Danzer, Schartner Shine at Oswego Season Finale

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney

Dave Danzer and Andrew Schartner closed out the 2014 racing season at the Oswego Speedway on Sunday, the same way each had opened it – in victory lane. Danzer pocketed his third Novelis supermodified feature win of the year, chasing down and passing newly-crowned 2014 Track Champion, Otto Sitterly, with 17 laps remaining in the 75-lap Supermodified Sunoco Race of Champions (R.O.C.) main event.

Schartner would top off a dream season earning his third win of the year as well, wrapping up his first Pathfinder Bank Small Block Supermodified track title. He would take over the No. 1 position from John Tesoriero on the third lap of their 50-lap season finale en route to winning the event for the third consecutive year.

Listen to – Dave Danzer

Listen to – Andrew Schartner

Finishing second to Danzer in the big block supermodified 75-lapper, earned Sitterly his seventh track championship. It ties him with Oswego Speedway Hall of Famer’s Bentley Warren and Jim Shampine for second on the all-time track champions list, just one behind Nolan Swift. Sitterly has been the dominate driver in the division since 2006, winning the title seven of the last nine years. Other than his first, the Canajoharie resident has piloted a John Nicotra-owned No. 7 super to each of his track crowns.

Dan Connors, Jr. would take the early lead in the Novelis super 75 lapper, leading Brandon Bellinger, Michael Muldoon, Randy Ritskes and Stephen Gioia, III across the checkered stripe to complete lap No. 1.

Connors would begin to pull away until reaching the tail-end of the field on the 15th lap. In the midst of traffic, Muldoon would fly under Bellinger’s No. 02 and take over the runner up position. Ritskes would follow, moving in to third.

The race’s first caution flag would fly on the 20th lap after the thick of the pack scrambled to maneuver its way through the rear of the field. Gioia’s No. 9 would receive extensive damage after catching a wheel and clocking the first-turn wall hard. Kody Graham would catch a wheel and a whole lot of air as his 90 would stand up on its end, before fortunately landing on all-fours.

Dave Gruel’s hopes of catching Sitterly in the points standings took its first blow of the day with his involvement as well. Damage to Dave Shullick, Jr.’s No. 2 and Pat Lavery’s No. 22 ended the evening for each.

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Looking strong on the restart, Connors led the field back to racing. Ritskes would dive into second and tuck in behind the race leader. On the 29th lap, Sitterly would take over third from Muldoon and begin pressing the race leaders.

Sitterly would take second away from Ritskes on the 34th lap and quickly begin pressing Connors for the lead. While Sitterly was taking numerous inside looks on the Connors No. 01, Danzer would dance past Muldoon for fourth and begin working on Ritskes.

Having held off Sitterly’s No. 7 for 10 laps, Connors would get a breather after the caution flag flew on the 44th lap for a spin by Howard Page. With 43 laps in the books, Connors led Sitterly, Ritskes, Danzer and Joey Payne. Muldoon, Michael Barnes, Tim Devendorf, Shaun Gosselin and Bobby Haynes rounded out the top 10.

After having made numerous trips to the pits for adjustments while under caution, Gruel’s title hopes were officially put to rest on the ensuing restart. His No. 50 would pop the third-turn wall, ending his day.

Connors was able to hold off the No. 7 on the next restart, but Sitterly would finally get him off turn No. 4 on the 45th lap. Connors would quickly fall back to fifth the next time by and pull pit-side the following time around. His quest for career win No. 1 was over.

Listen to – Dan Connors, Jr.

As Connors was exiting, Danzer was moving past Ritskes and into second place. He now trailed Sitterly by 10 lengths, but with clear track ahead for both, he would be able to see if he had something for the race leader.

Danzer would soon find his No. 52 was inching closer to Sitterly’s No. 7. Sitterly slowed to size-up approaching lapped traffic, but Danzer never let up. Pinning Sitterly behind the Hayne’s No. 44 between the third and fourth turns, Danzer would seize the moment and take the lead on the 58th lap.

The duo would close in on heavier lapped traffic, but Danzer refused to give way, aggressively maneuvering his way through the pack. Sitterly would begin to fall back, finding traffic more difficult to navigate.

Speeding through the field, Danzer would put fourth-place running Ritskes down a lap on his 69th trip around Oswego’s fast five-eighth’s mile. With Sitterly now 20 lengths behind, Danzer would cruise his final few trips to earn the win.

Sitterly finished in second place.

Listen to – Otto Sitterly

The only other car driver on the lead lap, Payne drove his No. 99 to a third-place finish.

Listen to – Joey Payne

Thanks to Mother Nature washing out Saturday’s racing schedule, the entire day’s events were bumped to Sunday evening. Given the numerous divisions racing on R.O.C. Weekend, the small block supermodified 50-lapper didn’t take the green flag until well after midnight.

Rob Pullen would nab the early lead. However, before all of the field could navigate its way through the first turn, a mid-pack jam collected race favorites Michael Bruce, Jay Andrews, Russ Brown and upcoming rookie racer, Jesse Bearup. Andrews was able to continue, but would eventually fall out with fuel pick-up issues.

Looking for a positive way to close out an otherwise dismal 2014 season, Tesoriero would control the early lead on the complete restart in the wee ours of Monday morning. Schartner quickly moved into third, behind Pullen. Pullen would take a peek on the outside of Tesoriero on the second lap, but find Schartner scooting his way underneath him.

Jack Patrick would try and follow Schartner under Pullen, but his No. 9 and Pullen’s No. 21 would tangle in the third turn, bringing out the yellow flag.

With just two laps in, Tesoriero led Schartner, Camden Proud, Jason Simmons and Anthony Losurdo. Dan Abt, Kreig Heroth, David LaTulip, Mike Bond and Barry Kingsley rounded out the top 10.

Wasting no time, Schartner took to the high side of Tesoriero on the restart. The race lead would be his as he dove into the first turn. Running times in the 19.1 range, the race leader quickly built a 20-car length lead over his chasers. A caution flag for Andrews’ stalled No. 93 tightened up the pack.

With Schartner solid on the restart, Proud would lead a train of small blocks underneath Tesoriero on the 14th lap, bumping the former race leader to back to eighth. By the 20th lap, Schartner’s lead was back up to a near straightaway advantage.

Believing he might have something for Schartner, Simmons searched both high and low for a way around Proud’s No. 54. Further back, Losurdo, Heroth and Bond tussled for fourth place.

On lap No. 23, Bond bested Heroth on the outside for fifth. Two trips later, he would conquer Losurdo for fourth.

Schartner would approach the tail-end of the field on the 35th lap, but have no problems making his way through the field. With 10 laps remaining, Proud and Simmons would encounter the same traffic, five full seconds behind the race leader.

Battling Losurdo for second in the season-long points chase, Heroth dove under Losurdo in turn No. 1 on the 43rd lap. Just one lap later, Proud would see his impressive second-place run literally go up in smoke. The 2014 SBS Rookie of the Year’s power plant would give way on his No. 54 as he and Simmons were racing out of the fourth turn.

The caution would erase Schartner’s advantage and put Simmons on his rear bumper. However, Schartner would not be denied. Holding steady on the restart, Simmons could not muster a challenge. With Bond in third, the trio would begin to ease away from the field. Running laps in the 19.2 second range, Schartner would inch out to a five-car advantage en route to putting an exclamation point on his first track championship.

Simmons would cross the line in second.

Listen to – Jason Simmons

Driving the Denise Merrill-owned No. 67, Bond finished in third.

Listen to – Mike Bond

Heroth finished in fourth place.

Listen to – Kreig Heroth

Losurdo rounded out the top five.

Listen to – Anthony Losurdo

Novelis Supermodified Race of Champions 75: 1. Dave Danzer (52), 2. Otto Sitterly (7), 3. Joey Payne (99), 4. Shaun Gosselin (26), 5. Randy Ritskes (37), 6. Michael Muldoon (51), 7. Tim Devendorf (5), 8. Michael Barnes (68), 9. Brandon Bellinger (02), 10. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (44), 11. Bobby Santos (21), 12. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 13. Shawn Muldoon (1), 14. Dave Gruel (50) 15. Howard Page (18), 16. Jerry Curran (24), 17. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 18. Pat Lavery (22), 19. Stephen Gioia, III (9), 20. Dave Shullick, Jr. (2), 21. Kody Graham (90), 22. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 23. Gene Lee Gibson (75), 24. Hal LaTulip (56), 25. Joe Gosek (00)

Heat race wins went to Bellinger, Connors and Payne. LeVea, Sr. pocketed his first supermodified checkered flag, winning a 10-car consolation.

Pathfinder Bank SBS Race of Champions 50: 1. Andrew Schartner (18), 2. Jason Simmons (98), 3. Mike Bond (67), 4. Kreig Heroth (04), 5. Anthony Losurdo (1), 6. David LaTulip (27), 7. Dalton Doyle (01), 8. Rob Pullen (21), 9. Barry Kingsley (91), 10. Jon Tesoriero (47), 11. Matt Magner (2), 12. Jack Patrick (9). 13. Dan Abt (57), 14. Josh Kerr (8), 15. Camden Proud (54), 16. Guard Nearbin (90), 17. JJ Andrews (93), 18. Jesse Bearup (02), 19. Mike Bruce (22), 20. Russ Brown (13)

Qualifying heat wins went to Tesoriero, Heroth and Bruce.