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Racing Around: Bellinger captures DIRTcar crown

September 15, 2011
By JAMES A. ELLIS ( , The Leader Herald

The 2011 racing season has been marked by a series of highs and lows for Johnstown's Bodie Bellinger.

The 16-year-old sportsman driver picked up his second-straight track championship at Glen Ridge Motorsports Park with one win, 11 top fives and 16 top 10s in 16 events.

Bellinger also captured his second-consecutive DIRTcar point's title.

"It is the Mr. DIRTcar Safety-Kleen Sportsman Modified title," Bellinger said. "Last year I won the regional title but they did not do that this year. It was an overall title involving 13 tracks."

The championship was decided between competitors at Glen Ridge, Bear Ridge, Brockville, Can-Am, Canandaigua, Cayuga County, Cornwall, Granby, Humberstone, Merritville, Mohawk International, Orange County and Ransomville.

Bellinger accumulated 1,005 points with his 16-best finishes, edging Orange County Speedway champion Matt Hitchcock (985) and fellow Glen Ridge competitor Rocky Warner (973).

When the World Racing Group conducts its season-ending DIRTcar awards ceremony this fall Bellinger will be in attendance and hoping for one thing, "Hopefully, I get one of those eagles [DIRTcar champion's trophy] this year."

Bellinger also made his debut driving crate late models on Saturday nights at Fulton Speedway.

"We had a great year at Fulton," he said. "It was my first year there and I had three wins and wound up third in points. We had a couple of bad nights but it was a lot of fun."

Bellinger also attempted to run with the Lucas Oil Late Models at Fonda Speedway but did not make the field due to engine trouble.

While finding success on the track and winning titles, Bellinger said he was disappointed that he was not allowed to collect his championship trophy in front of the fans at Glen Ridge.

Due to an altercation in the pit area, his team was suspended from the season-ending races.

"That was disappointing," he said. "It was kind of a messed up deal what happened there. I was in the race car strapped in, so I think I should have been able to go, but it is a team and it's over. I want to thank everyone for supporting us and coming out every week. I have to thank my mom and dad (Karen and John Bellinger), B&B Heating Oil, KB's Dogs, Hillside Service, Charlie Tibbitts everybody who was involved."

While Bellinger's fall sportsman racing schedule is up in the air, he has his eyes set on returning to Fonda Speedway for McDonald's Weekend.

"They have a crate late model race listed for the 24th," he said. "I didn't know about it until a couple of days ago when I saw it on the website. If they are going to have it, we will try to make it down there."

Along with wrapping up his fourth title in two years, Bellinger recently added another item to his list of accomplishments this year - he got his driving permit.

Fonda Yearbook

The 2011 Fonda Speedway Yearbook will be available at the track this weekend and on McDonald's Weekend or at The Leader-Herald office on Fulton Street in Gloversville starting Monday.



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