Otto Sitterly Now Third on All-Time International Classic Win List
OSWEGO, NY (August 31, 2014) – Despite an extra distance of 209 laps and a rain delayed start in Oswego Speedway’s 58th annual Budweiser International Classic 200 on Sunday, which saw two late race green-white-checkered attempts, Canajoharie, NY pilot Otto Sitterly once again reigned supreme in the Classic as he drove away from the 34 car field for his fourth career International Classic triumph worth well over $18,000.
The victory, Sitterly’s fourth in the last six years, takes him one step higher on the all-time International Classic win list now trailing only five-time champion Eddie Bellinger Jr., and six-time champions Greg Furlong, Bentley Warren, and Nolan Swift.
After starting the Classic from the tenth place in the Nicotra Racing No. 7, Sitterly methodically worked his way to the runner-up spot by lap 74, then took the point from early leader and pole sitter Joey Payne after he went to pit road for adjustments at lap 79.
Once out front, Sitterly was never again headed over the course of the last 120 laps, leaving several outstanding battles behind him from second on back.
“This feels pretty good,” said Sitterly in the Speedway’s post-race press conference. “I have an awesome team behind me with great support and good equipment. I wasn’t surprised at all to see Joey (Payne) jump out like that, it is sort of the Jet’s style, but I was watching the 52, the 68, the 6, and the 37. That was sort of the four that I wanted to be with and once I got to the tail of the 37 and saw he wasn’t making too many moves I just rolled to the outside of him in turn three. That was really my move all day from there. The car was perfect, it stayed tight all day, and it was relatively easy to roll by guys.”
Oswego’s own Pat Lavery charged hard at race’s end for a runner-up finish, collecting the AJ Michaels Memorial Award ahead of Sitterly’s teammate Davey Hamilton, Bobby Santos III, and Joe Gosek in the top five.
Michael Barnes, Brandon Bellinger, David Danzer, Tim Snyder, and Michael Muldoon finished the front ten spots in the 200.
The Green Flag Waves-
A beautiful and stout field of 34 Novelis Supermodifieds took the green flag on Sunday, paced by the masterfully restored Jim Shampine radical offset Supermodified, driven Sunday by Fingerlakes Machine engine builder Doug Holmes.
Team Xtreme Supermodified teammates Payne and Kody Graham led the field to the Cam’s NY Pizzeria green flag, with Payne wasting no time in blasting to the lead in the No. 99.
Within the first four circuits, Payne established nearly a full straight lead on the field leaving Graham, David Danzer, Michael Barnes, Davey Hamilton and the rest to sort out the order behind him.
The race’s first caution would wave at lap 5 as ‘Fast 14’ qualifier Brian Sobus tagged the inside hub rail with the No. 79, collecting Stephen Gioia III’s No. 9 as well. Each would be done for the day ending the afternoon in 33rd and 34th positions.
During that caution Oswego Speedway’s current Supermodified championship runner-up Dave Gruel made his first of several pit stops with issues in the No. 50. Gruel battled gremlins all day, ending several laps down in 16th position.
Once back to action, Payne again played his role as the rabbit in Sunday’s field, charging to another full straight away lead in the No. 99 while running sub 17 second laps.
Behind the leader Randy Ritskes, Joe Gosek, and Sitterly began to inch their way closer to the front.
After another caution for Mike Barbera’s No. 45, Ritskes had worked to sixth with Sitterly eighth and Gosek ninth.
Payne Jets Away-
By lap 31 Payne had now built a dominating half-track lead on contenders Graham, Danzer, Barnes, Hamilton, Ritskes, and Sitterly.
With one Xtreme now blasting away from the pack, second running Graham began to conserve in the No. 90.
Danzer charged by at lap 33 for second and before long Barnes, Hamilton, Ritskes, and Sitterly worked by Graham as well.
At lap 50 Payne continued to lead ahead Danzer, Hamilton, Barnes, Ritskes, Sitterly, Graham, Gosek, Mike Lichty, and Ray Graham.
On the very next circuit, Sitterly first found the top five spots, driving by the Ritskes No. 37 with Barnes now in his sights.
Just four laps later, Sitterly continued his methodical charge through the pack, driving around Barnes into turn one to head to fourth.
With Sitterly charging, the most interesting battle on the race track was not for position.
Payne was now in traffic trying to put a lap on another of his Graham teammates, Bobby Santos III who had dropped back in the field in the No. 11 after starting in the top ten.
Payne and Santos swapped positions at least twice, with Santos fighting for his life to stay on the lead lap in case of another caution.
While Payne and Santos were racing wheel to wheel, dicing in and out of other lapped traffic, Sitterly and the rest of the field was able to draw in on the leader after he had built such a commanding lead.
Hamilton and Sitterly were now hooked in tandem as they drove under Danzer at lap 59 to move to second and third in the lineup. Once ahead of the No. 52, the Nicotra duo pulled away and began to reel in Payne.
At lap 74 Sitterly was able to work by his teammate Hamilton for second and just two laps later, with Santos still dueling Payne to stay on the lead lap, Sitterly was able to draw in to the back bumper of the Payne No. 99 in a battle for the lead.
The battle was slowed though at lap 78 as Brian Sweeney found the inside hub rail in a collision with Bobby Haynes Jr.
Payne Pits, Caution Flags Fly-
During the caution Payne, who began to slip some in the No. 99, headed to pit road for adjustments handing the lead over to Sitterly.
On the lap 85 restart Sitterly now led Hamilton, Barnes, Danzer, Ritskes, Gosek, Lichty, Lavery, Bob Bond, and Dave Shullick Jr.
Just ten laps later, caution again slowed the pace, this time for Tim Jedrzejek’s No. 60, who was turned into the inside hub rail in turn four.
At the caution period, Payne again headed to pit lane with the No. 99 and this time changed a right rear tire, but lost a lap in the process.
Under caution the field hit lap 100 as Sitterly continued to lead Hamilton, Barnes, Danzer, and Ritskes in the top five.
Back to green after halfway, the front-runners began to settle in running a pretty even pace across the board.
Before long the duo of Payne and Santos found each other again, and again they were on separate laps, with Santos this time on the lead lap in the No. 11.
Santos was battling Shaun Gosselin for position at the time, diving to the inside of the No. 26 in turn three. In doing so, Santos found the rear bumper of Payne who was running just ahead of him. The Payne No. 99 ended up turned into the hub rail, with Santos continuing on.
Payne would be done for the day at lap 109, after leading nearly 80 circuits of the event early on, finishing with a 21st place effort.
Back to green at lap 117 and Sitterly shot to a full straight lead on the rest of the pack in clean air with Ritskes continuing to impress in the No. 37. At lap 130, Ritskes took advantage of a loose Danzer to take fourth.
Further back in the field was a quiet running Bond, the defending champion of the Classic, who began to turn up the wick passed lap 135.
Battles, Crashes, Pit Stops-
However, trying to drive to the outside of two cars on the high side out of turn four, the Bond No. 47 scrubbed the outside wall, flattening the right rear tire of his machine and sending him to the pits at lap 140.
As the front of the field was sorted out for the time being, a great battle was being waged for eighth through tenth between Muldoon, Shullick, and Lavery.
As the three diced for positions, Shullick came upon the lapped car of Tim Devendorf going into turn three. Shullick dove to the low side in the third corner and the two cars touched, sending the Devendorf No. 5 to the foam. Devendorf was done for the day, and Shullick with right front damage would also head to the pits out of the action.
Ironically, during the caution Lavery and Muldoon, who were battling with Shullick for position, each headed to the pits for adjustments. Both Muldoon and Lavery got out of the pit area without losing a lap.
Danzer Dices, Santos Surges-
The lap 154 restart order showed Sitterly leading Hamilton, Barnes, Danzer, Ritskes, Gosek, Lichty, Santos, Snyder, and Gosselin.
To this point in the race Payne, Hamilton, Sitterly, Ritskes, and Barnes had all shown some muscle , but with less than 50 laps remaining it was Danzer now showing his might in the No. 52.
Danzer stormed by Barnes on the restart and quickly reeled in runner-up Hamilton in the No. 6, who had taken on some nose wing damage earlier in the event.
Despite Danzer’s charge, Sitterly still stood tall, again driving away from the field.
By lap 160 the handling began to go away on the Barnes No. 68 as he slipped back through the lead pack.
Ritskes took advantage to head to fourth and just three laps later a hard charging Santos slipped by for fifth.
Santos, who at one point ran 25th in the order a lap down, was perhaps the fastest car on the track behind Sitterly. Santos continued to roar to life approaching 30 laps to go, now sliding by Ritskes for fourth on lap 169.
Battles were being waged all over the race track as Hamilton and Danzer dueled with Santos closing. Further back, Muldoon and Lavery, who had pit together, were charging back through the field into the top ten.
Muldoon, Lavery Move Forward-
With Sitterly, Hamilton, and Danzer comfortably running in the top three, attention turned to the Lavery No. 22 and the Muldoon No. 51.
Muldoon had managed to drive through the pack to sixth at this point, driving by Gosek, Barnes, and Ritskes on his way through the top ten.
Meanwhile Lavery had driven to the back bumper of Santos as they ran fourth and fifth at lap 177 and on lap 180 Lavery now appeared to be one of the best cars on the racing surface, as he drove by Santos for fourth now behind only Sitterly, Hamilton, and Danzer after making his pit stop under the lap 146 caution.
The urgency of the field running second on back could be sensed and Danzer again tried to make a run at runner-up Hamilton. Unfortunately for Danzer, as the two battled out of turn four the No. 52 swapped ends bringing out another caution at lap 185.
Danzer did not take on any damage in the spin, but did lose two laps being corrected and pushed away.
Drama Unfolds with 10 Laps to Go-
When the field came back to green with 10 laps to go Hamilton had another chance at Sitterly with Lavery, Santos, Muldoon, and Ritskes still running on the lead lap ahead of Gosek, Barnes, Bellinger, and Snyder in the top ten.
With several lapped cars in between Sitterly and second place running Hamilton, Sitterly again charged away leaving the battle for second between Hamilton and Lavery.
Lavery rose to the challenge in the No. 22, wowing the crowd with another veteran move on Hamilton for second in turn three on lap 193.
Hamilton continued to slip and Santos took advantage as well on lap 195 to head to a podium position.
As if there was not enough drama to this point from second on back, Santos began to run out of fuel at lap 198 and started to slow.
While Sitterly charged away, a full straight away ahead of the pack with the checkered flag in sight, Muldoon and Ritskes were attempting to overtake the slowing Santos and wound up coming together sending both Ritskes and Muldoon spinning on the last lap.
With caution in the air at lap 199, the race would now head to a green-white-checkered finish, which has been the rule in Oswego’s Classic since 1987.
Under the caution Santos went to pit lane to refuel the No. 11 with Muldoon being corrected to rejoin the field and Ritskes taking enough damage to end his day.
Sitterly would now have to restart the race at lap 205, hoping he too had enough fuel for the finish ahead of Lavery, Hamilton, Gosek, Barnes, Santos, Bellinger, Danzer, Snyder, and Muldoon.
With green lights on, the drama continued as Santos got way out of shape in the second corner trying to race through the pack, nearly slapping the outside wall in turn two to bring out yet one more caution.
There would now be two green-white-checkered attempts with the field returning to green at lap 207.
This time Sitterly was able to set sail for two consecutive laps in the No. 7, driving under the twin checkered flags at lap 209 in the richest and most prestigious Supermodified race in the world for the fourth time in his illustrious career.
Lavery and Hamilton joined Sitterly on the podium, and for Lavery it was his best career finish in the International Classic, a race he had sat on the pole for three times.
A total of 42 Supermodifieds attempted to qualify for the International Classic on Labor Day weekend, the most since 2008.
Jerry Curran, Ryan Litt, Haynes, Barbera, and Lou LeVea Sr. would all qualify for the Classic out of the 13 bar Bud Light B-Main contended on Sunday afternoon.
Lou LeVea Jr. was the race’s 34th starter as Oswego Speedway’s commitment program provisional.
Shawn Muldoon, Hal LaTulip, Dave McKnight, Joe Chillemi, Brian Osetek, Dave Sanborn, and Gene Lee Gibson all fell short of qualifying for this year’s Classic.
Muldoon, the bubble car, took home $1,000 from Oswego Speedway and Doug & Sherri Heveron. The first $500 was part of the guaranteed starters pay for this year’s B-Main with the remaining $500 coming from the Heveron family in memory of Tom and Gail Heveron.
Sunday, August 31st, 2014
58th annual Budweiser International Classic 200: 1. 7 – OTTO SITTERLY, 2. 22 – Pat Lavery, 3. 6 – Davey Hamilton, 4. 11 – Bobby Santos, 5. 00 – Joe Gosek, 6. 68 – Michael Barnes, 7. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 8. 52 – David Danzer, 9. 0 – Tim Snyder, 10. 51 – Michael Muldoon, 11. 05 – Jeff Abold, 12. 24 – Jerry Curran, 13. 37 – Randy Ritskes, 14. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 15. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 16. 50 – Dave Gruel, 17. 84 – Mike Lichty, 18. 2 – Dave Shullick Jr., 19. 5 – Tim Devendorf, 20. 47 – Bob Bond, 21. 99 – Joey Payne, 22. 60 – Tim Jedrzejek, 23. 90 – Kody Graham, 24. 3 – Brian Sweeney, 25. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr., 26. 21 – Ray Graham, 27. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr., 28. 88 – Ryan Litt, 29. 96 – Lou LeVea Sr., 30. 55 – Keith Shampine, 31. 45 – Mike Barbera, 32. 18 – Howard Page, 33. 79 – Brian Sobus, 34. 9 – Stephen Gioia III
Margin of Victory: 1.781 seconds
Cautions: 9 for 50 laps
Lap Leaders: Joey Payne 1-79, Otto Sitterly 80-200
Budweiser International Classic Bud Light B-Main (15 laps, 5-Qualify): 1. 24 – Jerry Curran, 2. 88 – Ryan Litt, 3. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr., 4. 45 – Mike Barbera, 5. 96 – Lou LeVea Sr., 6. 1 – Shawn Muldoon, 7. 83 – Lou LeVea Jr., 8. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 9. 70 – Dave McKnight, 10. 14 – Joe Chillemi, 11. 66 – Brian Osetek, 12. 07 – Dave Sanborn, 13. 75 – Gene Lee Gibson