Defending Oswego Speedway Champ Shullick Shooting For Fifth-Straight In ‘Port City’ Shampine Memorial 75

Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – Defending track champion Dave Shullick Jr. will be chasing rare company come Opening Day as the North Ridgeville, OH shoe aims to start his title defense by joining legendary drivers Ronnie Lux, Todd Gibson, Nolan Swift, Jim Shampine, Doug Heveron, Bentley Warren, Greg Furlong, and Otto Sitterly, among those to win five or more consecutive Oswego Speedway Supermodified features.

Piloting the Chris Osetek owned and built No. 95, Shullick comfortably clinched the second track championship of his career at Oswego; and the first for car owner Osetek, by a 62 point margin over Sitterly a year ago.

He capped his masterful championship season to the tune of four straight wins, including in the 34th Mr. Supermodified and 65th International Classic, for what was the second Classic victory of his career and yet another first for Osetek. To put icing on the cake, Shullick also set a new track record at 15.694 seconds last August.

With Opening Day on the horizon; one of the events won by Shullick in 2021; both driver and the Osetek team are ready for battle and carry all the momentum in the world into what is only their third full season together – and that is a scary thought for competitors after how the end of 2021 panned out in the Supermodified division.

“In our first season, we were able to get a win early on, but had a few struggles, a couple of big crashes, and a few growing pains with the new car,” Shullick recalled. “Last season, we felt prepared, and came out of the gate strong, winning on Opening Night, and then were able to carry that momentum into the rest of the year. It ended up being one of the best seasons of my career. After last year, we are really excited to get things going this year. Obviously I want to win more races, but it all just comes back to being consistent. We have proven we can win and the car is fast, but doing that season after season is definitely the hardest part. That is the big goal is continuing to put a consistently fast race car on the track. I want to go out and win races and have fun, and that will hopefully lead to more wins, championships, and Classics.”

Notably, Shullick and Osetek’s partnership formed at a time when the new tail wing mandate was already very much in the wind – a mandate that to some may feel like has been in place forever now, but it is only a mere two seasons old.

As drivers and teams continue with fine tuning their equipment to adjust to the new aerodynamic package, it was crystal clear by the end of last season that Shullick and Osetek have hit on something that nobody else has been able to crack just yet. Of Shullick’s five wins, four out of the five were captured in sheer domination.

“I don’t think it is any one specific thing, but what I could point to is the year of covid when we didn’t race” said Shullick of his success. “We hot lapped twice and got a lot of practice in and we learned so much of the car that we hadn’t before. Some of the things that we learned during the sessions are in the car now. It’s just one building block on top of the next. If you look back to the end of the first year Chris and I ran together, the last two or three races we were really fast. We were finishing at the front and had the car going well. It just put us in a place to continue to learn on the car and keep building, and building, and building, and I hope that is what we will continue to be able to do this year is just work on the setup, and give as much feedback to the team as I can. I have a really good feel for this car and that is huge. It means a lot when I can come in and say ‘hey Chris, can you switch this, or change that,’ and then when he makes a change without telling me and I can feel it in the car immediately, that’s very important. It’s those little things that at the end of the day make a huge difference when you are on the track.”

Shullick, a lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, has been making the weekly commute from his Ohio home to the Speedway since 2017. He spent 2017 and ‘18 with John Nicotra Racing, before teaming up with Osetek Racing, where he has been the last two seasons.

Although winning five or more main events in a single season has only been done four times in the last decade, last year was not the first time Shullick has pulled off this feat.

In 2017, he also managed a total of five feature wins during his first full-time go with Nicotra, and would follow that up with four more wins, once again driving the blue deuce in 2018.

He later tacked on his first and only win with Osetek in 2019 before adding the next five to his grand total of 15 wins last season – an awfully quick success story for someone who had never won in Oswego Supermodified competition prior to 2017.

In fact, since ‘The Shoe 2’ took to Oswego full-time, no one has even come close to winning as much as Shullick; who at 15, has the most wins out of any driver during the last four seasons to Sitterly’s eight, Michael Barnes’ six, and Keith Shampine and Tyler Thompson’s three.

Behind these five drivers, nobody has won more than twice in the last four years, and a total of 15 drivers have won features, with drivers six through ten; Jeff Abold, Joe Gosek, David Gruel, Brandon Bellinger, and Alison Sload winning twice, and drivers eleven through fifteen; Michael Muldoon, Chris Perley, Dave Danzer, Max McLaughlin, and Mike Bruce winning once, meaning that Shullick alone has accounted for 30 percent of feature wins since 2017.

Beyond his on-track success, when asked what keeps him content with getting in the car almost every Friday night in the summer and starting the six hour drive east, Shullick was quick to say, “I love everything about Oswego Speedway. It is where I want to win races. I plan to be there for the foreseeable future, and the best part is we make all of this a big family thing which is really important to me. We tow the camper out there every year, and we cook out, have bonfires, and everything is done as a family. My in-laws even come from six hours in the other direction to buy the camping spot next to us and take things in. It’s just really a lot of fun, and it’s about so much more than just racing, but from a track perspective; the history, the competition, the people that are there. When you have guys like Doug Didero, who had a car built specifically to come race with us, Otto Sitterly and everything he is doing, just all of the competitors and the competition that race us there to make it the total package. It has been the perfect fit for me, so that is why we want to continue doing it for many years to come.”

Shullick will be honored for his 2021 driver championship and Osetek for Car Owner of the Year at the Speedway Season Kickoff Party and Celebration of 2021 Champions at Bayshore Grove in Oswego on Friday, May 20 from 6 to 10pm.

Oswego Speedway’s 71st season will begin on Saturday, May 28 with the return of the historic ‘Port City 150’ presented by Barlow’s Concessions, and headlined by the 75-lap Jim Shampine Memorial for the Novelis Supermodifieds. An Open Practice will be held Saturday, May 21.

 

Handicapping Procedures Announced for 2022 Season

Oswego Speedway officials have announced this year’s regular season handicapping procedure for the Novelis Supermodified, Pathfinder Bank SBS, and J&S Paving 350 Super divisions ahead of the track’s 71st Season Kickoff on Saturday, May 28.

For a third consecutive season, group time trials will line up heat races for the Supermodifieds, SBS, and J&S Paving 350 Supers for Opening Day on May 28, the Summer Championship on July 16, Mr. Supermodified on July 23, and Track Championship Night on August 20.

For the Supermodified Twin 35’s on June 11, SBS and 350 Super twins on June 18, the July 2 Independence Weekend Grand Prix, and ‘Retro Night’ on August 6, a random draw for starting position in heat races will be used for all divisions upon entering the Speedway.

Drivers will earn their spot in the draw by staying within one second of fast-time in warmups.

As always, all rookies will be required to start last in their heats for the first three weeks. After week three, it will be the race director’s decision on starting position.

Feature line-ups will be handicapped by taking the top four in heats or a total of twelve inverted based on the last three week’s results. For drivers who won the previous race they competed in, the best that competitor can start is 12th.

Drivers should also note that if there are only two heats run in any division, the top five in each heat, or ten total, will be inverted for the features.

Oswego Speedway’s 71st season will begin on Saturday, May 28 with the return of the historic ‘Port City 150’ presented by Barlow’s Concessions, and headlined by the 75-lap Jim Shampine Memorial for the Novelis Supermodifieds. An Open Practice will be held Saturday, May 21.

2021 track champions Dave Shullick Jr, Dan Kapuscinski, and Mike Bruce will be honored at the Speedway Season Kickoff Party and Celebration of Champions at Bayshore Grove, Oswego on Friday, May 20 from 6 to 10pm.

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