In recent years, the name Otto Sitterly has become synonymous with prestigious Supermodified victories at Oswego Speedway (NY). The six-time Jim Shampine Memorial 75 winner’s quest for a seventh did not come entirely easy though.
A mechanical issue required the seven-time “Steel Palace” champion to start from the last row and fight to get around pacesetter Ray Graham Jr. for the lead.
“We had a really good car in practice and when we went to go out for the race we just fired the engine and a suspension part broke,” Sitterly told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Me and a couple other guys changed the torque arm and it really didn’t affect the setup at all. We missed it by a quarter on the stagger, but it didn’t end up really hurting so it was good.”
Graham piloted the machine that Bobby Santos III wheeled on opening night and set a blistering pace in his heat race and the opening laps of the feature. Meanwhile, Sitterly was charging from the rear and was already in the top five one-third of the way through the 75-lap event. By lap 30, Sitterly found his way to the runner-up spot and began to chase down Graham.
During this lengthy green flag run, the leaders began to approach lapped traffic. Sitterly looked to the high side on a couple occasions, but was not able to complete a bid for the lead. Then on lap 48, Sitterly used the lapped machine of Howard Page to successfully get around Graham.
One lap later, the complexion of the night would change entirely for Graham. Still trying to work by Page, both drivers got together going down the frontstretch and ended up in the turn one outside foam protecting the drivers from the wall.
“We just got in a pack of lapped cars,” Graham said. “One of them moved up and I moved up and we just ran out of room. I’ve been doing this long enough that there’s more lows than highs. You just do the best you can and come back next week and try it again.”
Lapped machines played a role, but there was a different issue on the mechanical side that ultimately kept Graham from victory lane in addition to the wreck.
“About the last 20 or 25 laps we started losing the brakes, so I was just trying to back the pace off,” Graham explained. “Once you lose the brakes and get in lapped traffic, and you’ve got a guy who is as fast as you are it was inevitable. It was fun racing with Otto. It’s been a while, so hopefully we can get this brake problem fixed.”
Sitterly cruised the rest of the way for another Oswego Supermodified win, but up until the point he gained the lead he was not sure if he had enough to complete the pass.
“Once (Graham) got out front he could just hold his own so it’s a lot easier on your equipment, the tires, and the car,” Sitterly said. “Whereas I had to use a lot of stuff to get to him, so I was sort of concerned. I don’t think I would have been able to get him in open track unless he loosened up, but once we got to lapped traffic I knew that’s where I had to do it.”
Brian Sobus, Bob Bond, Kody Graham, and Brandon Bellinger rounded out the top-five.
For Sitterly, it was his seventh career Jim Shampine Memorial triumph. Going in he does not put much thought into the prestige of certain races compared to others, but afterward to know that he has won a race in honor of the winningest Supermodified driver at the 5/8-mile track is meaningful.
“Shampine is definitely a legend in this place, so to be able to do anything and have them say my name in the same sentence as that guy it’s pretty cool.”
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Pennsylvania/Central New York Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
– Photo credit: Speed51.com
Jim Shampine Memorial Supermodified 75 Results
1 23 7 Otto Sitterly 75
2 6 79 Brian Sobus 75
3 12 47 Bob Bond 75
4 9 21 Kody Graham 75
5 3 02 Brandon Bellinger 75
6 13 52 David Danzer 75
7 1 5 Tim Devendorf 75
8 8 55 Keith Shampine 74
9 14 05 Jeff Abold 74
10 7 26 Shaun Gosselin 74
11 21 9 Stephen Gioia III 73
12 4 0 Tim Snyder 73
13 16 96 Lou LeVea Sr. 72
14 24 83 Lou LeVea Jr. 55
15 5 01 Dan Connors 51
16 2 91 Ray Graham 48
17 17 18 Howard Page 47
18 10 22 Pat Lavery 24
19 20 51 Michael Muldoon 24
20 18 11 Aric Iosue 24
21 22 56 Hal LaTulip 14
22 11 50 Dave Gruel 4
23 15 00 Joe Gosek 0
24 19 6 Dave Shullick Jr. 0