OSWEGO, NY (August 19) – Weeks after a vicious hit in the second turn, which resulted in a near total rebuild of the No. 00 Novelis Supermodified, Oswego native Joe Gosek returned to Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane at Oswego Speedway on Saturday night. Gosek, who came from the 17th starting position, sailed passed longtime leader Dave Danzer to take the top spot on lap 33 and was never again confronted on his way to win number 42 all-time. The victory breaks Gosek’s tie with Nolan Swift, now putting Gosek fourth on the Oswego Speedway Supermodified win list behind only Ed Bellinger Jr., Bentley Warren, and Jim Shampine.
“It has been a struggle but everyone stuck with us and we keep working hard,” said Gosek in Chris Nelson Insurance Victory Lane. “Some nights you hit the set-up and some nights you don’t. We searched around today and made some major changes before the main, and the car was there. Any driver could get it done with that kind of car. We have just been trying to come up with a combination where I could race. You have to be able to race the car. Going fast and racing the car are two different things and we found a car in the main that had all kinds of traction, could cut the corner, and kind of made it look easy.”
Gosek’s victory marks the sixth different time that he has won the last regular season point event leading up to the International Classic (1987, ’92, ’04, ’07, ’10, ’12). In 1992 Gosek was able to back it up with an International Classic victory.
“This has happened quite a few times before, where we’ve won the one before the Classic,” said Gosek. “We’ve got our work cut out for us. There are 15 guys that could win that race, and we have to be strong at the end, and that is what we will work toward the next couple weeks.”
Saturday’s Novelis Supermodified main event marked the second week in a row that the winning driver came from outside the first seven rows of the starting line-up. Mexico driver Mike Barnes earned the August 11 main event victory from the 16th starting spot.
Chasing Gosek across the line were Danzer, Dan Connors Jr., Pat Lavery, and Otto Sitterly.
Sitterly’s fifth place effort in the Nicotra Racing No. 7 was enough to earn his fifth career Oswego Speedway track championship. The Canajoharie, NY driver now trails only Swift, Warren, and Shampine on the track championship win list at the Speedway. Swift took top honors eight different times, while Warren and Shampine each won seven Oswego track titles.
Sitterly, who entered Saturday’s racing with an eleven point edge on Oswego’s Pat Lavery, had a tense moment in heat racing action to start the night. After watching Lavery drive to a fifth place finish in the first heat race, Sitterly was involved in a turn three jingle with Michael Muldoon which sent Sitterly pit side crediting him with just an eighth place finish in the second qualifying heat.
The Nicotra team, which had a back-up car on site, went to work immediately on the No. 7 car and made repairs in time for Sitterly to start 20th in the main event, seven spots behind Lavery. Had Sitterly gone to his back-up car No. 6 the team would have relinquished the Owner’s championship to Double Deuce Racing and Lavery.
Entering the main event Sitterly’s eleven point margin had been cut down to only eight. Despite starting seven positions behind Lavery it did not take Sitterly long to find the back bumper of the No. 22, which he stayed glued to for the majority of the event. Lavery and Sitterly would cross the line in tandem in fourth and fifth, making the final count +5 for Sitterly.
“We had an episode in the heat race there, it’s racing, it happens,” said Sitterly to infield announcer Danny Johnson. “What an awesome crew, awesome owner, awesome wife. A huge thanks to everybody.”
Sitterly went on to comment further on the heat incident and how his team rebounded.
“I thought we were looking good at the beginning of the heat race, it was just an unfortunate thing that happened there,” said Sitterly. “Luckily there wasn’t a whole lot of damage and the team talked about it and we decided to straighten the axle instead of replacing it as I was really afraid we would lose the set-up if we changed it. This whole thing is definitely a team effort, there is not a single guy doing this deal.”
Earning a fifth championship and joining the likes of Swift, Shampine, and Warren all-time truly struck Sitterly.
“It’s wild and it really means a lot,” commented Sitterly. “As silly as it sounds it means a lot to be able to hold your whole hand up and show how many you have won. Never would I have dreamt, and I know it is an old story but it is my story, I never would have dreamt to be doing this kind of stuff, ever. I am very fortunate, we work hard, but I know that I am a very fortunate man to be able to do this stuff.”
Brandon Bellinger and Danzer would lead the Novelis Supermodified field to green for the Bosco & Geers Food Market/Oswego County Federal Credit Union 50-lap main event, with Bellinger gaining the early edge in the No. 02. Bellinger led until a four car incident in turn one involving Jarett Andretti, Dave Gruel, Brian Sobus, and Randy Ritskes slowed action before the completion of lap one. Andretti would rejoin the field, as he hunted down the Cleaning For a Reason Rookie of the Year title, while Ritskes, Gruel and Sobus would all call it a day.
After another take off caution involving the No. 81 of Kelly Miller, Danzer would snag the point from Bellinger and immediately pull out to a sizeable lead in the No. 52. With Danzer pulling out, Lavery began his charge from 13th on the grid and by lap two was up to the fourth position in the No. 22. Lavery knew he would have to best Sitterly by at least three positions to take the championship, and he put himself in position very early on.
Just like Lavery; Gosek and Barnes were putting on a clinic working through the field and by lap four each had moved into fifth and sixth respectively. As Gosek and Barnes moved through the field, Danzer continued to pull away looking for win number two on the 2012 season.
With Danzer dominating the field out front, all eyes turned toward the battle for the title as Sitterly began to slide his way through the pack in search of Lavery. Sitterly, who started 20th on the grid, had worked to ninth by lap 8 and continued to press hard.
A caution at lap 9 for debris in turn one helped Sitterly’s cause as the field bunched up for the restart. Just prior to lap 10 the leader board showed Danze,r Bellinger, Connors, Lavery, Gosek, Barnes, Jeff Abold, Shaun Gosselin, Sitterly, and Stephen Gioia III.
On the restart Gosek truly showed his hand, slipping passed Lavery for fourth low into turn one as he quickly began to draw in both Connors and Bellinger. At some point in this sequence the Lavery No. 22 developed front wing damage as well, as the front foil dangled helplessly in the air off the front of the No. 22.
By the 17th circuit Sitterly had worked his way into seventh, just two positions behind Lavery. At this point, Sitterly’s seventh to Lavery’s fifth would have been enough for Sitterly to claim the title. One lap later Gosek found room underneath Connors in turn three to take third lining up behind Bellinger.
As Gosek continued to move through the field Lavery, Barnes, and Sitterly all ran in line until Barnes suddenly pulled into the pit area in the No. 99, which moved Sitterly to sixth. Now, Sitterly could see the back bumper of Lavery which was more than enough to guarantee a fifth title for Sitterly.
Gosek’s march through the field continued on lap 22 as he worked his way by Bellinger for the runner-up spot and in just eight laps Gosek closed a half straightaway on Danzer to move onto his rear deck lid for the lead.
Another fine run for Bellinger would come to an end at lap 32 as he spun the No. 02 in turn three. The caution lights would come on bringing on another restart with Danzer, Gosek, Connors, Lavery, Sitterly, Gosselin, Joey Payne, Gioia, Abold, and rookie TJ Woolsey in the Top 10.
Lavery, who has been brilliant on restarts this season, tried Connors on the high side for third as the green lights came back on but was unable to make it stick. Just one lap later Gosek stormed to the inside of Danzer to officially take the lead on lap 33. Once Gosek got out front he quickly showed he had the fastest car on the Speedway leaving the rest of the field in his wake.
By lap 41 Gosek had a full straight lead and only nine laps later he crossed underneath the Cam’s NY Pizzeria checkered flag for his second win of 2012.
Danzer, Connors, Lavery, and Sitterly finished the top five ahead of Gosselin, Payne, Abold, Gioia, and Woolsey.
Danzer, who earned a win back in June of this season, spoke with Danny Johnson afterward.
“The car was pretty good tonight, but we just missed the stagger in the feature, the car was way too tight,” said Danzer. “I got a little loose coming out of four when Joe got underneath me and he was long gone. He was in another world tonight.”
Dan Connors was pleased with another podium finish to end the 2012 regular season.
“That was a tough race, there were a lot of wrecks around us,” said Connors. “Luckily we made it through, almost in one piece, and it’s just nice to be back up here and have a good run for the end of the season.”
Saturday, August 18th, 2012
Bosco and Geers/Oswego County Federal Credit Union Track Championship Night
August 25th – NEMA Midgets, NEMA Lites, US Legends Cars
Feature (50-laps): 1. 00 – Joe Gosek, 2. 52 – Dave Danzer, 3. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 4. 22 – Pat Lavery, 5. 7 – Otto Sitterly, 6. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 7. 20 – Joey Payne, 8. 05 – Jeff Abold, 9. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 10. 43 – TJ Woolsey, 11. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 12. 56 – Hal LaTulip, 13. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr., 14. 0 – Jarett Andretti, 15. 99 – Mike Barnes, 16. 06 – Dave Cliff, 17. 87 – Keith Gilliam, 18. 24 – Jerry Curran, 19. 88 – Randy Ritskes, 20. 60 – Brian Sobus, 21. 50 – Dave Gruel, 22. 81 – Kelly Miller, 23. 14 – Joe Chillemi, 24. 50m – Michael Muldoon
(Otto Sitterly wins 5th Novelis Supermodified championship, defeating Pat Lavery by just five points)
1st Heat (12laps): 1. 05 – Jeff Abold, 2. 01 – Dan Connors Jr., 3. 02 – Brandon Bellinger, 4. 0 – Jarett Andretti, 5. 22 – Pat Lavery, 6. 87 – Keith Gilliam, 7. 81 – Kelly Miller, 8. 14 – Joe Chillemi
2nd Heat (12laps): 1. 52 – Dave Danzer, 2. 88 – Randy Ritskes, 3. 24 – Jerry Curran, 4. 99 – Mike Barnes, 5. 50m – Michael Muldoon, 6. 43 – TJ Woolsey, 7. 06 – Dave Cliff, 8. 7 – Otto Sitterly
3rd Heat (12laps): 1. 26 – Shaun Gosselin, 2. 60 – Brian Sobus, 3. 9 – Stephen Gioia III, 4. 50 – Dave Gruel, 5. 20 – Joey Payne, 6. 00 – Joe Gosek, 7. 44 – Bobby Haynes Jr., 8. 56 – Hal LaTulip