Otto Sitterly started Saturday's Race of Champions 100-lap main event, the first Supermodified 100 run at the Speedway since 2005, from the ninth position but rode steady just inside the top five for the majority of the event.
After the lap 50 mandatory break, Sitterly came alive and made a hair raising three-wide move by leader Pat Lavery and lap car Bobby Haynes on lap 77 to cruise to his second win of the season and 26th career victory at the Speedway.
Sitterly becomes the first driver to win more than one Supermodified event at the Speedway in 2013, adding to his Jim Shampine Memorial 75 victory back on May 25. His 26th career win now puts the five-time Oswego Speedway champion in an overall tie with Steve Gioia Jr.
Lavery would hold onto the runner-up spot ahead of Sitterly's teammate and Supermodified Kick-Off winner Davey Hamilton with Joey Payne and Jeff Abold rounding out the top five.
Novelis Supermodified point leader Joe Gosek finished just outside the top five in sixth, one lap down, after being forced to his pit stall during the lap 50 halfway break. Running in third just prior to halfway, the Gosek No. 00 broke a locator on the front axle, and coasted to the lap 50 caution dropping six spots in the process all the way back to ninth.
During the 15 minute break, in which teams made a mandatory stop through the hot pit lane and could make any changes to their cars but a tire change, Gosek had to return to his pit stall for the use of a welder to fix the locator. As a result of going to his pit stall, rather than staying in the hot pit lane, Gosek was penalized one lap down to the rest of the field.
Bobby Haynes, Tim Snyder, Tony Steiner and Brandon Bellinger finished the top 10 positions in the Race of Champions 100-lap main.
Once in Turning Stone Resort Casino Victory Lane, Sitterly was asked of his strategy for the twin segment, 100-lap feature.
"We didn't change anything during the break," Sitterly said. "I just pretty much had a Gatorade and made sure the air was still in the tires. If they put up a halfway bonus or something in that first half we would have made it interesting, but there was just no reason to race early. At the end of the race I don't think we went any quicker, but everyone else backed up a bit."
Sitterly went on to explain his move for the win, going three-wide passed Lavery and Haynes.
"Well it is sort of tough here with the lapped flag, they really don't use it a lot," said Sitterly. "So, you have to take advantage of it when they do."
Brian Sweeney and Michael Barnes led the 24-car Novelis Supermodified field to the Cam's NY Pizzeria green flag on Saturday night, with Barnes jumping to the lead in the Strong Racing No. 99 Supermodified.
Gosek, who started back in the 10th position, began to make a charge early on diving underneath Jerry Curran for eighth, trying to put some distance between himself and Sitterly early on.
As Gosek was beginning to pick cars off, the race's first caution waved on lap 3 for Lou LeVea Sr. and Tony Steiner as they made contact in the third turn. LeVea would be done for the day in the Buske No. 66, but Steiner continued on.
As the race came back to green Barnes continued to pull away out front, but again it was Gosek putting himself in good early position. The No. 00 used the outside of the Speedway to speed passed both Dan Connors Jr. and Michael Muldoon on the restart to pull all the way up to sixth. Just two laps later Gosek would next drive around Sweeney into turn three taking over the top five.
Barnes, looking for his first win of 2013, was on rails early on holding court over Brandon Bellinger and Pat Lavery, with Gosek now stalking the Dave Danzer No. 52 for fourth.
On lap seven, Gosek would make the pass on Danzer into turn three, and began to chase down the lead trio.
By lap 15, Barnes had settled into a full straightaway lead over Bellinger, Lavery, Gosek, Danzer, Sweeney, Muldoon, Connors, Sitterly, Gosselin and Joey Payne.
On lap 19, Bobby Haynes, making his first start of the 2013 season, would spin going into the third turn, drawing the field back together.
On the restart, Lavery found the bite he needed in the No. 22 to slide by Bellinger for second, with Lavery now joining Barnes at the head of the field.
Not much later, Gosek would follow suit on lap 21 driving under Bellinger for third into turn one. This now set-up a lead car trio of feature winners with Barnes, Lavery, and Gosek leading Bellinger, Sweeney and Danzer.
As the leaders set a comfortable pace in the front of the pack, Sitterly and Payne finally began to work their way through the field. The former championship rivals hooked up in tandem and by lap 36 had moved up to seventh and eighth in the race order.
Lap 40 would see another caution as championship hopeful Shaun Gosselin spun the No. 26 in turn one running 12th. The restart order would show Barnes, Lavery, Gosek, Bellinger, Sweeney, Danzer, Sitterly, Payne, Muldoon and now Davey Hamilton up to 10th from 16th on the grid.
As the field went green one more time the front three again checked out with Sitterly and Payne making quick work of the Danzer No. 52 to move to sixth and seventh by lap 43.
Just as Sitterly was ready to make a move on Sweeney for fifth, yet another caution would wave at lap 44, this time for the Connors No. 01 who showed a tremendous amount of smoke into the first turn. Connors appeared to have a tire rub on his machine and did return to the Speedway but only for a few laps, dropping out in 20th position.
The whole complexion of the race changed on the next restart as Sitterly finally did charge by Sweeney for fifth and just two laps later Gosek began to slow in the No. 00. First appearing to be out of fuel, it was easy to see the right front wheel of the No. 00 bouncing on the Speedway, and Gosek managed to nurse the car to the lap 50 halfway break losing only a handful of positions.
As the yellow lights came on and the full field headed to the pit lane, Barnes would be shown as the leader over Lavery, Bellinger, Sitterly, Sweeney, Payne, Danzer, Muldoon, Gosek and Hamilton.
However, with Gosek having to go to his pit stall to make repairs taking on a one lap penalty, Dave Gruel would move into the top ten in the No. 50.
Gosek would return to the Speedway in 18th, one lap behind the race leaders.
After 15 minutes had gone by, the field was pushed back to the Speedway for another 50 laps of feature action and the order would quickly jumble as the green lights came back on.
Just three laps after the break, Michael Muldoon would end up backwards in the third turn collecting Tim Devendorf, Gruel, Gosselin, Hal LaTulip, and Tim Snyder. The track would be totally blocked forcing a red flag situation on the Speedway. The spin on the Speedway would result in Abold, driving his older No. 05 chassis, moving into the top ten positions.
Coming back to green, Lavery charged by Barnes to take the top spot on the restart with Bellinger and Sitterly following suit, dropping Barnes back to fourth in the order. After leading the entire first half of the event, the tires on the Barnes No. 99 clearly did not recycle as he would have liked, putting Barnes next in the clutches of Payne further back.
With Lavery now the leader, the No. 22 quickly put some distance between himself and pursuers Bellinger, Sitterly, Barnes, Payne, Sweeney, and Danzer as he looked for his second win of the '13 season.
By lap 60, Sitterly had methodically worked his way into the runner-up spot and began to gain ground on the Lavery No. 22.
Just four laps later, the day would end for early leader Barnes as he pulled pit side with the No. 99 on lap 64.
With Sitterly now directly on Lavery's back bumper, the duo built a half track lead on Bellinger in third as he rode ahead of Payne in the Muldoon No. 20.
Danzer would be the next car to fall by the way side in the No. 52, heading to the pits with engine issued at lap 72.
Quiet for most of the race, Hamilton was possibly the fastest car on the Speedway at race end, coming on hard in the Nicotra Racing No. 6 driving by Sweeney for fifth just passed lap 70. Hamilton set quick time in afternoon hot laps, and took his time working through the field on Saturday.
As the race leaders approached the lapped car of Haynes down the back chute, Sitterly was ready to pounce on Lavery for the top spot.
Using the Haynes machine as a pick, Sitterly went three wide to the lead at lap 77 and quickly charged away in the lead over Lavery.
Just one lap later, two consecutive yellow flags would jumble the field some more as Sweeney spun the No. 3 collecting Muldoon and Curran, followed by a debris caution for the right front wing of Bellinger coming loose in turn two.
With only 22-laps remaining, Sitterly led Lavery, Bellinger, Payne, Hamilton, Gosselin, Abold, Snyder, Gosek and Haynes in the top 10.
On the restart, Abold pulled to the low side of Gosselin to move to fifth with Payne driving under Bellinger for third on lap 80.
Without the right front wing on the Bellinger No. 02, a tight condition quickly came over that ride, with Bellinger doing all he could to try and hang onto a top five position.
Bellinger continued to back slide a touch as Hamilton was now up to fourth after passing the No. 02 on lap 83 and Hamilton did not stop there. The No. 6 machine next breezed past Payne for third in turn one on lap 87 and quickly began to close on Lavery for second.
Just as Hamilton looked as though he may be able to make it another Nicotra 1-2 finish, the yellow lights came on one last time at lap 90 as Gosselin and Bellinger made contact into the third turn.
As Gosselin dove underneath the now struggling Bellinger ride, the two touched sending both cars into the outside foam. Gosselin rolled back to the pits, but Bellinger took on significant damage to the right front corner of his ride.
As the field settled in for a 10-lap push to the finish, Sitterly proved he was the class of the field, pulling away from Lavery and Hamilton to record his second win of the season.
Lavery, who earned his first career win back in June, talked about his second-place effort Saturday and the pass for the lead.
"I knew I was going to have a tough time with Bobby (Haynes), he was right in the middle of the track," Lavery said. "My car wasn't all that great, it was good, but I just couldn't make the move and once Otto got underneath me he kind of had me there, and I just couldn't make the move around Bobby."
Third-place finisher Hamilton, who drove the newer style Hawk Chassis on Saturday, is always happy to be at Oswego and feels as though he is in good position for the Budweiser International Classic.
"That was the first time I had driven that car and we came from 16th to third," Hamilton said. "By myself, that thing is an absolute bullet; I can catch up to anybody. We just have to get it a little better to pass; I am struggling to get by guys. But, we were inside, we were outside, we gained a lot today. I'll be honest with you, I wish there was another 50 laps because I think there is something there."
Muldoon, Bellinger and Barnes went on to claim Shell Shock Custom Helmet Paint heat race challenge victories.
Jeff Abold would be the Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer while Tony Steiner took home the Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger Award coming from 23rd to ninth.
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To purchase tickets for the 2013 racing season, call the Speedway box office at 315-342-0646.
Saturday, July 20
63rd annual SUNOCO Race of Champions
Feature (100 laps): 1. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 2. 22 – Pat Lavery, 3. 6 – Davey Hamilton, 4. 20 – Joey Payne, 5. 05 – Jeff Abold, 6. 00 – Joe Gosek, 7. 44 – Bobby Haynes, 8. 0 – Tim Snyder, 9. 07 – Tony Steiner, 10. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 11. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 12. 3 – Brian Sweeney, 13. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 14. 24 – Jerry Curran, 15. 52 – Dave Danzer, 16. 99 – Michael Barnes, 17. 50 – Dave Gruel, 18. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 19. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 20. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 21. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr., 22. 14 – Joe Chillemi, 23. 23 – Clayton Brewer III, 24. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr.
Lighthouse Lanes 'Hard Charger': Tony Steiner
Lighthouse Lanes 'Up & Comer': Jeff Abold
1st Heat (12 laps/All Qualify): 1. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 2. 3 – Brian Sweeney, 3. 52 – Dave Danzer, 4. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 5. 50 – Dave Gruel, 6. 6 – Davey Hamilton, 7. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 8. 14 – Joe Chillemi, 9. 66 – Lou LeVea Sr.
2nd Heat (12 laps/All Qualify): 1. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 2. 22 – Pat Lavery, 3. 00 – Joe Gosek, 4. 20 – Joey Payne, 5. 05 – Jeff Abold, 6. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr., 7. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 8. 06 – Dave Cliff
3rd Heat (12 laps/All Qualify): 1. 99 – Michael Barnes, 2. 24 – Jerry Curran, 3. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 4. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 5. 0 – Tim Snyder, 6. 44 – Bobby Haynes, 7. 23 – Clayton Brewer III, 8. 07 – Tony Steiner