OSWEGO, NY — Since 2009 the Budweiser International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway has been ruled by the black and blue duo of Bob Bond and Otto Sitterly, each claiming all of their Classic titles in the seven year span.
This year however, some argue there are nearly two dozen drivers with a shot at the $15,000 top prize.
Driving the John Nicotra Racing No. 7, Sitterly has claimed four Classics in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014.
Bond, first driving his own No. 25 then the Four Sevens Motorsports No. 47, has earned three Classic titles in 2010, 2013, and is the defending champion of the 200-lap grind.
Typically the Classic, the richest and most prestigious Supermodified race in the world, presents a favorite in the weeks leading up to its Sunday afternoon start time – usually coming as a result of Oswego’s demanding regular season.
Sitterly and Bond have shot to the top of the list on many occasions as former track champions or winners of big events during the regular season, however in 2016 neither has visited victory lane.
Sitterly, a seven-time Speedway track champion, finished third in Oswego’s points in 2016 with only an outside opportunity to claim the title in the last event of the season.
Still regarded as a season envied by most, Sitterly failed to visit victory lane during the year for the first time since 2007.
The year following his first track championship, Bond did not compete full time in 2016, scoring only one top five finish.
Despite lesser results this season Sitterly and Bond will still be at the top of the odds maker’s lists for this year’s running, but this season some would argue more than half the field has a legitimate shot of knocking off the black and blue.
The first driver in that line is the newly crowned Oswego Speedway track champion, Michael Barnes.
Fresh off one of the most incredible drives in Speedway history, which saw Barnes drive from last to first to win the Speedway’s season finale to claim the crown, Barnes sat on pole of the 2015 Classic in the Syrell Racing No. 68, leading more laps than anyone.
In the late stages of the event after both Dave Danzer and Sitterly spun while leading, Barnes had a last ditch shot at the win, but was overhauled by Bond in the final laps. Most believe Barnes has the best shot to stop Bond and Sitterly this season.
Danzer sat on the front row with Barnes in 2015 and appeared a favorite through the majority of last year’s 200 before spinning. The driver of the No. 52 won two of the Speedway’s biggest events in 2016 by claiming the Jim Shampine Memorial and the $10,000 Mr. Novelis Supermodified and is poised for Classic greatness.
Joining the Danzer stable this season is ISMA Super Nationals champion Tim Jedrzejek. Jedrzejek will drive a number rich in Classic history for Danzer, piloting the No. 72. While Timmy J has never finished in the top five of a Classic, he has all the tools and resources to contend for a win this year.
Joining Jedrzejek has ISMA shoes coming into the Classic with a shot at the win are Dave Shullick Jr., Chris Perley, Mike Lichty, and Dave McKnight.
Shullick will drive as a teammate to Sitterly yet again in the No. 2, while Perley will wheel an all-new Hawk chassis for Vic Miller as No. 44.
Perley looks to test the new ride on Thursday at the Speedway from 4 to 8 p.m.
Lichty will wheel a Patco/Reed Xtreme chassis as No. 84, which was last driven in the Classic by Moe Lilje in 2011, and last driven to victory by Lichty at Delaware Speedway in ISMA competition on August 19.
McKnight will return for the third time this season in the Morton No. 70, as the duo continues to eye a Classic crown.
Another driver familiar to wing racing coming back to his fourth Classic in a row is Ryan Litt in the Lairjet No. 88. Litt finished fourth in his first Classic back in 2013 and looks to return to former glory this year.
A rookie in the field with winged racing experience is former King of the Wing Sprint Car series champion Davey Hamilton Jr., who will compete head to head with his father this weekend.
Hamilton Jr. will again drive the Mike Muldoon No. 14 while Hamilton Sr., the 1997 Classic champion driving for Muldoon, will return with Nicotra Racing in the No. 6.
Also competing in select wing events this season has been Joey Payne, who finished third in last year’s International Classic with Strong Racing. Payne will return to Strong Racing again in 2016 with the goal of Classic victory.
While the Classic has always attracted winged Supermodified and Sprint Car shoes, this year it will bring along two former champions of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in Bobby Santos and Ron Silk, each driving for Graham Racing.
Santos finished second in the Classic in 2004 and has had stout runs with the Graham team in recent years.
Silk has one Supermodified start under his belt and will contend in the Classic for the first time in 2016, driving a car that sat on pole position three times with Pat Lavery at the controls.
Lavery will also wheel on the Graham team in ’16 joining fellow teammates Ray Graham, Kody Graham, and Aric Iosue.
Combined with drivers that contended for victory in the 2016 Classic and the outside invaders, Oswego’s local crew will play a big role in this year’s event as well.
Dave Gruel finished second in the Speedway’s point standings, joined by young Mike Muldoon in a race for the title.
Lavery and Iosue each scored two wins in 2016, with Kody Graham notching one.
Hot shoe Jeff Abold scored a victory in 2016 and looks to help finally add the Abold name to the Classic winner’s column.
Speaking of names forever linked to the Classic, who could forget Gosek, Bellinger, and Snyder?
Joe Gosek has come on strong late in the 2016 season, looking to start his 37 consecutive Classic, while Brandon Bellinger hopes to put all of his motor issues behind him in a race for his first Classic win.
Tim Snyder, the 2001 champion, as made gains on the No. 0 this season and is always a 200 threat.
Add in the likes of Keith Shampine, Dan Connors Jr., Tim Devendorf, Joey Moriarty, Brian Sobus, Bobby Magner and more – and you have a field fit for kings this season.
Three-day tickets for Budweiser Classic Weekend are available for as low as $90 including Friday night’s CNY Chevy Dealers Qualifying Night, Bud Light ‘Super Saturday’ featuring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the ISMA Supermodifieds, as well as Budweiser ‘Classic Sunday’ with the 25th Bud Light SBS Classic and the 60th Budweiser International Classic 200.
-Oswego Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Bill Taylor
Probable Budweiser International Classic 200 Roster:
0 – Snyder
00 – Gosek
01 – Connors
02 – Bellinger
05 – Abold
1 – S. Muldoon
2 – Shullick
5 – Devendorf
6 – Hamilton Sr.
7 – Sitterly
11 – Iosue
12 – Lavery
14 – Hamilton Jr.
15 – Muldoon
21 – R. Graham
24 – Curran
35 – Magner
44 – Perley
47 – Bond
50 – Gruel
51 – Moriarty
52 – Danzer
55 – Shampine
56 – LaTulip
68 – Barnes
70 – McKnight
72 – Jedrzejek
79 – Sobus
83 – LeVea Jr.
84 – Lichty
88 – Litt
89 – Stowell
90 – Santos
91 – K. Graham
92 – Silk
96 – LeVea Sr.
99 – Payne