‘Classic Moments’ Countdown: #6 Hamilton Inherits Classic Win as Muldoon and Bellinger Collide – 1997 International Classic

Mike Muldoon and Eddie Bellinger Jr. battle side by side for the lead of the 1997 International Classic at Oswego Speedway, just before colliding and handing the lead over to third place running Davey Hamilton.

Mike Muldoon and Eddie Bellinger Jr. battle side by side for the lead of the 1997 International Classic at Oswego Speedway, just before colliding and handing the lead over to third place running Davey Hamilton.

OSWEGO, NY – As the countdown officially begins toward the 58th annual Budweiser International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway on August 31, we look back at the Top 30 moments in International Classic history, with the assistance of George Caruso’s 50 Most Memorable Moments of the International Classic.’

With six days remaining until the International Classic, the countdown continues with No. 6, the 1997 International Classic which saw Indy Car star Davey Hamilton inherit the lead after Mike Muldoon and Eddie Bellinger Jr. collided while battling at the point.

Mike Muldoon and Eddie Bellinger Jr. battle side by side for the lead of the 1997 International Classic at Oswego Speedway, just before colliding and handing the lead over to third place running Davey Hamilton.
Mike Muldoon and Eddie Bellinger Jr. battle side by side for the lead of the 1997 International Classic at Oswego Speedway, just before colliding and handing the lead over to third place running Davey Hamilton.

The exciting conclusion to the 1997 International Classic all got started with 10 laps to go.

Doug Didero, driving the Matczak No. 3, had a seemingly insurmountable lead, only to run out of fuel.  This gave the point to Muldoon, who was in a tight three-car battle with Bellinger and his own teammate Hamilton, both of whom had fresher tires.

Bellinger had made a pit stop for a right rear tire at lap 110, but could not get the shoe off of the racecar. With the issues, Bellinger returned to the Speedway, only to come back to pit road for a successful stop on lap 123.

Hamilton waited until around lap 140 to make his tire stop, driving Muldoon’s second car.

Muldoon himself had decided to go the entire distance on one set of tires, and was gingerly trying to hang onto the lead.

As the trio came out of turn four to receive the white flag, they came upon the lap car of Tim Gareau.

Muldoon hesitated for a split second to figure out which way to go and Bellinger immediately headed to the outside lane to try and pin Muldoon behind the lapper. Simultaneously, Muldoon decided the high lane was the road better traveled, and as a result Bellinger and Muldoon came together spinning down the front straight, knocking each of them out of the action.

Hamilton made a sharp left turn to avoid the accident and inherited the lead of the Classic.

Hamilton would go on to defend the top spot through a green-white-checkered finish over runner-up Jeff West.

The crowd reaction was certainly mixed, and no doubt emotional.  The legion of Bellinger fans was distraught, with the No. 02 being denied a sixth Classic victory, as he neared the end of his Hall of Fame career.

On the other side, there were several fans elated with a Hamilton victory, as he had been ‘taken in’ as one of Oswego’s own over the course of the past few Classic runs.

Russ Wood, Pat Abold and Dave Shullick Sr. chased Hamilton and West across the line in the top five of the ’97 Classic.

Late Model runner Dave Heitzhaus, Gary Morton, Didero, Steve Gioia Jr. and Todd Stowell completed the top ten.

To purchase tickets for Budweiser International Classic Weekend and the 58th annual Budweiser International Classic 200, call the Speedway’s box office today at (315) 342-0646.

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