Last year’s International Supermodified Association Champion Dave Shullick Jr. has remained consistent all season long to continue his dominance of the competitive Novelis Supermodified division for car owner John Nicotra.
Shullick currently leads the Supermodified standings by over sixty points ahead of his teammate and chief mechanic Otto Sitterly, who maintains both the No. 2 and No. 7 in his Canajoharie shop during race weeks.
One of the biggest storylines this season and last is that Sitterly remains winless since September of 2015 when he won on championship night, but still fell just a few points short of eventual champion Bobby Bond. Hopes are high that Sitterly can return to victory lane once again on this year’s championship night, but unfortunately for ‘seven-time,’ all Shullick will need to do is start the feature to clinch the title. Otto has managed six top fives finishes this season in his Royal Purple backed ride.
Behind the Nicotra cars sits recently explosive North Carolina pilot Keith Shampine, who has been blistering fast all season long in his Chris Osetek built No. 55. Shampine scored his first ever victory in his uncle’s Jim Shampine Memorial 75 this past May and then another win just one week later in the Twin 35’s. Shampine however sits ninety one points out of the lead, making his championship hopes relatively impossible.
Further back in the top five is defending track champion Michael Barnes, who has been unable to get a win so far this season. Most will recall his remarkable, “you have to see it to believe it,” drive from last to first in this very same event one year ago to clinch the 2016 Novelis Supermodified Driver’s Championship ahead of a very consistent Dave Gruel. Undoubtedly the fastest car on the track in last week’s CNY CPR and OswegoCountyToday.com 50-lapper, there’s no question that Barnes will be out for blood this Saturday night after a broken rocker arm sidelined him in last week’s feature event.
Last in the top five, is a driver who has had a ‘top five’ season, collecting more of them than any other driver at the track; Joe Gosek. ‘00 Joe’ went back to victory lane in 2017 for the first time since a victory in the 2014 running of the Independence Weekend ‘Grand Prix’ 75, winning the ‘Retro Night’ 45 special, igniting the fans. While Gosek, who last won a championship in 2011, is a bit too far out of reach this season to win another one, hopes are high for 2018 as the iconic Burke’s Do It Best Home Centers machine will be back at the track once again with the legendary pilot at the helm.
In the Pathfinder Bank SBS division, it continues to be multi-time and defending track champion Dave Cliff leading the way, but on the back side of the Oswego pits, things are quite a bit closer as far as the rights to track champion go.
For the past four weeks, it has been a head to head battle between Cliff, Andrew Schartner, Camden Proud and Dalton Doyle for the top four spots in the standings. While Cliff has been able to maintain a relatively large edge over Schartner, who has also kept himself out of striking distance as far as Proud and Doyle concerned, the battle has been between the two former quarter midget racers for the third and fourth spots.
Cliff has had almost a perfect season, without facing any kind of incident in the No. 50, while the same can be said for Schartner and Doyle, who have not been involved in a single on track incident all season long. Proud had a disastrous Tony White Memorial showing when a part failure caused a practice crash on May 27, sending his No. 54 hard into the foam. From there it has been an uphill climb for the Step One Creative ride, as Camden has been able to overcome a horrendous points showing to score two seconds, and then two fifth place finishes in a row, good enough to allow the speedway’s public relations director to battle back and forth with a stout Doyle for the third spot in the point standings over the course of the past several races.
The driver of the Barbeau Racing No. 50 machine, Cliff, has recorded six top fives this season while Proud and Doyle have each recorded five themselves. Schartner has posted four top five efforts.
Surprisingly, Cliff has been winless this year, unlike Supermodified points leader Shullick who has mastered his craft with four victories, including his first ever in the non-wing division on Opening Night, dismantling the field with redemption following a fuel-starved finish to the 2016 Budweiser International Classic 200.
Schartner won on Opening Night with his potent Schartner Racing Chassis built by his father Karl and has returned to the podium just once more since then, finishing 2nd to Mike Bond on July 15, as both drivers have spent the year proving the point that “wins” don’t get you track championships. Although the victories don’t hurt, it’s appeared to have been the consistency for the front four in the points chase that have gotten the four speedway veterans to where they are in the standings.
Doyle has had a breakout season with his No. 01 despite also going winless, he’s scored himself five trips to the podium in the lone ‘Hawk Chassis’ SBS in the pit area. With two thirds in the Twin 20s one week earlier, Doyle passed Proud, who is still in search of his first career victory, to take third back in the standings as well in a night of ‘thirds’ for the hot shoe.
Proud enters August 19 action just ten notches behind Doyle, while points leader Cliff will have some work to do this week, only nineteen points ahead of Schartner, but forty five ahead of Doyle and Proud, who both more or less have seen their championship hopes go by the wayside.
2012 SBS Track Champion Kreig Heroth has put together a strong season as well, winning his first feature since 2014 last week with his Dick Myers owned No. 04 and climbing to fifth in the standings. Making his final regular season start in the SBS this weekend, Heroth will look to finish strong, as he has gained several points on the top four in recent weeks, now just five points behind the Proud No. 54 while Jack Patrick is only ten points behind Heroth.
The third and final Novelis Fan Can Chase will also be a part of this Saturday night’s busy festivities which will feature 50 and 30-lap main events for the Novelis Supermodifieds and Pathfinder Bank SBS along with a driver autograph session, which will kickstart the busy program at at 5:15pm. Hot laps will begin at 4:30pm, while group time trials will see the green at 6:30pm. Heat racing action will get underway at 7pm.
Fans are reminded to call the speedway box office at (315)-342-0646 for $10 reserved tickets, while general admission seating will be just $5, with kids 16 and under admitted free.
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