Hy-Miler has proved elusive
Jul 26, 2014 at 11:06 PM
Trent Stephens has stood on top of the Midwest Supermodified Association world for the last three years.
And he's well on his way to becoming the first-ever driver to win the series championship four times in 2014, currently atop the MSA points, again.
One title and race that has eluded the 25-year-old Ravenna resident, though, is a win at the annual ISMA Supermodified Hy-Miler Nationals, which took place Saturday at Sandusky Speedway.
Each summer the 100-lap feature at the half-mile track kicks off the Triple Crown of Supermodified racing, that consists of the Hy-Miler, the Oswego Speedway's Budweiser International Classic 200 in New York and the Star Speedway Classic in New Hampshire.
Stephens has won plenty of times at Sandusky, but he's yet to accomplish winning a leg of the Triple Crown, something his future father-in-law, Mike Ordway, knows all about.
Ordway is one of four drivers to ever win all three events, finishing with a win in the Hy-Miler in 2004.
“Mike (Ordway) started racing in the 1980s and it took him that long to win them all,” Stephens said. “It's kind of cool knowing that I'm marrying into a family that's won it. I try to pick his brain a lot.”
Entering Saturday, Stephens had yet to crack the top 10 in the Hy-Miler at a place he considers home. He recently won three MSA features in a row, starting June 7 at Lorain County Speedway, Toledo Speedway on June 13 and at Sandusky Speedway on June 21.
“This race has been my Achilles heel,” Stephens said. “I've been racing since I was 7 years old and pretty much every race that I've raced in, that I wanted to win, I've been able to win.
“I've been able to win a bunch of races here at Sandusky, but this is the big one. This is the one everyone wants to win, and I've had horrible luck in this event. I've had some really fast cars, though, just had bad luck running them.”
Another local driver with bad luck until recently at the Hy-Miler was North Ridgeville's Dave Shullick Jr. A second generation racer, who followed the footsteps of his father Dave Shullick Sr., Shullick Jr. grew up at Sandusky Speedway.
“This is one of my favorite tracks,” Shullick Jr. said. “Anytime we race here, it's like coming back home. We always seem to run real well here. I think we have a little bit of an advantage against many of the guys we race against here just because we know the track so well.
“Plus, I grew up watching my father race here for 15 to 20 years," he added. "The things I learned from watching him are things I still use out there today.”
Shullick Sr. has five Hy-Miler titles to his name.
Shullick Jr. thought he had won his first Hy-Miler in 1999, however, the victory was taken away shortly after standing next to his father in victory lane when his car was disqualified.
Fourteen years later, the son finally joined dad when Shullick Jr. won the Hy-Miler last July.
“Absolutely!,” Shullick Jr. said, asked if he felt like the Hy-Miler monkey had been lifted off his back. “When we put this race deal together last year, the sole purpose was to win the Hy-Miler. We had been strong at Sandusky all year, and we knew we had a good shot.
“They always say the first one is the hardest one to get," he added. "So hopefully, the next couple Hy-Miler wins come easier.”
A field of 28 drivers were set to take the green flag Saturday evening.
“We had a real good run (Friday),” Shullick Jr. said. “We started 12th and ended up taking second. We'll be starting 12th again (Saturday) but it's a long race and you just got to pick your way up there so you can be up front at the end. The end is the most important part of this race.”
One thing is for sure, both Stephens and Shullick Jr. will have fun nights no matter the final result. Stephens started his Hy-Miler from the fourth spot.
“It's fun coming here supporting Ohio and representing Ohio against these guys from all over the country,” Stephens said. “It's good to run up front, too. You want to be fast here to show that us Ohio boys aren't slow, or anything like that.”