Oswego, NY (October 5, 2016) - The 2016 points chase has been between two ISMA drivers, who have basically held onto the top spot of the ISMA point standings all season despite some strange twists of fate. Both Dave Shullick Jr. and Mike Lichty are vying for their second ISMA titles. Shullick, from Ohio, is the defending titlist and Lichty, a Canadian, won in 2012. A quick review of the season shows how crazy this battle has been, which will be decided October 14-15-16 at Connecticut's Thompson Speedway during the 2016 World Series of Racing.
Canadian Mike Lichty opened up the International Super Modified Association (ISMA) 2016 season winning the 50-lap Jack Murphy Memorial at the Oswego Speedway. It was the 10th-career win on the ISMA circuit for the Innerkip, Ontario resident. Having started eighth on the grid, Lichty and his Reed’s Salvage No. 84 would take the lead away from Ohio’s Trent Stephens on the 17th lap and leave his chasers to tussle for second place. Unlike last year’s heartbreaking defeat - losing the lead on the final stretch of the last lap, Lichty would hold strong throughout, never being seriously challenged. Chasing the 84 to the finish was Dave Shullick Jr., the defending ISMA champion. The season began as Lichty took the point lead and Shullick was second.
Shullick, who has had some great runs at Delaware Speedway in Ontario, was ready to repeat there in June. To say Ohioan Dave Shullick Jr. has mastered the half-mile at Delaware Speedway would be an understatement. Shoe II took his Bodnar-built 95 to a third consecutive victory dating back to ISMA’s opening day, 2015 with the car on cruise. The turns in the road start here as Lichty, in front of his native fans, broke a driveshaft in the 84, giving him a 16th place finish. Shullick moved to the top of the leader board!
June ended with a doubleheader at Lorain County Speedway where Dave set fast time, Mike McVetta won, Lichty finished 5th and Shullick sixth. Pretty even ground here.
The next night at Lorain, young Mike Ordway Jr. took home his first win in the Clyde Booth 61 with Lichty chasing Ordway and Moe Lilje to finish third. Shullick met his demise before race end with a locked up oil pump, putting him in 18th. Lichty was back on top of the standings at the end of June.
And so it went. At the July 9 Oswego King of Wings, Ohio’s Trent Stephens took the top spot with Lichty again on the podium with a 2nd place finish to Shullick’s 7th.
Jennerstown on July 16th found Lichty back in the saddle with a win there but close behind him this time was Shullick who was closing up the marker gap.
It was now time for Shullick to shine as the ISMA group traveled to the two-race Hy-Miler weekend at Sandusky Speedway, which ended the July racing. Shullick easily won the Fast Friday 40 and was set for a clean sweep in the 100-lapper on Saturday. Lichty finished fourth in this one but Shullick had jumped back into the lead. Shullick was on a roll now and came back to take the 100-lapper on Saturday. He said in victory lane, “We had our ups and downs this year but I had a feeling we would be good today. It was not without trials getting here but we never quit and here we are.”
August saw three tough races for the ISMA contingent, and one driver, Lichty, will tell you his luck has not been the best at Lee in New Hampshire where Shullick has tended to shine. Shullick won the August 5yh Silva Memorial, but Lichty stayed right with him in second. The point margin between the two was less than ten points going into the New London- Waterford Speedbowl on August 6. This race was one for the record books, however, as it ran off in 11 minutes, 11 seconds with front row starter Mike McVetta taking the checkers fending off Mike Ordway Jr. in the speedfest. Lichty would finish fourth and Shullick tenth for the night.
Next up at the second leg of the Harv Lennox Memorial Series at Delaware, it was Lichty’s time. Lichty had lost some headway at Lee USA, and had came back to gain some by winning at the New London Waterford Speedbowl and now, Shullick, with four feature wins coming into Delaware was ahead by a mere six points.
Despite some car problems apparent to only him, Lichty built up a huge lead to take the checkered at Delaware. It was Shullick’s turn for misfortune when something broke on the Bodnar 95 just past the lap 21 mark, and Shoe II headed pitside, done for the night. Lichty commented about his adversary. “Obviously it’s good to take the lead back. It’s unfortunate for DJ. It’s always good battling him.”
Shullick, however, was about to bounce back big time. At the Sept. 3 Oswego Speedway Super Nationals, Shullick won handily without any pressure from Lichty as Mike finished dead last after experiencing some problems during his heat. Despite the crew working frantically through the afternoon, the car was able to only finish a lap. Shullick was back in the point lead in the recurring swap game. As a side note, Shullick, driving the Nicotra 6 non-winged car almost took the Oswego Classic the next day, which would have been an unprecedented feat, only to lose it on the last lap as the car choked for fuel. From good to bad luck in less than 24 hours!
The famed Star Classic was next and these two had to be thinking, “what’s going to happen this time?” Shullick was the defending champion of this prestigious Classic and Lichty was a little apprehensive of the outcome. However, Lichty would finish a fine second place to Moe Lilje in the Jimmy Bodnar 76, and as the cards fell, it was Shullick who held the bad hand. On lap 70 the 95 suffered a broken lower suspension link and Dave exited the race for an 18th finishing spot.
Lichty just shook his head afterwards and said, “Last week at Oswego we had a dnf and to come here with DJ winning this race last year and then breaking is unreal. They always say you have to finish every lap to win a championship but it seems the two guys up front have been breaking one week and winning or finishing up front the next week so we will go to Thompson and one of us will try to win there.”
So, here we are folks. It’s Thompson’s World Series. Mike Lichty leads the points by 39 ahead of Shullick, who incidentally, won the Thompson World Series ISMA event last year. Mathematically there is more point combinations then people waiting in line for this Disney ride. There are 220 maximum points available in a race event. 200 to win the feature, 10 to win your heat, 5 to lead a lap and 5 to lead the most laps.
So here are just a couple scenarios: If Dave Shullick wins the World Series race, leads the most laps and wins his heat and Mike Lichty finishes 2nd, leads a lap and wins his heat, Mike wins the championship by 22 points over Shullick. If Shullick wins the feature, leads the most laps and wins his heat, If Mike should finish 5th in the feature, lead a lap and wins his heat, he wins the championship by 1 point. And, so it goes.
Okay, enough of this speculation. Hey, don’t forget there are a lot of point battles from third on back to tenth with Timmy Jedrzejek, Mark Sammut, Mike Ordway Jr, Mike McVetta, Ben Seitz, Trent Stephens, Moe Lilje and Dan Bowes still capable of moving up one or more positions at race end.
We’ll all just have to be at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park World Series of Speedway Racing finale with our pencils, pads and calculators and watch what happens!