Sitterly, Brown & Cliff Take Top Honors at Oswego Season Finale

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney

Otto Sitterly sealed the deal on earning his sixth Novelis Supermodified track championship Saturday evening by capturing his fourth feature win of the year at the Oswego Speedway. Heading into the final race event of the 2013 season, the Canajoharie veteran driver held a slim 11-point lead over Oswego native, Joe Gosek. Gosek would narrow the margin to 7 points following their qualifying heats, but Sitterly would take the upper hand in the 75-lap main, with the two drivers finishing one-two.

Sitterly’s No. 7 would pin Gosek’s No. 00 behind a slower car in lapped traffic to move into second place, before later powering underneath Mexico’s Michael Barnes coming off the fourth turn on the 45th lap to take the lead. Once atop the field, Sitterly would not be challenged.

Driving the team car that took Davey Hamilton into the outside wall in the International Classic, Sitterly would take his 28th-career supermodified checkered flag, finishing half a lap ahead of his nearest chasers.

The final points rundown scored Sitterly 13 points ahead of Gosek. Only Bentley Warren and Jim Shampine’s seven titles and Nolan Swift’s eight track titles rank above Sitterly’s six.

Listen to – Otto Sitterly

In the Pathfinder Bank Small Block Supermodified (SBS) division, Dave Cliff captured his first feature win of the year, but it would be Russ Brown would claiming his fifth SBS track championship. Involved in a mid-race accident, Brown would not fare as well as Sitterly in the season final. However, the Mannsville, NY driver was fortunate to have had a nearly insurmountable points lead heading into the night’s racing action. He would end up securing the crown by 31 points.

Second only to the 1995 season, 11 different drivers made their way into victory lane come feature time in 2013. However, Brown would go the distance of the racing season with out earning a feature win. It was his consistent top-five runs that would pay him dividends come track title night. He would become the third different driver to win an SBS championship with out getting a win (Keith Gilliam-1999 and Dave Cliff-2010).

Brown also became the only SBS driver to have won a title in each of the three decades that the class has existed in. He was the division’s champ in its year of inception (1992) and won three titles in the mid-2000s (2005, 2006 & 2007).

Listen to – Russ Brown

Barnes would steal the lead away from Keith Shampine at the drop of the green flag to begin the 75-lap supermodified feature event. Gosek, Shampine, Sitterly and Brandon Bellinger would chase Barnes across the stripe to complete lap No. 1.

Wanting to keep Gosek in striking distance, Sitterly soared around Shampine on lap No. 2 to move into third. The lead trio would begin ease away from the Shampine-led pack. With an outside shot at the track title, Shaun Gosselin’s No. 26 would move around the outside of Bellinger’s No. 02 on the 11th lap before slipping under Shampine’s No. 55 two laps later to take over fourth.

Up front, the lead trio began to enter light lapped traffic nearly a full stretch ahead of Gosselin. Running just off the tail-end of Barnes’ No. 99, Sitterly took advantage of an opportunity to pin Gosek’s No. 00 behind a lapped car on the 16th circuit, moving into second place. With Gosselin slowly closing in on the lead three leaders, a yellow flag would slow the action and tighten everyone up.

With 24 laps in the books, Barnes led Sitterly, Gosek, Gosselin and Shampine. Bellinger, Dan Connors, Pat Lavery, Bob Bond and Dave Danzer filled out the top 10.

Barnes was solid on the restart and would soon take his fellow leaders into lapped traffic. However, his No. 99 would soon begin to lose its handle, pushing high between the turns. Sitterly appeared poised to strike at any moment. Closing in on heavy lapped traffic, Sitterly nearly bested Barnes off of the fourth turn on the 41st lap.

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Sitterly would take the lead the next time by, but Barnes would beat him to the next car to be lapped, pinning Sitterly’s No. 7 and retaking the top spot. However, on the 45th lap, Sitterly would make a sling-shot move off of the fourth corner to swoop under the ill-handling No. 99 and take command. Five laps later, Sitterly had 15 lengths on Barnes.

The race leader would dive into another pack of traffic on the 53rd lap. Barnes and Gosek would close the gap quickly, but once Sitterly had made it through the thick of it, his lead would grow again.

With 15 to go, Gosek was all over the back end of the Barnes No. 99 machine, but trailed Sitterly by a full straightaway. Not far behind, Gosselin, Lavery and Bond were locked in a tight battle for fourth.

Gosek would finally find room under the No. 99 with two trips to go, but would trail Sitterly by a half lap as the white flag flew. Five-eighths of a mile later, the checkered would fall over the John Nicotra-owned No. 7.

Listen to – Otto Sitterly’s car owner, John Nicotra

Gosek would drive his No. 00 home in second, finishing runner-up to Sitterly in both the race and on the season.

Listen to – Joe Gosek

Barnes would get nipped at the line by Lavery for third, earning the Strong Racing No. 99 team a fourth-place finish.

Listen to – Michael Barnes

Bond would round out the top five. Gosselin, Dave Shullick, Jr., Danzer, Joey Payne and Bobby Haynes, Jr. would fill out the top 10.

Novelis Supermodified 75-lap Feature: 1. Otto Sitterly (7), 2. Joe Gosek (00), 3. Pat Lavery (22), 4. Michael Barnes (99), 5. Bob Bond (47), 6. Shaun Gosselin (26), 7. Dave Shullick, Jr. (2), 8. Dave Danzer (52), 9. Joey Payne (20), 10. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (44), 11. Dave Gruel (50), 12. Keith Shampine (55), 13. Jerry Curran (24), 14. Brandon Bellinger (02), 15. Clayton Brewer, III (23), 16. Tony Steiner (07), 17. Dan Connors, Jr .(01), 18. Michael Muldoon (51), 19. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 20. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 21. Hal LaTulip (56), 22. Joe Chillemi (14), 23. Rob Pullen (71), 24. DNS- Brian Sweeney (3)

Shampine, Barnes and Connors took home heat race wins.

In the 35-lap SBS main, Mike Bruce would grab the lead away from Cliff at the drop of the green. Seeking win No. 1, Bruce led Cliff, Jack Patrick, Jon Tesoriero and Anthony Losurdo as the field completed its maiden lap.

Cliff would press Bruce hard in the early laps, but soon be joined by Patrick’s No. 9 as the lead trio put some distance on the chasing field. A minor spin brought out the race’s first caution on the 10th lap. The top five remained unchanged. Jason Simmons, Mike Bond, Rob Pullen, Cameron Rowe and Jeremy Pitcher completed the top 10. Kreig Heroth, Brown, Dan Abt, Stan Gates and JJ Andrews  filled out the front 15.

Bruce held his ground on the restart, but two laps into green flag racing, Cliff would find room on the low side of the race leader heading towards turn No. 3. Cliff would move under and take command on the 11th lap. However, Bruce would not be denied. One lap later, Cliff’s No. 67 would break loose and bobble just enough to allow Bruce to retake the lead between turns one and two. The lead duo would stay tight down the backstretch until Bruce’s No. 22 suddenly began to slow. He would pull up high and coast to a stop near the exact same spot where he’d taken the lead one lap earlier. His day was done.

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It would end up being a broken kill switch that would bite Bruce and put Cliff back on top. After another quick yellow flag, Cliff would lead Patrick back to green flag racing. The two would stay close and slowly ease away from the rest of the field.

Shortly into the run, another yellow would fly. This time, it was for a multi-car jingle set off by Abt’s No. 57 tagging Brown’s No. 13 as they headed into the first turn. Damage to Brown’s No. 13 was terminal and the angry driver set off to have words with the pilot of the No. 57. However, Brown was escorted back to his pit area. Abt would later deny making any intentional contact and Brown would soon find consolation in that his finishing spot would award him enough points to secure the title in any remaining scenario.

Patrick would have nothing for Cliff on the ensuing restart. His No. 9 would remain close to Cliff’s No. 67, but be unable to mount a challenge. Brown’s closest points challenger, Bond, would break into the top five with just three to go, but that would be about it. Cliff and Patrick would cruise the final few laps and take the checkered flag 20 lengths ahead of the Tesoriero-led field.

Listen to – Dave Cliff

Listen to – Jack Patrick

Listen to – Jon Tesoriero

Losurdo would cross the line in fourth. Bond would earn himself a fifth place finish in the feature, but land his No. 74 second in the championship points race. It would be the sixth time that Bond has finished runner-up in the title chase, the second time to Brown.

Listen to – Mike Bond

Capturing Rookie of the Year honors, Pitcher finished in eighth.

Listen to – Jeremy Pitcher

Pathfinder Bank SBS Series 35-lap Feature: 1. Dave Cliff (67), 2. Jack Patrick (9), 3. Jon Tesoriero (47), 4. Anthony Losurdo (1), 5. Mike Bond (74), 6. Jason Simmons (11), 7. Rob Pullen (2), 8. Jeremy Pitcher (14), 9. Cameron Rowe (77), 10. Kreig Heroth (04), 11. Dan Abt (57), 12. Andrew Schartner (18), 13. Dalton Doyle (01), 14. JJ Andrews (93), 15. Josh Kerr (8), 16. Barry Kingsley (37), 17. Greg O’Connor (90), 18. Dennis Rupert (99), 19. Russ Brown (13), 20. AJ Bernys (24), 21. Stan Gates (28), 22. Brad Haynes (86), 23. Mike Bruce (22), 24. Will Hadcock (88), 25. Cameron Black

Heat race wins went to Tesoriero, Bruce and Patrick.