Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – Fan favorite Alison Sload has confirmed her return to the Oswego Speedway for several shows in 2022, both in the Novelis Supermodified ranks as well as for two of three Oswego Winged Super Challenge Series events, once again at the controls of the John Nicotra owned, Otto Sitterly prepared No. 39.
Sload and the Nicotra team entered the offseason with much uncertainty as to future plans, but have come to an agreement that allows her return to the driver’s seat for a minimum of six races including the season opening Jim Shampine Memorial, Independence Weekend Grand Prix, Mr. Supermodified, the 66th International Classic, and two of the Winged Challenge Series events promoted by Nicotra.
“We are really excited about this year,” Sload said. “I never wanted to completely retire, but just scale back a little bit, and thanks to Johnny and Otto, I’m fortunate enough to have them willing to work with my family and I again. It will be a shorter season, we’ll take things a week at a time, and may add or take away races depending on how things are going, but we plan on hitting all of the big shows, two of the three winged shows, and hopefully Classic at Oswego. If things go well early on I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up doing a full season.”
Nicotra, who will begin his 15th season fielding Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway, is happy to have Sload and her family back onboard for what was somewhat of an unexpected third year with the Downingtown, PA driver.
“We’re looking forward to working with Alison and her family again,” Nicotra commented. “She is a very capable driver and has proven that over the last couple years. We all enjoy spending time with her and her family, and that’s something I’d hate to miss out on. With the thinking last year that 2021 was going to be it for her and things kind of winding down for us, we are very happy to be able to put another deal together with an approach that is going to work well for everyone involved this season.”
That approach involves a “one race at a time” mindset for the Nicotra team, including Alison, Otto, and the crew, who have chased points for the last fourteen seasons, bringing titles home to Sitterly’s shop a mind boggling ten out of the fourteen years between himself and Dave Shullick Jr.
“It will be a different feel this year with a one week at a time type deal for all three cars,” said Nicotra. “In the past we have always chased the points and that brings a lot of pressure. We’ve been successful and enjoyed it, but right now we’re taking it race by race. If we do run well, and don’t have any major accidents, we may end up chasing the points title again with Otto for ISMA and we’ll see about Alison at Oswego. We know we’re running her for at least the six races, the Winged Challenge Series with both of the cars, and we’ll do a lot of ISMA and MSS shows for Otto with the winged car and go from there. It is all a huge workload and some of our crew are getting older, we’ve lost a couple or had a few retire recently. It’s getting harder to have Otto do it the way we need and want to, so that’s why we are scaling back a little bit.”
Of course, with Alison’s return now official, the elephant in the room is the No. 7 Oswego Super, how much that would or would not be raced this season, and perhaps even who the driver may be, with ongoing rumors of potential retirement for Sitterly – at least from Oswego Speedway.
“At this point, the other Oswego car is for Otto if he wants it,” offered Nicotra. “If not, then we will probably just keep it as a backup if he doesn’t want to run any midseason shows, but come Classic time, if he doesn’t want to be in the cockpit, then Otto and I together will look to just put someone in it. At this point, I hope that the racer and competitive side of him comes out and I’d like to see him in the cockpit at Oswego for a few races. I am one hundred percent behind Otto no matter what he decides, but both of the two cars will definitely run Classic if possible, and I know we will at least get to see both Otto and Alison in the winged races at Oswego which I’m really excited about.”
Sload, who raced ISMA Supermodifieds full-time prior to joining the Nicotra team for her debut Oswego season in 2019, is equally as excited to give the Winged Challenge a try in her Hawk Chassis – her first winged start at Oswego for Nicotra. She has a career best runner-up finish to teammate Sitterly in the 2015 King of Wings event at the Steel Palace, then piloting her family No. 39 car.
“Oswego has always been my favorite track with or without a wing and Johnny is doing a great job putting the winged series together,” stated Sload. “I am almost more excited to get in a wing car there just for fun. It’s something different for us and we’re looking forward to seeing how my car handles with the wing. With Otto running those as well, I can learn a lot from him and we will be doing some practice mid-season, I’m sure. I unfortunately can’t make the June 4 race as my husband and I have a family reunion planned, but I’ll be there in July and August and it should be a lot of fun.”
In Oswego competition, Sload has gathered a pair of feature wins, as well as six top five and 15 top ten finishes in just two seasons driving for Nicotra. She is the only woman in history to win a Supermodified feature event of any kind.
While Alison’s main goal this year is to simply enjoy the camaraderie with Nicotra, Sitterly, and the team, racking up more wins is certainly on her mind.
“The big thing is to just have some fun. The whole team, including myself, just want to enjoy the summer,” mentioned Sload. “We don’t want to have to rush around for anything so if it works, it works, but if not, there is always the next race. Honestly I just want to keep racking up wins. It is always the goal and if that comes with a Mrs. Supermodified or a Classic win, then great, but my big thing is just stacking those up so I can make it tough on the one behind me to come beat it.”
Sload’s early sponsors for this season include Di & Dallas Krapf, Betsy & Dale Krapf, Jen & Anthony Lubrano, and Commercial Air Services.
The Oswego Supermodified season opens on Saturday, May 28 with the return of the historic ‘Port City 150’ Weekend, headlined by the 75-lap Jim Shampine Memorial for Novelis Supers.
Oswego’s Winged Super Challenge Series events will take place on June 4, July 9, and August 13, with both Nicotra cars in attendance for two of the three $6,000 to win specials.
2022 season ticket, individual race ticket, and camping pricing will be released in the coming weeks.
A date for camping renewals will also be announced in the near future.