside pass for fourth on the same lap.
Gosek was driving the Nictora car for the first time in this event, but he looked like he’d been in it for years as he opened up a couple of car lengths on Sitterly until they entered traffic on lap 19 and the No. 7 closed the gap again. The crowd was cheering as the top two put on a show.
On lap 27 Sitterly found his way by Gosek, but then a yellow for a Michael Muldoon spin closed the field again and put Gosek back out front. Under the yellow, Sobus and Hamilton pitted and retired while Danzer and Snyder went for repairs.
Sitterly wasted no time on the restart going by Gosek as Daniel Connors also slowed dramatically and went to the pits and was out of the race.
When the lap board showed 29 the order now was Sitterly, Bond, GOsek, Santos and Gruel with Abold, Keith Shampine, Shaun Gosselin, Kody Graham and Pat Lavery now rounding out the top ten.
Tim Snyder brought out the yellow on lap 37 as his No. 0 spun around in turn four. The Oswego resident was able to restart but went to the pits first so the crew could look things over.
Sitterly had now seen his lead vanish, as Bond, Gosek, Santos and Gruel were now on his tail.
It didn’t matter. When the green flag flew, Otto went on “Ottopiliot”, opening up a half-straightaway lead in five laps and ran away from the field. Bond was unchallenged in second as Gosek and Santos stayed tight for third. Gruel had his hands full of Jeff Abold trying to keep the fifth spot.
Over the final 10 laps, passing was minimal as everyone established their positions and ran to the finish.
At the checkered Sitterly had a straightaway win over Bond, with Gosek, Santos and Gruel rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Abold, Shampine, Sitterly, Danzer and Lavery.
This was the fifth time Sitterly had won on opening day, tying legend Bentley Warren for opening day wins.
SMALL BLOCK SUPERMODIFIEDS
The final feature of the evening would showcase the track’s Pathfinder Bank Small Block Supermodified division for a 30-lapper. Matt Magner and Jason Simmons led the field down to the green flag.
Simmons got the jump on the green flag and took off out front but the story was the No. 22 of Mike Bruce as he charged into third and was leaning on Magner hard for second. With three in the books it was Simmons, Magner, Bruce, Doyle and Losurdo with 2014 track champion Andrew Schartner on the move as well.
Dave Cliff in the Barbeau No. 50 took fifth from Losurdo on lap four and Schartner quickly took up the challenge as his No. 18 lined up behind the No. 1 of Losurdo, an Oswego High School student.
Schartner drove around Losurdo on lap 7 to pick sixth and set sail after Cliff.
The race’s first yellow flag flew on the next lap when the No. 04 of Kreig Heroth spun out in turn four and several cars took steps to avoid. Everyone including Heroth restarted.
The top ten as we went back to racing with 8 laps complete were Simmons, Magner, Bruce, Doyle, Cliff, Schartner, Losurdo, Russ Brown, Mike Bond and Jay Andrews.
On the restart, Schartner powered up to the outside and blew by Cliff for fifth as the top five were racing hard. Losurdo went to the pits.
Matt Magner’s strong run ended with a spin off turn four as the yellow flag flew once again. he restarted at the tail but the top ten was further shaken when Mike Bond pitted his No. 74 with overheating problems.
Simmons, Doyle, Schartner, Bruce and Cliff were now the top five for the restart.
Dalton Doyle charged into the lead and Schartner dove under Bruce for third and then by Simmons for second as the No 18 was the fastest car on the track after the green. He began closing on Doyle as the No. 13 of Russ Brown popped into fourth, going by Simmons and Bruce.
The battle was on now as the race went past halfway. Schartner chased Doyle for the top spot while Brown worked furiously to get by Cliff for third. Doyle, Schartner, Cliff, Brown and Bruce were now followed by Simmons, Andrews, Alex Hoag, Jack Patrick and Camden Proud in the top 10.
Josh Kerr brought out another yellow on lap 17 as he spun on the backstretch as everyone kept their eyes on the skies with storms moving in.
The top five pulled away quickly after the restart as Doyle was trying for his first win with the Hawk Chassis No. 01. Schartner now had to worry about a strong running Cliff who was all over him with Brown following closely. Bruce fell back a bit in fifth as we moved into the final 10 laps.
Schartner charged into turn three on the outside trying to get by Doyle on lap 22 but had to fall back to second. The Charlotte, North Carolina racer new he wouldn’t have many more chances and was trying to make something happen. Cliff was holding Brownie off for third as Bruce ran a solid fifth.
Schartner gave it a valiant effort on the night but it was not to be as Dalton Doyle took his 2014 Hawk Chassis to victory lane for the first time on opening day of 2015! Schartner finished second followed by Cliff, Brown and Bruce.
“I’m ecstatic,” Doyle said in victory lane. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. To win in a car you built yourself is special and I need to thank everyone who has helped me!”
It was a summer-like night at the Oswego Speedway and the racing was over by 9:30 pm with no interference from mother nature. The 65th season at Oswego Speedway continues in two weeks with the running of the Port City 160. The ISMA Supers will join the Novelis Oswego Supers on the card for the first time in many years for the Jack Murphy Memorial and Jim Shampine Memorial races, respectively. The Pathfinder Bank Small Block Supers will also be on the card for their Tony White Memorial, all on Saturday, May 23rd.
RoC Modified Richie Evans Memorial
1 – Mike Leaty
2 – Patrick Emerling
3 – Tony Hanbury
4 – Tyler Rypkema
5 – Rusty Smith
6 – Daren Scherer
7 – TJ Potrzebowski
8 – Matt Hirschman
9 – Bobby Holmes
10 – Tommy Cloce
11 – Brian Defebo
12 – Chuck Hossfeld
13 – George Skora
14 – Andy Jankowiak
15 – Bobby Santos III
16 – Tommy Catalano
17 – Kevin Timmerman
18 – Lee Sharpsteen
19 – Daryl Lewis Jr
20 – Kirk Totten
21 – Jim Storace
22 – Bryan Sherwood
23 – Karl Hehr
24 – Jimmy Steffenhagen Jr
25 – Nick Pecko
26 – Amy Catalano
27 – Sam Fullone
DNS: Chris Ridsdale & Doug Reaume
Lap Leaders: 1-75 Leaty
NOVELIS SUPERMODIFIED 50
1. 7 – OTTO SITTERLY, 2. 47 – Bob Bond, 3. 00 – Joe Gosek, 4. 91 – Bobby Santos, 5. 50 – Dave Gruel, 6. 05 – Jeff Abold, 7. 55 – Keith Shampine, 8. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 9. 52 – Dave Danzer, 10. 22 – Pat Lavery, 11. 21 – Kody Graham, 12. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 13. 11 – Aric Iosue, 14. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr, 15. 0 – Tim Snyder, 16. 01 – Dan Connors, 17. 79 – Brian Sobus, 18. 96 – Lou LeVea Sr, 19. 6 – Davey Hamilton, 20. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 21. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 22. 06 – Dave Cliff, 23. 56 – Hal LaTulip
Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger: #51 Michael Muldoon
Lighthouse Lanes Up and Comer: #91 Bobby Santos
Radical Racegear Lap Leader: #7 Otto Sitterly
Heat #1 (12-laps): 1. 05 – Jeff Abold, 2. 91 – Bobby Santos, 3. 6 – Davey Hamilton, 4. 00 – Joe Gosek, 5. 0 – Tim Snyder, 6. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 7. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 8. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 9. 51 – Michael Muldoon
Heat #2 (12-laps): 1. 50 – Dave Gruel, 2. 79 – Brian Sobus, 3. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 4. 21 – Kody Graham, 5. 55 – Keith Shampine, 6. 90 – Ray Graham, 7. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 8. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr.
Heat #3 (12-laps): 1. 47 – Bob Bond, 2. 52 – Dave Danzer, 3. 22 – Pat Lavery, 4. 01 – Dan Connors, 5. 96 – Lou LeVea Jr., 6. 11 – Aric Iosue, 7. 06 – Dave Cliff, 8. 5 – Tim Devendorf
PATHFINDER BANK SMALL BLOCK SUPERMODIFIEDS
1. 01 – DALTON DOYLE, 2. 18 – Andrew Schartner, 3. 50 – Dave Cliff, 4. 13 – Russ Brown, 5. 22 – Mike Bruce, 6. 93 – JJ Andrews, 7. 98 – Jason Simmons, 8. 7 – Alex Hoag, 9. 9 – Jack Patrick, 10. 04 – Kreig Heroth, 11. 54 – Camden Proud, 12. 69 – Mark Castiglia, 13. 91 – Barry Kingsley, 14. 99 – Dennis Rupert, 15. 1 – Anthony Losurdo, 16. 71 – Ray Sand Jr, 17. 8 – Josh Kerr, 18. 87 – Matt Magner, 19. 97 – Jeremy Pitcher, 20. 74 – Mike Bond, 21. 44 – Zach Amo
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger: #69 Mark Castiglia
Nice Price Auto Sales Up and Comer: #54 Camden Proud
White’s Car Care 4th Place: #13 Russ Brown
Sherwood Racing Wheels Lap Leader: #01 Dalton Doyle
Bacc-Off Hard Luck Award: #87 Matt Magner
In Memory of Rosemary Myers $50 Bonus: #9 Jack Patrick
Heat #1 (10-laps): 1. 01 – Dalton Doyle, 2. 50 – Dave Cliff, 3. 22 – Mike Bruce, 4. 87 – Matt Magner, 5. 73 – Alex Hoag, 6. 97 – Jeremy Pitcher, 7. 99 – Dennis Rupert
Heat #2 (10-laps): 1. 1 – Anthony Losurdo, 2. 18 – Andrew Schartner, 3. 9 – Jack Patrick, 4. 04 – Kreig Heroth, 5. 54 – Camden Proud, 6. 91 – Barry Kingsley, 7. 44 – Zach Amo
Heat #3 (10-laps): 1. 74 – Mike Bond, 2. 93 – JJ Andrews, 3. 13 – Russ Brown, 4. 98 – Jason Simmons, 5. 8 – Josh Kerr, 6. 71 – Ray Sand Jr., 7. 69 – Mark Castiglia, 8. 15 – James Babcock
“Ottopilot” courtesy of my first boss, Oswego Palladium Times Sports Editor Mike Lebeouf