Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – Piloting the iconic No. 02, third generation driver Brandon Bellinger held off late challenges from Dan Connors Jr. to earn his fourth career victory at Oswego Speedway, and first in the 75-lap Jim Shampine Memorial last Saturday night.
Bellinger got out in front early on lap 7, but surrendered the top spot to a hard charging Jeff Abold on lap 33.
Just seven laps later, motor woes slowed the Abold No. 05, now handing the lead back to Bellinger, who was able to hold strong the rest of the way.
Interestingly, it was the fifth Opening Night victory by a Bellinger; with all three generations; Eddie Sr, Eddie Jr, and Brandon having now won on different Opening Nights in 1959, 1960, 1978, 1985, and 2022.
“This was a good run for us tonight considering time trials was the first time we got this car up to any speed today,” stated Bellinger. “It seemed like filters, nozzles, and everything kept getting plugged, so we were behind the eight ball to start. We caught a lucky break with Abold going to the pits. I know he was fast and probably had the car to beat. We’ve got to work on our car. Fortunately it was good enough to get the job done, but we’ll have to try to figure out how to find more speed before coming back in a couple weeks. We didn’t even have an engine in this car last night and finished it this morning, so it feels good to be in victory lane. I have to thank my family, Bellinger Auto Sales, Orange Crate Brewing and Pilsner Five Beer, Vashaw’s Collision, Shef Daddy Motorsports, and how about 21 Tequila? We might crack open a few bottles of that tonight.”
Connors finished a solid second behind Bellinger; the third runner-up and 17th career top five finish for the Oswego, NY driver, who continues to knock on the door for his elusive first feature win.
“It’s pretty frustrating to end up with a second again, especially tonight when it was due to process of elimination,” Connors said. “I think we had a car to be there at the end, but when everyone drops out it doesn’t really mean as much.”
Lou LeVea Jr. opened his 2022 season with a solid podium finish, the second of his career. LeVea had a career high second in the Independence Weekend Grand Prix last season and has continued to make great strides with the No. 83.
“It wasn’t too exciting, I sort of got a gifted podium tonight,” offered LeVea. “The car was good, but not good enough to get there and run with these guys. We could defend pretty well, we would slide around and lose a spot here and there, but it was decent and this something to work off of. We are happy to be in one piece.”
Bringing the field to green for the Jim Shampine Memorial were LeVea Jr. and making his return to the Oswego Speedway; Canadian campaigner, Logan Rayvals, who was able to inch out in front of LeVea Jr. to take the early lead in his No. 94.
Unfortunately, the race was slowed immediately for the No. 98 of eighth starting Tyler Thompson, who ended up in the backstretch wall.
Collected in this incident was the Syrell Racing No. 68 of Michael Barnes, who had set a new track record lap of 15.681 seconds earlier in the evening.
Both cars were done for the night, knocking out two favorites before the first lap was recorded.
On the original restart; Bellinger, who had started in fourth, wasted little time going around the No. 44 of surprise New England invader Ben Seitz, and next underneath LeVea Jr. to sit second by lap 2.
Just as the leaders crossed the stripe on lap 8, Bellinger next got a big run down to the inside of race leader Rayvals heading into turn one, and took over the top spot early on.
Meanwhile, the car on the move from the rear was ninth starting Abold; who by lap 9, was already up to third, using the high road to go by Dave Shullick Jr, Joe Gosek, Dave Danzer, Seitz, and Connors, and next the inside of LeVea Jr. to move up to a podium position in an impressive charge.
With Abold on the hammer in a hurry, the other two cars putting on a show in the early going were the No. 95 of tenth starting Shullick and the 52 of sixth starting Danzer.
The duo used the low side of the Speedway to pass both Seitz and LeVea Jr. in back to back laps, taking over fourth and fifth by lap 11.
A second caution flag was brought out on lap 13 for a spin by Seitz in turn four, bunching the field back together again.
Alison Sload, who started in eleventh, spun to avoid, but had to make a pit stop before returning to action with Nicotra Racing’s ‘Black Betty,’ now renumbered 39.
On the restart, Rayvals; who was running in third, saw his fine run go by the wayside with issues on the No. 94 surrendering third to Danzer, fourth to Shullick, and moving LeVea Jr. back up inside the top five.
Abold got a monster run down low to take the lead from Bellinger on lap 33, while Connors; who started in seventh, was finally able to get underneath LeVea Jr. for fifth.
Just seven laps later, motor issues brought the No. 05 to the pits, ending what looked like a relatively dominant run for Abold.
With Abold in the pits, it was now Bellinger back in the lead, Danzer sitting in second, Shullick third, Connors fourth, and LeVea Jr. rounded out the top five with 35 laps to go.
On lap 42, however, Danzer grenaded the engine directly in front of Shullick heading into turn three, with Shullick getting caught up in all of the smoke and oil, causing both cars to take a very hard ride into the foam.
Both drivers ended up unhurt, but the race was red flagged for refueling and a lengthy cleanup, as well as a few slow laps for drivers to scuff through the speedy dry in turn three.
With two more front runners out of the action, the top five now consisted of Bellinger, Connors, LeVea Jr, Gosek, and Camden Proud, making his debut in the former Doug Didero No. 3.
On the restart, Bellinger and Connors ran nose to tail right from the drop of the green, with both the No. 02 and 01 running away from LeVea, Gosek, and Proud.
For 10 laps, Gosek worked LeVea over before finally being able to find a way underneath with 22 laps remaining.
Once Gosek cleared LeVea, he quickly began to reel in the race leaders, but third was not the place to be in this one, as the engine shut off on the No. 00 with 12 laps to go, slowing him out of a podium finish.
Gosek was not able to make it to the pits without a push, bringing out one last caution flag.
Now, the top five was Bellinger, Connors, LeVea Jr, Proud, and Jack Patrick, while Sload; who had been in the pits and was a multitude of laps down, returned to the track and was riding in between Proud and Patrick with her No. 39.
Again, Bellinger and Connors were able to walk away from LeVea Jr and Proud; who remained a distant third and fourth, as Connors looked high and low hoping to find a way around Bellinger for the win.
With 12 laps remaining, Proud; who was keeping pace with LeVea for third, slowed way off the pace due to a mechanical problem on the No. 54, now leaving LeVea Jr. all alone behind the leaders.
Connors took several looks at Bellinger in the closing laps, but was never able to muster enough of a run to get by the No. 02, with Bellinger actually pulling away in the last five circuits to take a relatively comfortable win over Connors, LeVea Jr, Proud, and Patrick.
Sload and Rayvals completed the on track running order with Gosek, Danzer, and Shullick filling in the top ten.
Proud was awarded the D&S Landscaping Hard Charger Award for advancing nine positions, while Connors was again the Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer Award recipient.
With the Oswego Winged Super Challenge taking center stage this coming Saturday, June 4, the next event for Novelis Supermodifieds will come on Saturday, June 11 when Compass Credit Union presents the Supermodified Twin 35’s.
Kapuscinski Begins Title Defense with Second Straight Tony White Memorial Triumph
Defending Pathfinder Bank SBS track champion Dan Kapuscinski and the Flack Racing team began their 2022 title defense with a dominant victory in Saturday night’s 40-lap main, his second straight win in the Tony White Memorial.
Kapuscinski started in the sixth position, and by lap 7, had taken over the race lead and set sail to his fifth career victory behind the wheel of the No. 23.
“First of all, I want to thank all the SBS guys for coming out and racing,” mentioned Kapuscinski. “It has been a couple years since we have had more cars than anybody in the pit area, so thank you to everyone for the support. It was a long race. That felt like running the Classic. We got lucky a couple times missing accidents, but it all worked out. Mike (O’Connor) and Steve (Flack) build a really great race car and it kind of drives itself to be honest with you. This is in memory of Terry Strong. She was one of the nicest ladies that you will ever meet and the Speedway will never be the same. Also, this is the Tony White Memorial, so that’s two in a row for us. Tony was an awesome guy as well. I love this plaque. The White Family has been supportive of this Speedway for so many years so it means a lot to win this race again for Tony.”
Last year’s championship runner-up Josh Sokolic, who will move to full-time 350 Supermodified action in the coming weeks, brought his No. 26 Small Block Super back out for the Season Opener and was able to settle for a solid runner-up finish.
“It wasn’t a bad night,” said the 2021 Fall Classic Champion. “I think we had a good setup. It was a real good long run car, but with all the new people in the class, we are obviously going to have some cautions and it wasn’t as good on the short run. We should have the 350 out for the third race in the next couple weeks. I have to thank my parents, All Weather Power Equipment, Lamptiques, and the Syracuse Antique Exchange. My Dad put a good car underneath me tonight and I didn’t get the job done, so maybe next week.”
Completing the podium was 2021 Rookie of the Year Noah Ratcliff, who has his 2022 off to a hot start with podium efforts both in the Small Block Super Championship Series Opener at the Evans Mills Raceway Park and now the Tony White Memorial for podium finish number three at Oswego.
“The car got real tight towards the end of the race. It was pushing so bad at the end that I could not get back on the throttle too much,” stated Ratcliff. “It was a good race overall though. I have to thank my sponsors Jake’s Automotive, Total Fire Protections, Dave’s Equipment Center, my Mom, brother, sister, Travis, Will, Mike, and everyone else that helps.”
Sophomore drivers Robbie Bruce and Joey DeStevens brought the field to green for the 40-lap extra distance special with DeStevens jumping out in front from the outside lane to take the early lead.
The caution lights came on almost immediately for a hard tangle coming out of turn two between polesitter Bruce and fifth starting Greg O’Connor.
Both drivers made heavy contact with the outside turn two wall, effectively ending their evenings with only one lap complete in the feature event.
On the first ‘choose-style’ double file restart of the season, leader DeStevens elected to use the bottom part of the Speedway with fourth starting Andrew Schartner now to his outside.
Schartner was able to steal the lead from the high road, but was tagged by DeStevens going into turn one and spun around. This incident also collected sixth starting Tony Pisa.
DeStevens was penalized for the contact, but all three cars were able to rejoin the race at the rear of the field.
For the second restart, it was now third starting Sokolic on the inside of the front row with seventh starting Kapuscinski to his outside.
Sokolic was able to shoot out into the number one spot, with Kapuscinski falling in for second, Noah Ratcliff; who started eighth, was now up to third, with rookies Drew Pascuzzi and Darren Shuman in fourth and fifth in the early going.
The front three ran nose to tail early on with Kapuscinski stalking Sokolic for the race lead and taking over the position with a low side move going into turn three on lap 7.
Caution flag number three came out on lap 12 for a spin by rookie Ryan Gunther, bunching the field up once again.
Kapuscinski elected to use the bottom lane for this restart with the top five now consisting of Danny K, Sokolic, Ratcliff, Shuman, and rookie Robbie Wirth, who had charged from his eleventh starting spot up to fifth.
Pascuzzi, who had a nice top five run coming together, dropped out of the race prior to this caution flag due to mechanical issues.
The drag race back to turn one again saw Kapuscinski finding his way back to the number one spot with Sokolic and Ratcliff still second and third.
Meanwhile, Schartner; who had restarted at the tail end of the longest line, charged to the outside of Shuman and Wirth to make it back up to fourth.
Another simple spin by Josh Wallace caused another caution on lap 15.
Still, the restart running order was Kapuscisnki, Sokolic, Ratcliff, Schartner, Shuman, and now tenth starting Griffin Miller, who had since found his way under Wirth to move into the sixth position.
Kapuscinski still proved too strong for Sokolic on the restart, but this time the yellow lights came right back on for a turn three incident between Miller and Wirth, who tagged the rear of the No. 9, sending both the sixth and seventh place cars into the foam.
Rookie Tony DeStevens, as well as Josh Wallace, spun to avoid just behind them, and received their positions back.
Also collected was a slowing Darrick Hilton, whose night ended after contact from Joey DeStevens destroyed the back end of the No. 66.
The DeStevens crew was able to make repairs to the No. 05 and return Joey to the back of the field.
On this restart, Kapuscinski opened a big advantage over the pack, with second running Sokolic left to fend off challenges from Ratcliff.
The race went green to checkered the rest of the way and it was Kapuscinski capturing the dominant victory over Sokolic, Ratcliff, Schartner, and an impressive run for rookie Shuman in the top five.
Tony DeStevens, rookie Jude Parker, Joey DeStevens, Gunther, and Mark Denny Jr. filled in the top ten.
The Pathfinder Bank SBS season will resume this Saturday, June 4 with a 30-lap main scheduled to run alongside the 50-lap Winged Super Challenge for big block Supers.
Holmes Two for Two in 350 Super Competition at Oswego
Lockport, NY’s Bobby Holmes has only started two J&S Paving 350 Supermodified feature events at Oswego Speedway. He has won both of them, with each victory for a different car owner, and in a different race car.
While he will pilot the MacLeod Racing No. 32 this season; due to engine issues, Holmes last night was tabbed to drive Mike Barbera’s ‘Purple People Eater’ No. 75.
Holmes started on the outside pole of the 35-lap Memorial Weekend Special and never looked back enroute to his second career 350 Supermodified checkered.
“The handling was starting to go away at the end and I wasn’t sure why, but I looked at the right rear and it is blistered to the chords, so that would explain it,” Holmes said. “Norm (MacLeod) and Mike (Barbera) put this deal together. We blew a motor in the 32 at Evans Mills. Mike rang us up and told me the only way I could drive his car is if we win, so I didn’t want to let him down. I have to thank Mike for putting me in the car. I had a purple TQ car and we did a lot of winning in that, so I guess there is something about purple. Tonight we are numbered 75, but really we’re 99 for Terry Strong. Thank you to Top Quality Construction, CME Electrical Supply, Gilbert Excavating Service, Raby’s Ace Home Center, WW Drywall, and Colosse Cheese Store for supporting this team.”
Runner-up Chase Locke, who will make the weekly trek from Chester, NH to compete for a track title this season, was pleased to get the year started off on the right foot. It was his third career runner up finish at the Speedway.
“I definitely thought we had a shot tonight,” commented Locke. “The car got really hooked up at the end. It started to loosen up for us. We’ve been tight all day. It was exciting though. A really fun race knowing Jeffrey (Battle) was behind me and kind of expecting him to be there. The 75 did very well keeping it straight. I could see his right rear was blistering bad and I watched him get sideways so I thought we might have a shot. I just want to thank my Dad, Grandpa, and brother. They help out a lot. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Jeffrey Battle, a former Classic champion, and three-time 350 Supermodified winner at Oswego, was hot on Locke’s heels for the runner-up spot.
“The car was going pretty good,” Battle stated. “Congratulations to Bobby and Chase. We’re hoping to be out here another time or two and then for Classic, so maybe three more times this year. I just have to say my heart is with all those families in Texas in that awful incident out there and I have to thank all of the fans for coming out, because without them, there would be no short track racing.
Dalton Doyle and Holmes lead the field to green for the 35-lap Season Opener with Holmes jumping out in front at the start and Doyle settling in for second.
Third starting Locke dueled with dancing partner Mike Bruce to take the position away in the early going with Brian Sobus and Battle following suit.
On lap 3, Bruce ran into issues on the No. 22 and dropped back to the rear of the field.
With five complete, Holmes already had a straightaway lead over Doyle, Locke, Sobus, and Battle.
On lap 7, Locke was able to muster an outside move around the No. 08 of Doyle to advance into the runner-up spot.
With Locke on the move, fifth place Battle knew he would have to follow and wasted no time doing so, going around the outside of both Doyle and Sobus one lap later to run Locke down for second..
Sobus was the next to get by Doyle on lap 12, also using an outside move to take fourth.
Still with a big lead, Holmes began to catch traffic at the halfway point, and this allowed Locke and Battle to close in a bit on the race leader.
By the five to go mark, Locke had closed within less than a car length of Holmes, with Battle still on his tailpipes in a nose to tail, three car duel for the race lead.
This time Holmes proved too strong for the New England invaders picking up the win ahead of Locke, Battle, Sobus, and Bruce in the top five.
Rookie Mike Fowler finished sixth in the Spaulding No. 23, Kyle Perry was seventh, and Doyle, Nick Kinney, and Vern LaFave rounded out the top ten.
Battle was the D&S Landscaping Hard Charger Award winner while Locke was the recipient of the Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer Award.
The J&S Paving 350 Super season will resume this Saturday, June 4 with a 30-lap main scheduled to run alongside the 50-lap Winged Super Challenge for big block Supers.
Barlow’s Concessions 71st Season Kickoff
Saturday, May 28, 2022
Novelis Supermodified Jim Shampine Memorial 75
Feature (75-laps): 1. 02 BRANDON BELLINGER, 2. 01 Dan Connors Jr, 3. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 4. 54 Camden Proud, 5. 90 Jack Patrick, 6. 39 Alison Sload, 7. 00 Joe Gosek, 8. 94 Logan Rayvals, 9. 52 Dave Danzer, 10. 95 Dave Shullick Jr, 11. 05 Jeff Abold, 12. 44 Ben Seitz, 13. 0 Tim Snyder, 14. 98T Tyler Thompson, 15. 68 Michael Barnes DNS 37 Ryan Locke ®
Heat 1 (12-laps): 1. 68 Michael Barnes, 2. 52 Dave Danzer, 3. 95 Dave Shullick Jr, 4. 98T Tyler Thompson, 5. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 6. 94 Logan Rayvals, 7. 90 Jack Patrick, 8. 0 Tim Snyder
Heat 2 (12-laps): 1. 05 Jeff Abold, 2 .39 Alison Sload, 3. 01 Dan Connors Jr, 4. 00 Joe Gosek, 5. 44 Ben Seitz, 6. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 7. 54 Camden Proud
Group Time Trials: 1. 68 Michael Barnes – 15.681, 2. 39 Alison Sload – 15.938, 3. 95 Dave Shullick Jr. – 15.938, 4. 05 Jeff Abold – 15.979, 5. 98T Tyler Thompson – 16.057, 6. 01 Dan Connors Jr. – 16.063, 7. 52 Dave Danzer – 16.117, 8. 00 Joe Gosek – 16.171, 9. 02 Brandon Bellinger – 16.185, 10. 44 Ben Seitz – 16.410, 11. 94 Logan Rayvals – 16.448, 12. 83 Lou LeVea Jr. – 16.514, 13. 90 Jack Patrick – 16.610, 14. 54 Camden Proud – 16.901, 15. 0 Tim Snyder – 17.761, 16. 37 ® Ryan Locke – NT
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger: #54 Camden Proud
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #01 Dan Connors Jr.
Pathfinder Bank SBS Tony White Memorial 40
Feature (40-laps): 1. 23 DAN KAPUSCINSKI, 2. 26 Josh Sokolic, 3. 73 Noah Ratcliff, 4. 18 Andrew Schartner, 5. 62 ® DJ Shuman, 6. 24 ® Tony DeStevens, 7. 00 ® Jude Parker, 8. 05 Joey DeStevens, 9. 22 ® Ryan Gunther, 10. 14 Mark Denny Jr, 11. 9 Griffin Miller, 12. 04 ® Rob Wirth, 13. 66 Darrick Hilton, 14. 49 Josh Wallace, 15. 72 ® Drew Pascuzzi, 16. 35 AJ Larkin, 17. 89 Tony Pisa, 18. 32 Robbie Bruce, 19. 90 Greg O’Connor, 20. 01 ® Greg Richardson, 21. ® 27 Jon Carson
Heat 1 (10-laps): 1. 90 Greg O’Connor, 2. 62 ® DJ Shuman, 3. 73 Noah Ratcliff, 4. 9 Griffin Miller, 5. 72 ® Drew Pascuzzi, 6. 00 ® Jude Parker, 7. 66 Darrick Hilton
Heat 2 (10-laps): 1. 26 Josh Sokolic, 2. 89 Tony Pisa, 3. 05 Joey DeStevens, 4. 04 ® Rob Wirth, 5. 22 ® Ryan Gunther, 6. 24 ® Tony DeStevens, 7. 49 Josh Wallace
Heat 3 (10-laps): 1. 23 Dan Kapuscinski, 2. 18 Andrew Schartner, 3. 32 Robbie Bruce, 4. 35 AJ Larkin, 5. 01 ® Greg Richardson, 6. 27 ® Jon Carson, 7. 14 Mark Denny Jr.
Group Time Trials: 1. 73 Noah Ratcliff – 18.801, 2. 23 Dan Kapuscinski – 18.808, 3. 89 Tony Pisa – 18.890, 4. 90 Greg O’Connor – 18.979, 5. 18 Andrew Schartner – 19.040, 6. 26 Josh Sokolic – 19.059, 7. 62 ® DJ Shuman – 19.196, 8. 9 Griffin Miller – 19.209, 9. 04 ® Rob Wirth – 19.552, 10. 35 AJ Larkin – 19.640, 11. 72 ® Drew Pascuzzi – 19.664, 12. 24 ® Tony DeStevens – 19.753, 13. 05 Joey DeStevens – 19.756, 14. 32 Robbie Bruce – 19.810, 15. 66 Darrick Hilton – 20.030, 16. 00 ® Jude Parker – 20.268, 17. 22 ® Ryan Gunther – 20.407, 18. 49 Josh Walace – 20.412, 19. 14 Mark Denny Jr. – 20.706, 20. 27 ® Jon Carson – 20.920, 21. 01 ® Greg Richardson – 21.020, DNS 93 ® Jake Brown
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger: #24 ® Tony DeStevens
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #73 Noah Ratcliff
White’s Car Care 4th Place Finisher: #18 Andrew Schartner
J&S Paving 350 Super Memorial Day Weekend 35
Feature (35-laps): 1. 75 BOBBY HOLMES, 2. 88 Chase Locke, 3. 14 Jeffrey Battle, 4. 45 Brian Sobus, 5. 22 Mike Bruce, 6. 23 ® Mike Fowler, 7. 20 Kyle Perry, 8. 08 Dalton Doyle, 9. 7 Nick Kinney, 10. 97 Vern LaFave, 11. 50 Dave Cliff, 12. 41 Brad Babb, DNS 5 Ralph Clark
Heat 1 (10-laps): 1. 14 Jeffrey Battle, 2. 75 Bobby Holmes, 3. 22 Mike Bruce, 4. 20 Kyle Perry, 5. 7 Nick Kinney, 6. 41 Brad Babb
Heat 2 (10-laps): 1. 45 Brian Sobus, 2. 88 Chase Locke, 3. 08 Dalton Doyle, 4. 50 Dave Cliff, 5. 23 ® Mike Fowler, 6. 97 Vern LaFave, 7. 5 Ralph Clark
Group Time Trials: 1. 14 Jeffrey Battle – 16.838, 2. 45 Brian Sobus – 16.992, 3. 50 Dave Cliff – 17.001, 4. 22 Mike Bruce – 17.016, 5. 88 Chase Locke – 17.059, 6. 75 Bobby Holmes – 17.188, 7. 08 Dalton Doyle – 17.345, 8. 7 Nick Kinney – 17.570, 9. 23 ® Mike Fowler – 17.578, 10. 41 Brad Babb – 17.595, 11. 97 Vern LaFave – 17.607, 12. 20 Kyle Perry – 17.617, 13. 5 Ralph Clark – 18.718
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger: #14 Jeffrey Battle
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #88 Chase Locke