Family History Shines With Bellinger on ‘Retro’ Night at Oswego
August 4, 2019
It only seems fitting that a third-generation driver would take the checkered flag on Oswego Speedway’s annual “Retro” night. Fulton’s Brandon Bellinger parked the No. 02 supermodified in victory lane Saturday evening, winning the 45-lap main event and adding another victory to the family’s long list of accomplishments spanning over half a century of racing at Oswego.
Brandon’s grandfather, Ed Bellinger, Sr., earned the family over two dozen feature wins en route to 3 track championships. His father, Ed Bellinger, Jr., added another track title as well as 5 International Classic victories and over 50 feature wins. Wearing the very same fire suit his father wore en route to many of his feature wins, Saturday night’s victory for Brandon was career-win No. 3.
Starting fourth on the grid, Bellinger would slip underneath Clay, New York’s Tim Snyder on the seventh lap to take the lead. He would conquer lapped traffic early-on and survive multiple race-restarts to earn the win. Once in command, Bellinger wouldn’t see a wheel poke along either side his No. 02 the entire distance.
Listen to – Brandon Bellinger
Aric Iosue and Snyder led the Novelis supermodified field to the green to begin the 45-lap main event. Snyder would snag the early advantage, brining Iosue, Bellinger, Dave Shullick, Jr. and Logan Rayvals across the line to complete lap No. 1.
After taking third away from Rayvals on the opening lap, Bellinger would move under Iosue on his second trip to take over the runner-up spot. He would press Snyder for a few rounds before wrestling the lead away with an inside move in turn No. 3.
Immediately, Bellinger would add real estate between himself and second-place running Snyder. Shullick would maneuver the Chris Osetek-owned No. 95 around Snyder on the ninth lap. However, he would be unable to cut into the race leader’s advantage.
Behind them, Jeff Abold was moving forward from the eighth starting position. Abold moved underneath Iosue for fourth place on lap No. 11, before mirroring the move on Snyder for third place three laps later.
As Bellinger crossed the line to complete the 15th lap, Shullick, Abold, Snyder and Iosue held the top five spots. Alison Sload, Otto Sitterly, Rayvals, Michael Barnes and Keith Shampine completed the top 10.
Brandon Bellinger (02) moves in on Aric Iosue (11) early in the race - Jim Feeney Photo
Jeff Abold (05) challenges Tim Snyder (0). Abold would end finishing in second, Snyder would earn eighth - Jim Feeney Photo
Otto Sitterly (7) battles with Keith Shampine (55) midway through the race. Sitterly would finish in third, Shampine in sixth - Jim Feeney Photo
Logan Rayvals (94) and Michael Barnes (68) battle midway through the feature. Both would end their race in the pits - Jim Feeney Photo
Brandon Bellinger (02) puts Jack Patrick (90) down a lap early in the race. Patrick would end up finishing in ninth - Jim Feeney Photo
Michael Barnes (68) and Alison Sload (39) battle just before the halfway point. Barnes would run into trouble and finish 12th, Sload would finish in fifth - Jim Feeney Photo
Joe Gosek (00) chased down Otto Sitterly (7) late in the race. Sitterly would hold on to finish third, Gosek finished in fourth - Jim Feeney Photo
Brandon Bellinger poses in victory lane at Oswego - Jim Feeney Photo
The No. 02 crew poses in victory lane at Oswego - Jim Feeney Photo
Top 3 finishers - Brandon Bellinger (center), Jeff Abold (right) and Otto Sitterly (left) - Jim Feeney Photo
Bellinger poses with a checkered flag signed by many of the track's old-timers in attendence for Oswego's Retro Night - Jim Feeney Photo
On the 17th lap, Sitterly would leap past both Iosue and Snyder and take over fourth place. He was quick to put distance on Snyder’s No, 0, but third-place running Abold was holding a near full stretch on him.
By the 25th lap, Bellinger was closing in on lapped traffic with a 20-lengh advantage over Shullick. As Bellinger began to venture into the tail of the field, Abold was closing in on Shullick for the runner-up spot. On the 29th lap, Shullick would suddenly slow and pit with a broken steering arm. The Ohio native’s night was over.
Now in second, Abold found himself cutting into Bellinger’s lead as the No. 02 navigated its way around lapped traffic. He’d pulled to within a half dozen lengths when the race’s first caution flag was waved on the 36th lap as a precaution to a near incident on the back straightaway.
This would put an end the adventures in traffic and tighten the field, once again. With 10 laps remaining, Bellinger led Abold, Sitterly, Michael Barnes and Sload. Joe Gosek, Shampine, Snyder and Dave Gruel filled out the first nine.
The ensuing restart saw Gosek best Sload on the outside. However, another precautionary yellow would fly and negate the pass as a skirmish in turn No. 1 scattered the leaders. Barnes’ No. 68 suffered a sudden mechanical woe and slowly rolled its way into the pits. He had been running in fourth.
The second restart attempt of lap No. 36 was short-lived, as well. Rayvals would spin his No. 94 around and clock the outside of the third-turn wall hard. He would be ok, but his No. 94 suffered extensive damage.
The third attempt at restarting the 36th lap would be a charm. Bellinger was solid at the drop of the green. Gosek would take fourth away from Sload again and begin to press Sitterly for third. The lead duo would pull away, as Sitterly’s No. 7 tried to hold its ground against Gosek’s surging No. 00.
The two would bang wheels between turns three and four, but gather things back up and hold their positions. Though, it would put an end to their chances of catching the two race leaders as Bellinger and Abold’s advantage nearly tripled.
Bellinger would hit his marks in the final laps en route to becoming Oswego’s eighth different winner in nine supermodified events in 2019.
Abold’s solid run earned him his fifth, top-five finish of the season.
Listen to – Jeff Abold
Earning his eighth top-five finish in nine races aboard the John Nicotra-owned No. 7, Sitterly crossed the checkered stripe in third.
Listen to – Otto Sitterly
Advancing from the 11th starting spot, Gosek landed his No. 00 in fourth.
Listen to – Joe Gosek
Scoring her seventh, top-10 finish of the season, Sload rounded out the top five.
Listen to – Alison Sload
Shampine, Gruel, Snyder, Jack Patrick and Camden Proud completed the top 10.
JP Jewelers ‘Retro Night’ 45: 1. Brandon Bellinger (02), 2. Jeff Abold (05), 3. Otto Sitterly (7), 4. Joe Gosek (00), 5. Alison Sload (39), 6. Keith Shampine (55), 7. Dave Gruel (50), 8. Tim Snyder (0), 9. Jack Patrick (90), 10. Camden Proud (54), 11. Dan Connors, Jr. (01), 12. Michael Barnes (68), 13. Aric Iosue (11), 14. Logan Rayvals (94), 15. Dave Shullick, Jr. (95), 16. Hal LaTulip (56), 17. Jerry Curran (99), 18. Dave Danzer (52), 19. Guard Nearbin (78), 20. Lou LeVea, Sr. (66)
Heat race wins went to Danzer, Shullick and Shampine.
Chris Porter is a motorsports journalist whose reporting has been published in multiple print and online media sources since 2004.
Chris has primarily covered Oswego Speedway, ISMA and other asphalt auto racing in upstate New York.