OSWEGO, NY – Defending Oswego Speedway track champion Dave Shullick Jr. parked the Futuri Media, John Nicotra Racing No. 2 machine in victory lane for his second straight opening night checkered in the first of two Jim Shampine Memorial twin feature events contested this past Saturday.
Shullick, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, won last year’s season opener to rebound after running out of fuel while leading the 2017 Budweiser International Classic 200.
This year, ‘The Shoe 2’ was singing a different tune as the defending Classic champ had all the confidence in the world approaching Oswego’s 68th season and also a new crew chief in longtime Supermodified fine tuner Jim Paternoster.
It appears as though the new combination is working quite well as Shullick drove from sixth place to the lead in the early stages and never looked back.
“The car was really good all day,” Shullick said post-race. “The changes we made over the winter really seemed to improve it. Jim (Paternoster) and I work really well together. Today was excellent.”
Dave Gruel and Dave Danzer made up the front row for the first feature with Danzer jumping out to the early lead in the No. 52.
Gruel quickly faded back out of the top three as fourth starting Otto Sitterly moved into second right away in the former Moriarty No. 51 turned Nicotra Racing No. 7.
Danzer lead early on with Sitterly giving chase, but soon the car on the move was Shullick from sixth.
Sitterly pushed high off turn two leaving the low lane open for Shullick who took advantage and marched into second.
By just a mere few laps later, Shullick drove around the outside of Danzer to take the lead.
At the same time, seventh and eighth starting Michael Barnes and Keith Shampine had also gotten by Sitterly to move into third and fourth before a handful of cautions set up opportunity for some of the front runners to pressure Shullick for the victory.
The caution flag flew for the first time on lap 10 when Bill Sharkey went around in the Shark Motorsports No. 71 over in number one.
This caution stacked the field up again allowing Barnes and Shampine to close in on Danzer as well as give Sitterly the chance to stick with the top four as he had since fallen back to fifth.
Barnes gave it everything he had, but all race long, Shullick just continued to run away on the restarts.
Rookie Nathan Schultzkie had a tire blow on the UniFi No. 26 and backed it into the turn 2 wall on lap 18.
Another yellow flag was thrown on lap 21 when Lou LeVea Jr. spun out going down the frontstretch and into the first turn.
Seven more laps were completed before Dan Connors Jr. had mechanical problems on the No. 01 and came to a sudden halt on the frontstretch, collecting rookie Tyler Thompson and causing minor damage to the Team Tapout No. 98T.
During the lap 28 caution, Gruel also went to the pits showing smoke out of the U-Pull U-Save No. 50 machine and pulled the car in nose first.
On lap 29, Barnes was finally able to make his way by the No. 52 of Danzer on the restart to take over second.
Danzer then got a bit out of shape six circuits later on lap 35 allowing Shampine and Sitterly by as well to take over the third and fourth spots.
Even with another yellow on lap 40 for Jeff Abold, who had fire coming out of the No. 05 down the backstraightaway, Shullick was still too much for the No. 68 of Barnes.
Barnes said, ”We are in a much better direction than last year. The car was great, we just weren’t quite aggressive enough on the setup. We have a better idea of what way to go and I’m real happy with second to DJ, but we didn’t have anything for him.”
Shullick pulled away from Barnes, Shampine, Sitterly and Danzer in the top five to run away with the first Jim Shampine Memorial Twin and was ecstatic to be back in victory lane after five main event victories last season.
“After today we know what our baselines are and what we need to have ready to go for the rest of these races,” Shullick said. “I’m looking forward to coming back in two weeks and want to say thanks to Futuri Media for coming onboard this year. They are a great company and I’m happy to put them in victory lane.”
Brandon Bellinger, Joe Gosek, Chris Perley, Aric Iosue, and Dan Bowes completed the top ten.
Bowes’ top ten effort was put together as part of the ISMA regular’s first-ever non-wing main event at Oswego.
Lou LeVea Sr, LeVea Jr. and Hal LaTulip were the last cars on the track in eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth, while Abold, Dave McKnight, Gruel, Connors, Thompson, Schultzkie, and Sharkey all did not finish.
LeVea Sr. was the hard charger for driving from twentieth to eleventh while Bowes was the up and comer in his first ever Novelis Supermodified start.
Heat wins for the night went to Perley, Shullick, and Sitterly.
A recap of the second Jim Shampine Memorial Twin 50 is available at Oswego Speedway.com.
The speedway returns to action on June 9 when A&P Auto Parts will present a 50-lap Novelis Supermodified and 30-lap Pathfinder Bank SBS feature as part of the 2018 ‘Road to the Championship.’