photos by Ray Grela
OSWEGO, NY – North Ridgeville, Ohio’s Dave Shullick Jr. put together one of the most consistent and successful Oswego Speedway Novelis Supermodified seasons in recent memory in 2017 to notch his first track championship at the lakeside oval in his first season ever competing full time at the “Home of the Supermodifieds.”
Shullick announced last winter that after two consecutive ISMA winged supermodified series championships he would shift his focus to non-wing competition at Oswego and drive the Royal Purple / G&I Homes / Riccelli Northern / Nicotra Racing No. 2 full time in 2017.
Teaming with the Nicotra team and chief mechanic and seven-time track championship Otto Sitterly, Shullick and Sitterly entered the year as the odds-on favorites along with defending Oswego champ Michael Barnes to challenge for the 2017 title.
DJ, who entered the year winless in non-wing Oswego racing, immediately changed that statistic with a win in the opening night 50-lapper May 13. He nearly backed up his opening-night victory with a second straight win in the May 27 Jim Shampine Memorial 75, only to have a torque arm break while leading with only 10 laps to go.
After the Memorial Day disappointment, Shullick would go on a tear, driving the Nicotra 2 machine to wins in three of the next five feature events to build a large advantage in the standings by mid-July over closest challengers Otto, Barnes and Keith Shampine.
Top-five finishes in August – comprising results of 5th (Aug. 5), 2nd (Aug. 12) and 4th (Aug. 19) – would seal the championship for “The Shoe 2” in an incredibly consistent season and a dominating one in regards to the points championship chase.
Following his fourth-place finish Saturday night at Oswego, Shullick offered his thoughts on his championship-winning season.
“To bring an Oswego championship back to the state of Ohio is pretty special for me,” Shullick stated after recognizing Todd Gibson, who was the only Ohio driver previously to win an Oswego championship in 1968. “Everyone kept telling me I had the championship, but I never let that enter my mind. I just went out each week and did what I needed to do.
“Otto prepares a hell of a car for me; if anyone has any integrity it’s that man,’ DJ continued. “He ran behind me all season in the points, and each week he’d give me a car that I could go out and race wheel to wheel with him, and on some days my car was better than his, and I have a lot of respect for a guy that will do that for me. And thanks so much to John Nicotra and the entire crew for giving Otto and I the opportunity to do what we do. Of course, a big thanks to our fans and sponsors Royal Purple, G&I Homes, Riccelli Northern, CORR/PAK and everyone else.”
Otto would finish one position ahead of DJ in third in Saturday’s feature to wrap up his 2017 Oswego regular season. Otto’s P3 result was his seventh top five of the year. Only DJ and Joe Gosek (nine each) recorded more top-fives than Otto. His consistency was good enough for second place in the final championship standings.
“I think we had enough left in the car to get to those guys, but everyone was so good tonight. Lots of lapped traffic, so that made things challenging up front, but it was a really fun race to run, lots of battling with the lapped cars. At points there was like four of us that caught right up to the leaders in traffic so that made things interesting, but it was a really good race and I want to congratulate (Jeff Abold) on the win and of course my teammate DJ (Shullick) on his first track championship.”
The Nicotra Racing team has one race remaining to cap off the 2017 Oswego Speedway season. On Friday, September 1 International Classic weekend will begin with practice and time trials Friday night and the running of the Budweiser International Classic 200 Sunday, September 3.
Otto will be looking for Classic win No. 5 while DJ will be gunning for his first victory in the prestigious race. Oswego’s Pat Lavery will drive the Nicotra Racing No. 6 and Joey Moriarty will be in the No. 51 Nicotra Racing Hawk chassis.
John Nicotra Racing is a Supermodified race team owned by John Nicotra and maintained by driver and chief mechanic Otto Sitterly. Nicotra Racing is based in Homestead, Fla., and Canajoharie, N.Y., and has won four International Classic 200s, seven Oswego Supermodified track championships and currently 33 total Oswego feature races since their debut in 2007 – Otto Sitterly (28); DJ Shullick (4); Davey Hamilton (1).
Nicotra Racing is proud to be sponsored by G&I Homes, Riccelli Northern, Royal Purple Synthetic Oil, 5 Brothers Produce, Burnac Produce Limited, Provincial Fruit Co., Flavor First, Georgia Crate & Basket, Rite-Pak Produce, Quality First Produce, Sam Accursio Farms, Ritz-Craft Homes, Torbert Farms, Elite Harvesting, Green Bean Packers, Housby and Sunrise Growers.