Defending Track Champ Pockets Oswego Season-Opener

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney

Once again, Canajoharie’s seven-time Novelis supermodified champion, Otto Sitterly, celebrated an Oswego Speedway season-opener in victory lane. It was the fifth time that the pilot of the John Nicotra-owned No. 7 had bested the field on an opening night and it gives him the early advantage in defending his 2014 track crown.

Having started eighth on the grid, Sitterly would eventually take the lead away from Oswego’s Joe Gosek on a mid-race restart and dance away unchallenged for his 31st career win. Gosek would land in third, behind runner-up, Bob Bond.

Listen to – Otto Sitterly

Dan Connors, Jr. and Gosek led the 24-car field to begin the 50-lap main event, with Connors gaining the early lead. Gosek, Dave Gruel, Jeff Abold and Brian Sobus followed Connors across the checkered stripe to complete lap No. 1.

With an outside pass on Sobus, Sitterly broke into the top five on the fourth lap. The race’s first caution occurred just one trip later, after Stephen Gioia, III and David Cliff came together on the front straightway. Cliff’s No. 06 appeared to have gotten the worst of it, but both cars exited the racing surface via the hook.

With four rounds in the books, Connors led Gosek, Gruel, Abold and Sitterly. Sobus, Bond, Bobby Santos, Davey Hamilton and Dave Danzer completed the top 10.

While Connors was solid on the restart, Abold and Sitterly bounced Gruel back to fifth. Bond would maneuver his No. 47 around Sobus before knocking Gruel out of the top five.

A quick spin by Lou LeVea, Sr.’s No. 96 slowed the action four laps into the green flag run. Connors, Gosek, Abold, Sitterly and Bond commanded the top five.

Just one lap into the ensuing restart, Sitterly drove around the outside of Abold’s No. 05 for third, setting his sights on Gosek’s No. 00. Piloting one of the Nicotra team cars, Gosek led Sitterly under Connors and into the lead on the 12th lap. Immediately, the two, blue-colored teammates would put distance between themselves and the rest of the field.

A few laps later, Bond and Santos would both make their way around Connors as well, taking over third and fourth place. They would slowly move in on the two leaders, leaving Connors to do battle with Abold and Gruel for fifth.

After taking numerous looks to the inside of Gosek’s No. 00, Sitterly’s No. 7 finally found a clear lane as the to veterans raced into the first turn on the 28th lap. Sitterly would take command before turn No. 2. However, before the lap could be completed, Michael Muldoon’s No. 51 spun in front of the leaders, half a lap later. Both, Sitterly and Gosek made quick maneuvers to avoid the looped machine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While under caution, seventh-place running Sobus parked his No. 79 super with overheating issues. Eighth-place running Danzer would pit, as well. The top time-trialer from earlier in the evening would return, but not as a front-runner.

Without a full lap having been completed with Sitterly in control, the lead was given back to Gosek. Bond, Santos and Abold filled out the top five behind Sitterly. Gruel, Conners, Keith Shampine, Shaun Gosselin and Kody Graham rounded out the top 10.

On the ensuing restart, Sitterly flew to Gosek’s high side, racing out of the fourth turn as the new race leader. Bond would follow suit, taking over second place. However, Sitterly was already off and running.

By the 35th lap, he had built a full straightaway advantage over Bond. Just as the race leader was about to dive into the tail-end of the field, Tim Snyder spun his No. 0 just ahead of him. Sitterly was able to avoid contact as the caution flag flew for the final time. The defending race and track champion would lose the commanding lead he’d built, but avoid having to venture into all-to-often unpredictable lapped traffic, as well.

Sitterly would bring the field back to racing with just 13 trips around Oswego’s fast five-eighth’s mile remaining. Bond was unable to keep pace with the flying No. 7, but would be quick enough to keep Gosek and Santos at bay. The field spread as Sitterly sliced through the final laps. He would take the checkered flag a full straightaway ahead of Bond.

Listen to – Bob Bond

Gosek held off Santos to claim the final podium spot.

Listen to – Joe Gosek

Santos would land the Graham Racing No. 91 in fourth place.

Listen to – Bobby Santos

Gruel, Abold, Shampine, Gosselin, Danzer and Pat Lavery rounded out the top 10.

In the Pathfinder Bank small block supermodified division, it was Fulton’s Dalton Doyle taking the checkered flag in the 30-lap main. Doyle would slip underneath Jason Simmons just shy of the halfway mark and hold off 2014 SBS champ, Andrew Schartner to earn his third trip to victory lane.

Listen to – Dalton Doyle

Novelis Supermodified 50: 1. Otto Sitterly (7), 2. Bob Bond (47), 3. Joe Gosek (00), 4. Bobby Santos (91), 5. Dave Gruel (50), 6. Jeff Abold (05), 7. Keith Shampine (55), 8. Shaun Gosselin (26), 9. Dave Danzer (52), 10. Pat Lavery (22), 11. Kody Graham (21), 12. Michael Muldoon (51), 13. Aric Iosue (11), 14. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 15. Tim Snyder (0), 16. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 17. Brian Sobus (79), 18. Lou LeVea, Sr. (96), 19. Davey Hamilton (6), 20. Brandon Bellinger (02), 21. Stephen Gioia, III (9), 22. Dave Cliff (06), 23. Hal LaTulip (56), 24. Ray Graham, Jr. (90)

Novelis supermodified heats were pocketed by Jeff Abold, Dave Gruel and Bob Bond.

Pathfinder Bank SBS 30: 1. Dalton Doyle (01), 2. Andrew Schartner (18), 3. Dave Cliff (50), 4. Russ Brown (13), 5. Mike Bruce (22), 6. JJ Andrews (93), 7. Jason Simmons (98), 8. Alex Hoag (7), 9. Jack Patrick (9), 10. Kreig Heroth (04), 11. Camden Proud (54), 12. Mark Castiglia (69), 13. Barry Kingsley (91), 14. Dennis Ruper (99), 15. Anthony Losurdo (1), 16. Ray Sand, Jr. (71), 17. Josh Kerr (8), 18. Matt Magner (87), 19. Jeremy Pitcher (97), 20. Mike Bond (74), 21. Zach Amo (44)

SBS wins went to Dalton Doyle, Anthony Losurdo and Mike Bond.