Oswegonians Danny Connors and Stephen Gioia led the 25 car supermodified field to Donnie Forbes starter sticks, as the pair raced side by side for the first lap before Connors setting the black 01 on the point. The outside lane got the better start, as Jerry Curran and Otto Sitterly raced their way to third and fourth places at the end of the first go round.
Sitterly, who started sixth, kept the early hard charge going, as he cranked by Curran on lap 3 for third, then shot to second on the low side by Gioia on the grandstand straightaway one lap later. Canadian veteran Dave McKnight went to the outer reaches of the speedway to move into the top five early, as he was in fifth by lap 2, then followed Sitterly by Curran for fourth. It appeared as if there was a shootout between the 7 and 08 early in the 50-lap feature.
By lap 5, the leaderboard showed Connors, Sitterly, Gioia, McKnight, Curran, David Gruel, Craig Rayvals, Bob Bond, Randy Ritskes, and Joe Gosek.
The first caution flag of the event came out on lap 5, as Bobby Haynes Jr and Hal Latulip each spun in turn three. Both were pushed away and able to continue, once racing, McKnight cranked his car to the outer groove, and wheeled by Gioia and Sitterly, then set sail after leader Connors. He placed the black 08 in front, as he passed Connors on the inside of the front straightaway for the lead.
A precautionary yellow flew on lap 7, bunching the field one more time. Sitterly chased by Connors on the get go, as the top two showed the black Syrell Racing 08, and the blue Nicotra owned 7. The lead duo circled the 5/8’s mile in 17.33 laps, as they began to distance themselves from the pack.
Further back, opening night winner Randy Ritskes picked his way through the traffic, as he, Gruel and Gosek ran wheel to wheel in fourth spot, chasing down the Connors 01. Lap 23, the trio caught the highflying teenager, with Ritskes claiming third place on lap 23.
One lap later the yellow lights flashed again, this time for a three-car tango in turn three. Stephen Gioia spun the #9, while Keith Gilliam and Ray Graham came into contact with their 87 and 90 machines. Both were sent pitside with front-end damage.
While McKnight and Sitterly resumed their race for the lead, Gosek disposed of the 01 for fourth, as it now looked like the 08, 7, 88 and 00 were going to decide this one between the four of them. The leaders came into slower traffic on lap 37, which they cruised around without issue.
Still in traffic for the next five laps, Sitterly cut the lead margin on the 08. As they came into 5 slower cars on lap 41 in turn three, Sitterly saw his chance and went to the inside, as McKnight elected to go to the outside around the slower cars. The opening came low first, with Sitterly slicing the 7 ahead of the McKnight 08 as they raced between turns three and four. The inside opened up first, and Sitterly took full advantage, taking the lead of the race.
Ritskes grabbed second from McKnight on the back straightaway on lap 44. Ritskes was 1.21 seconds behind the leader, with only 6 laps to go. The break he needed came out on lap 45, as Bobby Bond’s 25 car came to a rest in turn two.
The top five on the take off were Sitterly, Ritskes, McKnight, Gosek and Connors. With the end in sight, the leaders took off. Connors slowed, pulling in the back pit gate, out of fuel. Curran took over the fifth spot, but no one could challenge Sitterly.
He drove ahead, and cruised to his first win of the season, and his 17th career Oswego Speedway supermodified victory. “I was in the better spot going into the lapped cars,” Otto said of his move for the win. “I went to the inside, and that opened up first. It’s nice to get the first one. The car worked well, but there is still some work to do, there is still some more in here that we have to find.”
“This car is such a joy to drive,” second place finisher Randy Ritskes said after the 50 lapper. “It’s a good car, a good fast car, and these guys are a fun bunch to drive for. We’re having a lot of fun, and the car is awesome.”
“It was a good run for the Syrell 08,” Dave McKnight said back in third place. “Congratulations to Otto and Randy, they ran really good races. Otto made a good pass over there. The 08 was good, it’s tough out there. There are a lot of good cars here.”
Heat race winners Cameron Rowe and Barry Kingsley were at the head of the 17-car class as the SBS cars were set to go at it for 30 laps. Kingsley got the better bite coming out of turn four, placing the #23 at the point when the feature started. Mike Bond, Kreig Heroth and Andrew Schartner all turned their machines left, and went to the inside of the race track to move forward.
In the early stages, Kingsley, Rowe, Mike Bruce, Mark Castiglia, Bond, Heroth, Schartner, Jack Patrick, Rob Pullen and Tim Barbeau were in the top ten. Kingsley’s 23 pushed out a bit on lap on lap 8, and was freight trained by the lead pack. Bond continued by Castiglia, the placed his 26 car by Bruce on lap 10 to move to second place.
Lap 15, Bond caught Rowe, but couldn’t get by at that point. Caution slowed the race, as a hard first turn accident slowed the pace. AJ Bernys spun the 24, with Nate Sitterly catching Bernys’ front end, getting airborne. It was a hard crash, with the front end on both cars getting the worst of it. Bernys was ok, while Sitterly was initially stunned by the impact. He was sore, but otherwise ok.
Bond used the restart to take over the lead from Rowe, while the race was further back as Heroth and Schartner put the team cars side by side for position. Yellow, then red brought the race to a stop on lap 20 as the skies opened up, with rain deluging the speedway. Two hours later, the track was dried and the decision was made to continue on with the racing program.
Bond took off on the green racing surface, while Bruce moved ahead by Rowe. Schartner followed Bruce into the top three, as it was a dash to the finish. Bond was comfortable ahead, as he went on to win number two of the year, and career win 23. “The track wasn’t to bad after the rain,” the winner stated in Victory Lane after 30 laps. “The car drove really nice, and this is a nice recovery after last weeks run.”
News and Notes…27 supermodifieds and 17 SBS cars were pitside. David Gruel, Craig Rayvals and Jerry Curran won supermodified heat races, with Cameron Rowe and Barry Kingsley won SBS heats. Dave Danzer won the supermodified consi, the first consi on a regular race night in recent memory. This weekend is a four-feature night, with twin 30;s for supermodifieds and twin 20 lap features for SBS cars. Pit gates open at 3pm, practice and spectator gates start at 4pm, with an on track autograph session at 5;45pm.
Order of finish Supermodified 50
1)Otto Sitterly 7, 2)Randy Ritskes 88, 3)Dave McKnight 08, 4)Joe Gosek 00, 5)Jerry Curran 24, 6)Pat Lavery 22, 7)Tim Snyder 0, 8)Kody Graham 21, 9)David Gruel 50, 10)Andy Noto 48, 11)Dave Danzer 52, 12)Bobby Haynes Jr 44, 13)Michael Muldoon 20 14)Steve Abt 85, 15)Rod Sauter 33, 16)Danny Connors 01, 17)Bobby Bond 25, 18)Craig Rayvals 94, 19)Keith Gilliam 87, 20)Stephen Gioia 9, 21)Ray Graham 90 22)Hal Latulip 56, 23)Joey Payne 99, 24)Brian Sobus 79, 25)Guard Nearbin 78
Order of finish SBS 30
1) Mike Bond 26, 2)Mike Bruce 22, 3)Andrew Schartner 18, 4)Cameron Rowe 77, 5)Kreig Heroth, 6)Mark Castiglia 90, 7)Jack Patrick 9, 8)Tim Barbeau 50, 9)Barry Kingsley 23, 10)Rob Pullen 2 11)Dave Latulip 27, 12)Brian Osetek 00, 13)AJ Bernys 24, 14)Jason Simmons 98, 15)Nate Sitterly 79, 16)Will Hadcock 43, 17)Dennis Rupert 99