Story By: CAMDEN PROUD / OSWEGO SPEEDWAY – OSWEGO, NY – Oswego’s Danny Connors Jr. has been attempting to earn a Supermodified feature win for nearly half of his life.
Prior to Saturday’s 45-lap feature, no other active driver had been as close to winning as many times as the 29 year old pilot of the No. 01, who had previously tallied an unbelievable total of 22 top five finishes with no feature wins.
At long last, everything fell into place last weekend for the veteran driver, who has been a weekly competitor in the Novelis Supermodified division since 2010. Connors started in the four position, passed Tim Snyder and Ryan Locke in the early going, then stalked polesitter Lou LeVea Jr. until lap 30, when a slip up by the No. 83 allowed Connors to get around the outside and into the race lead.
“That felt like a really long race,” Connors said. “We were pretty tight the whole time, but it just feels so good to get this out of the way. We have tried for so long and had so many heartbreaks. I’m just so glad we got it done for my crew. They all work hard and deserve it. The car wasn’t all that great and I was nervous because we were way too tight. We’ve been loose for the last two races, but tonight we went too far. I honestly don’t think I would have gotten by Louie (LeVea Jr) if he didn’t lose it over there, so we’ll take it and I am kind of grateful for that. There are so many people to thank. Paul’s Big M, PJ’s Ice Cream, Top Stitch, Chris Nelson, Doug Holmes, Johnny Colloca – without him we wouldn’t be here, he has done so much work for us. And also my Dad, Jerry Curran, Steve, Eddsy, Ryan, and everyone on the crew. There’s a lot of people that help.”
Finishing in second was none other than Joe Gosek, who had a strong run starting in sixth, and following Connors through to get on the podium. ‘’00 Joe’ was right there to pressure for a win in the closing laps, keeping the race leader on his toes as the 66 year-old tallied what believe it or not was the 247th top five finish of his illustrious career and the fourth this season.
“I thought that maybe I was a little bit better than Daniel going through the corner and he was better getting off, so it was kind of an evened out deal,” mentioned Gosek. “I was hoping maybe he would slip slide the last couple of laps or something. It would have been sweet to get the win, but Connors really deserves it. We just kept digging and it was good to have a car that was racy tonight. It gives me a bit of confidence. We’ve been struggling for most of the year, but this helps us out. I have to give hats off to all of my sponsors. I don’t want to try naming them all, but really couldn’t do it without all of them, so thank you very much everyone. The guys also worked hard tonight and we have got a great crew so thanks to all them. Congrats to Connors. They have been trying for a while and have had a good season going, so I’m happy for that whole gang. I guess old farts racing came through pretty good on Retro Night.”
Entering the evening just two markers behind Dave Shullick Jr. in the race for the track title was third generation driver Brandon Bellinger. When he lined up to start eighth and Shullick in tenth, Bellinger knew that his job was going to be to pass as many cars as possible and keep the No. 95 behind him. Brandon did just that, and it paid off, giving the driver of the No. 02 his sixth top five finish of the season, more than anyone else in the division this year, and also allowing him to regain the points lead.
“We were a little too tight the whole feature, but it was still a pretty good run and we made our way up a whole bunch of spots,” Bellinger commented. “Dan (Connors) and Joe (Gosek) were going pretty fast and they definitely had the cars to run at the front tonight. They were tough to chase down, so I tried to hang on for third and keep Shullick behind us. We did not accomplish all of our goals, but we accomplished some of them at least. Sometimes if you can’t win you’ve got to just stay ahead of the other guys.”
Shullick, started directly behind Bellinger and planted himself on Brandon’s back bumper for the entire race, but was never able to muster enough momentum to get by, with the exception of lap 33, when the yellow flag flew for a slowing Ryan Locke.
At this time, Shullick was able to get underneath Bellinger down the back stretch, but because the yellow came out before a lap was completed, the spot was relegated back to Bellinger, and Shullick had to settle for fourth.
Tyler Thompson fired off next to Bellinger in seventh and again was able to wheel the Jason Simmons Racing No. 98T into the top five for a second straight week.
Filling in the top ten finishers were Tim Snyder, Dave Danzer, Camden Proud, Jeff Abold, and Jack Patrick.
The Novelis Supermodifieds have the week off this Saturday, August 13, for the third and final Oswego Winged Super Challenge of 2022. J&S Paving 350 Supers will serve as co-headliners for the winged spectacular with all three divisions returning for Championship Night on August 20.
With Championship Night looming, one of the tightest points battles in Speedway history is the talk of the town. Bellinger’s 665 points now leads Shullick’s 662, followed by Abold in third with 644 points, Danzer fourth with 635, Thompson fifth with 632, and Gosek sixth with 617. All six of these drivers technically still have a shot at the championship, with only 33 points separating the top five.
Kapuscinski Unstoppable for Sixth Victory of Season
Driving the Flack Racing No. 23, defending Speedway champion Dan Kapuscinski started in the twelve spot and needed only a mere five laps to take over the race lead and cruise to a comfortable victory for the sixth time of the 2022 season on Burke’s Do It Best Home Centers and JP Jewelers Retro Night at Oswego Speedway this past Saturday.
Kapuscinski has put together a dream season, winning the Tony White Memorial on May 28, going back to back in the June 4 30-lapper, making it three in a row in the first June 18 Twin 20 before a second to Tim Proud in the second twin, won two of three in July first with the July 2nd Grand Prix and once again in the July 16 Summer Championship before settling for runner-up to Mike Bond in the Mr. Pathfinder Bank SBS event on July 23.
With a dominant return to victory lane to kickstart the month of August, Danny K has now made it six of eight this season, tallying ten feature wins in the past two years alone, and ensuring that all he will need to do to clinch his second straight title is simply show up to the Speedway next weekend.
“This is in memory of Joey Witkum,” said Kapuscinski. “Joey was an awesome guy. He gave me my first chance to drive a Supermodified many years ago when I didn’t really deserve a chance, but I’m thinking of the entire Witkum family. I really have to thank Mike Bond and Chip Wood for working on this car today. Actually under caution it kept shutting off, and we were lucky it would go under green, but had to keep re-firing it under yellow. Thanks to Mikey, Steve, and all the sponsors. I just have to thank all of these guys so much for such an incredible season.”
Settling for his seventh podium and third runner-up finish of the season was 2021 Rookie of the Year recipient Noah Ratcliff, who started in eighth, and after being passed by Kapuscinski early on, would continue to follow the No. 23 car up through the field. The 17 year old has again put together an eye opening campaign, putting the family owned No. 73 on the podium in all but one event. Now with a total of four career second place finishes, the young talent continues to knock on the door for career win number one.
“I kind of knew it was going to be a mid-race car coming into the feature,” commented Ratcliff. “We will keep working on getting it better over the next couple weeks and try to go for one more spot. I feel like we have a pretty good shot. The car has been consistent all year long and we’re just trying to figure out what we can do to beat that 23.”
Completing the podium was polesitter Griffin Miller, who had been bitten by a tough string of bad luck throughout the month of July, but recovered nicely to hang up at the front and begin the final stretch of the season with a solid podium finish for the Lucky Motorsports No. 9 team.
“We came out tonight just looking to finish a race,” stated Miller. “We have had a really bad year. Just threw some old tires on and tried to get a good run. I ended up starting on the pole and the car was getting wicked loose throughout the feature, but I’m just happy to be back up here again. It’s pretty nice to finish a race. I have to thank John (Altman) especially. He puts his heart and soul into this car every week especially when things go wrong, my Grandfather, Rita, my Dad, Steven, and everybody that helps out.”
The 30-lap feature was marred by only a handful of caution flags, with notable incidents involving Tony Pisa, a first-time heat race winner earlier in the evening. While battling hard for third on lap 3, Kapuscinski and Pisa brushed wheels exiting turn four, with Pisa ending up in the outside steel.
Filling in behind the wheel of the re-numbered Robbie Wirth Racing backup No. 77, Cameron Rowe also saw a top five run go sour after contact from Tony DeStevens, ended a fine run for both drivers with seven laps to go.
When the checkered flag flew, rookie points leader Darren Shuman was strong for the third top five of his debut season, holding off a hard charging Greg O’Connor, who recovered from an earlier spin to drive all the way back up to fifth.
Rookies Robbie Wirth and Jordan Sullivan had solid performances to finish sixth and seventh, while Darrick Hilton, Drew Pascuzzi, and Jude Parker completed the top ten.
The Pathfinder Bank SBS will receive the week off next Saturday, August 13, for the third and final Oswego Winged Super Challenge of 2022. J&S Paving 350 Supers will serve as co-headliners for the winged spectacular with all three divisions returning for Championship Night on August 20.
JP Jewelers and Burke’s Do It Best Home Centers ‘Retro Night’
Saturday, August 6, 2022
Novelis Supermodified 45
Feature (45-laps): 1. 01 DAN CONNORS JR, 2. 00 Joe Gosek, 3. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 4. 95 Dave Shullick Jr, 5. 98T Tyler Thompson, 6. 0 Tim Snyder, 7. 52 Dave Danzer, 8. 54 Camden Proud, 9. 05 Jeff Abold, 10. 90 Jack Patrick, 11. 22 Mike Bruce, 12. 94 Logan Rayvals, 13. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 14. ® 37 Ryan Locke
Heat 1 (12-laps): 1. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 2. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 3. 00 Joe Gosek, 4. 37 ® Ryan Locke, 5. 94 Logan Rayvals, 6. 22 Mike Bruce, 7. 90 Jack Patrick
Heat 2 (12-laps): 1. 05 Jeff Abold, 2. 95 Dave Shullick Jr, 3. 98T Tyler Thompson, 4. 0 Tim Snyder, 5. 01 Dan Connors Jr, 6. 52 Dave Danzer, 7. 54 Camden Proud
D&S Landscaping Hard Charger: #95 Dave Shullick Jr.
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #01 Dan Connors Jr.
Pathfinder Bank SBS 30
Feature (30-laps): 1. 23 DAN KAPUSCINSKI, 2. 73 Noah Ratcliff, 3. 9 Griffin Miller, 4. 62 ® DJ Shuman, 5. 90 Greg O’Connor, 6. 04 ® Rob Wirth, 7. 2 ® Jordan Sullivan, 8. 66 Darrick Hilton, 9. 72 ® Drew Pascuzzi, 10. 00 ® Jude Parker, 11. 01 ® Greg Richardson, 12. 24 ® Tony DeStevens, 13. 27 ® Jon Carson, 14. 89 Tony Pisa, 15. 77 Cameron Rowe, 16. 86 Bryan Haynes, 17. 22 ® Ryan Gunther, 18. 49 Josh Wallace, 19. 35 AJ Larkin
Heat 1 (10-laps): 1. 23 Dan Kapuscinski, 2. 86 Bryan Haynes, 3. 62 ® DJ Shuman, 4. 24 ® Tony DeStevens, 5. 2 ® Jordan Sullivan, 6. 72 Drew Pascuzzi, 7. 66 Darrick Hilton
Heat 2 (10-laps): 1. 73 Noah Ratcliff, 2. 04 ® Rob Wirth, 3. 22 ® Ryan Gunther, 4. 49 Josh Wallace, 5. 90 Greg O’Connor, 6. 00 ® Jude Parker
Heat 3 (10-laps): 1. 89 Tony Pisa, 2. 9 Griffin Miller, 3. 77 Cameron Rowe, 4. 27 ® Jon Carson, 5. 01 ® Greg Richardson, 6. 35 AJ Larkin
J&S Paving / Jake’s Automotive / D&S Landscaping Hard Charger ($125): #23 Dan Kapuscinski
J&S Paving / Jake’s Automotive Third Place Finisher ($100): #9 Griffin Miller
Lighthouse Lanes Up & Comer: #73 Noah Ratcliff
White’s Car Care 4th Place Finisher: #62 ® DJ Shuman