Gosek, Snyder Win Features While Sitterly Earns Track Title

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney

Joe Gosek and Tim Snyder may have picked up feature wins Saturday night at the Oswego Speedway, but Otto Sitterly’s second and seventh-place finishes made him the big winner. Sitterly was able to successfully defend his track championship, earning the 2009 Novelis supermodified title.

It’s Sitterly’s third title in four years – second straight with car owner John Nicotra. His third track championship puts him in the same company as Eddie Bellinger, Sr., Doug Didero and Mike Muldoon – all three-time Oswego Speedway supermodified track title holders.

Sitterly came into the evening with a slim 26-point lead over Joey Payne. Didero was only 28 points behind, but did not race due to a hand injury suffered in a racing accident last weekend. Sitterly did what he needed to do in order to maintain his lead and secure the championship.

Listen toOtto Sitterly on his 2009 track championship

Nicotra was equally pleased with his second track championship in just as many years.

Listen toJohn Nicotra on back-to-back track titles as car owner

The night’s first feature had a “heads up” starting line-up, meaning it was lined up according to the heat race finishes. That was great news for Gosek, who dominated his qualifier. Posting the fastest lap of the night in heat race competition (17.006), his No. 00 earned the pole position for the first of two 30-lap feature events.

Gosek was never challenged in the caution-plagued race, building up formidable leads only to have them washed away by the numerous yellow flags. The delays only proved more annoying than costly to the Oswego native. Sitterly moved into second place on the fifth lap, but wasn’t able to make any serious bids for top spot.

It was Gosek’s first win of the season.

Listen toJoe Gosek on his feature win

The second feature appeared to belong to Todd Stowell. However, with only three laps remaining, Stowell spun his No. 89 in the first turn, coughing the lead up to runner-up racer Snyder. Snyder had moved into the second position on the previous restart, but before he could mount a challenge for the lead, Stowell handed it over to him with out a fight. Snyder cruised the final three trips, earning his first win of the 2009 season as well.

Listen toTim Snyder on his first feature win of 2009

Gosek and Stowell led the field to the green to begin the first 30-lap main event. Gosek vaulted to the point early, with Stowell, Sitterly, Keith Shampine and Bob Magner filling out the top five after lap No. 1.

Gosek was enjoying a 10-car length lead when the first caution flag flew when Greg Furlong’s No. 72 slammed the wall between turns three and four. He was out for the rest of the night.

Gosek flew away on the ensuing restart. Sitterly worked his way around Stowell for second place on lap No. 5, but faced a huge deficit to the leader. However, that was erased after Jason Spaulding spun his No. 23 around in turn No. 1.

With nine laps in the books, Gosek led Sitterly, Stowell, Shampine and Magner. Payne, Stephen Gioia, III, Dave McKnight, Keith Gilliam and Pat Lavery completed the top 10.

On the restart, Gosek quickly put five lengths on Sitterly’s No. 7. 10 lengths behind them, Stowell, Shampine, Magner and Payne fought for third.

Cautions for simple spins on laps 23, 25 and 27 slowed pace. However, it was contact between Gioia and Gilliam in the third turn that brought the race to a stop. The red flag was thrown after Dan Conners, Jr., John Torrese, Jason Spaulding, Magner and McKnight joined Gioia in the third turn.

While under caution, Shampine’s No. 88 was pushed into the pits with an oil leak, thus ending another strong top-five run.

On the final restart, Gosek simply sailed away. Sitterly, Stowell, Payne and Lavery completed the top 5.

Gioia and Stowell led the 19-car field to the green to begin the second 30-lapper. Stowell grabbed the early lead. Gioia, Gilliam, Snyder and Shampine filled out the top five as they completed their maiden lap.

On lap No. 3, Gilliam got a little too high between turns three and four, allowing Snyder and Shampine to slip underneath him.

Stowell had the field covered by 15 lengths at the lap No. 10 mark. Gioia, Snyder and Shampine battled for second while Gilliam and Lavery fought for fifth.

Stowell entered lapped traffic with no issues on the 14th lap. Behind him, Shampine dipped his No. 88 to the inside of Snyder for third. The two raced side-by-side around the speedway behind Gioia. Shampine nearly had the pass complete, but slide sideways off of turn No. 4, allowing the No. 0 to reclaim the position.

With 10 to go, Stowell had increased his lead to a full straightaway. However, the battled continued to rage behind him. On the 22nd circuit, Snyder nearly pinned Gioia’s No. 9 behind a lapped car, but the No. 9 was able to find room on the outside.

Stowell’s big lead vanished on the 23rd lap, after Lou LeVea, Jr.  and Spaulding came together on the backstretch.

With the No. 89 now in reach, Snyder powered his supermodified around Gioia on the restart. This time, Stowell wasn’t able to pull away. Just as Snyder was moving in to take a crack at the top spot, Stowell’s car bobbled as it ventured into the first turn. He tried to correct it, but spun in the middle groove, sending the field scattering.

Snyder, Gioia and Shampine took evasive action to avoid the No. 89, but they were some of the lucky few. Gosek, Sitterly, Lavery, McKnight and Bentley Warren were all stuck at the scene. Luckily, Warren and Stowell were the only two requiring the hook back to the pits.

Inheriting the lead with just three to go, Snyder inched away the final few trips around Oswego’s fast 5/8 to earn the win. Gioia, Shampine, Gilliam and Payne completed the top five.

After running into problems in the first race, Gioia was able to bounce back with an impressive second-place finish in feature No. 2.

Listen toStephen Gioia, III on his night in the No. 9

Payne came up short in the points chase, but was able to collect respectable fourth and fifth-place finishes in the twin 30-lappers.

Listen toJoey Payne on his fourth and fifth-place finishes

Shampine nearly doubled-up on top-five runs Saturday night, bringing the No. 88 supermodified home to finishes of 10th and third.

Listen toKeith Shampine on his twin 30-lap adventure

Keith Gilliam quietly raced to two strong runs, earning a sixth-place finish in feature No. 1 and a fine fourth-place finish in feature No. 2.

Listen toKeith Gilliam on his solid twin-30’s

Lavery (sixth place) and Gioia (second place) picked up the Super Racing News Up & Comer awards.

Shampine, Stowell and Gosek all earned heat race wins. Jerry Curran’s No. 24 was destroyed in the first qualifier after suffering a mechanical failure as it headed down the front stretch. His No. 24 first took a hard right-hand turn into the wall near the start-finish line, before it climbed the catch fence and finally rolled to a stop in turn No. 1. Curran was quick to exit his car after the horrifying incident. He says he’s OK, but the same could not be said for his No. 24.

Listen toJerry Curran on his heat race accident

Oswego Quality Carpets/Chris Nelson Insurance 30-Lap Feature #1:
1. Joe Gosek (00), 2. Otto Sitterly (7), 3. Todd Stowell (89), 4. Joey Payne (99), 5. Pat Lavery (99), 6. Keith Gilliam (87), 7. Tim Snyder (0), 8. Bentley Warren (15), 9. Jason Spaulding (23), 10. Keith Shampine (88), 11. Hal LaTulip (56), 12. Dave McKnight (08), 13. Stephen Gioia, III (9), 14. Bob Magner (22), 15. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 16. Lou LeVea, Jr. (04), 17. John Torrese (90), 18. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (07), 19. Jim Guyle (09), 20. Michael Barnes (66), 21. Greg Furlong (72)

Oswego Quality Carpets/Chris Nelson Insurance 30-Lap Feature #2:
1. Tim Snyder (0), 2. Stephen Gioia, III (9), 3. Keith Shampine (88), 4. Keith Gilliam (87), 5. Joey Payne (99), 6. Pat Lavery (2), 7. Otto Sitterly (7), 8. Joe Gosek (00), 9. Dave McKnight (08), 10. Hal LaTulip (56), 11. Jason Spaulding (23), 12. Lou LeVea, Jr. (04), 13. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (07), 14. Todd Stowell (89), 15. Bentley Warren (15), 16. Michael Barnes (66), 17. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 18. Bob Magner (22), 19. John Torrese (90)

TOP 20 Hoosier/Coca-Cola Novelis Supermodified FINAL Points Standings: 1. Otto Sitterly (1,062), 2. Joey Payne (1,033), 3. Pat Lavery (971), 4. Tim Snyder (919), 5. Stephen Gioia, III (910), 6. Jason Spaulding (871), 7. Keith Gilliam (870), 8. Bob Magner (867), 9. Doug Didero (850), 10. Jerry Curran (828), 11. Todd Stowell (793), 12. Greg Furlong (779), 13. Dan Connors, Jr. (744), 14. Lou LeVea, Jr. (734), 15. Dave McKnight (724), 16. Hal LaTulip (697), 17. Keith Shampine (671), 18. Ray Graham, Jr. (581), 19. Lou LeVea (554), 20. Joe Gosek (551).