John Nicotra Racing Wins 50th Oswego Feature and Supermodified Challenge Championship in 2023
OSWEGO, NY (October 23, 2023) - John Nicotra Racing with drivers Otto Sitterly and Alison Sload accomplished another successful supermodified season in 2023 highlighted by a championship in Oswego Speedway’s Supermodified Challenge series, a runner-up finish in the Budweiser International Classic, and a milestone feature win at the Steel Palace on July 1.
Nine-time Oswego Supermodified champion Otto Sitterly focused on the winged International Supermodified Association series for the third consecutive year. Now known as ISMA / MSS after the November 2022 merger between ISMA and the Midwest Supermodified Series, Sitterly and Nicotra decided to follow the touring series’ full circuit again in 2023 to defend their back-to-back 2021 and 2022 ISMA championships.
Pennsylvania racer Alison Sload returned to Nicotra Racing for a fourth year to run Oswego Speedway’s full Novelis Supermodified schedule. The 2023 season marked the two-time Oswego feature winner’s return to full-time competition at the Steel Palace after not running the full schedule in 2022.
The team headed south to Western Pennsylvania’s Jennerstown Speedway in May for the series opener and got off to a slow start. A mechanical issue forced Sitterly’s No. 7 Bodnar super to the pits early, relegating his Flip Electronics / ONYX Hose & Tube / La Parrilla on the Water / CORR/PAK Merchandising machine to a P10 result.
Two weeks later Otto and Alison were in action at Oswego Speedway for the lakeside oval’s 2023 lid lifter, the annual Shampine Memorial 75 on Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend, which for the first time was serving as Round 1 of the Supermodified Challenge that would also include the three ISMA / MSS Oswego shows and the Bud Classic 200 on Labor Day weekend.
Sadly, the slow start to 2023 continued with neither Otto nor Alison finishing the 75-lapper.
The season would turn around in a big way in early June with Sitterly back behind the wheel at Oswego for Round 2 of the Supermodified Challenge, a 50-lap ISMA / MSS contest on June 3. Otto would start from the pole in this one and lead every lap for Nicotra Racing’s first win of the year.
Otto’s June 3 win kicked off an incredible run of consistent finishes for the team. It also began an extremely busy summer that saw a Nicotra super racing every weekend from the first weekend of June through Oswego’s Track Championship night August 19 (12 consecutive weekends).
Sload netted her first podium of the year a week after Otto’s win with a third-place finish at Oswego on June 10. A trip to Lorain Raceway for the Northeast Ohio track’s Super Crown Nationals saw Otto finish P5, P9 and P4 in the three features on the weekend. Alison would close the month with a sixth-place result in the 50-lap Novelis Super feature at Oswego on June 24.
July would open nearly identical to June with a milestone feature win for Otto and the Nicotra team Saturday, July 1. The night marked the third round of the Supermodified Challenge and the sixth round of the ISMA / MSS tour. Otto would draw the pole starting position for the second time of the year, and again do his job by leading each of the 50 laps on the way to his second win of the year.
The popular victory was a milestone for John Nicotra Racing as it gave the team owner 50 Oswego Speedway wins between winged and non-winged big block supermodified features at the famed lakeside oval — second on the all-time Oswego owner win list to the legendary Jim Shampine.
With 50 Oswego wins now a reality, the team went back to work a week later when Sload would finish just outside the top five in both Twin 40-lappers at Oswego on July 8, crossing the stripe P6 in the first main and P7 in the nightcap.
Third place would be the finishing position in each of the next three races as the 2023 season hit its second half.
Nicotra, Sitterly and crew would make the 600-plus-mile journey west to Berlin Raceway for the second annual Great Lakes Classic Friday-Saturday doubleheader in mid-July, where Otto would run third in each night’s main events. A week later Alison gave her No. 39 a solid drive in the 36th Annual $10,000-To-Win Mr. Supermodified 75, matching Otto’s P3 results at Berlin with a third-place run of her own.
Sitterly recorded seventh-place finishes at Sandusky Speedway at the Hy-Miler Nationals to close out July, and Alison was back in the top five the first Saturday of August with a P4 and P5 in Oswego’s second Twin 40 show of the year.
Round 4 of the Supermodified Challenge saw Otto round out the top five and hold onto the series points lead. Alison closed out Oswego’s regular season with a seventh-place finish on Track Championship Night. She’d end up fifth in the Oswego Novelis Supermodified point standings with two podiums, four top-fives and eight top-10s in nine features.
The highlight of Sload’s 2023 campaign was yet to come. The female racing standout from Pennsylvania would have her best drive of the year in the season’s biggest race, the International Classic 200.
After qualifying a solid P4 of 32 drivers, Sload kept her Nicotra Racing super inside the top five throughout the 200-lap grind and was in line for a P3 result when leader Michael Barnes ran dry on fuel with a couple laps to go. Sload would take advantage, moving into the runner-up position for a fine P2 podium finish — her best career Classic result and her best finish of the year.
And while Otto didn’t finish the Classic, his P20 result was enough to win him and Nicotra Racing the Supermodified Challenge points. His closest rival in the points, Ben Seitz, finished 11th in the Classic and needed at least one more spot to overtake Otto in the standings. Sitterly would win the $5,000 lion’s share of the $25,000 point fund by just three points over the New Englander.
After Classic Sunday, one race remained on the 2023 calendar — a new Championship Night event at Evans Mills Raceway Park in the North Country of New York to close out the ISMA / MSS series.
In the weeks leading up to Evans Mills, Nicotra Racing purchased a new super for its stable — the potent former No. 79 Jon McKennedy-driven winged super that had been driven to many feature wins over the past several seasons. The team opted to go with their new machine for Evans Mills in an attempt at a third straight ISMA (now ISMA / MSS) series championship.
But it wasn’t meant to be as a red flag halted the action on lap 15 and the repainted and renumbered Nicotra Racing No. 7 wouldn’t refire, forcing Otto to the pits and taking him out of the championship lead. He’d be credited with 19th and end up third in the final ISMA / MSS points.
Still, the 2023 campaign — Nicotra’s 17th consecutive as a supermodifed team owner — was another outstanding one for the Oswego and Canajoharie, N.Y.-based group, including another series championship with Otto’s triumph in the Oswego Supermodified Challenge.
This latest title gives Nicotra Racing an incredible six consecutive seasons with a championship — 2017, 2018 and 2019 at Oswego, the 2021 and 2022 ISMA championships and the 2023 Super Challenge. (There were no points series in 2020 due to the pandemic).
Nicotra Racing wishes to thank all of our team’s sponsors, fans and friends for their dedication and support in 2023 and throughout the years. Announcements will be made in the coming winter months on our team’s plans for 2024.
Submitted By: CAMDEN PROUD