OSWEGO, NY – David Danzer continued his consecutive season win streak on Saturday night at Oswego Speedway, driving to Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane in the 53rd annual Novelis Supermodified Kickoff presented by Mitchell’s Speedway Press and Planet Fitness.
The victory is Danzer’s fourth career Novelis Supermodified triumph, giving the Oswego driver wins in each of his first four seasons dating back to 2011. Four Oswego Speedway victories now ties Danzer with Johnny Logan and Nolan Johncock on the all-time Novelis Supermodified win list at the Speedway.
The Danzer No. 52 started the 50-lap Novelis Supermodified main from the fifth position and stole the lead from longtime race leader Jeff Abold on lap 42 to lead the final eight circuits on his way to victory.
Danzer quickly gained enough space on the field to allow himself to cautiously work lap traffic leading Otto Sitterly, Bob Bond, Brian Sweeney, and Abold across the line in the front five positions.
With the victory Danzer becomes the 36th different driver to win the headline opening night main at Oswego Speedway.
“The car the first couple laps was a little loose, but Jeff Abold just ran a great race,” said Danzer in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane. “He (Abold) was running really good and I didn’t think I was going to be able to get him, but it looked like he loosened up a little bit and I had to bonsai him a little bit in turn three there. I got a little nervous with lapped traffic at the end; I could see Otto (Sitterly) moving up the board and the four guys in front of me couldn’t decide what they wanted to do so I kind of rode there and hoped nobody pulled up alongside me.”
Danzer, who referred to his winning mount Saturday as his ‘back-up’ car, is awaiting completion of a brand new Hawk Supermodified chassis but was more than pleased with his ride Saturday night.
“This car was great tonight,” said Danzer. “We tried something a little bit different right off the trailer and it worked so I think we will keep it that way. This is our back-up car so I can’t wait to get that new one out now.”
Joey Payne, Michael Muldoon, Ray Graham, Brandon Bellinger, and Pat Lavery completed the top ten running order in the Novelis Supermodified main Saturday night.
Before racing action got under way Saturday time trials were conducted to help set the heat racing lineups for the evening with defending Budweiser International Classic champion Bob Bond turning a historical lap around the fast 5/8 mile oval.
Bond blistered the former track record of 16.212 seconds, held by Doug Didero, with an amazing lap of 16.098 seconds inching even closer to the magical 15-second bracket. In Classic Weekend testing one year ago Bond also turned a lap of 16.0 seconds, but it had never been done in an officially recorded lap until Saturday night.
Abold and Muldoon led the Novelis Supermodified Kickoff field to the Cam’s Pizzeria green flag on Saturday night with Abold gaining the edge in his homebuilt No. 05 Abold chassis.
Jeff, the son of 1992 Oswego Speedway Novelis Supermodified track champion Pat Abold, had issues with the No. 05 machine in 2013 but the bugs were certainly worked out by the opener this season as he quickly paced his way to a comfortable lead in the A&P Automotive machine.
With Abold out front, caution lights would wave for the first time on lap two as Randy Ritskes, driving the Locke Crane Services No. 37, found himself backed into the turn two wall. Ritskes went pit side for repairs and returned for just one lap ending the evening 18th overall.
With green lights back on the action heated up as Dave Gruel, Joe Gosek, and Danzer began to position themselves on their charge to the front of the field.
Gruel, who started eighth in his new Hawk chassis, first shot to the high side of Danzer to take the fourth position while Gosek blasted around Muldoon into turn one to take second by lap four.
With Abold leading, Gosek second, and Muldoon third; Gruel and Danzer continued to battle for the fourth spot, swapping the position on more than one occasion. Finally, on lap 13 Gruel was able to secure the spot in the No. 50 out of turn four.
Just four laps later however, as Gruel was applying heavy pressure to Muldoon, the brakes on the No. 50 machine failed sending Gruel directly into the back of the Muldoon No. 51 in the first corner.
Muldoon would go around in the No. 51 bringing on the caution lights as Gruel headed pit side with no brakes. The Gruel No. 50 coasted through the pit lane, unable to stop, but was secured and brought back to his pit for minor repairs. Gruel went back on track for a short period, but ended the night in 13th position.
After a great showing early on, Muldoon would have to restart at the tail of the field in the new Muldoon chassis.
When the race came back to green Abold led Gosek, Danzer, Sweeney, Bond, Sitterly, Payne, Bellinger, Lavery, and Tim Devendorf.
As the Burritt Motors Chevy Silverado pace truck pulled in off the back straight Abold shot away as if something was wrong with the Gosek No. 00, and indeed there was. Gosek, the two-time Speedway champion, pulled the No. 00 low on the front stretch and headed to pit lane with little to no power. The Gosek crew quickly pulled the hood as if a plug wire was loose, which was not the case, and unfortunately the issue could not be determined in time to get Double ‘0’ Joe back on track.
With Gosek in the pits Danzer now moved to the runner-up spot behind Abold and the race was now on for the point.
As the race turned to halfway on lap 25, Danzer had caught the Abold machine, and each had checked away from the remainder of the field leaving two tremendous battles on track for podium positions.
With Danzer hounding Abold at the head of the field, Bond and Sitterly had now closed on Sweeney for the third position. Both Bond and Sitterly started the 50-lap main from the sixth row, being the fastest two cars in time trials, and the No. 47 and No. 7 stayed glued to each other for the entire feature go slicing their way through the pack.
With Bond looking to the low side of Sweeney on several occasions, Sitterly would counter trying the high side of the Speedway on Bond. On more than one occasion Sitterly could get the run he needed on the top side into turn four, but would simply run out of racing room on the front stretch.
The Bond/Sitterly duel through the pack was reminiscent of the mid 90’s battles between Doug Didero and Mike Muldoon.
The two veteran drivers drove ferociously, bumper to bumper, with Sitterly even grazing the front stretch wall on one trip around the Steel Palace oval.
Sitterly and Bond, who drove hard even last season in heat racing action during the Fall Championship which left Sitterly spun, left no doubt that they will be together all year long at the Speedway.
With Bond pressing Sweeney for third and Sitterly looking for an advantage on each, Danzer meanwhile was continuing his pursuit on the surprise leader of the evening Abold in the No. 05.
As the lap counter rolled to 40, the crowd quickly began to feel as though Abold may be able to hang on for his first career Novelis Supermodified main event win.
However, it could easily be seen as the laps continued to tick away that the Abold No. 05 was getting looser as the race wore on and eventually at lap 42 Danzer was able to find enough bite on the low side into turn three to steal the position away and end the potential upset bid by Abold.
Abold was now doing all he could to hang onto a podium position, but as lapped traffic entered the equation by lap 45 the Baldwinsville driver simply could not maneuver as he would have liked, losing spots to Sweeney, Bond, and Sitterly in one fell swoop.
Abold, who led 41 circuits from the pole position, would have to settle for fifth position at night’s end and a well-deserved finish at that.
With Danzer now well in control, driving away in the No. 52, the battle continued to rage between Sweeney, Bond, and Sitterly for third.
With four laps remaining Sweeney went high in turn three giving the low lane to both Bond and Sitterly, dropping the No. 3 back to the fourth position late in the going.
Just two laps later, after running behind Bond for nearly the entire event, Sitterly blasted under Bond out of turn two to take the runner-up position on lap 48.
By this time, despite Danzer being mired in heavy lapped traffic, there simply was not enough time for Sitterly to close the gap as Danzer cruised to his fourth career Novelis Supermodified win at the Speedway.
Sitterly, who had won on opening night four previous times, spoke with infield announcer Keith Zehr saying his car came in too late in the race.
“The car actually didn’t work that good tonight,” said Sitterly. “It got better at the end, but it wasn’t that good at the beginning. There’s a lot of fast cars here and a lot of hungry guys out there that want to use up the race track, so you have to take what you can get.”
The car that Sitterly piloted on Saturday was the No. 2 Nicotra Racing Supemodified from 2013, which Dave Shullick Jr. drove in the Budweiser International Classic. Sitterly stripped the car over the winter, making major changes to the front suspension, and is now trying to dial that machine in while his reliable championship machine sits idle.
“I’ve got mixed emotions right now, this car here still needs some work,” said Sitterly. “The car that sat tonight, that I’ve run the last three years, has probably the highest win percentage at the track, it just has been a real good car. We will probably run this car a couple more weeks and then assess everything from there.”
Like Sitterly, Bond had to come from the sixth row in the new track record holding No. 47.
“It’s tough starting in the back. There are a lot of good cars and everybody is running good,” said Bond. “The car might not have been that good in the feature but the guys in front of me really hit the set-up and they were good.”
A total of 23 Novelis Supermodifieds were in the pit area Saturday night, including the third Nicotra Racing Supermodified.
Only 19 cars took the green flag in the main event as Shaun Gosselin, Bob Reis, and Jessica Zemken all ran into issues early on.
The Gosselin No. 26 blew an engine in hot laps, never turning a competitive lap.
Reis found the wall in the third corner in his qualifying heat race behind the wheel of his Muldoon chassis No. 4. The returning Supermodified veteran walked away from the incident, but was unable to repair the damage for feature time.
Zemken was caught up in an incident in her qualifying heat trying to avoid a spinning Dave Gruel in the first corner. Zemken’s No. 11 nearly missed the spinning Gruel machine, but caught the nose of the No. 50 sending her hard into the outside turn one wall. Zemken also walked away from the scene unharmed, but the damage was too significant to complete the night.
Muldoon, Gosek, and Ritskes earned Shell Shock Custom Helmet Paint Heat Race Challenge victories on the night.
Otto Sitterly was the Lightouse Lanes Hard Charger, with Brian Sweeney earning the Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer Award.
Jeff Abold claimed the Radical Racegear Lap Leader Award leading 41-laps on the night.
Oswego Speedway returns to action Saturday, May 24 with the Memorial Day Weekend Triple Header featuring the Jim Shampine Memorial Novelis Supermodified 75, the Richie Evans Memorial RoC Modified 75, and the Tony White Memorial Pathfinder Bank Small Block Super 35.
For more information on Oswego Speedway visit online at www.oswegospeedway.com. Follow on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway or LIKE on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway.