$10,000 Super Win Sweetens Birthday for Gruel at Oswego
July 21, 2019
Fulton’s David Gruel led all 75-laps of the 33rd running of the $10,000 to-win Mr. Supermodified event, which happened to fall on his birthday Saturday night at the Oswego Speedway. At the drop of the green flag, Gruel would win the race with Tyler Thompson into the first turn and never give it up. Staving off early challenges from Thompson and late-race, side-by-side bids with Dave Danzer, Gruel would go the distance, earning career-win No. 7 and his second Mr. Supermodified title.
Having felt a little behind from the start of the season, Gruel entered the evening having only landed in the top five twice thus far this season, with no heat race wins. However, consistent lap times in the 16.1’s in practice coupled with a good handicapped starting spot in the feature (based on season-whole performance), made him an instant threat to become Oswego’s eighth different feature winner in nine main events in 2019.
Listen to – David Gruel
After wrestling the lead away from Thompson at the initial start of the race, Gruel would lead Thompson, Brandon Bellinger, Danzer and Keith Shampine across the stripe to compete the field’s maiden lap.
By the 10th circuit, Thompson had already taken numerous looks to the inside of Gruel as the lead duo had separated themselves from their chasers by dozen lengths. The first caution flag of the race would end up flying for Aric Iosue’s spun No. 11.
With 22 laps in the books, the top five remained the same. Dave Shullick, Joe Gosek, Michael Barnes, Jeff Abold and Alison Sload rounded out the top 10. Otto Sitterly, Doug Didero, Logan Rayvals, Dan Connors, Jr. and Tim Snyder completed the first 15.
Gruel had no issue on the restart, as he quickly built a small cushion between himself and Thompson. Behind them, Danzer was pressing Bellinger’s No. 02 for third. Eager to get to the front and challenge the leaders, Danzer’s No. 52 would race out of the fourth turn solidly under Bellinger only to have the No. 02 beat him to the line to hold the position. On the 35th lap, once again, the caution flag would drop for Iosue’s spun No. 11.
The ensuing restart saw Shullick better his teammate, Shampine, on the outside to take over fifth place. Behind them, Sitterly seemingly shot out of a cannon, advancing his No. 7 up into seventh place. He would then slip under Shampine for sixth before sailing around Shullick for fifth on the 39th lap.
Shooting under the No. 02 as they entered the third turn, Danzer would finally clear Bellinger on the 40th lap. Four laps later, he would find himself on Thompson’s rear bumper. A ways behind him, it was now Sitterly’s turn to find a way around the feisty No. 02.
Thompson’s No. 98 would see its first challenge from the rear on the 47th lap. Danzer danced his way under the left side of the runner-up and promptly took over the second position. With 28 laps to go, he would face a 15-car deficit to race leader, Gruel.
Michael Barnes (68) and Joe Gosek (00) race through turns 1 & 2 on the opening lap of the feature - Jim Feeney Photo
Early in the go, Tyler Thompson (98) looks to the inside of race leader and eventual race winner, Dave Gruel (50) - Jim Feeney Photo
Dave Danzer (52) seeks an inside pass on Brandon Bellinger (02) in one of many attempts he would venture on the night - Jim Feeney Photo
Keith Shampine (55) and Dave Shullick (95) race through turns 1 & 2. Shampine would finish eighth, Shullick in fifth - Jim Feeney Photo
En route to the front, Otto Sitterly (7) moves in on Jeff Abold (05). Sitterly would finish in third, Abold in ninth - Jim Feeney Photo
Nearly two-thirds of the way into the race, Otto Sitterly (7) battles Joe Gosek (00) on the outside for sixth place - Jim Feeney Photo
With under 25 laps remaining, Brandon Bellinger (02) tries to fend off Otto Sitterly (7) for fourth place - Jim Feeney Photo
Dave Shullick (95) would end up getting by Brandon Bellinger (02) late in the race - Jim Feeney Photo
Late in the race, Dave Danzer (52) tries to get a run on Dave Gruel (50) heading out of the second turn - Jim Feeney Photo
Otto Sitterly's (7) run would go as far as third place after gobbling up Tyler Thompson (98) late in the race - Jim Feeney Photo
Dave Gruel emerges from his No. 50 victorious and $10,000 dolllars richer after winning his second Mr. Supermodified title - Jim Feeney Photo
Dave Gruel poses in victory lane at Oswego - Jim Feeney Photo
The No. 50 team poses in victory lane at Oswego - Jim Feeny Photo
Top 3 supermodified finishers - Dave Gruel (center), Dave Danzer (left) and Otto Sitterly (right) - Jim Feeney Photo
Hard charging Sitterly would dive-bomb Bellinger into the third turn on the 49th lap. However, his momentum would carry him under and across the bow of the No. 02. As Sitterly skated from left to right in front of Bellinger, the No. 02 ducked back underneath and reclaimed the spot.
A few trips later, the race’s final caution flag would fly for Lou LeVea’s No. 66 and the Iosue No. 11. The scattered field would tighten for its final race restart. Gruel was nothing but solid up front as Sitterly would finally make his way around Bellinger for fourth place. The lead four of Gruel, Danzer, Thompson and Sitterly would quickly pull away from the rest of the field.
Searching for a way around Gruel, Danzer pulled up tight on the back end of the No. 50. Bid after bid fell short as his No. 52 was able to draw alongside the race leader on the ends of the Oswego’s fast five-eighth’s mile, but Gruel’s bite off the turns would allow him to pull back in front.
The duo once brushed wheels, but held on as they raced off of the fourth turn in the final laps. Sitterly would be able to get by Thompson, but simply run out of time to challenge for the lead.
Lapped traffic was on the horizon, but so was the checkered flag. The flag would come first, sparing Gruel the venture, as he held off Danzer to earn the win.
Listen to – Dave Danzer
Sitterly would be awarded his sixth “Hard Charger” award in nine races, landing the John Nicotra-owned No. 7 in third.
Listen to – Otto Sitterly
Looking fast from the onset of the evening, Thompson earned his second top-five finish, with a solid fourth-place run.
Listen to – Tyler Thompson
Struggling throughout much of the race with a loose No. 95, Shullick raced to a fifth-place finish.
Listen to – Dave Shullick, Jr.
Starting in eighth and finishing sixth, Gosek will have to wait another year to try and capture his first checkered flag in the elusive Mr. Supermodified event.
Listen to – Joe Gosek
Finishing behind Bellinger, Shampine ended an otherwise frustrating Saturday night in eighth.
Listen to – Keith Shampine
Abold and Didero rounded out the top 10.
Mr. Supermodified $10,000 to-Win 75: 1. Dave Gruel (50), 2. Dave Danzer (52), 3. Otto Sitterly (7), 4. Tyler Thompson (98), 5. Dave Shullick (95), 6. Joe Gosek (00), 7. Brandon Bellinger (02), 8. Keith Shampine (55), 9. Jeff Abold (05), 10. Doug Didero (3), 11. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 12. Alison Sload (39), 13. Logan Rayvals (94), 14. Tim Snyder (0), 15. Hal LaTulip (56), 16. Michael Barnes (68), 17. Lou LeVea (66), 18. Aric Iosue (11), 19. Camden Proud (54), DNS – Jack Patrick (90)
Heat race wins were collected by Michael Barnes, Otto Sitterly and Tyler Thompson
*Joe Gosek topped the field in time trials, with a lap of 15.893. Jeff Abold (15.971), Otto Sitterly (15.985), Tyler Thompson (15.985), Michael Barnes (16.046) and Dave Gruel (16.106) rounded out the top six.
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.