The following is a press release from Nicotra Racing, regarding Otto Sitterly’s championship.
It also features some excellent interviews by Chris Porter, with Sitterly and Nicotra. Enjoy!
FIFTH OSWEGO SUPER TITLE PLACES SITTERLY IN ELITE COMPANY
Oswego, N.Y. (August 20, 2012) - There were moments of doubt Saturday night at Championship Night at Oswego Speedway, but when the checkered flag waved on the last regular season 50-lapper of the Novelis Supermodified season, Otto Sitterly was a track champion in the track’s premier division for the fifth time in seven years.
Sitterly’s fifth championship joins him with Oswego greats Jim Shampine, Nolan Swift and Bentley Warren as the only drivers to ever win five or more championships at the lakeside oval.
An up-and-down 2012 followed a similar season last year, which saw Sitterly finish third in the final super points but finish on a high note with his second Budweiser International Classic 200 triumph.
While the events of this year’s version of the Classic will be told in couple weeks, Sitterly and the John Nicotra Racing gang can hang their hats on a return to the top of the Oswego supermodified points pedestal.
The G&I Homes-sponsored team entered the night a slim 11 markers ahead of the ultra-consistent Pat Lavery, who had put together a string of top-five and -10 finishes that would have him in the thick of any points battle.
Lavery, fastest in practice, finished a disappointing fifth in his heat but was relieved when Sitterly had mechanical issues on the front-end of his Hawk Jr. machine, which forced him to retire from his heat race. Otto was credited with an eighth-place result, leaving him only eight points in front of Lavery heading into the main event.
“It was just an unfortunate thing,” Sitterly told reporter Chris Porter after the night’s action. “I saw Pat (Lavery) didn’t have a real good heat race and I kept telling myself, ‘just make it through the heat race without crashing, that’s all.’ And I figured we’d be up on him by some and we could just race him in the feature. But what are you going to do? I’ve said it for years, you just can’t have any type of game plan. It doesn’t work. You have to race what’s in front of you and take it as it comes.”
CLICK HERE to listen to the entire Chris Porter interview with Otto Sitterly.
An incident involving several cars on the opening laps of the feature advanced Otto and Lavery’s positions early in the race, and after starting 20th, the blue Nicotra machine was already up to 12th after only one lap.
Sitterly methodically advanced through the field from there, picking off one car after another to move into seventh by lap 12. With Lavery running fifth, Sitterly needed to pass one more car to put himself in solid position to ride behind Lavery and secure his fifth championship.
He did so on lap 19, when Mike Barnes retired from his fifth-place position to advance Otto to the last slot in the top five.
Sitterly proceeded to run behind Lavery for the remainer of the affair, and while it appeared he had clear opportunities to make the pass for fourth, the veteran was content to ride it out and secure another track championship for the Nicotra team.
When asked by Porter if there was any particular plan heading into the feature, Sitterly responded.
“I knew from the start I had some iron between me and Pat. We have a little bit different of a setup in the car this week and last week, and it seems to be pretty good early. So I knew the car could go to the outside, and I knew early everyone would peel it off and go to the hubrail and I knew our car would go to the outside into (turn) three pretty good. But I knew the (points) spread we had going into the feature, so I knew if I could get to his bumper I’d stay there and not let anyone get past me, if at all possible,” Sitterly commented.
Sitterly’s faithful, driven car owner, John Nicotra, spoke with great pride on his driver’s fifth overall title, and fourth under the Nicotra racing banner.
“I need to thank Otto and his family and all the guys who help out,” Nicotra said. “I’d like to thank my wife for putting up with all this. You know, she’s got some health issues right now that she’s battling and this is for her and I thank her for letting me do everything that she does.”
CLICK HERE to listen to the full John Nicotra interview.
Next up for Nicotra Racing is the most prestigious supermodified show of the year, the Budweiser International Classic 200 on Sept. 2. Sitterly will be in the market for his second Bud Classic win in a row and third overall, while Davey Hamilton will be back behind the wheel of a Nicotra machine in search of his second Classic win.
It’s yet to be known who, if anyone, will drive a third Nicotra Hawk Jr mount. As Nicotra mentioned in his interview with Porter, Mike Lichty would be the front-runner for the ride if the team chooses to enter a trio of supers for the Classic.
Supermodified driver Tim Snyder, who had to step out of the driver’s seat several weeks ago, has been given the go-ahead to get back in the driver’s seat. After driving the car into mid-June, the “Zero Hero” had to step out from behind the wheel due to problems related to a blood clot in his leg. This week, Snyder has been given the clearance from his doctor to crank it up. “The doctor said I could race it this week if I wanted to”, said Snyder.
But the return won’t happen for this weekend’s championship night. Jarett Andretti, who has been driving the car for the last several weeks in Snyder’s absence, will be hoping to clinch the rookie of the year championship. Andretti currently rides 24 points ahead of Dave Cliff Jr. in the rookie race, with one point race remaining.
“Jarett is still in the car for this weekend only”, added Snyder. “But as it stands right now, I’ll be running Classic”. The 2001 Classic winner has a special knack for this race, and is excited about this year’s chances. Rumors of the team trying to recruit other drivers for Classic are untrue, said Snyder.
Local fans are happy to see the veteran and former winner back in the saddle again. Go get ‘em, Timmy!
A recently announced 602 Crate Dirt Sportsman event on August 31st at Oswego Speedway has turned into a conflict in central New York, when Brewerton Speedway also announced an event for the same division, on the same night. “This is, and isn‘t, a defensive move”, said Brewerton Speedway representative Cory Reed. “This is kind of our built division- something we’ve built. Why would we want to hand something we’ve built, to someone else?”, added Reed. But that’s not why this race was scheduled, said Reed, “we had this show kind of already planned. This wasn’t a reaction, we just hadn’t announced it yet.”
Oswego Speedway’s Eric Torrese confirms that the show will go on, and is excited about putting the dirt sportsman drivers in front of a new audience. Said Torrese “Oswego Speedway’s Classic Weekend is one of the biggest race weekends in the northeast, and this race could be excellent exposure for the sportsman division. If people see them and like them, they’ll go looking for them where they race weekly.”
After the Xtreme Sprints, a traveling division of winged sprints that were scheduled for that night at Oswego Speedway pulled out, speedway management went looking for a high quality event to replace them. After seeing the sportsman a few weeks earlier at Brewerton Speedway, the Torreses were so impressed that they asked one of the drivers, Jeremy Pitcher, to come to the track for a test. When the test went well, track management made sure that there weren’t any sportsman events scheduled nearby for that night, and after it was determined that this was a “night off” for the division, the date was set. It was announced on August 7th, with a healthy purse of $7,300. Brewerton’s announcement came on August 12th. “If they were running any place else that night, we wouldn’t have scheduled them at all”, said Torrese.
“We will probably run them 8-10 times next year”, said Reed, and wanted to see what kind of a turnout that they could get for a weekly show, with a regular purse, of “probably $500-600 to win”. Reed confirmed that as of press time that this is NOT a points race of any kind, and drivers are welcome to run either race. “Go try it - we’re not going to hold it against you”, he said, feeling that most of their guys want to run dirt. Reed hopes that there are enough cars that run both events, and wishes Oswego Speedway and their event the best. But added, “don’t cannibalize our class because you don’t have a class. We don‘t want to have our cars wrecked or blown up before our Saturday (September 1st at Fulton Speedway) show.”
“Short track racing is a struggle right now, and we’re not looking for a conflict. I hope fans will support short track racing at any track, not just ours”, said Torrese. “I look at this event as supporting short track racing - not as competition.” For years supermodifieds raced annually on the dirt track during Super Dirt Week in Syracuse, and it wasn’t looked upon as dirt tracks trying to steal pavement drivers, or pavement tracks trying to steal dirt drivers. “This was a one race deal”, confirmed Torrese.
As an attendee of both tracks, I see this as a loss for many fans and competitors. I thoroughly enjoy the sportsman division, and look forward to the next time I get to see them at Brewerton Speedway, where they put on such a great show last month. But as an Oswego Speedway fan, I’m disappointed that I won’t get to see as many as I expected to see at Oswego, where I will be that night.
This has the potential to be a historic event, and I’m excited for the drivers that will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to compete at the historic oval, where such legendary modified names as Evans, Shampine, Bouchard, Bodine, Spencer, Sacks, and Troyer had competed. The fact that drivers will not have to decide about missing points, or be concerned that their “regular” speedway will be mad at them, will bring some of them to Oswego. While the field will be splintered, there are still a lot of cars out there, and both tracks should have an excellent show.
To be announced soon - 602 Crate Engine dirt Sportsman cars will be added to the field on Friday night of Classic Weekend.
Driver Jeremy Pitcher attended a practice session at the speedway recently, and looked great on the track. Now Pitcher’s team has stated on Facebook that a race will be scheduled, and will be announced this week.
After a few sessions on the track, Pitcher looked very smooth in the car. Pitcher cracked 20 seconds with his sportsman, and looked great. I could definitely picture a field of 24 dirt sportsman cars flying around the track.
This division will be a great addition to Friday night’s card. During a mid-week trip to Brewerton Speedway a few weeks ago, and owners John and Eric Torrese were very impressed with the division - and their 52 car field! The purse that I heard is very lucrative, and should bring a ton of cars to the weekend. As a dirt guy who happens to race on asphalt, I can’t wait to see these guys! Great add.
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As a driver/owner in the Limited Supermodified division, JJ Andrews covers mostly Oswego Speedway events, from a driver's point of view.