OSWEGO, NY – With only two races remaining in the battle for the Oswego Speedway track championship, both Otto Sitterly and Mike Bond continue to hold slim leads over the competition.
Sitterly, who has led the Novelis Supermodified series championship since night one leads Pat Lavery by 10 markers while Bond, your defending Pathfinder Bank SBS series champion, is currently beating out Rob Pullen by just 20 points.
Since the debut of his new Hawk chassis a couple weeks ago, Sitterly has been one of the fastest Supermodifieds in the field, winning a heat race and setting the 2nd fastest time of the season with a 16.476 second lap.
However, come feature time the No. 7 machine has for whatever reason lacked exactly what it takes to get through the competitive field to challenge for race wins as he did in the first two weeks of the season.
While Sitterly has not been the dominant runner that he was earlier in the year, he once again proves that coming out of the gate strong at Oswego Speedway historically leads to good luck in championship battles.
During Sitterly’s championship run from 2008-2010, his seven regular season main event wins in that span all came within the first four races of the regular season. In fact, in that championship stretch the latest Sitterly has ever won a regular season event was July 4 in 2009.
Last Saturday night’s Mr. Novelis Supermodified main event was a good one for Sitterly though. While he did not pick up a Top 5 finish, his sixth place run was one spot better than the man directly behind him in the championship battle.
Lavery took seventh in the August 4 $10,000 to win spectacular, seemingly never leaving the back bumper of the Sitterly No. 7 throughout the event. Another Top 10 run for Lavery gives him nine on the season, two better than any other driver including Sitterly.
However, Lavery is down one Top 5 finish to Sitterly, four to his five, and lacks the two feature wins that Sitterly nabbed earlier in the season.
With a 10-point deficit Lavery is down, but certainly not out. Depending on Sitterly’s result this weekend, a Top 5 finish is a must for the Lighthouse Lanes No. 22 on Saturday.
Joey Payne continues to ride in the Top 3 in the Novelis Supermodified standings on the strength of yet another Top 5 finish in the Mr. Supermodified. Payne’s fifth place finish last Saturday was his fourth consecutive Top 5 run in the $10,000 to win event and his fourth overall Top 5 of 2012, tying him with Lavery. Since joining with Mike Muldoon this season Payne has seven Top 10 finishes, including a second place effort on Memorial Day Weekend and he trails Lavery by a mere 50 points for the runner-up spot in the championship.
While Payne too is not out, he is certainly a bit further down than Lavery, and will need some help this weekend to stay in the battle for the championship.
Randy Ritskes had a night he would just as soon forget last Saturday as a part of the Mr. Novelis Supermodified. Despite spinning on his own in his qualifying heat race, and battling an ill handling car to a 13th place finish in the main event, Ritskes still manages to sit fourth in the overall Novelis standings. Ritskes, like Payne is not totally out of the championship hunt, but needs lots of help as he sits nine points behind Payne for the third position.
Two-time feature winner this season, Ray Graham rides fifth in the championship, tied with the No. 88 of Ritskes. Graham though will not be in competition this weekend as he is serving a one week suspension for entering another driver’s pit area after a heat race altercation one week ago. The No. 90 racecar and team are eligible to compete this weekend, keeping the car in the running for the team championship; however Graham will be unable to drive, dropping him out of the run for the driver’s championship.
With Graham out for one week’s time that slides Brian Sobus up one position in No. 60. No doubt the most improved team in 2012, Sobus has two Top 5 finishes this season and an impressive seven overall Top 10’s tying him with Payne and Sitterly overall.
Sobus trails Ritskes by 13 points for fourth in the overall rundown.
Joe Gosek, Dave Gruel, Mike Barnes, and Dan Connors Jr. complete the Top 10 in the overall Novelis Supermodified championship.
Jarett Andretti currently holds a 10-point edge on Dave Cliff in the running for the Cleaning for a Reason Novelis Supermodified Rookie of the Year title.
After finishing 18th in the first round of the Pathfinder Bank SBS season Mike Bond has been on a roll in the No. 26. Since May 5 Bond has seven Top 5 finishes, more than any other driver, and picked up the closest win in Speedway history over JJ Andrews on June 30. A fifth place run in the Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS was crucial for Bond as fellow championship contender Andrew Schartner was caught in an altercation in turn four, dropping him to a 10th place finish. Bond came into last weekend with a nine point edge on Schartner, and now leads Pullen by 20 markers.
Pullen has had the best season of his career in 2012 with a total of eight Top 10 finishes and two features wins so far this season. The No. 2 has been in the Top 5 of the championship for the majority of the season, and now finds himself on the back bumper of Bond in the hunt for the title with just two races to go. A fourth place effort in the Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS event certainly helped to draw Pullen closer, as he looks to carry the momentum into this weekend’s C’s Beverage-Days Inn/Travelodge show.
Schartner, who led the championship earlier in the season, now rides in the third spot overall in No. 18. After trailing Bond by just nine points heading into August 4, he now trails by 22 which is by no means unattainable. One feature win on the season keeps Schartner in some pretty elite company, but the championship is no doubt on the mind of the Charlotte, NC resident.
At one point this season Kreig Heroth had as good a chance as anyone at picking up the 2012 Pathfinder SBS series championship. However a blown motor on Race of Champions Weekend, resulting in a DNS for the main event that night, dropped Heroth out of the runner-up position in the title chase, and he now sits 37 points back from Bond in position number four. Like the rest in the Top 5, Heroth is not out of the championship race, but he needs a trip to victory lane to solidify his chances going into Bosco & Geers/Oswego County Federal Credit Union Track Championship Night on August 18.
Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS night saw Tim Barbeau continue one of his better seasons behind the wheel. A runner-up finish behind AJ Bernys pulled Barbeau back up into the Top 5 in the championship, handing him his fourth Top 5 of the season and eighth Top 10 of ’12. Again, like the others in the Top 5 Barbeau is down but not out, sitting 56 points shy of Bond, but a trip to victory lane would go a long way in Barbeau’s championship hopes.
Jason Simmons, JJ Andrews, Jack Patrick, Cameron Rowe, and Mark Castiglia fill the Top 10 in the Pathfinder Bank SBS championship.
Jon Tesoriero currently holds court over Josh Kerr in the race for the Pathfinder Bank SBS series rookie of the year title.
Oswego Speedway events run May through September on most Saturday nights, culminating with the Fall Championship 75 on September 15.
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Top 10 Novelis Supermodified Point Standings (As of 8/4):
1. #7 Otto Sitterly**: 837
2. #22 Pat Lavery: -10
3. #20 Joey Payne: -60
4. #88 Randy Ritskes*: -68
5. #90 Ray Graham**: -68
6. #60 Brian Sobus: -81
7. #00 Joe Gosek*: -84
8. #50 Dave Gruel: -87
9. #99 Mike Barnes*: -107
10. #01 Dan Connors Jr.: -111
Top 10 Pathfinder Bank SBS Point Standings (As of 8/4):
1. #26 Mike Bond*: 938
2. #2 Rob Pullen**: -20
3. #18 Andrew Schartner*: -22
4. #04 Kreig Heroth: -37
5. #79 Tim Barbeau: -56
6. #98 Jason Simmons: -62
7. #93 JJ Andrews*: -100
8. #9 Jack Patrick: -114
9. #77 Cameron Rowe**: -116
10. #69 Mark Castiglia**: -118