Photo Finish Reveals Dead Heat in Super Main at Oswego

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney

There may have only been Twin 35-lap features for Oswego Speedway’s Novelis supermodifieds on Saturday night, but after the final checkered flag of the evening had fallen, three feature wins had been earned. Canajoharie’s Otto Sitterly pocketed his third feature win of the 2015 season after leading every lap of the first 35-lap main. Sitterly would end up charging from the depths of the field and into victory lane again in feature No. 2. However, that feature win would be shared with first-time winner, Michael Muldoon, when a “dead heat” finish was declared after the duo simultaneously reached the checkered stripe.

It was only the second time that a supermodified feature race had been declared a “tie” at the lakeside oval. Eddie Bellinger and Doug Didero raced to a split decision in a 45-lapper in 1997. There was a long delay in Saturday night’s announcement, as track officials poured over available video and photos. The conclusion was both, a victory and a defeat for each, who thought they’d earned themselves an asterisk-less feature win.

For Sitterly, the second feature was a race against the clock. He would find himself a full straightaway behind the race leaders after taking over third place with 17 laps to go. However, after devouring the clear track that lay between them, Sitterly would dart past second-place running Pat Lavery with just six trips remaining. After coming up short in two pass attempts, Sitterly would make one last charge under Muldoon off of the final turn on the final lap. Inching up alongside the race leader, he would sprint across the checkered stripe grabbing what would end up being, his share of victory lane.

Rebounding from a heart-breaking defeat his last time out, Muldoon had pounced on early race leader Dan Connors, Jr. on the fourth lap. Like the time before, he would race virtually unchallenged until the very end. However, unlike before, running out of fuel with less than a mile remaining wasn’t going to happen. Muldoon knew that the seven-time track champ was coming, but he wasn‘t about to let another opportunity to seize his first checkered flag get away. Fighting off the challenger’s initial blows, he would will his way to the finish line ahead of everyone, except the blue No. 7 that had suddenly joined him on his left side.

Listen to – Michael Muldoon

Listen to – Otto Sitterly

Sitterly found himself starting on the outside of the front row for feature No. 1. Beating Brandon Bellinger to the first turn was the only pass for position he would need to make in the 35-lap event. Sitterly would lead Ray Graham, Jr. and Bellinger across the line to lead the race’s maiden lap. That would also be the way the trio would end up finishing the race.

The second lap provided the evening’s hardest hit, as the Brian Sobus No. 79 clobbered the wall between turns three and four. Sobus was trying avoid Keith Shampine’s spun No. 55 and Dave Danzer’s parked No. 52. Hal LaTulip and Aric Iosue spun as well, but all were able to continue, minus Sobus.

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Sitterly led Graham away from the field on the ensuing restart, but by the 10th lap, the race leader was holding a dozen lengths over Graham’s No. 91. Bellinger raced alone in third, 10 lengths ahead of Joe Gosek and Pat Lavery. Graham would initially close the gap on Sitterly as the No. 7 dove into lapped traffic on the 13th lap, but would fall back once the traffic had cleared.

With a pass on Muldoon’s No. 51, Bob Bond’s No. 47 would break into the top five on the 22nd lap. Just one round later, Bond would shoot underneath Gosek’s No. 00 to take over fourth place. He would eventually track down Bellinger’s No. 02, but settle for fourth.

Sitterly would take the white flag with a full straightaway advantage, earning his third win in four races this season. Graham, Bellinger, Bond and Gosek would round out the top five.

The second 35-lap supermodified event saw Connors get the early jump on Gosek to begin night’s final race. Muldoon would grab second away from Gosek, with Tim Devendorf and Lavery filling out the first five positions after one complete lap.

Lavery impressed early, passing both Devendorf and Gosek to move into third on the fourth lap. On that same circuit just ahead of them, Muldoon was able to sneak under Connors on the back straightaway to take command of the race.

The caution flag would fly on the seventh lap after Bond’s No. 47 spun on the backstretch. Michael Barnes, Jeff Abold and LaTulip were victims of the spin, as well. Both, Bond and Barnes exited the track via the hook – OFN. Abold and LaTulip were able to continue.

With just six laps in the books, Muldoon and his home-built No. 51, led Connors, Lavery, Devendorf and Shampine. Having started 12th, Sitterly was now running in seventh.

After zipping under Connors on the restart, Lavery would chase Muldoon away from the rest of the field. Back in the pack, Sitterly would sail high around Graham for sixth and Shampine for fifth. On the 16th lap, he would power under Devendorf down the backstretch to take over fourth. A lap later, he would ditto the move on Connors to earn third.

After getting past Connors, Sitterly would find himself a full stretch behind Lavery and Muldoon. Running three and fourth-tenths faster than the race leaders, Sitterly would slice into the lead with every tick of the lapboard.

With six trips to go, Sitterly would move his Hawk Chassis under Lavery’s No. 22, taking over the runner-up spot. For Muldoon, he would not only have to hold off Sitterly, but navigate lapped traffic that he was quickly closing in on. At this point, the laps couldn’t evaporate fast enough for the young driver.

On lap No. 32, Sitterly took to roll around Muldoon’s high side, but got loose and backed off. He would reel him back in as the duo flew around Howard Page’s No. 18, but be unable to find a lane around the race leader.

Finally, on the last lap, Sitterly shot to Muldoon’s inside as the two raced through turns three and four. Coming out of the fourth turn, Sitterly moved alongside Muldoon and had the momentum behind him as they dashed for the checkered flag. However, they would hit the line at the same time, thrilling the crowd and splitting the accolades.

Novelis Supermodified Feature 1: 1. Otto Sitterly (7), 2. Ray Graham, Jr. (91), 3. Brandon Bellinger (02), 4. Bob Bond (47), 5. Joe Gosek (00), 6. Michael Muldoon (51), 7. Tim Devendorf (5), 8. Pat Lavery (22), 9. Dave Danzer (52), 10. Jeff Abold (05), 11. Kody Graham (21), 12. Shaun Gosselin (26), 13. Tim Snyder (0), 14. Dan Connors (01), 15. Aric Iosue (11), 16. Hal LaTulip (56), 17. Howard Page (18), 18. Dave Cliff (06), 19. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 20. Michael Barnes (68), 21. Keith Shampine (55), 22. Brian Sobus (79), 23. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), DNS -Stephen Gioia, III

Novelis Supermodified Feature 2: 1. Michael Muldoon (51) & Otto Sitterly (7), 3. Pat Lavery (22), 4. Dan Connors (01), 5. Tim Devendorf (5), 6. Keith Shampine (55), 7. Kody Graham (21), 8. Dave Danzer (52), 9. Tim Snyder (0), 10. Ray Graham, Jr. (91), 11. Jeff Abold (05), 12. Brandon Bellinger (02), 13. Shaun Gosselin (26), 14. Howard Page (18), 15. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 16. Hal LaTulip (56), 17. Dave Cliff (06), 18. Joe Gosek (00), 19. Aric Iosue (11), 20. Bob Bond (47), 21. Michael Barnes (68), 22. Stephen Gioia, III (9), DNS – Brian Sobus (79), Lou LeVea, Sr. (66)

Devendorf, Muldoon and Lavery earned heat race wins.

Kerr Earns First SBS Win

Sandwiched between the two Novelis supermodified features, Whitesboro’s Josh Kerr captured his first checkered flag in the 30-lap Pathfinder Bank small block super feature event. Starting from the pole, Kerr would command every round en route to the win. His closest challenge would come from Dave Cliff’s No. 50, which had appeared to be unstoppable in its march through the field.

Mark Castiglia, JJ Andrews, Matt Magner and Jason Simmons chased Kerr across the stripe to complete the race’s maiden lap. Starting eighth, Cliff had already vaulted to sixth. He would take his FFB small block chassis to the high side of Simmons on the fourth lap, staying up top and wrestling away fourth place from Magner, soon after.

Cliff would use a sling-shot move on Andrews to slip into third on lap No. 8. Two trips later, Cliff bested Castiglia for second. Never letting up, Cliff seemed poised to move around Kerr for the lead. However, an apparent suspension failure sent sparks flying and shot the Cliff-driven, Tim Barbeau-owned No. 50 into the first-turn wall.

With 10 laps in the books, Kerr led Castiglia, Andrews, Magner and Simmons. Andrew Schartner, Mike Bruce, Mike Bond, Dalton Doyle and Jack Patrick completed the top 10.

Kerr was solid on the restart, but behind him, two of his closest contenders would fall by the wayside. Four laps into racing, second-place running Castiglia pulled pit-side with motor woes. A lap later, Magner’s third-place running No. 87 would mirror Castiglia’s departure.

Now running one-two, Kerr and Andrews would benefit from the early departures by gaining some breathing room from their nearest chasers. Focus would shift to those chasers, who’d been fighting up through the pack.

On the 18th lap, Bond and Schartner came together in turn No 3. Defending division champ, Schartner, would end up turned around and against the inside hub. His night ended on the hook, while Bond was sent to the rear for making contact. Bond would finish 11th.

Kerr would have no problems on the ensuing restart, building up a three-car advantage over the Andrews No. 93. Teammate to Andrews, Simmons, would steal looks high and low, but never pull alongside the No. 93. Bruce appeared to sit patiently behind Simmons, content on fourth.

Kerr would increase his lead to nearly a dozen lengths on his way to collecting his first checkered flag. Andrews and Simmons would fill out the top three, making it a Hedger Chassis podium sweep. Bruce would finish fourth, with Doyle landing his No. 01 in fifth.

Listen to – Josh Kerr

Listen to – JJ Andrews

Listen to – Jason Simmons

Listen to – Mike Bruce

Pathfinder Bank SBS 30: 1. Josh Kerr (8), 2. JJ Andrews (93), 3. Jason Simmons (98), 4. Mike Bruce (22), 5. Dalton Doyle (01), 6. Jack Patrick (9), 7. Kreig Heroth (04), 8. Anthony Losurdo (1), 9. AJ Bernys (24), 10. Camden Proud (54), 11. Mike Bond (74), 12. Scott Shafer (76), 13. Shad Gates (28), 14. Matt Magner (87), 15. Barry Kingsley (91), 16. Alex McRae (14), 17. Andrew Schartner (18), 18. Dennis Rupert (99), 19. Jeremy Pitcher (97), 20. Mark Castiglia (69), 21. Dave Cliff (06), 22. Ron Pratt (88), 23. Greg O’Connor (90)

Kerr, Castiglia and Cliff pocketed heat race wins.