Tyler Thompson Dominates 63rd Budweiser International Classic 200; Becomes Youngest Winner in Event History
OSWEGO, NY (September 2, 2019) - 17-year old Tyler Thompson shocked the Supermodified world to become the youngest winner in Budweiser International Classic 200 history this past Sunday, September 1. Thompson lead nearly 190 laps enroute to his first Classic win.
Thompson, who one month earlier had broken the track record and won his first ever Oswego feature in the same evening, passed polesitter and new track record holder Brandon Bellinger for the lead on lap 13 and never looked back for a dominating victory worth $15,000.
“This is truly amazing, I am just speechless right now,” Thompson said in victory lane. “We are feeling a whole lot of emotions. Halfway through the race I wasn’t sure if I’d get it and when the checkered flew, I just couldn’t believe we had it. I can’t thank my family and sponsors enough.”
On the initial start, Bellinger beat dancing partner Jeff Abold into turn one and lead the first lap of the 63rd International Classic. Behind them, Joe Gosek, Dave Shullick Jr, and Thompson battled for position in the top five early on.
Bellinger, Abold, and Gosek ran one-two-three for the opening eight laps with Shullick’s No. 95 and Thompson’s No. 98T in toe. Thompson began to turn up the heat on lap 7, when he got to the inside of Shullick and Gosek in back to back laps to move into third.
One lap later, Thompson made a move under runner-up Jeff Abold for second and immediately reeled in early leader Bellinger. It was apparent right away that the young gun wanted to lead laps in the International Classic.
On lap 10, Thompson used that same inside pass under Bellinger to take the race lead. The pair later swapped spots twice in the next three circuits, but when Thompson re-gained the lead from the 02 on lap 13, he began to pull away.
Four laps later, the first caution flag of the 200-lap main event was brought out for a turn two log jam on lap 17. Tim Snyder spun his No. 0 and collected Todd Stowell, Lou LeVea Sr, and Bob Bond who all saw their Classic come to an untimely end.
With the track blocked, the red was put out to allow the safety crew to clean up. When the red flag was lifted, Gosek immediately took his No. 00 pitside due to nose wing damage sustained while battling Shullick on lap 1. Gosek made repairs and tagged the tail.
Thompson continued his tear on the restart, but unfortunately was slowed again when Gosek, Jerry Curran, Dan Connors Jr, and Hal LaTulip all got together in turn one. After having such high hopes, this incident would end Gosek’s fortieth bid at the Classic far too early.
“Cautions breed cautions” as they say, and a third yellow flag was waved on the ensuing restart for LaTulip and Dave Danzer. The pair got locked together heading down the back stretch, and both made contact with the turn three foam. These two cars were done for the day as well.
When Thompson took off again with forty two complete, the field seemed content with letting him go for the time being as Bellinger, Abold, Shullick, Sitterly, Doug Didero, Keith Shampine, Alison Sload, Dave Gruel, and Davey Hamiltion trailed in the top ten.
Thompson lead for forty straight caution free laps before catching up to the first group of slower traffic on lap 81. Bellinger remained a distant second on this longer run, only catching the race leader when Thompson’s crew ordered him to slow his pace.
On lap 84, Shullick finally decided to make his move under Abold to take third. The top ten had not changed much, however, as it was still Thompson leading Bellinger, Shullick, Abold, Sitterly, Didero, Gruel, Sload, Shampine, and Michael Barnes.
When Shullick got under Abold, this left a hole for Sitterly and Didero as well, and both of those drivers capitalized to take away positions four and five. Meanwhile, the No. 05 car fell outside of the top five spots for the first time of the afternoon.
At lap 100, Thompson picked up the $1,500 Insinger Performance ‘Halfway Leader’ bonus now leading Shullick, Bellinger, Sitterly, Didero, Abold, Gruel, Sload, Shampine, and Barnes in the top ten.
With the race half over, this meant that should weather be a concern, the event would be called official if necessary. Keeping that in mind, Thompson continued his torrid pace in the No. 98T.
The first caution flag in over sixty laps came out on lap 103 for debris on the front stretch and this ended a very long green flag run for the leaders. This also meant that Bellinger, Shullick, Sitterly, and Didero would all have a shot at Thompson on the restart.
Shullick immediately got by Bellinger when the green flag came back out, but no sooner was Thompson already a half straightaway ahead of the remainder of the field with lapped cars in between, making Shullick’s job even harder.
With Thompson showing how much speed his car had, this may have started to concern Sitterly, who decided it was time to go around Bellinger and into third on lap 113. Despite starting to get a little racey, Shullick and Sitterly had a long way to go if they wanted to catch Thompson.
When the leaders began to circle through lapped traffic for a second time around lap 140, that is when Barnes began to turn up the heat in the No. 68. Driving his backup car, Barnes had gone by Shampine, Sload, Gruel, Abold, and Bellinger on the short run to make it into fifth.
At only fifty laps to go, Thompson was still long gone, but the battle to watch was now between Shullick, Sitterly, Didero, and Barnes for second through fifth. Barnes, who started in eighth, got by Didero in traffic for fourth with forty five laps remaining.
Two laps later, Gruel looped his No. 50 in turn one while running inside the top ten, giving the top five of Shullick, Sitterly, Barnes, and Didero what many thought might have been their very last shot at race leader Thompson.
The restart came on lap 164, only for the yellow flag to come back out a short lap and a half later when Gruel and Bobby Santos tangled coming out of turn four. This sent Santos into the front stretch wall with tremendous force, causing heavy damage to Jeff West’s No. 1.
Santos and Gruel each got a tow truck ride to the pits and following an eight lap cleanup, the field got the green flag again with just twenty eight laps to go.
It was on this particular restart that Shullick took a quick look to the outside, getting as close to Thompson as anyone had since lap 15, but it didn’t work. After a brief scare, Thompson pulled right back away from Shullick and Sitterly.
The yellow would actually come out one final time for Lou LeVea Jr. in the foam on lap 176. This gave Shullick a chance for a ditch effort at Thompson with nineteen to go, but it was no use for the 2017 International Classic Champion.
While Thompson rode off into the sunset, Sitterly’s sure podium run came to an end with eight laps remaining as the six-time and defending International Classic champion pulled his No. 7 pitside with mechanical issues.
Thompson had one last bout with lapped traffic with five laps to go and despite closing ground, it was not quite enough for Shullick as ‘The Shoe 2’ fell over a second short to the race winner.
A fuel scare coming out of turn four on the last lap certainly made things interesting, but it was all Thompson. In his sophomore season, the teenager crossed the line with the Classic win over Shullick, Barnes, Abold, and Didero in the top five.
Rounding out the top ten finishers in the International Classic were Bellinger, Chris Perley, Sload, Michael Muldoon, and Shampine. Ben Seitz, Logan Rayvals, Jack Patrick, Camden Proud and Connors Jr. completed the on-track running order.
Finishing in the pits were Sitterly, Jamie Timmons, Jerry Curran, Dave McKnight, Santos, Gruel, Hamilton, Brian Osetek, LeVea Jr, Danzer, LaTulip, Gosek, Snyder, Dan Bowes, Bond, Stowell, LeVea Sr, Jason Spaulding, and Aric Iosue.
Thompson took home $17,000 in winnings excluding lap money. The Classic paid $15,000 to win, the Insinger Performance Halfway Bonus delivered another $1,500 to Jason Simmons and team, and Thompson was also the Tammy Ten Media Russ Conway ‘Lap Leader’ worth $500.
Connors cashed in $300 from Oswego’s Classic Can-Am Camping Group as ‘Last Car Running’ while Didero was awarded $200 from the Camping Group for repeating as the highest finishing Canadian driver.
$1,500 went to the front row courtesy of Indy Performance Composites. Bellinger received a big $1,000 bonus from Jeff West and staff as the polesitter and new track record holder. Abold, the outside polesitter, received a $500 check for his efforts.
In his return to Oswego, mechanical issues sidelined Joey Payne from starting the International Classic, but Payne and car owner Don Penix were honored as the ‘Best Appearing Car & Crew’ courtesy of Area Auto Racing News.
For further results, photos, and more from Oswego Speedway’s 63rd Budweiser International Classic Weekend, please visit OswegoSpeedway.com. You can also FOLLOW on Twitter @OswegoSpeedway or LIKE on Facebook at Facebook.com/OswegoSpeedway.
About Oswego Speedway: Oswego Speedway is a 5/8 mile semi-banked pavement racing oval located off the shores of Lake Ontario in scenic Oswego, NY. The speedway has been a continuously run weekly racing venue since August 1951. The premier open-wheel pavement short track cars in the world, Supermodifieds, run weekly at the Oswego Speedway making it the only weekly Supermodified racing venue in the world. The Small Block Supermodifieds and 350 Supermodifieds accompany the full blown Supers on a weekly Saturday night schedule which runs from May through September. Oswego Speedway is mentioned in racing circles as the “Indy of the East,” as no fewer than a dozen past and present competitors have competed at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway including Mario Andretti, two-time Indy 500 champion Gordon Johncock, and former International Classic Champions Bentley Warren, Joe Gosek, and Davey Hamilton.
September 1, 2019
63rd Budweiser International Classic (200-laps): 1. 98T Tyler Thompson, 2. 95 Dave Shullick Jr, 3. 68 Michael Barnes, 4. 05 Jeff Abold, 5. 3 Doug Didero, 6. 02 Brandon Bellinger, 7. 44 Chris Perley, 8. 39 ® Alison Sload, 9. 15 Michael Muldoon, 10. 55 Keith Shampine, 11. 32 ® Ben Seitz, 12. 94 Logan Rayvals, 13. 90 ® Jack Patrick, 14. 54 ® Camden Proud, 15. 01 Dan Connors Jr, 16. 7 Otto Sitterly, 17. 27 Jamie Timmons, 18. 99 Jerry Curran, 19. 70 Dave McKnight, 20. 1 Bobby Santos III, 21. 50 Dave Gruel, 22. 6 Davey Hamilton, 23. 75 Brian Osetek, 24. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 25. 52 Dave Danzer, 26. 56 Hal LaTulip, 27. 00 Joe Gosek, 28. 0 Tim Snyder, 29. 25 ® Dan Bowes, 30. 47 Bob Bond, 31. 89 Todd Stowell, 32. 66 Lou LeVea Sr, 33. 34 Jason Spaulding, 34. 11 Aric Iosue
Semi-Final 1 (15-laps): 1. 89 Todd Stowell, 2. 47 Bob Bond, 3. 83 Lou LeVea Jr, 4. 90 ® Jack Patrick, 5. 99 Jerry Curran, 6. 27 Jamie Timmons, 7. 75 Brian Osetek, 8. 14 Joey Payne, 9. 78 Guard Nearbin
Semi-Final 2 (15-laps): 1. 15 Michael Muldoon, 2. 54 ® Camden Proud, 3. 70 Dave McKnight, 4. 56 Hal LaTulip, 5. 32 ® Ben Seitz, 6. 66 Lou LeVea Sr, 7. 34 Jason Spaulding, 8. 08 Dan Kapuscinski
63rd Budweiser International Classic 200 Time Trials: 1. 02 Brandon Bellinger - 15.769, 2. 05 Jeff Abold - 15.790, 3. 00 Joe Gosek - 15.824, 4. 95 Dave Shullick Jr. - 15.896, 5. 98T Tyler Thompson - 15.905, 6. 7 Otto Sitterly - 15.915, 7. 50 Dave Gruel - 15.920, 8. 68 Michael Barnes - 15.957, 9. 3 Doug Didero - 15.966, 10. 55 Keith Shampine - 15.979, 11. 52 Dave Danzer - 16.036, 12. 0 Tim Snyder - 16.069, 13. 1 Bobby Santos III - 16.112, 14. 44 Chris Perley - 16.156, 15. 11 Aric Iosue - 16.157, 16. 39 ® Alison Sload - 16.186, 17. 6 Davey Hamilton - 16.209, 18. 25 ® Dan Bowes - 16.225, 19. 01 Dan Connors Jr. - 16.238, 20. 94 Logan Rayvals - 16.246, 21. 83 Lou LeVea Jr. - 16.247, 22. 54 ® Camden Proud - 16.289, 23. 89 Todd Stowell - 16.301, 24. 08 Dan Kapuscinski - 16.317, 25. 14 Joey Payne - 16.321, 26. 15 Michael Muldoon - 16.334, 27. 47 Bob Bond - 16.422, 28. 32 ® Ben Seitz - 16.463, 29. 99 Jerry Curran - 16.523, 30. 70 Dave McKnight - 16.537, 31. 90 ® Jack Patrick - 16.547, 32. 66 Lou LeVea Sr. - 16.631, 33. 75 Brian Osetek - 16.959, 34. 56 Hal LaTulip - 17.066, 35. 78 Guard Nearbin - 17.650, 36. 34 Jason Spaulding - 20.005
Insinger Performance Halfway Leader ($1,500): #98T Tyler Thompson
Tammy Ten Media Russ Conway ‘True Friend’ Lap Leader ($500): #98T Tyler Thompson
Oswego Classic Can-Am Camping Group Last Car Running ($300): #01 Dan Connors Jr.
Oswego Classic Can-Am Camping Group Highest Finishing Canadian ($200): #3 Doug Didero
Indy Performance Composites Pole Award ($1,000): #02 Brandon Bellinger
Indy Performance Composites Outside Pole Award ($500): #05 Jeff Abold
Lakeside Property Services Final Qualifier In Memory of Joe Paeno ($100): #94 Logan Rayvals
Jake’s Automotive 23rd Starter In Memory of Jake Ratcliff ($250): #47 Bob Bond
Area Auto Racing News Best Appearing Car & Crew Award: #14 Joey Payne
Submitted By: CAMDEN PROUD