By Camden Proud
OSWEGO, NY (July 17, 2017) – Dave Shullick Jr. continued his dominance of Oswego Speedway’s Novelis Supermodified division this past Saturday night after taking advantage of misfortune for race leaders Dan Connors Jr. and Brandon Bellinger to pick up his fourth victory of the season with the Nicotra Racing No. 2 machine.
The field was lead to green early on by Connors and Lou Levea Jr, two drivers who both have won the Lighthouse Lanes Up and Comer Award on multiple occasions this season in search of their first victories.
Connors proved strong all night long, jumping out to the lead from the pole in the Paul’s Big M No. 01 machine and early on it was Bellinger, Michael Barnes, Shullick and his teammate Otto Sitterly on the move as by lap 10, Bellinger had worked to second from fourth, Barnes to third from sixth, Shullick to fourth from twelfth and Sitterly from fifth to ninth.
After meticulously marching his way through the field for the second consecutive week from the final handicap starting spot, Shullick worked by Gruel, LeVea, Jeff Abold, Joe Gosek, Keith Shampine, and after a tremendous battle in the first half of the race, Sitterly and Barnes as well.
On lap 20, Shullick was up to the third and final podium spot and in pursuit of Connors and Bellinger, as the 02 and 2 began chasing down the early race leader. But he wasn’t done yet.
The yellow flag came out for a second time on lap 24 for a second spin by Bill Sharkey, who shortly thereafter took the No. 71 Shark Motorsports ride pitside.
It was at the same time that misfortune struck for Gosek as ’00 Joe’ was forced to go pitside on lap 26 with mechanical issues.
On the restart, Sitterly turned the heat up, finding his way under Barnes for fourth and began his march towards the top three of Connors, Bellinger, and Shullick.
As Shullick tried to find his way by Bellinger, Connors pulled away and lead the field to lap 40 ahead of then fourth place Sitterly, Barnes, Shampine, Abold, Gruel, LeVea, and Tim Snyder in the top ten.
Lap 40, however, was when disaster struck for the two front runners in an interesting turn of events. Shullick and Bellinger made contact in turn one as Shullick attempted to move to the runner up spot which in result sent Bellinger into the first turn foam with a broken left front on the No. 02. Bellinger was done for the night, handing second over to Shullick and third to Sitterly. Or so everyone thought.
Heartbreak then struck for race leader Connors, who appeared to be well on his way to his first career Supermodified checkered flag. The nearly 10-year Oswego veteran stopped on the entrance to turn one with engine troubles, and in result gave the lead to Shullick and second to Sitterly.
With team Nicotra out front, Shullick set sail and was able to hold off his chief mechanic and teammate Sitterly, who is still winless since September of 2015, for career victory number four in the non-wing Supermodifieds and his fourth on the season. Barnes moved up to finish podium while Shampine and Abold rounded out the top five with LeVea, Logan Rayvals, Gruel, Snyder and Hal LaTulip completing the top ten.
“It was a tough race out there tonight, tough to pass, but you’ve got to take everything you can get with these things,” Shullick said. I didn’t think there was any contact with the 02 but I definitely apologize if that was the case. Other than that it was a good race, I got a little excited at the end because I saw Otto (Sitterly) right there on the jumbotron and I knew he was coming. Even though I was a little tight in the middle I was able to keep it up. It was a good race, to be able to come from 12th to the front, it was an absolute blast.
Sitterly was happy with a podium and enjoyed running with Shullick, however felt a small issue with the steering of the car cost him in the long run.
“We finally were able to have a bit better of a run tonight, it’s fun running with DJ (Shullick). Obviously we have pretty even equipment and he’s a great driver. When the 00 came out in front of us, it just bottled us up enough that I tried to miss everyone, but I still got a piece of Michael (Barnes’) car with the left front and it knocked the toe so it wasn’t really the same car after that. At the same time though, the two cars (the 2 and 7) are so equal. Running with Dave is just like running with any other guy, I pretty much know how he races for the most part. He’s a fair, hard racer and I trust him. The cars are inches away from each other in the shop every week so they might as well be on the track too.
Barnes was a little bit less satisified, struggling to keep up with the Nicotra cars and salvage a podium. He believes Shullick’s independent ride presents a huge advantage amongst the rest.
“We were alright tonight. I just feel like I’m chasing those blue cars. I believe DJ (Shullick) having the independent car and those newer updates gives those guys the advantage we are lacking right now. We can run fast and click off a 16.2 in open track, but it’s tough to race with those guys or pass anyone out there. We will just keep plugging away, keep chasing Otto (Sitterly) and Shullick but I believe that’s really an uphill battle right now.
With Shullick continuing to run and hide with the points lead, he will look to make it five wins in seven races on the season in this Saturday night’s $10,000 to win Mr. Supermodified event presented by Davis Brothers and Best Western/Quality Inn.
July 15, 2015
Feature (50-laps): 1. 2 Dave Shullick Jr, 2. 7 Otto Sitterly, 3. 68 Michael Barnes, 4. 55 Keith Shampine, 5. 05 Jeff Abold, 6.83 Lou LeVea Jr, 7. 94 Logan Rayvals, 8. 50 Dave Gruel, 9. 0 Tim Snyder, 10. 56 Hal LaTulip, 11. 01 Dan Connor Jr.s, 12. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 13. 00 Joe Gosek, 14. 71 Bill Sharkey, 15. 78 Guard Nearbin
Heat 1 (12-laps): 1. 55 Keith Shampine, 2. 2 Dave Shullick Jr, 3. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 4. 05 Jeff Abold, 5. 0 Tim Snyder, 6. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 7. 71 Bill Sharkey, 8. 94 Logan Rayvals
Heat 2 (12-laps): 1. 7 Otto Sitterly, 2. 01 Dan Connors Jr., 3. 68 Michael Barnes, 4. 50 Dave Gruel, 5. 00 Joe Gosek, 6. 56 Hal LaTulip, 7. 78 Guard Nearbin
Timed Hot Laps: 1. 68 Michael Barnes – 16.261, 2. 2 Dave Shullick Jr. – 16.331, 3. 7 Otto Sitterly – 16.381, 4. 55 Keith Shampine – 16.508, 5. 00 Joe Gosek – 16.694, 6. 02 Brandon Bellinger – 16.752, 7. 01 Dan Connors jr. – 16.896, 8. 05 Jeff Abold – 16.938, 9. 50 Dave Gruel – 17.061, 10. 0 Tim Snyder – 17.114, 11. 83 Lou LeVea Jr. -17.421, 12. 78 Guard Nearbin – 18.549, 13. 94 Logan Rayvals – 21.186
Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger: 2 – Dave Shullick Jr.
Lighthouse Lanes Up and Comer: 83 – Lou LeVea Jr.
Brad Penn Oil Supermodified Heat Winners: Keith Shampine, Otto Sitterly