Sitterly Sails to Fourth International Classic Win at Oswego

By – Chris Porter
Photos – Jim Feeney

Further solidifying himself as one of the greatest supermodified drivers in Oswego Speedway’s rich history, Canajoharie’s Otto Sitterly earned his fourth Budweiser International Classic 200 win Sunday afternoon. Sitterly would take over the top spot after early race leader and pole sitter, Joey Payne, pitted under caution near the halfway mark with handling issues. Once given the reigns to pace the 58th annual “Super Bowl” of the supermodified racing, the six-time track champion would never be challenged. The pilot of the John Nicotra-owned No. 7 has either won or finished runner-up four consecutive Classics, winning the event four of the last six times.

Listen to – Otto Sitterly

Having started 10th on the grid, he would settle in around eighth place, before picking off Ray and Kody Graham. At the 50th lap mark, Sitterly picked up the pace, besting fellow Hawk Racing Chassis pilots Randy Ritskes, Michael Barnes and Dave Danzer. Now sitting third, he would chase teammate, Davey Hamilton 20 laps before making the pass and setting his sights on the race leader.

After having sprinted out to a half-lap lead with lap times in the 16.9 second range, Payne’s record lap-setting Xtreme Chassis No. 99 began to showing signs of its handling going awry. Under a lengthy green flag spell, Sitterly chased down Payne’s No. 99. However, before a challenge could be made, a caution flag would slow race shy of the halfway mark. Looking for improved handling, Payne would bow out of the lead and pull pit-side under the yellow flag, promoting Sitterly to the head of the field. Payne would eventually get caught up in a chain-reaction incident trying to make his way back up through the field, ending the Garden State native’s day.

The new race leader would set his own pace through the second half of the race, while his nearest challengers would fall by the wayside or simply fade from contention as the race wore on. Hamilton would lose the handling and eventually a cylinder on his No. 6. The Indianapolis resident would find himself fending off Oswego natives, Danzer and Pat Lavery, late in the go.

In a valiant effort to get around Hamilton, Danzer would end up looping his lightning quick No. 52 coming out of the fourth turn and finish eighth. Lavery would eventually make the pass on Hamilton, but have nothing for the race leader, finishing second. Hamilton would fill out the podium, finishing in third.

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Having run strong early on, Barnes and the Syrell Racing No. 68 would fade, as would Ritskes and Locke Racing No. 37. Vying for a top five finish, Ritskes would tangle with Michael Muldoon late in the race, landing the No. 37 in 13th. Muldoon would return for a 10th-place finish.

Like Lavery, Massachusetts invader, Bobby Santos, III, would make a late race charge, only to come up short. Just shy of the lap No. 150 mark, Santos began picking off cars left and right. The pilot of the Graham Racing No. 11 would end up besting Hamilton for third place on the 196th lap. However, the fuel tank on his supermodified would begin to run dry. He would end up being saved by the Ritskes/Muldoon caution, which allowed him to coast into the pits and refuel. He would return to finish fourth.

The other two potent Graham Racing machines, Ray’s No. 21 and Kody’s outside pole-sitting No. 90, would both retire before the halfway mark. Ray would end up pulling into the pits on the 73rd lap with handling problems. Less than 10 laps later, Kody would pull pit-side with overheating issues during a caution period. Neither would return.

The defending Classic winner, Bob Bond had been biding his time in the top 10, but made contact with the outside, frontstretch wall on the 141st lap. He would limp his smoking No. 47 into the pits and retire for the day.

Sitterly’s only real challenge would come after the race passed the 200-lap mark. With the Classic having to end under green flag conditions, two late caution flags pushed the fuel tanks on all that remained on the speedway to their limits. However, Sitterly would survive an extra 9 laps to take the checkered flag on lap No. 209.

The win was another Classic victory for car owner, John Nicotra as well. He’s already looking towards the points battle in two weeks that could deliver Sitterly and himself another track championship.

Listen to – John Nicotra

Finishing second, Lavery didn’t think he had enough to compete with Sitterly at the end, but the battle he went through to earn the runner-up spot was well worth the journey.

Listen to – Pat Lavery

Considering his car was brand new and not really race-tested, coupled with stagger and a cylinder issue, Hamilton was pleased with a third-place run.

Listen to – Davey Hamilton

Dropping back early in the go wasn’t part of Santos’ plan. If not for having to race so hard to put his No. 11 back in contention, he believes he would’ve had a better showing. He finished in fourth.

Listen to – Bobby Santos

Behind fifth-place finishing Joe Gosek and sixth-place finisher, Barnes, Brandon Bellinger had a great run, bringing the Daratt Farms No. 02 home in seventh.

Listen to – Brandon Bellinger

Disappointed with what he felt was a lost opportunity, Danzer landed the Craig Danzer-owned No. 52 in eighth.

Listen to – Dave Danzer

Behind Tim Snyder’s ninth-place run, Muldoon recovered from tangling with Ritskes on lap No. 199 to salvage a top-10 finish.

Listen to – Michael Muldoon

Having been running in and around the top five all race, Ritskes was sidelined in the incident with Muldoon just shy of the checkered flag. He finished 13th.

Listen to – Randy Ritskes

Owning four of the top eight time-trialers, including the two that sat on the front row, Ray Graham, Jr. offered up a summery of the fate of his, Kody’s and Payne’s Classic Sunday.

Listen to – Ray Graham, Jr.

Sitterly sits fifth on Oswego’s all-time Classic winner’s list, just one behind Eddie Bellinger, Jr. and two behind Bentley Warren, Greg Furlong and the late Nolan Swift. In two weeks, Sitterly will bring a slim track championship points lead into the season-finale in hopes of securing his seventh title, which would tie him with the late Jim Shampine. Sitterly has held the division crown five of the last six years.

On his heels, Gruel, hasn’t posted a top-five finish since July 5. However, Sittery’s landed the Nicotra-owned No. 7 in the top five four times in the same period. Gruel will be seeking his first Novelis supermodified points title.

2014 Budweiser International Classic 200: 1. Otto Sitterly (7), 2. Pat Lavery (22), 3. Davey Hamilton (6), 4. Bobby Santos (11), 5. Joe Gosek (00), 6. Michael Barnes (68), 7. Brandon Bellinger (02), 8. Dave Danzer (52), 9. Tim Snyder (0), 10. Michael Muldoon (51), 11. Jeff Abold (05), 12. Jerry Curran (24), 13. Randy Ritskes (37), 14. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 15. Shaun Gosselin (26), 16. Dave Gruel (50), 17. Mike Lichty (84), 18. Dave Shullick, Jr. (2), 19. Tim Devendorf (5), 20. Bob Bond (47), 21. Joey Payne (99), 22. Tim Jedrzejek (60), 23. Kody Graham (90), 24. Brian Sweeney (3), 25. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (44), 26. Ray Graham, Jr. (21), 27. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 28. Ryan Litt (88), 29. Lou LeVea, Sr. (96), 30. Keith Shampine (55), 31. Mike Barbera (45), 32. Howard Page (18), 33. Brian Sobus (79), 34. Stephen Gioia, III (9)

Bud Light B-Main: 1. Jerry Curran (24), 2. Ryan Litt (88), 3. Bobby Haynes, Jr. (44), 4. Mike Barbera (45), 5. Lou LeVea, Sr. (96), 6. Shawn Muldoon (1), 7. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83), 8. Hal LaTulip (56), 9. Dave McKnight (70), 10. Joe Chilllemi (14), 11. Brian Osetek (66), 12. Dave Sanborn (07), 13. Gene Lee Gibson (75)