Canajoharie’s Otto Sitterly became Oswego Speedway’s first eight-time supermodified track champion Saturday night, putting an exclamation point on his accomplishment by winning the 50-lap regular season finale. It’s his first track title since 2014, his seventh driving for car owner, John Nicotra.
After shaking off a winless streak in July that dated back to the end of 2015, Sitterly quickly reminded everyone how he’d won his first seven crowns. A week later, a trip into the fourth-turn steel wiped out the front of his No. 7, but not determination.
Determined to earn results that mirrored the team’s potential, he would bounce back and claim victory again the following week, taking home his fourth $10,000 dollar to-win Mr. Supermodified title. Sitterly would claim victory in two of the next three races putting the final touches on an unprecedented eighth supermodified track championship.
The win not only helped inch nose ahead of seven-time super champs, Bentley Warren and Jim Shampine, but tied him with Nolan Swift for fifth on Oswego’s all-time supermodified feature win list, with 41.
In small block supermodified action, the Port City’s own Anthony Losurdo took home his first SBS track championship. Piloting the division’s only new 2018 chassis, Losurdo guided the Mark Castiglia-owned FFB No. 1 to two victories and a division-leading eight top-five finishes.
While Sitterly needed to only start his feature to secure the championship, Losurdo went into his 30-lap main needing to protect a slim points lead. He would end up cruising to a third-place finish while watching his teammate, David LaTulip, lead the race from green to checkers. It was the second-career small block feature win for LaTulip, adding a cherry to the top of the team’s championship celebration in victory lane.
After collecting his first heat race win earlier in the evening, Lou LeVea, Jr. would start on the pole for the regular season’s final 50-lap supermodified main event. However, it was outside pole-sitter, Joe Gosek nabbing the early lead at the drop of the green.
Gosek would lead Brandon Bellinger, LeVea, Aric Iosue and Dave Gruel across the checkered stripe to complete lap No. 1. The green run was soon cut short after Keith Shampine tagged the spinning Bob Bond in turn No, 3.
Bellinger took to the outside of Gosek on the ensuing restart. The two would race side-by-side and touch on frontstretch, before Gosek’s No. 00 regained the top spot. However, Bellinger was relentless, finally swiping the lead away a few trips later with an inside move in turn No. 3. Iosue would take second away on the ensuing lap, bumping Gosek back to third.
Coming from the 12th starting position, Sitterly was quickly making his way towards the front, conquering Gruel on the seventh lap and LeVea on the eighth. On the 10th lap, Sitterly’s No. 7 would work its way under Gosek for third.
With Bellinger 10 lengths out in front, Sitterly would chase down and muscle his way around Iosue for the runner-up spot on the 15th lap. Bellinger would soon venture into lapped traffic with Sitterly setting chase.
However, the caution flag would fly on the 19th lap, after a hard-fought battle for sixth went askew. Jeff Abold’s No. 05 would catch some air time, but land on all-fours. Hal LaTulip and Gruel were also be involved. Abold and Gruel would return.
Bellinger led Sitterly, Iosue, Gosek and LeVea back to green flag racing. Dave Shullick, Tyler Thompson, Dan Connors, Jr., Michael Barnes and Tim Snyder filled out the top 10.
The front trio would ease away from the field, with Bellinger and Sitterly eventually leaving Iosue behind. The lead duo would close in on lapped traffic on the 28th lap. On their 31st round, Sitterly appeared to suddenly sail around the outside of Bellinger’s No, 02 to take over the lead. However, Bellinger was headed pit-side – the result of an injection issue.
Sitterly would immediately begin pulling away from the field, enjoying a 20-car length advantage over Iosue. The lead stretched to nearly half a lap with just under 10 to go. Issue-free the rest of the way, he would cross the checkered stripe, racking up his fourth feature win of the season and etching his name in the record books with an eighth track title.
Iosue would claim runner-up, driving the family-owned No. 11 to a second-place finish. He would finish fifth in the points chase.
Returning to the podium for the first time since a bad wreck earlier in the season, Gosek took home third place. He ended up 12th in the final point standings.
With a broken front wing, 2017 Novelis Supermodified Track and Classic Champion, Shullick, drove his No. 2 home in fourth. His second-place finish in the points race completed a one-two finish for Nicotra Racing.
Recovering from an earlier accident, Abold claimed fifth. A luck-free season for the No. 05 team led to a 12th-place finish in the final point standings.
Having led the title chase in the early stages of the season, Shampine’s 12 top-10 finishes, including seven top-fives earned the Chris Osetek-owned No. 55 a third-place standing in the final points rundown.
Switching to campaigning their back-up car following a nasty accident near the middle of the season, Connors earned a 13th-place points finish.
With a ninth-place feature finish – his eighth top-10 of the season, Thompson earned himself 2018 Rookie of the Year honors. He finished the season eighth in points.
Falling out of the race just past the halfway mark, Bellinger was credited with a 14-place finish. Though, the No. 02 team would earn a solid seventh-place run in points.
Piloting a supermodified for the very first time, Camden Proud guided the family-owned No. 22 to a 15th-place run. Headed for double-duty on Classic Sunday, Proud raced his No. 54 SBS machine to a fourth-place finish in last Saturday‘s feature. He finished the season seventh in the Pathfinder Bank SBS final rundown.
A week after earning his sixth top-five finish, Dave Danzer made an early exit in the regular season finale. A former Labor Day Weekend pole-sitter, Danzer says he needs to find something more in his No. 52 for the 200-lapper in order to have any shot at landing his first Classic win. He earned a respectable sixth-place finish in the final point standings.
A late season addition to the Novelis supermodified field, Jerry Curran continued to fight a bad push in the former Jeff Holbrook machine. However, he says they’re headed in the right direction in getting it under control. He’ll spend the next week and a half working on a new front wing for the No. 73 and getting the gremlins sorted out in Jeff West’s No. 1.
Less than a week after purchasing the Ray Graham No. 12, Pat Lavery was back at the lakeside oval prepping for Classic Weekend. Having already recorded laps in the 16.6’s, he’ll have a few more days to get used his old ride and find a few more tenths in the car that has led him to two of his three career feature wins. This is the first time Lavery has been an owner-driver.
Chris Porter is a motorsports journalist whose reporting has been published in multiple print and online media sources since 2004.
Chris has primarily covered Oswego Speedway, ISMA and other asphalt auto racing in upstate New York.