OSWEGO, NY – Wearing his father Eddie’s race suit which was last in victory lane 31 years ago, Brandon Bellinger passed early leader Tim Snyder on lap 7 and drove the iconic No. 02 to a commanding victory in Oswego’s 45-lap ‘Retro Night’ special Saturday.
“We’re going to drink some 21 Tequila and have some fun tonight,” said Bellinger from victory lane. “I think the off week really helped us. The car was fast all night long. I was able to get out front early which gave us a huge advantage and we kept them all behind us.”
Aric Iosue and Snyder brought the field to green and it was Snyder sneaking around the pole sitter for the early race lead, looking for his first feature win in nearly 10 years with the No. 0.
Snyder built himself a respectable lead in the opening laps, but that was soon negated as fourth starting Bellinger almost immediately began his charge to the front, going around both Logan Rayvals and Aric Iosue with less than two laps complete.
After taking over second, Bellinger began chasing down Snyder and by lap 6, was all over the rear deck of the Zero One lap later, Bellinger dove to the inside going into turn three and made his move for the lead with seven laps complete.
Fresh off his victory in Sandusky Speedway’s Hy-Miler, sixth starting Dave Shullick Jr. wasted little time going around Rayvals, Iosue, and Alison Sload to take over third before making the very same move that Bellinger did on Snyder, inheriting second on lap 8.
Further back in the field, three more cars were really on the move and they were the 05 of Jeff Abold, 7 of Otto Sitterly, and 68 of Michael Barnes, who were all coming from deep to work their way further inside the top 10.
Abold started eighth and by lap 14, had passed five different cars to move into fourth behind Snyder. On the next circuit, he took a look inside of the early leader and grabbed away a podium position.
Just outside of the top five, everyone had their eyes on Sitterly and Barnes as these two drivers, who started 10th and 14, were weaving in and out of traffic towards the front. With less than 15 laps in the books, this pair was already up to seventh and eighth.
On lap 17, Sitterly made an unbelievable move to go around Sload, Iosue, and Keith Shampine before switching lanes to go under Snyder and into fourth. It took Barnes only three laps to duplicate Sitterly’s move, going by all four cars in a lap and a half to take over fifth.
As Sitterly and Barnes flew towards the front, Bellinger had opened up quite the distance over Shullick and Abold. The No. 02 machine had already begun to approach lapped traffic just prior to the halfway point.
With 15 laps complete, Shullick’s poor Oswego luck continued as the No. 95 dropped out of the event with apparent issues while running second, handing the runner-up position over to the No. 05 of Abold.
Bellinger was now working through lapped traffic with relative ease. However, just as Abold had a glimmer of hope while the 02 got hung up behind a lapped car, the first yellow flag of the event came out for an Iosue spin on lap 35.
‘Cautions breed cautions’ as they say and that proved true as it took two attempts to get past the thirty fifth lap. On the ensuing restart, Barnes had something go wrong on the 68, slowing right in front of the 00 of Joe Gosek who made a phenomenal save to miss him.
With Barnes now heading for the pits, this meant Gosek had come from 11th to clear six cars including Dave Danzer, Iosue, Snyder, Rayvals, Shullick, and Shampine to drive into fifth behind race leaders Bellinger, Abold, Sitterly, and Sload.
Unfortunately, the next attempt at lap 35 did not go well either as Rayvals ended his night with a very nasty shot into the turn three foam with his No. 94. The car lost steering, came around and hit the backstretch wall before catching the blocks.
Fortunately, Logan was unharmed.
Following the cleanup, things finally got back underway with just 10 laps remaining for leader Bellinger as both he and Abold were able to pull away from Sitterly, Sload, and Gosek, who ran third through fifth when the green flag was put back in the air.
On lap 37, Gosek shot out of a cannon to go around the outside of Sload coming out of turn four, taking over fourth and moving in behind Sitterly. Less than a lap later, Gosek dove to the inside of Sitterly in turn three. The two brushed wheels, but both were able to gather things up.
Although Bellinger had run away out front, the battle for third continued despite that near miss, with Gosek working Sitterly over right until the bitter end. He took one last shot at the No. 7 car coming to the checkered flag, but came up just a car length short of a podium finish.
The story, however, was the domination by Bellinger, who earned his first checkered flag since August of 2017 and in doing so became the ninth different winner in 10 Novelis Supermodified events this season.
Behind Bellinger were Abold, Sitterly, Gosek, Sload, Shampine, Gruel, Snyder, and rookies Jack Patrick and Camden Proud in the top 10. Dan Connors Jr, Barnes, Iosue, Rayvals, Shullick, Hal LaTulip, Jerry Curran, Danzer, Guard Nearbin, and Lou LeVea Sr. completed the field.
Earning his career first top 10 finish, Patrick received the Lighthouse Lanes ‘Up & Comer’ Award while Gruel charged from last to seventh to pick up the D&S Landscaping Hard Charger bonus.
Just two events remain in Oswego Speedway’s 2019 ‘Road to the Championship’ with U-Pull U-Save Family Night up next on August 10.
The Novelis Supermodifieds, Pathfinder Bank SBS and 350 Supers will all be in action.
For more information on Oswego Speedway, visit OswegoSpeedway.com.