OSWEGO, N.Y. – A year ago, after running out of fuel in the waning laps of the Budwesier International Classic, Dave Shullick Jr. vowed revenge in the richest supermodified race in the world.
Sunday night in the 61st running of the historic event, Shullick took what he felt he was owed, charging past race-long dominator Michael Muldoon on the inside of Turns 1 and 2 with 39 laps to go and never looking back.
With a diving pass reminiscent of Josef Newgarden’s in the Gateway Indy car race eight days prior, Shullick muscled his way below Muldoon entering the corner, knocked him up the track with slight wheel-to-wheel contact and took off into the New York night.
The Ohio native then drove off to a dominating gap despite two cautions in the final 20 laps, becoming the first Shullick to ever win the International Classic after his father tried for many years.
“For the Shullicks, this was all that was left,” said Shoe-Two in victory lane. “We’ve done a lot in this sport, my father and I, and I’ve been fortunate to drive a lot of good cars … but this one was still sitting out there. My dad was second in this race three times and I wanted to win for him tonight more than anything.”
“Last year, when I was leading with a couple laps to go, all I could think was that I was finally going to win this race for our family … and we obviously came up just short, but this year we didn’t. We got it done. Otto Sitterly prepared a hell of a car. To come back and do this tonight, it’s awesome.”
After rain delayed the scheduled start of the race by roughly five hours, calamity reigned from the drop of the green flag, with 11 caution periods slowing the pace for 63 of the 200 laps.
It took less than a lap for calamity to break out at the fast five-eighths-mile, with a six-car accident in Turn 1 wiping out much of the backfield and ending the nights of Brian Osetek, Jeff West and Logan Rayvals before they could ever come back to the start-finish line.
As that crash was happening, Otto Sitterly drove from third on the grid to the lead by the time the field had escaped Turn 2, passing a quickly-fading polesitter in Keith Shampine to do so.
A restart on lap 13 saw former Classic polesitter Michael Muldoon find his rhythm, as he came from sixth at the green to pass Sitterly for the top spot on the 15th round, setting a blistering pace over the first three-quarters of the night as he controlled the pace out front.
Muldoon led 147 consecutive laps around the ‘Steel Palace’ as contender after contender fell by the wayside behind him.
Shampine was the first to retire, with a massive fuel leak from his Chris Osetek-built No. 55 bringing out the fourth caution of the night on lap 50, sending the polesitter to the pits and out of a chance to win his first Classic.
Just before that yellow, 2001 Classic champion Tim Snyder had passed Sitterly for second, and would spend nearly half the race chasing Muldoon for the top spot.
A hard crash by Bobby Santos exiting Turn 4 on the 72nd round took the next heavy-hitter out of the action, with Santos getting airborne and spinning all the way down the track before coming to rest against the inside wall. He was okay, but done for the night.
At the halfway point of the race, it was Muldoon leading Snyder by 1.613 seconds, with Sitterly, Chris Perley and track champion Dave Shullick Jr. making up the top five.
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