Sitterly’s Late Surge Leads to Fourth Straight Feature Win

By – Kenny Copps
Photos – Jim Feeney

Otto Sitterly has monopolized victory lane at Oswego Speedway in 2010, winning all four supermodified features this year. He used a combination of speed, determination and good fortune to claim his fourth consecutive checkered flag on Saturday night.

Sitterly had to earn the win on Saturday, though, after an inauspicious sixth-place finish in his qualifying heat forced him to start in eleventh place for the 16-car feature. Starting back in the pack did not slow him down one bit, and by the end of 45 laps, the same light blue No. 7 car was again parked in victory lane.

Otto Sitterly poses in victory lane after remaining undefeated in supermodified competition in 2010 with his 4th feature win at the Oswego Speewday

When asked to assess his dominant start to the season, Sitterly responded, with a grin: “We’ve finished all the races so far.”

Dan Connors, Jr. crossed the finish line second, despite leading the first 39 laps of the race. He held off Joe Gosek for about 10 laps early on, but Connors could not deny the hard-charging Sitterly down the stretch.

Connors, in his second year racing at the Oswego Speedway, turned in an impressive feature performance after winning his first supermodified heat of his career. He admitted to having some nerves while pacing the field.

“Well, it’s definitely nervous on starts,” Connors said, “especially starting the race, but once you get going you forget about it, just drive.”

Tim Snyder finished third after starting in third. Bob Magner came home in fourth, with Joey Payne rounded out the top five.

Snyder described Sitterly’s dominance, which dates back to last year’s Classic: “He goes by us like we’re all standing still.”

There were only two stoppages during the feature, the first of which brought out the red flag. The pair of ensuing restarts played right into Sitterly’s hands, as he mentioned after the race.

“I like to see a couple restarts to kind of close it up,” Sitterly said. “My car seems to be a little better after we see the heat cycle of the tires a little bit, and after that red it was definitely a little better. But some of these guys are getting pretty tough, how about Dan Connors?”

A dozen laps in, five cars crashed while entering the third turn, which brought out the red flag. The five drivers involved in the wreck were Pat Lavery, Jeff Holbrook, Dave Gruel, Lou LeVea and Ray Graham, Jr.  They were all behind Dave McKnight, who was near the front of a nine-deep pack of cars that had been riding bumper-to-bumper for several laps.

Near the end of the back straightaway, McKnight’s car appeared to slip out of gear and slow way down entering the third turn.  Although McKnight stayed out of trouble, the drivers immediately behind him were not as fortunate.

LeVea was rear-ended and spun-out before being drilled by Lavery. Lavery then went headlong into the foam between turns three and four, where he subsequently flipped over. Holbrook, Gruel and Graham also were involved in the crash, although their machines received less damage. No one was hurt in the accident.

After trying and failing to avoid the accident, Holbrook admitted to having chosen the wrong path.

“There was more room on the outside; unfortunately, that’s where everyone else went.”

The five-car pileup allowed Sitterly, who had been stuck in 11th place, to jump up to fifth. He remained in fifth 11 laps later when the second and final caution flag of the feature came out.

Connors (01) leads Gosek (00) , Snyder (0) , McKnight (08) and Sitterly (just entering) halfway through the feature

After the restart, Sitterly went to work. He took over fourth place on lap 30 by passing Snyder. Just two laps later Sitterly climbed to third when McKnight’s car again suddenly slowed and exited into the pits.

The following lap, Sitterly passed a sputtering Gosek No. 00 for second place. Gosek would be in the pits two laps later, not to return.

Sitterly slowly but surely reeled in Connors, and in the fourth turn of the 40th lap, lady luck again was on Sitterly’s side. The Connors No. 01 car got very loose coming out of the turn, and despite making a miraculous save, he lost the lead to Sitterly. Sitterly proceeded to pull away from Connors and win by about half a straightaway.

Connors described the tense moments in the fourth turn when he nearly lost control.

“It was definitely scary coming off turn four,” Connors said. “I got sideways. I thought I was done. I thought I was going to hit the wall and that would have been it, but luckily I stayed in. Otto got by me and we kept second, so it was a good run.”

The race proved to be another war of attrition, as only eight of the 16 drivers finished.

For the fourth time in as many tries, Otto Sitterly was among the last men standing in the supermodified feature. Once again this week, he saved his best for last and found himself in victory lane.

Supermodified Feature Results:
1. Otto Sitterly (7), 2. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 3. Tim Snyder (0), 4. Bob Magner (41), 5. Joey Payne (99), 6. Shaun Gosselin (26), 7. Larry Muroski (38), 8. Craig Rayvals (94), 9. Joe Gosek (00), 10. Dave McKnight (08), 11. Dave Gruel (50), 12. Lou LeVea (61), 13. Pat Lavery (2), 14. Ray Graham, Jr. (90), 15. Jeff Holbrook (35), 16. Keith Shampine (88)

Connors and Graham pocketed heat race wins.