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.
Barlow’s Concessions 71st Season Kickoff
Novelis Supermodified Jim Shampine Memorial 75
Saturday, May 28, 2022
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.