OSWEGO, NY – With national television cameras rolling from Speed Sport and MAVTV, Otto Sitterly continued his record setting Novelis Supermodified career at Oswego Speedway, charging to a late lead to collect his first win of the 2014 season and sixth career Jim Shampine Memorial 75 title presented by RJ Caruso Tax & Accounting and A&P Auto Parts.
Sitterly’s victory marks his 29th overall Supermodified triumph at Oswego Speedway, increasing his lead in the Novelis Supermodified Road to the Championship standings.
Coming from the tenth position, Sitterly once again worked through the field with newly found rival Bob Bond, before arriving to an intense battle with Dave Gruel for the Shampine Memorial lead.
After sneaking by Bond in lapped traffic on lap 57, Sitterly then hounded predominant leader Gruel before slipping under the No. 50 for the top spot in turn four on lap 69 of the 75-lap affair.
Gruel, who started the day backwards with a hard shot into the third turn foam in warm-ups, made a miraculous recovery to even start his qualifying heat race. With a fourth place finish in the third heat event, Gruel earned the right to start fourth in the main and blasted by early leader Jessica Zemken on lap eight to take the lead.
What appeared to be a ‘wreckers to checkers’ evening for Gruel, turned to a hard fought runner-up finish ahead of Dave Shullick Jr., Kody Graham, and Zemken in the top five positions.
As usual in 75-lappers, Sitterly bided his time and waited until the moment was right to make his charge.
“Bobby Bond and a few of these guys have some pretty fast racecars and once I saw them going ahead of me I knew it would be hard, especially after our (Sitterly & Bond) battle here last time,” said Sitterly , in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane. “I really tried to follow him (Bond) a little bit and once I saw some of those guys up there with fast cars, I really just had to do what I had to do. The car was definitely better at the end of the race.”
Continuing to drive his rebuilt Hawk chassis No. 7, as compared to his dominant machine from previous seasons, Sitterly says he is feeling more and more comfortable in this newer ride each week.
“You know it was a little bit better tonight, and we are going in the right direction,” said Sitterly. “It is a work in progress. Any of these things is like a moving target, just because it was good one week, doesn’t mean it will be good the next. We are definitely going in the right direction, and have just a couple more things to change.”
Joey Payne, Joe Gosek, Jeff Abold, Bobby Haynes Jr., and Randy Ritskes filled the top ten positions in the Shampine Memorial on Saturday evening.
A 23-car Novelis Supermodified field would charge to the green flag on Saturday night with Jessica Zemken and Tim Devendorf leading the field to green.
Zemken, driving the Graham Racing No. 11, pulled into Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane earlier in the night during heat racing action becoming the first female driver to earn a victory in the non-wing Novelis Supermodified division at the Speedway.
Now in feature trim, Zemken would continue her evening of firsts, becoming the first woman driver to lead Supermodified feature laps at the Speedway and she would do so for eight circuits.
Eventually Gruel, who used the outside of the Speedway masterfully in the early going, would drive around Gosek and Ritskes in consecutive laps to move to second before doing the same to Zemken on the eighth lap to take the lead.
With Gruel pulling away caution would wave on lap 11 for Tim Snyder, Lou LeVea Jr., and Lou LeVea Sr. as they tangled in turn three. All three cars were done for the night, with drivers ok.
At the restart Gruel led Ritskes, Zemken, Gosek, Bond, Sitterly, Payne, David Danzer, Abold, and Pat Lavery.
Gruel would continue his dominating run out front under green, but Bond was now on the charge in the No. 47.
Restarting fifth, Bond flew by both Gosek and Zemken in one lap to take third by lap 14, and began to chase leaders Gruel and Ritskes.
With Sitterly eyeing the charge of Bond, he too began to turn up the wick next driving by both Gosek and Zemken charging to fourth on lap 26.
At this point Gosek, who started fifth, appeared to falter some as both Danzer and Payne dove under the No. 00 on the back stretch on lap 27. But, just two laps later Payne swapped ends between turns three and four to wave caution one more time.
With the race back green and Gruel, Ritskes, Bond, and Sitterly charging on, Gosek stormed back underneath Danzer for sixth on lap 28 and just one lap later it was now Danzer in trouble.
The May 10 main event winner, Danzer washed high out of turn four and began to bobble down the front stretch eventually tagging the outside wall and ending up nose first into the steel in turn one on lap 29. Danzer was ok after the nose first impact, but his day would be done.
After Payne ran into issues, then Danzer, it was now Gosek on lap 34.
After driving his way back to the top five, cruising nearly nose to tail with the front four runners, Gosek swapped ends in turn one to give up his spot.
With Gosek now at the rear, Gruel led Ritskes, Bond, Sitterly, Zemken, Lavery, Abold, Hal LaTulip, and Keith Shampine back to the green.
Shortly after the restart, Bond again came alive driving under Ritskes for the runner-up spot in turn two, and as they have done for the last two weeks, Sitterly followed suit to third on lap 44.
After 50-laps of set-up, the race was now on between Gruel, Bond, and Sitterly at the point.
By lap 55 heavy lapped traffic would play a considerable role in the Memorial championship.
At one point near lap 56, Gruel and Bond would actually swap the lead in the high and low lanes, but Gruel would maintain the point once settled back into traffic.
With Gruel looking for lanes all over the Speedway and Bond trying to counter, Sitterly took advantage on lap 57, driving around Bond for second in turn three.
As Bond tried to return the favor, the No. 47 suddenly pulled to the pit area and out of the event on lap 61, leaving the race for the lead to Gruel and Sitterly. Later on it was discovered that the Bond No. 47 ran out of fuel 14-laps from the finish.
With Sitterly now focusing totally forward, he began to work the No. 50 of Gruel furiously. Finally on lap 69 his hard work paid off, driving underneath Gruel for the lead and charging to a healthy margin.
However, right when it appeared as though Sitterly was ready to drive untouched to victory, top five runner Ritskes came to a stop on the back stretch.
With another caution flag period, moving the total caution lap count to 45-laps, officials were forced to red flag the event on lap 72 for refueling.
After a short break Sitterly would bring Gruel, Shullick, Graham, Zemken, Abold, Gosek, Payne, Haynes, and Ritskes to green.
With the front five out front and settled in, Gosek and Payne would go to work on Abold over the final three laps.
When it was all said and done, each made their way passed Abold late in the going, with Payne edging Gosek at race end for sixth position.
But, up front it was all Sitterly running away to a 1.5 second win over Gruel, Shullick, Graham, and Zemken to earn his sixth career Shampine Memorial title.
With his one of his main sponsors, A&P Auto Parts, sponsoring the night’s event, Gruel was more than pleased with his runner-up effort.
“Well after backing the car into the wall in warm-ups earlier and pretty much not having brakes all night, I really can’t complain,” said Gruel. “Congratulations to Otto (Sitterly) he was a little bit quicker tonight. Hopefully we can get everything straightened out and get some more bugs worked out of this new car. This new 2014 Hawk chassis is a missile and with the Enders Racing Engine you can really just lay the power right down to the track. It is a good combination and one of these weeks we’ll come home with a trophy.”
Shullick, who started the main event in 23rd position after being involved in a heat race accident earlier in the evening, ended the night with a podium result in the Nicotra Racing No. 6.
“I owe it all to this team, they are amazing,” said Shullick. “These are a tremendous group of guys and Otto (Sitterly) pitched in and helped us get it all back together. This car was great, it is Davey’s (Hamilton) car and I really hope he doesn’t want it back, because I like it.”
When asked how many more times we could expect to see Shullick in the field, who travels from the midwest for special appearances, he said it is up to the Nicotra team and Otto Sitterly’s season.
“I really hope to be back, I enjoy doing this,” said Shullick. “We got caught up in that jingle in the heat race, really no fault of our own, but we have great equipment. I need to thank John Nictora for the team and all of the fans for coming out tonight and I look forward to being back in two weeks with the wing car.”
After the event Bond spoke about his issues while battling for the lead.
“Well we probably should have put two more gallons in the car,” said Bond. “There are multiple fuel cells in these cars and we are still really learning where we need to be. We had fuel left but not enough for it to pick up.”
Kody Graham made his first appearance of the season driving the No. 90 machine. Father Ray Graham would not be in attendance, putting Kody back behind the wheel for the first time since his ISMA Supermodified incident at the Speedway last July.
A total of 25 Novelis Supermodified were in the pit area Saturday night.
Michael Muldoon and Dan Connors Jr. failed to qualify for the main event after the two were involved in a scary incident in the first corner at the conclusion of their qualifying heat race.
Coming to the checkered, Muldoon spun into the first corner with Connors coming in from behind making heavy contact with the engine compartment of the Muldoon No. 51.
Both drivers were ok, but each car sustained heavy damage.
Saturday was the debut for the new Connors No. 01 Supermodified built by John Colloca.
Other new racecars on track Saturday were the Hawk chassis of Tim Snyder and Michael Barnes.
Snyder took his time shaking the No. 0 Hawk down all evening before being involved in an incident on lap 11 of the feature. With minimal damage, Snyder called it a night.
Barnes was driving the new Syrell/Hakwsby No. 68 Supermodified and promptly cut laps of 16.6 in hot laps. However, come race time issues under the hood would prevent Barnes from completing more than two circuits.
Zemken, Gosek, and Devendorf claimed Shell Shock Custom Helmet Paint Heat Race Challenge victories.
Shullick was both the Lightouse Lanes Up & Comer and Hard Charger with his third place finish.
Gruel would lead the most laps for the Radical Racegear Lap Leader Award.
The Jim Shampine Memorial 75 will air to a national television audience on July 3 at 8 p.m. on MAVTV’s ‘Speed Report.’ Check your local cable or dish provider for coverage.
Oswego Speedway returns to action on Saturday night with the Spring Championship presented by Best Western Plus/Quality Inn and Suites and U-Pull U-Save Auto Parts. Racing action will begin at 6:30 p.m. on May 31.
For more information on Oswego Speedway visit online at www.oswegospeedway.com. Follow on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway or LIKE on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway.
Memorial Day Weekend Championship
presented by RJ Caruso Tax & Accounting and A&P Auto Parts
Novelis Supermodified Jim Shampine Memorial (75-laps): 1. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 2. 50 – Dave Gruel, 3. 6 – Dave Schullick Jr, 4. 90 – Kody Graham, 5. 11 – Jessica Zemken, 6. 99 – Joey Payne, 7. 00 – Joe Gosek, 8. 05 – Jeff Abold, 9. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr, 10. 37 – Randy Ritskes, 11. 55 – Keith Shampine, 12. 22 – Pat Lavery, 13. 47 – Bob Bond, 14. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 15. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 16. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 17. 3 – Brian Sweeney, 18. 52 – David Danzer, 19. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 20. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr, 21. 0 – Tim Snyder, 22. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr, 23. 68 – Michael Barnes
Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger: #6 – Dave Shullick Jr.
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #6 – Dave Shullick Jr.
Radical Racegear Lap Leader: #50 – Dave Gruel
Heat #1 (12-laps, all qualify): 1. 11 – Jessica Zemken, 2. 37 – Randy Ritskes, 3. 47 – Bob Bond, 4. 05 – Jeff Abold, 5. 22 – Pat Lavery, 6. 55 – Keith Shampine, 7. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 8. 0 – Tim Snyder
Heat #2 (12-laps, all qualify): 1. 00 – Joe Gosek, 2. 3 – Brian Sweeney, 3. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 4. 99 – Joey Payne, 5. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 6. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr., 7. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr., 8. 68 – Michael Barnes
Heat #3 (12-laps, all qualify): 1. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 2. 90 – Kody Graham, 3. 52 – Dave Danzer, 4. 50 – David Gruel, 5. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 6. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 7. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 8. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr., 9. 6 – Dave Shullick Jr.