OSWEGO, NY (May 27, 2019) – Eight time and defending Novelis Supermodified champion Otto Sitterly started his 2019 season in the same place he ended his 2018 season; in victory lane.
Infamous new wing rule and all, it appeared Sitterly did not skip a beat, putting on a driving clinic from eighth to the win in Sunday’s first Jim Shampine Memorial Twin 50, which served as the official kickoff to Oswego Speedway’s 2019 season.
“It’s definitely a little bit of a different situation this year,” Sitterly said from victory lane. “We’re trying to learn this wing deal, but the car was good. It changes a lot during the course of the day. When we put fuel onboard, it got really loose. It made things extra challenging on the outside.”
Two drivers looking for their first ever Oswego feature wins, longtime competitor Dan Connors Jr. and New England invader Jon McKennedy made up the front row for the first main event of the season and it was McKennedy outfoxing Connors to take the lead from up high.
With McKennedy setting the early pace, sixth starting Jeff Abold and eight starting Sitterly wasted little time making high side moves around Alison Sload, Dave Shullick Jr, and Joe Gosek to move into fourth and fifth.
Just as the leaders had completed lap 1, the race was slowed for a hard crash by Lou LeVea Jr. in turn one. LeVea was not injured in the accident, but his No. 83 was heavily damaged on all four corners.
Despite Sitterly’s early high side hustle, he had not crossed the line ahead of Sload and Shullick prior to the yellow flag, moving the No. 7 car back two positions.
Now, Sitterly had to do it again on the restart, but this time Shullick found bite as well, and he also worked his way around the Sload No. 39 with Sitterly following on the outside.
On lap 2, Sitterly found a hole underneath Shullick’s Osetek Racing No. 95 coming off of turn two and moved into fifth behind the early top five of McKennedy, Connors, Bowes, and Abold.
In his first ever Oswego Supermodified start driving the Lee and Pam Vinal owned No. 21, it did appear early on that McKennedy may run away and hide, as he had built well over a half straightaway advantage on the Connors No. 01.
With 10 laps complete, there was a considerable gap between McKennedy and the rest of the top five, but you could throw a blanket over Connors, Bowes, Abold, Sitterly, and also sixth place running Shullick.
Behind the top six, Sload, Gosek, Doug Didero, and Tyler Thompson were in another torrid four car battle for the remaining top ten spots.
When Abold looked to the low side of Bowes for third on lap 15, that opened the door for Sitterly to breeze right on by using the high side in turns three and four, taking over the fourth position.
Now stalking Bowes, Sitterly attempted another outside move around the No. 25 just one circuit later, but got way out of shape coming out of turn four, handing the fourth spot back to the Abold No. 05.
Nearing 20 laps complete, Abold knew once he got back by Sitterly it was time to go, and he cut around the outside of Bowes to take over a podium position with both Sitterly and Shullick following on the high road to grab fourth and fifth.
By lap 18, the leaders had caught traffic, but it was still McKennedy way out front. Meanwhile, Connors had begun to build a bit of a gap between himself, Abold, Sitterly, and Shullick as those three drivers battled for third.
In lapped traffic, Abold went too high in turns one and two, handing third over to Sitterly who next moved in behind the Connors No. 01 to work on the runner up spot.
Approaching halfway, Sitterly really began to turn things up, flying around Connors up top to take over second. The No. 7 machine was on the move now, and Otto began to reel in McKennedy, but as it turned out, he never had to make the pass.
Sitterly was all over McKennedy for about eight laps, but that is when heartbreak set in for the No. 21. McKennedy’s engine expired while leading with only twenty laps remaining, ending Vinal Racing’s search for their first ever Oswego checkered flag.
A lot of things happened on lap 30 as just as McKennedy had pulled into the pits, misfortune also struck for Connors, who had a fantastic run eliminated by a flat right rear tire.
While this was taking place, Thompson, the 2018 Supermodified Rookie of the Year, also found himself in trouble coming to a screeching halt with a grenaded engine on the No. 98T.
Following a wild sequence of events which eliminated two of the top five cars as well as two engines, the race was set to get back underway with twenty laps to go as Sitterly lead Abold, Shullick, Bowes, and Didero.
Gosek, who battled with Thompson and Didero for the entire race, was another driver who ran into trouble in the midst of the lap 30 mayhem. The No. 00 was taken pitside with an apparent issue and ‘00 Joe’ had to tag the tail.
On the restart, Sitterly immediately pulled away from the top five of Abold, Shullick, Bowes, and Didero and that is virtually the way things remained for the final twenty circuits.
Things got a little interesting with three laps to go as Sitterly caught heavy traffic. Shullick was also slowing significantly with three to go and on that same lap, Didero looked under Bowes coming down the frontstretch to take over fourth.
It appeared as though Didero and Bowes may have a chance to reel in Shullick, but both ran out of time. Back out front, Sitterly was gone as he earned what turned out to be a rather dominant victory in the first Shampine Memorial Twin 50 of the afternoon.
Abold finished second, Shullick was third, Didero fourth, and Bowes fifth. Keith Shampine, Michael Barnes, Chris Perley, Sload, and Brandon Bellinger completed the top ten.
Bowes took Lighthouse Lanes ‘Up and Comer’ Award honors for his impressive top five performance with the No. 25 while Canadian Logan Rayvals picked up the first D&S Landscaping Hard Charger Award of 2019 with his drive from twenty third to twelfth.
Oswego Speedway is off on Saturday, June 1, but reopens with another three division show on Saturday, June 8 featuring the Novelis Supermodifieds, Pathfinder Bank SBS, and Sunoco New York Super Stock Series.
About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. The speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at the Oswego Speedway making it the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds and 350 Supermodifieds accompany the full blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, and former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.
Century 21 Galloway Realty 69th Annual Opening Day
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Feature 1 (50-laps): 1. 7 OTTO SITTERLY, 2. 05 Jeff Abold, 3. 95 Dave Shullick Jr, 4. 3 Doug Didero, 5. 25 ® Dan Bowes, 6. 55 Keith Shampine, 7. 68 Michael Barnes, 8. 44 Chris Perley, 9. 39 ® Alison Sload, 10. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 11. 00 Joe Gosek, 12. 94 Logan Rayvals, 13. 0 Tim Snyder, 14. 50 Dave Gruel, 15. 70 Dave McKnight, 16. 21 ® Jon McKennedy, 17. 01 Dan Connors Jr, 18. 98T Tyler Thompson, 19. 11 Aric Iosue, 20. 56 Hal LaTulip, 21. 97 Tim Jedrzejek, 22. 54 ® Camden Proud, 23. 90 ® Jack Patrick, 24. 83 Lou LeVea Jr. DNS – Dave Danzer.
Heat 1 (12-laps): 1. 01 Dan Connors Jr, 2. 98T Tyler Thompson, 3. 25 ® Dan Bowes, 4. 05 Jeff Abold, 5. 44 Chris Perley, 6. 55 Keith Shampine, 7. 02 Brandon Bellinger
Heat 2 (12-laps): 1. 7 Otto Sitterly, 2. 39 ® Alison Sload, 3. 50 Dave Gruel, 4. 00 Joe Gosek, DNF – 11 Aric Iosue, 70 Dave McKnight
Heat 3 (12-laps): 1. 21 ® Jon McKennedy, 2. 95 Dave Shullick Jr, 3. 3 Doug Didero, 4. 52 Dave Danzer, 5. 68 Michael Barnes, 6. 97 Tim Jedrzejek, 7. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 8. 56 Hal LaTulip, 9. 90 ® Jack Patrick, 10. 54 ® Camden Proud, 11. 0 Tim Snyder, 12. 94 Logan Rayvals
Group Time Trials: 1. 55 Keith Shampine – 16.150, 2. 3 Doug Didero – 16.223, 3. 7 Otto Sitterly – 16.349, 4. 02 Brandon Bellinger – 16.359, 5. 68 Michael Barnes – 16.386, 6. 00 Joe Gosek – 16.388, 7. 05 Jeff Abold – 16.395, 8. 95 Dave Shullick Jr. – 16.444, 9. 11 Aric Iosue – 16.461, 10. 25 ® Dan Bowes – 16.484, 11. 97 Tim Jedrzejek – 16.529, 12. 39 ® Alison Sload – 16.541, 13. 44 Chris Perley – 16.562, 14. 21 ® Jon McKennedy – 16.634, 15. 70 Dave McKnight – 16.645, 16. 01 Dan Connors Jr – 16.668, 17. 52 Dave Danzer – 16.748, 18. 50 Dave Gruel – 16.804, 19. 98T Tyler Thompson – 16.834, 20. 54 ® Camden Proud – 17.517, 21. 90 ® Jack Patrick – 17.852
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger Feature 1: #94 Logan Rayvals
Lighthouse Lanes Up and Comer Feature 1: #25 ® Dan Bowes
-Oswego Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Bob Clark