Around The O – Russ Brown Interested in Feature Wins, Not Points

Russ Brown, who hasn’t finished in the top 10 in points since earning his fifth track title in 2013, finds himself in front of the pack after two weeks of racing. Since the 2013 season, the pilot of the Ray Hedger-owned and built No. 13 has only raced part-time. In fact, they’ve only campaigned a full season two times in the last decade.

“I don’t have a clue whether we’re leading the points at this point,” Brown said after his fourth-place feature run last Saturday night. “I think we could still go part-time. I’m OK with whatever the boss (Ray Hedger) wants to do. We had a top five tonight … that was good, but it’s not why we’re here. We’re here to win.”

Being that the 21-time feature winning team has only brought home three checkered flags over the past 10 years, it’s easy to understand that motivation. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a part-time driver or “invader” who has won a regular Saturday night feature in the small block division. The handicapping system is designed to penalize “invaders,” and prop up weekly investors. Perhaps committing to a full season might pay off with a few trips to victory lane?

“I guess so,” Brown said. “But, it’s more about seat time and knowing the car. Plus, we have had new cars and Ray is always trying new things. We just need more time. We have fast cars and should have won a bunch more … it’s just the way the racing gods are. It is what it is.”

Brown will get more seat time. He says the team is already planning on coming back this weekend.

Tim Glidden, Jr. is one of four small block supermodified rookies battling for the division’s Rookie of the Year honors. Not only is Glidden a second-generation SBS driver, he’s driving the same car (with updates) that his father did back in the late 1990s. It’s the oldest chassis currently running in the division.

The same car that competed against the likes of Dean Hoag, Ray Graham, Jr., Otto Sitterly, Matt Wheeler and Justin Shea 20 years ago in the “Limited” division is now taking on the likes of Anthony Losurdo, Michael Bruce and Tyler Shullick in what’s now called the SBS division.

The quarter-century year old car was originally built by Tim Proud and later raced by Glidden’s father from 1997 to 1999. It would literally be pulled from the weeds and brought back to life to compete in 2018.

Landing a potent, proven ride during the off-season that could very well bring him his first SBS feature win, Dan Kapuscinski earned himself a podium finish this past Saturday. Piloting the Mark Castiglia-owned No. 00, Kapuscinski finished third – rebounding from an accident on opening night that resulted in a DNF. He’s very much looking forward to what the season brings.

While Oswego’s former PR front man, Kapuscinski, excelled on Saturday night, the track’s current PR Director, Camden Proud, suffered his second straight setback in as many weeks. Proud not only has the duty of piloting the family-owned No. 54 small block supermodified, he also has the duty of reporting on those very races and representing the Oswego Speedway. Proud has proven that the job can be done. However, it requires a balancing act that Kapuscinski says isn’t very easy.

Proud knows his responsibilities and owns a temperament that helps him switch hats when situations present themselves. He loves racing and loves writing. He acknowledges that balancing the two is not always a walk in the park and he has his critics – but those come with the job. Come race day, he just wants to race. That should be his primary focus once the car rolls off the trailer. However, his position with track is not only always on his mind, but it’s on the mind of his fellow competitors.

Proud has to watch every move he makes, on and off the track. It’s an added load no driver wants, but one that’s necessary if the young pilot of the No, 54 chooses to play both roles.

Does he chance a risky move in search of that first feature win? How much does he let slide with an over-aggressive driver? The potential consequences are an added weight. In racing, added weight is something teams try to avoid.

After missing opening night, Snyder Racing was back in action this past weekend. However, it was with a different set of eyes behind the wheel of the No. 0. With Tim Snyder in the midst of moving back to the Central New York from New Hampshire, crew chief, Brent Murray, has been tabbed as the team’s driver for the next month.

With 25 years as the team’s leader under his belt, Murray ran his first laps in a supermodified last Friday night. 24 hours later, he’d start the first race of his career. He described the opportunity as a dream come true.

It’s hard to top a worse start to a season for a team when it loses its power plant. Unfortunately, two teams in the Novelis supermodified division suffered that financial fate this past weekend. Before the evening’s events began, the motor expired on the Brandon Bellinger-driven, Randy Darratt-owned No. 02 during practice. The team doesn’t have a backup engine to bolt in, but with a few late night’s in the garage this week, Bellinger says he’s pretty confident they’ll be back on Saturday.

2016 International Classic winner, Jeff Abold not only suffered engine woes during last Friday night’s practice session, the team’s backup engine went sour while leading the feature on Saturday night. With A&P Auto Parts being the evening’s sponsor as well as the primary sponsor on the family-owned No. 05, Abold had been looking to shine. They too are looking at a long week ahead if they wish to get back to the track this weekend.

On the flip side, Joe Gosek was able to rebound from a rough start on opening night with a solid fourth-place run. The supermodified veteran feels he has something he can work with to stay competitive. He says that as long as he’s having fun, that’s what matters most.