When Dan Connors Jr. and Bellinger lead the field to green for the 50-lap Novelis Supermodified main event presented by CNY CPR and OswegoCountyToday.com, Bellinger wasted no time at all jumping to the top spot from the outside pole position, leading every circuit enroute to his first victory at Oswego since 2015, when he held off defending track champion Otto Sitterly for his first career triumph.
Although Bellinger got to start up front following motor issues a week earlier, the victory did not come easy for the Fulton native who has a unique profession; crafting his own premium Mexican tequila, dubbed '21 Tequila.' As the grandson of 37-time main event winner Ed Bellinger Sr. and son of 52-time Supermodified feature winner and multi-time Budweiser International Classic 200 champion Eddie Bellinger Jr, it was a popular victory for Brandon and his fans, who have seen the familiar Bellinger racer tour the speedway for what has been over three decades. This time, he had to hold off another Nicotra Racing machine, Dave Shullick Jr, to get it done.
"Our car has been pretty strong for the last month and we felt like we were on the verge of getting a win. We've been making small tweaks each week," Bellinger noted in victory lane. "We were finally able to put it all together and I'm happy to be back here. The 02 was really handling great for the entire night. I need to thank my sponsors Darattt Farms, Bellinger Auto, Vashaw's Collision, Sheffield Motorsports, Orange Crate Brewing Company and 21 Tequila for the continued support."
Keeping defending ISMA Champion and four-time feature winner this year 'The Shoe 2' at bay was no small task, but Bellinger didn't have to do that until the closing stages of the event.
The Canale Insurance and Accounting yellow flag was thrown in the air on lap 2 for an incident involving Jeff Abold in turn three. Abold made contact with the backstretch wall while battling with Dan Connors Jr. for the third spot. The driver of the A&P Auto Parts No. 05 was quickly done for the night.
it appeared as if the man to watch all race long would be defending champion Michael Barnes in the Syrell Racing No. 68 as he promptly made the drive to second early on, but Barnes' night took a turn for the worst when he was sent tailside for jumping the restart on lap 2. 'The Hustler' made it back up to the seventh spot before a broken rocker arm forced him to retire from the contest very early, to the the sheer disappointment of the fans.
For yet another week, there were several drivers forced to work their way through the field from the bottom half of the top ten, one of them again being Shullick, who drove from eighth to second while Joe Gosek worked from ninth to fourth and Keith Shampine from tenth to fifth.
Otto Sitterly was also on the move for much of the race from the seventh spot in his No. 7 and it didn't take 'seven-time' long to find the podium as he pulled in behind race leaders Bellinger and Connors by lap 13 with Gosek, Shullick and Shampine following.
Sitterly spent would what end up being the next nearly twenty circuits trying to find a way by the Connors No. 01, but he was unable to do so and that is when his teammate Shullick took advantage, getting by Gosek for fourth to pull in behind Sitterly.
On lap 33, 'The Shoe' made his move down the inside part of the backstretch to make work of Sitterly before finding his way under Connors for the runner up spot just two laps later.
Approaching ten to go, Joey Payne, who had his best run of the season going in the Penix Racing No. 14, found himself hard into the turn two wall after contact with Gosek while battling in the top five. Payne was running fourth and unfortunately his Muldoon Chassised machine was done for the night.
With 11 laps to go, many thought that it would be Shullick finding a way by Bellinger for victory as the four time feature winner in 2017 has been practically dominant in the division, but that was not the case this past weekend as Bellinger was able to hold off the red hot Ohio racer for the remaining ten circuits. Shullick tried high, he tried low, and he raced Bellinger clean. But this time, 'DJ' was unable to bring the No. 2 home to victory lane.
"We had a really good car, that's for sure," Shullick offered. "That late race caution actually hurt us a little when I was trying to get to Brandon (Bellinger). It was a good night and I'm looking forward to the season championship next weekend."
While Sitterly was finally able to work back by Connors to the third spot on lap 43, he did not have enough to reel in race leaders Bellinger and Shullick, who crossed the line first ahead of Otto, Gosek, Shampine, Connors, Lavery, Shaun Gosselin, Logan Rayvals, and Brian Sobus.
"We had a very solid car going into the night," Sitterly said. "Come heat race time we had a problem with a wheel leaking and we chased that situation for the rest of the night. All in all for the team it was a good night, basically the 2 and 7 just have to show up next week to accomplish one and two in the championship so we are very happy about that."
It was an unfortunate night for many drivers who found themselves pitside early either with issues or simply due to withdraw from the race including Payne, Lou LeVea Jr, Barnes, Lou LeVea Sr, Aric Iosue, Dave Gruel, Guard Nearbin, Abold, Hal LaTulip and Tim Snyder. These drivers completed the running order.
Gosselin was strong in his first appearance of 2017 with his now IFS Supermodified numbered 77. He was declared Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger for his drive from seventeenth to eighth. Connors was the Lighthouse Lanes Up and Comer.
Just one more regular event remains for the Supers this season in this Saturday night's Track Championship event presented by Bosco's and U-Pull U-Save. Fans will be admitted for just $5 in the fan appreciation, action packed program. Kids 16 and under will remain free for the night’s festivities, which includes the always popular driver autograph session.
In the standings, Shullick and Sitterly share a comfortable lead ahead of Shampine, Barnes, and Gosek.
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Saturday, August 12, 2017
Feature (50-laps): 1. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 2. 2 Dave Shullick Jr, 3. 7 Otto Sitterly, 4. 00 Joe Gosek, 5. 55 Keith Shampine, 6. 01 Dan Connors Jr, 7. 6 Pat Lavery, 8. 77 Shaun Gosselin, 9. 94 Logan Rayvals, 10. 79 Brian Sobus, 11. 14 Joey Payne, 12. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 13. 68 Michael Barnes, 14. 66 Lou LeVea Sr, 15. 11 Aric Iosue, 16. 50 Dave Gruel, 17. 78 Guard Nearbin, 18. 05 Jeff Abold, 19. 56 Hal LaTulip, 20. 0 Tim Snyder
Heat 1 (12-laps): 1. 68 Michael Barnes, 2. 7 Otto Sitterly, 3. 14 Joey Payne, 4. 79 Brian Sobus, 5. 66 Lou LeVea Sr, 6. 94 Logan Rayvals, 7. 83 Lou LeVea Jr
Heat 2 (12-laps): 1. 6 Pat Lavery, 2. 55 Keith Shampine, 3. 05 Jeff Abold, 4. 11 Aric Iosue, 5. 50 Dave Gruel, 6. 77 Shaun Gosselin, 7. 78 Guard Nearbin
Heat 3 (12-laps): 1. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 2. 01 Dan Connors Jr, 3. 2 Dave Shullick Jr, 4. 00 Joe Gosek, 5. 56 Hal LaTulip, 6. 0 Tim Snyder
Lighthouse Lanes Hard Charger: 77 - Shaun Gosselin
Lighthouse Lanes Up and Comer: 01 - Dan Connors Jr.
Brad Penn Oil Supermodified Heat Winners: Michael Barnes, Pat Lavery, Brandon Bellinger