From Keith Shampine
Oswego, N.Y. – Otto Sitterly had his G&I Homes / Nicotra Racing No. 7 in position for a potential last-lap pass for the win in Saturday night’s $10,000-To-Win Mr. Supermodified feature at Oswego Speedway when he brushed wheels with eventual winner Ray Graham Jr. and crashed hard into the turn three inside and outside steel walls.
Sitterly escaped injury in what many onlookers claimed was the worst accident they’ve ever seen in decades of attending races at Oswego. Numerous fans were in disbelief that Otto walked away from the mangled Hawk Jr chassis, a car that saw Victory Lane 10 times over the last several years, including the 2009 International Classic 200 and three Oswego track championships.
Sitterly started 10th in the in the 50-lap main and made his way past Michael Barnes on lap 31 to take over second. Otto then went to work on Graham before a caution slowed the action on lap 36. Another caution on lap 45 set up a five-lap shootout for the $10,000 prize – the second largest annual winner’s payout of any supermodified race in the country – while second place would walk away with the regular payout of less than $2,000.
Otto began working hard on Graham’s No. 90 as soon as the lap 45 green waved. Sitterly nearly had the pass made with a couple circuits left, but Graham dug deep and kept his strong-running mount out front.
With the white flag in the air, the defending track champion had one shot left. A good run off turn two allowed Otto to move to the inside of Graham down the back straightaway when, while running hard and close, the pair brushed wheels, sending Otto hard into the inside hubrail.
The blue Nicotra super shot back across the track and equally as hard into the outside steel wall, where it came to rest.
Thirty-plus-year Oswego veteran Joe Gosek, who was running behind the lead duo when the carnage broke out, offered his comments on the accident.
“I saw (Otto’s car) turn left and he hit that inside wall so freaking hard; I’ve never seen anyone hit it that hard. Then (the car) came shooting back across the track at about 100 miles per hour with parts flying all over. I couldn’t believe it; that was a nasty crash. I’m glad he’s alright because that was the heaviest hit I’ve seen in a long time,” Gosek said.
Sitterly was unavailable for comment, but team owner John Nicotra offered a statement regarding the accident.
“Otto is a little bruised up but seems to be doing OK, thank God. The car more than likely has seen its last race. It’s been a great car – 10 wins, one being the Classic, and three track titles in a row. I could care less about the loss of this car, but I am so very thankful that Otto and all the drivers and crews are home today with their families. That will always be No. 1 in this crazy sport for me. We can get more cars and parts, but the people cannot be replaced,” Nicotra said.
Otto is fifth in Oswego’s standings with three point races remaining – 63 markers back of Gosek, who now leads the points for the first time this season.
Next up for Nicotra Racing is a regular 50-lap feature this Saturday night at Oswego.