Supermodified racing at Oswego Speedway (NY) has a long and storied history. Alison Sload added her own chapter to the history books Sunday, becoming the first female to win in the division at the “Steel Palace” when she took the checkered flag in the second feature of the Novelis Supermodified Jim Shampine Memorial Twin 50s.
Sload, formerly Alison Cumens, held off two-time Oswego Supermodified champion Joe Gosek for the victory, a moment that still feels too good to be true for the Pennsylvania native.
“When I saw the white flag, it was like, man, I just have to do one more lap,” Sload told Speed51. “I just have to do each corner one more time. When I came off of four and I couldn’t really hear Joe [Gosek] behind me as much as I had earlier in the race, I was like, ‘Holy crap, I just won a Supermodified race at Oswego Speedway.’
“Still, a day later, it hasn’t settled in, as much of an accomplishment as that is,” she added. “Being the first woman in Oswego history to win a Supermodified race is pretty cool.”
The 69thAnnual Opening Day at Oswego Speedway was postponed by one day for rain, moving the Twin 50s to Sunday. This led to even more anticipation for the race for Sload and her competitors.
“We had twin 50’s [Sunday] after everything got canceled because of rain on Saturday,” she explained. “It’s a little nerve-wracking, you get all that adrenaline built up for that Saturday race and then you have rain that comes in and pushes everything back. You have to sleep another night on the fact that you still have these twin 50 laps to get through.”
After finishing ninth in the first Twin 50 of the day, won by Otto Sitterly, Sload started in the second position for the latter race.
“I knew I had a lot of good guys, basically the entire field behind me,” Sload stated. “Mostly Joe Gosek, Keith Shampine, Michael Barnes in front of me, they are guys that have been running at Oswego forever. That was a little intimidating to start the race with all those guys, but at the same time, I knew that they’re veterans and they’d give me the respect and I’d respect them on the race track as well. It was a little nerve-wracking, but also a little comforting that I’m up there with them.”
Sload quickly settled into the second position behind Barnes, remaining there until a mechanical issue for Barnes allowed her to take the lead.
“When Mike’s left-front tie rod broke, he drifted up the track and it gave me a straight shot and a clean shot to get underneath him,” Sload explained. “Once that caution came out, the reality set in. Oh my gosh, I have to lead this field to the next green flag.”
From that point forward, she focused on hitting her marks and not making any mistakes in order to protect her lead.
“From lap 16 on, I just had it in my head that I need to run my line and be focused on me, what I’m doing on the race track and make sure I’m hitting my marks every single time, which I do pretty well with,” Sload said. “If the car had been a little bit more loose, I would have had a better chance to stretched out further in front of everybody. The car was extremely tight, which we had been fighting all weekend.”
Sload is overjoyed by the achievement, but admits she may never be able to fully put it into perspective with the deep history of Supermodified racing at Oswego.
“Oswego’s been my favorite race track to run at, I’ve always run really well there,” she said. “It’s a fantastic facility, and it’s a really great group of guys that race there. I don’t think it’s 100-percent set in, and I don’t know that it will, because I wasn’t around when the Nolan Swifts and Shampines and all the guys that have won numerous races and championships and been around forever. It’s really cool to be added to that list of men.”
The win also marks a strong start to the season despite returning from nearly two years away from the cockpit. After some time away from racing, Sload has renewed energy
“In August of 2017, I wrecked really bad at Waterford Speedway in an ISMA Super,” Sload explained. “I said right then and there when I got out of the car, I think I need a mental break from racing. My head wasn’t really in it. We were tired of racing from track to track. We were fighting with our car a little bit. With my dad and I, we decided to take a break and see what life is outside of racing and we’ll go from there.
“Over the rest of 2017 and 2018, it was great to spend time with friends and family outside of the race track, which I realistically haven’t done since I was seven years old when I started racing,” she continued. “It did make me a little bit nervous to get back in the car the first time last week when we practiced. I got in the car, sat in there, ran my first couple of laps, and it’s really weird. It’s like a switch that goes off in your brain and everything just clicks. It feels like I never really missed a beat, which was really surprising to me.”
The Novelis Supermodifieds return to action at Oswego Speedway on Saturday, June 8 with twin 35-lap features at the Steel Palace.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Bob Clark