John Nicotra Racing drove two stakes into victory lane Sunday afternoon at the Oswego Speedway, sweeping the twin 50-lap Jim Shampine Memorial Novelis supermodified feature events. Pennsylvania pilot, Alison Sload, became the first female driver in the lakeside oval’s rich history to capture a checkered flag in a supermodified main event. She earned the win in just her second trip aboard an Oswego supermodified – prepped by teammate and co-opening weekend feature winner, Otto Sitterly.
Hounding early race leader, Jon McKennedy, Sitterly would end up inheriting the top spot in the first 50-lapper after the motor expired on McKennedy’s No. 21 on the 29th lap. The eight-time track champion would pick up right where he left off at the end of the 2018 season – in victory lane. He raced unchallenged the rest of the way for his 43rd-career win.
Listen to – Otto Sitterly
Like Sitterly, Sload would take advantage of an early race leader’s misfortune, as well. On the 16th lap, a broken tie rod on the Michael Barnes No. 68 ended his reign atop the field and bid for an opening night win. Sload would then fend off veteran driver, Joe Gosek, for the next 34 trips to earn the win.
Listen to – Alison Sload
Dan Conners, Jr. and McKennedy would lead a 25-car field to the green to begin the first 50-lap main. McKennedy would grab the point, bringing Connors, Dan Bowes, Jeff Abold and Sload across the line to complete lap No. 1.
Just after completing the maiden lap, Lou LeVea, Jr.’s No. 83 found the first-turn wall to bring out the caution flag.
On the restart, Dave Shullick, Jr. took to the outside to best Sload for fifth. However, Sitterly quickly worked his way by both cars to break into the top five. McKennedy would begin to creep away, leaving his chasers to fight amongst themselves.
Abold’s venture to the outside of the Bowes No. 25 on the 14th lap came up short, allowing Sitterly’s No. 7 to slip underneath him. However, Abold would return the favor after the No. 7 lost its footing between turns one and two.
Abold would finally earn the third spot on the 18th lap, with a successful outside run on the No. 25. Sitterly and Shullick would follow, bumping Bowes out of the top five.
Sitterly would again, look to the inside of Abold, grabbing the third spot away on the 20th lap. Just one lap later, his No. 7 would conquer Connors’ second-place running No. 01 for second place. He would soon reel in McKennedy’s No. 21. The lead duo would dance through lapped traffic nose-to-tail.
However, on the 29th lap, McKennedy’s No. 21 and bid for his first Novelis supermodified win would go up in smoke. The caution would fly as the motor on Tyler Thompson’s No. 98 saw its day end as well. A flurry of top-10 activity would ensue with Connors pitting with a flat tire, Sload would pit with what she believe to be an overheating No. 39 and Gosek was send pit-side with a fluid-leaking No. 00.
After the leaderboard shake-up, Sitterly now held the top spot. Abold, Shullick, Bowes and Doug Didero filled out the top five. Keith Shampine, Barnes, Chris Perley, Dave McKnight and Brandon Bellinger completed the top 10.
The leader of the field cruised away on the ensuing restart. The lead would grow to 20 lengths with just five laps remaining. Abold and Shullick would run two-three to the end. Didero would work his way around Bowes with three to go to earn fourth.
Barnes and Sload would lead a 20-car field to the green in the second 50-lap main. Barnes would inch ahead, bringing Sload, Gosek, Bellinger and Logan Rayvals across the line to complete lap No. 1.
By the 10th lap, Barnes commanded five lengths over Sload. In turn, Gosek trailed second-place Sload by 10 lengths. Bellinger, Shampine, Didero and Rayvals chased the lead trio.
On the 14th lap, Barnes would begin working his way around light lapped traffic. Unchallenged and out in front, a seemingly good situation for Barnes and his No. 68 took a turn for the worse just two laps later. A broken tie rod brought the Syrell Racing machine to a halt in turn No. 4. Sload would avoid the wounded super and take over the lead.
With 15 rounds in the books, Sload would lead Gosek, Bellinger, Shampine and Didero into the next restart. At the drop of the green, Shampine would swipe third away from Bellinger. A lap later, Didero and Shullick would bump the No. 02 back to fifth.
Sload and Gosek began to inch away from Shampine and Didero. Shullick would end up losing the power steering on his No. 95 as well as suffering a wing malfunction. The combo would take him out of contention.
Sload would lead Gosek into lapped traffic, navigating it with out issue. Once clearing the back of the field, a clear, open track was laid out before her. Seeing that Gosek could not mount a serious challenge, a buzz began to build in the crowd at the possibility of a historic feature run for the driver of the No. 39.
A final encounter with light lapped traffic would allow Gosek an opportunity to mount a run on the race leader, but it was Sload’s race to lose. The No. 39 would clear traffic and take the white flag with a two-length lead. One trip later and to the roar of the crowd, Sload earned her first supermodified win and place in Oswego Speedway history.
The win completed a twin sweep for car owner, John Nicotra.
Listen to – John Nicotra
The only driver to earn two, top-five finishes on Sunday, Didero raced his No. 3 to a pair of fourth-place finishes.
Listen to – Doug Didero
Abold and Shampine each pocketed a podium and sixth-place finish.
Listen to – Jeff Abold
Listen to – Keith Shampine
Earning third place in the first feature, Shullick says he’s looking forward to the 2019 season with his new team.
Listen to – Dave Shullick, Jr.
Feature #1: 1. Otto Sitterly (7), 2. Jeff Abold (05), 3. Dave Shullick, Jr. (95), 4. Doug Didero (3), 5. Dan Bowes (25), 6. Keith Shampine (55), 7. Michael Barnes (68), 8. Chris Perley (44), 9. Alison Sload (39), 10. Brandon Bellinger (02), 11. Joe Gosek (00), 12. Logan Rayvals (94), 13. Tim Snyder (0), 14. Dave Gruel (50), 15. Dave McKnight (70), 16. Jon McKennedy (21), 17. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 18. Tyler Thompson (98), 19. Aric Iosue (11), 20. Hal LaTulip (56), 21. Tim Jedrzejek (97), 22. Camden Proud (54), 23. Jack Patrick (90), 24. Lou LeVea, Jr. (83) DNS – Dave Danzer, Michael Muldoon
Feature #2: 1. Alison Sload (39), 2. Joe Gosek (00), 3. Keith Shampine (55), 4. Doug Didero (3), 5. Otto Sitterly (7), 6. Jeff Abold (05), 7. Dan Bowes (25), 8. Brandon Bellinger (02), 9. Dan Connors, Jr, (01) 10. Tim Snyder (0), 11. Dave Gruel (50), 12. Dave Shullick, Jr. (95) 13. Logan Rayvals (94), 14. Jack Patrick (90), 15. Camden Proud (54), 16. Hal LaTulip (56), 17. Tim Jedrzejek (97), 18. Dave McKnight (70), 19. Michael Barnes (68), 20. Chris Perley (44), DNS – Jon McKennedy, Tyler Thompson, Dave Danzer, Lou LeVea Jr, Aric Iosue, Michael Muldoon
Heat race wins went to Dan Connors, Jr., Otto Sitterly and Jon McKennedy
Time Trials: 1. Keith Shampine (16.150), 2. Doug Didero (16.223), 3. Otto Sitterly (16.349)
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.