56th annual Budweiser International Classic Set for Sunday

OSWEGO, NY  – Budweiser International Classic Weekend will come to a dramatic conclusion this Sunday with the 56th running of the prestigious International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds.

Since 1957, Oswego Speedway has held the annual year end spectacular and since 1961 the event has been known as the biggest Supermodified race in the world.

Pit gates will open Sunday at 7:30 a.m. with the grandstands opening at 9:30 a.m. at the beginning of hot laps.

Otto Sitterly is the defending champion of the Budweiser International Classic 200 at Oswego Speedway (Mike Johnson Photo)
Otto Sitterly is the defending champion of the Budweiser International Classic 200 at Oswego Speedway (Mike Johnson Photo)

The entire program on Sunday will consist of only Novelis Supermodifieds, with the morning hot lap session always a sight to see as potentially 40+ Supermodifieds will take on a 90 minute open session unlike any other.

Second round time trials will hit the Speedway at noon followed by the annual Classic Weekend awards session and then the Bud Light B-Main.

After positions 15-28 are locked in through the second round of time trials, the B-Main will determine the final six starters in the International Classic.

Following the B-Main there will be a final practice session for qualified cars and then teams will begin to grid on the front straight at approximately 2 p.m.

The green flag for the International Classic 200 is set to wave at approximately 3 p.m.

A host of drivers are considered contenders for the $15,000 top prize, but multiple feature winners Otto Sitterly, Joe Gosek, Mike Barnes, and Ray Graham are likely considered favorites.

Sitterly, the defending champion of the International Classic, drove to his fifth Oswego Speedway track championship in 2012 driving the John Nicotra owned No. 7.  In last year’s International, Sitterly dueled with then teammate Mike Lichty and Graham right down to the finish, besting Lichty with a last lap pass to take the exciting win.  The victory was Sitterly’s second career Classic win adding to his triumph in 2009.

This season Sitterly unveiled a brand new Hawk chassis, which has showed tremendous speed in single car runs.  However, in the late season battle for the title the Canajoharie, NY driver found himself back in the seat of his older mount which he will run this weekend.

After a year’s absence, Indy Car veteran Davey Hamilton will again join the Nicotra stable as a teammate to Sitterly in car No. 6.  Hamilton, who first ran the International Classic in 1992, won the event in 1997 driving for Mike Muldoon.

Gosek, like Sitterly, is a two-time feature winner at the Speedway in 2012.  Gosek’s two wins now give him 42 All-Time moving him ahead of Nolan Swift on the Supermodified win list.  A 3-time winner of the Classic, Gosek ran away with the regular season finale on August 18 throwing his hat into the ring as a heavy favorite for the 200.  The last two Classic wins for Gosek came in 1992 and 2002.  Some feel luck may be on his side heading into the 2012 running of the 200.

Barnes has been one of the fastest cars at the Speedway week in and week out behind the wheel of the Strong Racing No. 99.  A dominating victory on August 11 was Barnes’ second of the season, coming from 16th on the starting grid to take the main event win.  Barnes, who ran his first International Classic in 2004, has not had much luck in the 200 but looks to turn that around this season.  The Strong team knows how to prepare a car for the Classic, and Barnes may be the perfect fit this season for a charge at the top prize.

Joining Strong Racing as a teammate to Barnes for the International Classic will be Ohio native Tim Jedrzejek.  Jedrzejek is the normal pilot of the Soule Racing No. 32 ISMA Supermodified, which won the Sandusky Hy-Miler Nationals back in July.  The Soule team will crew the Strong Racing No. 98 with ‘Timmy J’ at the wheel, as they take another crack at Classic glory.

Graham brought out his new Xtreme chassis in mid-season and immediately climbed to the top of the speed charts in the No. 90.  After getting some bugs worked out of the racecar, Graham pulled down two main event wins in a row in July, making him the early favorite for the 200 victory in 2012.  Last season, Graham charged to the front of the field and looked primed to head to victory lane, but eventually ended his day hard into the fourth turn wall dashing his run at victory.

Not only will Graham be looking for his first trip to Classic victory lane, but in the process he will be bringing three other cars into the qualifying field.

Son Kody, the $10,000 to win Mr. Supermodified victor in August, will be looking for redemption in this year’s Classic after pulling pit side just after the green in last year’s event in No. 21.

Johnny Benson, former NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series champion, will be behind the wheel of the Graham Hawk chassis No. 11.  Long-time builder and engineer, Clyde Booth, will be on the wrenches of the Benson machine which is the same car that Graham himself drove in last year’s International.  Benson ran his first Classic last season driving for the Lichty team and ended the day with a 13th place finish.

The final member of the Graham Racing stable in 2012 will be last season’s TQ Midget Classic winner Alison Cumens.  Cumens will drive the No. 12 machine, which was driven on opening day by Jessica Zemken and in last year’s Classic by Brian Sobus.  Cumens looks to become the first female to qualify for the International Classic joining Sheila Hayes and Jennifer Chesbro as the only other female drivers to attempt to qualify for the 200.

Randy Ritskes and Dave Danzer will also be considered top contenders among the drivers to have won feature events in 2012.

Ritskes earned a big win at the Speedway back on June 30 and finished third in last year’s International Classic in the Darratt Farms No. 88.  Ritskes has had several good runs in past Classic events including a second place finish in 2000 after leading 197 of the 200 laps.

Danzer finished just behind Ritskes in the 2011 Classic, coming home fourth in his first International.  Danzer went to Oswego Speedway victory lane in June of this season, and finished second in the season finale on August 18.  The Oswego driver hopes to carry that momentum into another fine run in the International Classic.

Track championship runner-up Pat Lavery hopes that his first Oswego Speedway win will be in the International Classic, just like Tim Snyder did in 2001.  Lavery has sat on the pole in the past for the Classic, driving the Lighthouse Lanes No. 22, and will be at the top of the list of potential 200 winners.

Joining Lavery is a cast of other characters including Joey Payne, Dan Connors Jr., Dave Gruel, Sobus, Shaun Gosselin, Jeff Abold, Jerry Curran and more making this year’s filed one of the deepest in recent memory.

Past Classic winners also in the field consist of Tim Snyder and Bob Bond.

Snyder, the winner of the 2001 Classic, missed the second half of the 2012 season due to a leg ailment.  Jarett Andretti filled in the driver seat of the No. 0 in the meantime, but Snyder is now cleared to run the 200 this Sunday.

Bond, the 2010 winner of the International Classic, has run just a handful of events this season but tested at the Speedway on Wednesday with a fresh Doug Holmes engine, running times in the 16.7 second bracket.

Tickets are on sale now for Budweiser International Classic Weekend through the Oswego Speedway box office, located just outside of the main pit gate at the Speedway.  To order tickets over the phone be sure to call (315) 342-0646.  Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Three day adult general admission passes are $104, while reserved three day admissions are $115.  Three day kids’ admission, ages 6-16, is $35, while children ages 5 and under are FREE for the weekend.

Individual day general admission prices are as follows: Friday – $25, Saturday – $42, and Sunday – $52.

Oswego Speedway events run May through September on most Saturday nights, culminating with the Fall Championship 75 on September 15.

For more information on Oswego Speedway be sure to visit www.oswegospeedway.com.  You can also LIKE the (Official) Oswego Speedway page at facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway, or FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway.  To purchase tickets or order merchandise please call the Speedway box office at (315) 342-0646.

                                         CLASSIC WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday, August 31 – Budweiser International Classic 200 Novelis Supermodified Top14 Time Trials; Bud Light Classic 60 Pathfinder Bank SBS Qualifying Heats; 602 Crate Dirt Sportsman Classic 30

Saturday, September 1 – ATQMRA TQ Midget 25; 21st Annual Bud Light Classic 60 for Pathfinder Bank SBS; ISMA Supermodified Supernationals 60

Sunday, September 2 – Budweiser International Classic 200 Novelis Supermodified 15-28 Time Trials; Novelis Supermodified Bud Light B-Main; 56th Annual Budweiser International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds

                      BUDWEISER INTERNATIONAL CLASSIC CHAMPIONS (1957-2011):

1957 – Jack Murphy

1958 – Billy Blum

1959 – Lee Bliss

1960 – Nolan Swift

1961 – Art Bennett

1962 – Dave Paul

1963 – Nolan Swift

1964 – Nolan Johncock

1965 – Gordon Dukes

1966 – John Benson Sr.

1967 – Nolan Swift

1968 – Nolan Swift

1969 – Bentley Warren

1970 – Jim Shampine

1971 – Nolan Swift

1972 – Nolan Swift

1973 – Ken Andrews

1974 – Jim Shampine

1975 – Gary Albritain

1976 – Steve Gioia Jr.

1977 – Warren Coniam

1978 – Chuck Ciprich

1979 – Chuck Ciprich

1980 – Jim Shampine

1981 – Doug Heveron

1982 – Doug Heveron

1983 – Ed Bellinger Jr.

1984 – Bentley Warren

1985 – Ed Bellinger Jr.

1986 – Bentley Warren

1987 – Warren Coniam

1988 – Ed Bellinger Jr.

1989 – Bentley Warren

1990 – Bentley Warren

1991 – Joe Gosek

1992 – Joe Gosek

1993 – Ed Bellinger Jr.

1994 – Ed Bellinger Jr.

1995 – Mike Muldoon

1996 – Doug Didero

1997 – Davey Hamilton

1998 – Bentley Warren

1999 – Greg Furlong

2000 – Greg Furlong

2001 – Tim Snyder

2002 – Joe Gosek

2003 – Mike Ordway

2004 – Greg Furlong

2005 – Greg Furlong

2006 – Greg Furlong

2007 – Greg Furlong

2008 – Doug Didero

2009 – Otto Sitterly

2010 – Bob Bond

2011 – Otto Sitterly