Tuesday, 02 January 2018 18:51

Recapping the 2017 Season at Oswego Speedway

Written by
Write a comment
Recapping the 2017 Season at Oswego Speedway Submitted photo

Opened up with a triple header of Supermodified, Race of Champions Modified and Small Block Supermodified action back on May 13, Oswego Speedway’s 2017 campaign did not disappoint as fans were treated to fantastic racing each and every Saturday night.

All in all, there was a brand new champion plus six new feature winners throughout the course of the season including a brand new Budweiser International Classic champion.

The season began with sheer redemption for Ohio native Dave Shullick Jr, who announced prior to the new year that he would embark on a full-time campaign for the 2017 track championship with car owner John Nicotra after coming within just laps of his first Bud Classic 200 win in 2016. Shullick drove to a dominating victory on Opening Night to start the season at the top of the points race.

Also a part of the season opener, the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour joined the speedway’s two championship divisions for 75-laps of action and it was not Matt Hirschman or Chuck Hossfeld going to victory lane, but first time winner Bryan Sherwood who kept Andy Jankowiak and Patrick Emerling at bay to do so.

Andrew Schartner also started his year with a win, but the former track champion was by no means a first-time feature winner when he grabbed his 13th career victory driving his father Karl’s Schartner Racing Chassis to victory lane in its maiden voyage.

Perhaps one of the more remarkable events of the season took place one week later in the form of the ‘Super Spectacle’ featuring both the winged and non-wing Supermodifieds alongside the Small Block Supers for the Jack Murphy Memorial ‘King of Wings’ plus the Jim Shampine Memorial 75 and Tony White Memorial 35.

Feature action was started off by none other than the speedway’s all-time winged Supermodified wins leader Chris Perley putting on a dominating drive to victory, this time in a Hawk Chassis fielded by longtime car owner Vic Miller. It was the ‘Rowley Rocket’s’ ninth career Oswego win.

All-time series wins leader Mike Bond held off a hard charging Cameron Rowe for the Pathfinder Bank SBS feature win on May 27 before the night was capped off by longtime Novelis Supermodified campaigner Keith Shampine taking advantage of misfortune for early race leader Shullick to not only win the race named after his uncle, but to also get the first Oswego win for himself, car owner Chris Osetek, and the team’s homebuilt Osetek Racing Chassis making for a historic night at the ‘Steel Palace’ as a Shampine returned to victory for the first time since 1982.

The month of June started with a bang in the case of the popular Twin 35’s for the Novelis Supermodifieds held on June 11th. Although a nasty crash at the start of the first twin sidelined many pre-race favorites early on, the twins were put on hold to allow drivers and teams to fix their race cars. When this happened, fourth year driver Jesse Bearup drove to victory for the first feature win of his career in the Pathfinder Bank SBS division. Shampine and Shullick were back in victory lane when the Supermodifieds returned trackside, splitting the Twin 35’s for what would turn out to be the second win of the season as well as the second career non-wing victory for both drivers.

Off for the remainder of June, the track went quiet until the return of the Independence Weekend Grand Prix special on July 1 which, as always, featured fireworks both on and off the race track.

Veteran Small Block Super driver Greg O’Connor held off speedway public relations director Camden Proud as the two drivers each battled for their first career victories with O’Connor coming out victorious. Shullick continued his domination into the second month of the season, dismantling the competition in the 75-lap Grand Prix event to increase his points lead in the championship standings over teammate and chief mechanic Otto Sitterly, who remained winless all season long.

July was certainly a grueling summer stretch with four straight shows that included the return of the Race of Champions Series on July 8 and this time it was none other than ‘Big Money’ Matt Hirschman returning to victory lane at Oswego before a strong crowd. Small Block veteran Jack Patrick grabbed his first win of the season and the 7th of his impressive career on that same evening, while it was second generation driver Michael Muldoon holding off yet another top five push from Joe Gosek to capture his third feature win in the division. The speedway’s $1,000 to win Demolition Derby served as the night cap, with over a dozen cars bringing the crowd to its feet in the front grandstands.

There were no surprise winners in the Summer Championship on July 15 with Shullick driving to victory number four on the year in a 1-2 finish over Sitterly while Bond added to his career win total picking up another checkered flag ahead of a hard charging Schartner in the SBS ranks.

Always sure to provide some of the best action of the year, the $10,000 to win Mr. Novelis Supermodified feature event saw a driver who had otherwise battled bad luck for much of the year grab the big payday. No one had anything for 2016 championship runner-up Dave Gruel in the 50-lapper as he ran away with 10 G’s over Brandon Bellinger and Michael Muldoon while Shullick, Sitterly and Barnes were never able to crack the top five following an intense battle throughout the duration of the event. Bearup, who joined Schartner as the second driver of the season to win in a homebuilt chassis back on June 11, returned to victory in the $1,500 to win Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS event for an exciting second career win.

With July in the books, the championship came down to the three week stretch in August which as drivers and teams know can make or break you no matter how much momentum you carry into the final month of the season. At that point in time, Shullick lead the Supermodified standings, never trailing all season long thus far and managing around a sixty point lead over Sitterly and at some times as much of an eighty point lead over third place contender Shampine.

On the Small Block Super side, despite going winless all season, defending track champion Dave Cliff Jr. quietly snuck into the top five nearly every single week in the potent Barbeau Racing No. 50 to lead the points for practically the entire year as well, establishing himself as the clear-cut favorite for the SBS championship while hopefuls Schartner, Proud and Dalton Doyle did everything they could to keep pace heading into the final month of the year.

Although no one was stopping Shullick or Cliff in the race for the Supermodified track championship, ‘Retro Night’ action on August 6 would prove to be very special as fan favorite Gosek was able to drive to a fitting victory in the evening’s 45-lap main event over defending Budweiser International Classic 200 champion Jeff Abold. The crowd roared when Gosek’s No. 00 crossed the start finish line for career win 44 with three more of the most high-profile names in Supermodified racing not far behind the top two in Shampine, Sitterly and Shullick making for a finish and season for the ages which saw both a ‘Shampine’ and Gosek reaching victory lane. After a nasty crash and blown engine made for an early season horror story for Lighthouse Lanes SBS Series president Mike Bruce, the veteran drive of the Bruce Racing No. 22 Small Block Super lead green to checkered for his fifth career win in advance of Gosek’s triumph.

With two leeks left in the regular season, the Pathfinder Bank SBS Twin 20’s on August 12 again proved vital in the outcome of the championship with 2012 track champ Kreig Heroth driving to his first win since 2014 in the first twin while Bond ran away with his third win of the year in the second one. Yet another historic name in Oswego history drove to a popular win one week after Gosek did so, as this time it was third generation wheelman Bellinger holding off Nicotra Racing teammates Shullick and Sitterly for victory in the iconic yellow No. 02 made famous by his father Eddie. Fittingly, Gosek and Shampine completed the top five.

Although it will always be difficult to top Michael Barnes’ drive from last to the win along with the track championship all at once back in August of 2016, $5 admission Track Championship Night on August 19 did not disappoint this past season. Cliff put the exclamation point on his banner year with a win after an exciting battle with Proud in SBS action to win the race and his third championship while it was Abold’s turn for victory to finish off the points race as defending champ Barnes got his best finish of the year in 2nd. Despite a fourth place finish with Sitterly ahead of him and Shampine not far behind, Shullick’s remarkable first full-time season at Oswego was too much for anyone else to contest with, sealing a seventh track championship for car owner John Nicotra.

With the 67th season otherwise complete approaching Labor Day Weekend, fans know what that means; it was time for the 61st annual Budweiser International Classic Weekend which started off with a regular exciting Central NY Chevy Dealers Classic Qualifying Night on Friday, September 1. Shampine continued his tremendous season by winning the pole award for the Bud Classic 200 at a lap of 16.104 seconds, showing just how fast the Osetek racing No. 55 machine really is as Keith bested 32 of the best Supermodifieds in the world for the rights to the pole award. A Shampine had not lead the field to green in the Classic since the ‘8-ball’ was on the pole for the 1979 running at a lap of 17.914 seconds.

Always a threat anytime he returns to the track, the first champion of the SBS division Russ Brown was back in action for Classic Weekend, grabbing quick time for the Small Block Supers for the second year in a row at a blistering lap of 18.535 seconds with the Ray Hedger built No. 13. This was Brown’s fourth Classic quick-time in a row.

Both pole award winners struggled in their respective races however, with Brown out by lap 1 after a hard crash into the turn four inside wall while Shampine was forced pitside with a fuel leak. Although the Small Block Super portion of Classic Sunday was completely dominated by Bond, who notched career win 41 in the Bud Light Classic 75, the International Classic for the Supermodifieds was very different with the lead changing hands several times in the early going. Despite mid-race promise for Sitterly, Tim Snyder and Tim Devendorf in the top five, hard crashes for all three of these drivers plus a late spin by Muldoon allowed Shullick, Barnes, Bellinger, Chris Perley and Gosek to capitalize on the top spots. To one’s surprise, Shullick ended his season where he started it; on top after losing the race one year earlier due to fuel problems.

Saturday of Classic Weekend saw another new winner at Oswego in rising NASCAR Xfinity Series star Ryan Preece dominating the return of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Toyota Mod Classic 150 while nobody had anything for Mike Lichty in the popular Bud Light ISMA Supernationals 60 for the Winged Supermodifieds.

On track action at Oswego concluded with NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week 46 from October 5-9 with the speedway’s championship awards banquet being held on November 4 at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center and marking the induction of new hall of famers Russ Wood, Jan Leaty, Bill Abold, Don Forbes and Jerry Kritzman.

The full 2018 schedule for Oswego Speedway, set to open with the first ever running of the Jim Shampine Memorial Twin 50’s on Saturday, May 26, has been posted online at OswegoSpeedway.com. Season ticket information, pricing, and time schedules will be added in the coming days. All kids 16 and under will remain FREE with a paid adult in the new year.

For those interested in purchasing season tickets, winter office hours at Oswego Speedway are 11am-4pm on Saturdays, with special week hours posted frequently on the speedway’s social media outlets. You can also phone a representative at the box office by dialing (315)-342-0646.

For more information on Oswego Speedway, be sure to visit online at OswegoSpeedway.com. You can also FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway or LIKE on Facebook at Facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway.

About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway, a sports entertainment company, is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. Oswego Speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August, 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at Oswego Speedway making Oswego the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds accompany the full blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, arguably the greatest driver of all time, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, along with former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.

Write comments...
symbols left.
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.