Dave Shullick Jr. put an exclamation point on a championship season at Oswego Speedway Sunday, September 3, using patience, talent and an outstanding racecar to score his first Budweiser International Classic 200 victory, one year removed from running out of fuel while leading on lap 198 of the 200-lap grind.
Starting fourth in the 33-car field, Shullick drove a textbook race in the Royal Purple / G&I Homes / Riccelli Northern / John Nicotra Racing No. 2. The Ohio driver would ride in the top five throughout the first three-quarters of the race before making his move just past the lap 150 mark.
As many veteran supermodified racers will say, the Classic “really starts at lap 150” and everything up until that point is a matter of saving tires and saving the racecar. Shullick would do this masterfully, as attrition would bring him from fifth to third when Tim Snyder and Tim Devendorf would wreck while running in the second and third positions, respectively.
Now sitting third, the Shoe 2 made his move into second and past fellow multi-time ISMA champion Chris Perley on lap 152. Shullick would immediately begin to apply pressure to leader Mike Muldoon Jr., who had led since the early laps of the contest.
Clearly showing that he had saved his tires and earned the best running car at the late juncture of the race, it would only take DJ less than 10 laps to make his way under Muldoon into turn one and to the lead.
Similar to last year, DJ would pull out to a large lead over the final quarter of the race, and fans and the Nicotra Racing team would wait to see if the 2 would have enough fuel to go the distance. And fuel was never an issue, as Shullick would cruise, navigating through lap traffic looking almost effortless and cross the finish stripe a comfortable 4.1 seconds in front of runner-up Michael Barnes.
“It feels amazing to be Classic champion,” Shullick smiled. “My dad got second in this race three times so to finally get one done for the Shullick family feels awesome. I just tried to be smart tonight because it was kind of a weird race, there was a lot of guys up front that I didn’t expect to be there, so the pace of the race was a bit different than I thought. I just ran my race and it kind of came to me and at the end I had plenty of car to do what I needed to do.
“I really need to thank Otto for maintaining my car and giving me one that can go 200 laps,” Shullick added. “If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have been in contention to win at the end. I need to thank Johnny (Nicotra) for all he does, giving us the cars to run up front and to Dan Sr, Dan Jr, and the entire crew because without them we couldn’t have done a thing all year. They stuck behind me so thanks to all of them. Of course, thanks to Royal Purple, G&I Homes, CORR/PAK, Riccelli Northern and all the backers of this Nicotra Racing effort. We’re happy to have everyone on board and bring them a Classic victory.”
Teammate and team chief mechanic Otto Sitterly may have been Shullick’s toughest competition had the race played out the way the team had hoped. Starting third, Otto would take the lead from Keith Shampine on lap 1 and lead the first dozen circuits before Muldoon moved into the top spot on lap 13.
Snyder would pass Otto a handful of laps later and Sitterly would proceed to ride in the third position until disaster struck on lap 101, when Devendorf would charge into turn three underneath Otto and make contact with the left side of the Royal Purple / Nicotra Racing No. 7, sending the Otto hard into the outside wall. Unfortunately, Otto’s race and his bid for a fifth International Classic win would be finished.
Nicotra Racing actually fielded four Hawk chassis supermodifieds in this year’s Classic with Pat Lavery driving the No. 6 and Joey Moriarty driving the No. 51, which Nicotra Racing purchased from him over the summer.
Lavery would make several pit stops and go multiple laps down to repair the head support on the car. He would salvage a respectable 11th-place finish.
Moriarty would have one of his best Oswego Speedway runs to date in the 51, rounding out the top five and completing all 200 laps.
DJ’s Classic victory completes another awesome Oswego Speedway Novelis Supermodified season for Nicotra Racing. In his first season competing for a track championship, DJ would win four regular-season feature events, the Oswego track championship, Bud Classic 200 and finish top five in 10 of 12 races.
While Otto didn’t score a win, he would finish P2 in the final point standings and race his No. 7 to top-fives in seven of 12 starts and top-10 in 9 of 12 starts.
Thank you to all our great team, fans and sponsors for making 2017 another great year for John Nicotra Racing!