A pair of “shoes” were the first to cross the checkered stripe last Saturday night at the Oswego Speedway, as cousins, Dave and Tyler Shullick earned feature wins on Independence Weekend. For Dave, it was Novelis supermodified win No. 3 on the season, the 14th of his career. However, it was career win No. 1 for Tyler in the Pathfinder Bank small block super division.
A heated battle between Dave Shullick, Jr. and Otto Sitterly that reached a boiling point just two weeks ago had fans wondering what might happen when the two hit the track for the 75-lapper. Starting side-by-side in the fifth row, Sitterly would lead the duo to the front of the pack before Shullick would take advantage of a Sitterly slip in turn No. 4.
Once past Sitterly’s No. 7, Shullick would then conquer Brandon Bellinger’s No. 02 for the lead and take flight, earning the win in dominating fashion. Unlike their previous outing, the two pilots would not make contact throughout their battle and would end up finishing on the podium together.
Adding drama, Shullick’s supermodified would begin smoking during the final laps – a result of a broken power steering bracket, but the lead he had built served as a strong enough buffer to allow him to ease his No. 2 home for the win.
With the previous week’s Twin 35 results, Shullick took a beating in the championship points chase. Saturday night’s win helped, but the defending track title holder still sits in fourth, 64 markers behind. It has him considering the possibility of taking the night off from Oswego and racing in his backyard this weekend.
More often than not, a driver will use a generous starting position to capture their first win. Driving the Denise Bond-owned No. 67, Tyler Shullick would truly earn his first checkered flag. Starting seventh on the grid in the 35-lap SBS main, Shullick would work his way around five feature winners in just five laps to take the command. Once there, he’d fend off the all-time leader in feature wins, Mike Bond, to secure it.
Before Dave Shullick caught Bellinger for the lead in the 75-lap big block feature event, Oswego’s Aric Iosue was the first to pass the No. 02 and lead the race early in the go. On the 15th lap, Bellinger and Iosue split the lapped car of Hal LaTulip on the back straightaway. Iosue would enter the third turn as the new race leader. However, shortly after taking control, Iosue’s No. 11 would end up slamming into the outside, third-turn wall while navigating lapped traffic. The hit was vicious, but Iosue would walk away.
Also caught up in the accident was IndyCar veteran, Davey Hamilton. It was Hamilton’s first race at Oswego this season. Driving the John Nicotora-owned No. 6, Hamilton would rebound after a quick stop in the pits to finish the race in sixth place. The former Idaho resident, now living in Indiana, is hoping to be back in the seat of the No. 6 once or twice before the International Classic.
Avoiding the same turn-three accident and racing to a career-best, fourth-place finish, Tyler Thompson added his first Novelis supermodified top five to the heat race win he pocketed earlier in the evening. It was another impressive evening for the rookie pilot of the No. 98. Thompson currently sits ninth in points.
Slowing working his way forward from a blown motor a few weeks ago, Brandon Bellinger raced his No. 02 to a fine runner-up spot on Saturday. Bellinger’s optimistic about the direction things are going with the car. He feels he knows where improvements can be made and is looking forward to seeing those changes pay dividends.
Back full-time this season in a completely reworked 2005 Hawk supermodified, is Chicago, Illinois resident, Shaun Gosselin. Gosselin looked impressive on Saturday, picking up a qualifying heat race win in his No. 77. He says he’s still getting used to the feel of the car, but says where he sees the most room for improvement is himself.
Gosselin says he needs to adjust his driving style to a division that has evolved into a much faster field than it was the last time he campaigned a full season. He says, due to family commitments, he will not be in the Port City this coming weekend. However, it should be the only blip for him on the rest of Oswego’s schedule.
The long anticipated return of Doug Didero finally came true last Saturday night. Unfortunately, the arrival did not include a racecar. Upon his arrival from North Carolina earlier in the week, Didero decided his brand new No. 3 supermodified was not yet race-ready. He’s now looking at July 21st’s Mr. Supermodified 75-lapper for his 2018 season debut. If everything goes as planned, another date would be squeezed in before Classic Weekend.
The car is being built in Oswego by John Colloca. Didero designed the car. Through drawings he sent Colloca and numerous phone conversations, the car came to life. A few changes emerged along the way, but Didero says he’s extremely satisfied with how the car has turned out. The project has been in the works for about 30 months.
A few other additions should be expected in the coming weeks. Brian Osetek says he’s looking to make his season debut in the No. 69 this coming Saturday or next weekend. Also, Jerry Curran said there’s a good chance Jeff West will be here on Saturday, but there’s a chance that it could be bumped back to the following week. Curran says he’s hoping to have the Brian Allegresso-built car he purchased from Jeff Holbrook at the track in the coming weeks, as well.
A new entry for 2018 albeit just for one week, Brian Sobus, found himself back in the cockpit of a supermodified again. Subbing for Nathan Schultzkie, Sobus was tabbed to try and find some speed in the No. 26 while Schultzkie was out of town. He’d end up pulling into the pits early with handling issues. With a family of his own and a new job, Sobus says the time required to field a competitive supermodified isn’t there for him right now. He still wants to race, but is looking for something a little less time-consuming.
Starting on the front row for the second time this year, Michael Bruce would end up finishing 18th. It’s been a rough start for the pilot of the No. 22 small block supermodified. Through the first four weeks of the season, the five-time feature winner has yet to earn himself a top 10. He sits 139 points behind championship chase leader, Russ Brown.
In addition to his early-season struggles at Oswego, Bruce has found trying to lead the new Lighthouse Lanes SBS Series a bit of a struggle, as well. It’s the second go-around to get a traveling series in motion – the first, being NORA (Northeast Organized Racer‘s Association), which put together dozens of races throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
The new Lighthouse Lanes organization had its second of three scheduled races last Friday night at Spencer Speedway, in Williamson. The car count was disappointing to say the least. If the organization is to be successful and provide SBS teams an opportunity to showcase and promote their division, team owners will need to work harder to ensure the product they can offer area tracks is worth the gamble.