By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney
Canajoharie’s Otto Sitterly was crowned “Mr. Supermodified” Saturday night at the Oswego Speedway, after winning the 27th annual running of the Novelis “Mr. Supermodified” $10,000 to-win event. It was Sitterly’s second “Mr. Supermodified” title – his first with Nicotra Racing.
Sitterly had gotten tangled up in a massive, 12-car calamity just one round into the 75-lap event. However, the pilot of the blue No. 7 was able to make repairs, race his way through the field and take the lead away from Hannibal’s Brian Sweeney on the 44th lap to earn the win.
Lapped traffic would play a sizeable role in the race and Sitterly’s experience, coupled with a bit of racer’s luck, led him to victory lane for the second time in as many weeks.
Listen to – Otto Sitterly
For Sweeney, lapped traffic would end up working both, for and against him. Pinning early race leader, Dan Connors, Jr. behind Lou LeVea, Jr.’s No. 83 put Sweeny in the lead. However, he would later lose the top spot to Sitterly after choosing the wrong lane to put a lap on Clayton Brewer’s No. 23.
Having been seeking career win No. 1, Sweeney was still pleased with his runner-up finish.
Listen to – Brian Sweeney
25 Novelis supermodifieds took the green flag to begin the night’s main event. Connors snagged the early point, leading Sweeney, Tim Devendorf, Brandon Bellinger and Michael Muldoon across the checkered stripe to complete the opening lap.
As the field raced through turns three and four on its second trip around the lakeside oval’s five-eighths mile, the red flag would fly for a massive gathering of supermodifieds involving every car between fourth-place running Bellinger and 14th-place running Ray Graham, Jr.. 17th-place running Joe Gosek’s involvement would make it an even dozen cars.
Tim Snyder’s No. 0 appeared to have taken the hardest hit, walloping the outside wall. Michael Barnes, Keith Shampine and Graham suffered night-ending damage as well. Bellinger would return, but only for one lap before pulling pit-side.
The long delay for track clean-up allowed numerous teams time to rebuild what they could in order to get their drivers back out on the racing surface. David Gruel, Pat Lavery, Tim Jedrzejek, Dave Danzer and Gosek were all involved, but each would return to score a top-10 finish.
With the leader board shake-up and five contenders sent pit-side, the complexion of the race had changed – both figuratively and physically. Connors would lead a string of 20 scarred and bandaged race cars back to green flag racing.
The top five cars had begun to ease away from the pack, when Muldoon’s No. 51 slid into the outside wall in turn No. 3 on the eighth lap. With 67 laps yet to be run, Connors led Sweeney, Devendorf, Davey Hamilton and Jerry Curran. Bobby Haynes, Jeff Abold, LeVea, Jr., Gosek and Sitterly rounded out the top 10.
Connors held strong on the restart. Again, the top five would begin to move away from the pack. With Gosek and Sitterly charging from the rear, fourth-place running Hamilton was just beginning to look racy. Having been the fastest in practice earlier in the day, the Boise, ID native was sitting pretty in the top five when the power plant suddenly let go on his Nicotra Racing-owned No. 6.
The caution flag would fly once again, as another favorite fell by the wayside. When the race resumed, Gosek and Sitterly restarted seventh and eighth.
As Connors brought the field back to racing, Gosek and Sitterly made quick work of Abold’s No. 05. A few laps later, Haynes would slow and fall pit-side while running fifth. This promoted Gosek and Sitterly up to sixth and seventh place.
On the 27th lap, Gosek’s No. 00 seemed to lose its forward momentum, temporarily falling off the pace, but regaining its steam at a lesser rate. This allowed Sitterly to scoot by and break into the top five. Trailing the front four by a full straightaway, it would soon become apparent what his No. 7 would have for the leaders.
As Connors and Sweeney were closing in on lapped traffic, Sitterly caught the rear-end of Curran’s No. 24. Feeling the pressure, Curran began to press Devendorf for third, passing him down low on the 35th lap. Sitterly would follow him through to move into fourth.
As the lead duo approached LeVea Jr.’s No. 83 on the 36th lap, Sweeney took to the high side while Connors went low. Racing three-abreast down the backstretch, Sweeney would reach turn No. 3 first, taking over the lead.
Once taking command, Sweeney would begin to pull away. Just behind the leaders, Sitterly would work his way under Curran off turn No. 4 on the 40th lap to take over third. He would need just three laps to find his way under Connors in turn No. 1 to move into second.
Out front, Sweeney’s momentum took a hit when he found trouble while trying to put a lap on Clayton Brewer’s No. 23. Fresh off his pass of Connors, Sitterly quickly closed the gap on the Sweeney machine.
Wasting no time, Sitterly moved in on Sweenty, chose the inside route and pinned the race leader behind Brewer’s No. 23. Racing under both cars, Sitterly would take over the top spot on the 46th lap.
Once maneuvering his way around Brewer, Sweeney was able to close back in on the No. 7. However, Sitterly would hold strong, allowing Sweeney one opportunity as the duo raced into a pack of lapped traffic. Once they dove in, Sitterly’s experience would take over. Weaving in and out of traffic, Sitterly combined knowing which lanes to chose with the luck of not having one suddenly close on him at the worst possible time.
Sitterly’s No. 7 would eventually build a five second advantage over Sweeney’s No. 3, leaving their chasers to duel for show. Tim Jedrzejek would move under Lavery for fifth on the 63rd lap, but that would be the final pass amongst the top five.
Sitterly would cross under the waving checkered flag to pocket the $10,000 prize. Finishing behind Sweeney, Curran piloted his No. 24 to a third-place run.
Listen to – Jerry Curran
Having led a good portion of the early stages of the race, Connors would bring his No, 01 home in fourth.
Listen to – Dan Connors, Jr.
After catching some air in the lap No. 2 melee, Jedrzejek raced the Mike Murphy-owned No. 60 to a fifth-place run. It was only the second top-five finish for the Ohio invader.
Listen to – Tim Jedrzejek
Like Jedrzejek’s, Lavery’s crew made quick repairs to put their No. 22 back on the speedway. Lavery took it from there, racing it to a fine sixth-place run.
Listen to – Pat Lavery
Making the trek from North Carolina, Shampine’s race was over before it even began. He was one of the five victims who’s night ended as a direct result of the lap No. 2 incident.
Listen to – Keith Shampine
Mr. Novelis Supermodified $10,000-to-win 75: 1. Otto Sitterly, (7), 2. Brian Sweeney (3), 3. Jerry Curran (24), 4. Dan Connors (01), 5. Tim Jedrzejek (60), 6. Pat Lavery (22), 7. Joe Gosek (00), 8. Dave Danzer (52), 9. David Gruel (50), 10. Jeff Abold (05), 11. Tony Steiner (07), 12. Clayton Brewer, III (23), 13. Tim Devendorf (5), 14. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66), 15. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 16. Hal LaTulip (56), 17. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (44), 18. Michael Muldoon (51), 19. Davey Hamilton (6), 20. Joe Chillemi (14), 21. Brandon Bellinger (02), 22. Tim Snyder (0), 23. Michael Barnes (99), 24. Keith Shampine (55), 25. Ray Graham, Jr. (21)
Qualifying heat race wins went to Devendorf, Connors and Bellinger.