March 20th, 2005
By BRETT DEYO
KIRKWOOD, NY – Last year, there were nine different winners and 30-plus Modifieds in the pit area at Five Mile Point Speedway. But that was 2004. The prospects for 2005 are off the charts.
While the pale white snow melts away and patches of green grass signal the culmination of the off-season, the FMP Modified roster bulges daily as teams etch their plans to frequent the popular southern tier facility on a weekly basis. New faces, returning veterans and fresh equipment are set to take part in the 55th season at the historic quarter-mile oval. The Point’s Modified field will boast a healthy combination of quality and quantity in 2005.
Leading the charge for the championship will be last year’s high-point man Don Hart Jr. of Bainbridge, N.Y. Hart, a three-time winner in ’04 (including the June 26 Heath Memorial), will have two cars in his arsenal. Hart can choose between a 2005 Bicknell with an Enders 358 c.i. powerplant (No. 35) and an Enders big-block powered ‘04 Bicknell (No. X-1) in his title defense.
Mike Colsten of Binghamaton, N.Y. is a three-time Modified track champion and one of the all-time win leaders at the Point. This season will mark his return to FMP after an absence of a decade. Colsten’s potent Ford-powered No. 51 will be a weekly threat in the headline big-block/small-block Modified division, while his teenage son Joey will debut in the Sportsman ranks.
Brian Weaver wants nothing more than a Modified championship at Five Mile Point Speedway. He’ll contend for that honor this season, driving a 2005 Bicknell mount owned by Brad Grammes of Kunkletown, Pa. Weaver and Grammes teamed up in January and work is underway to prepare a first-class piece for action at the Point. The car will carry RPM power. Last year, the Windsor, N.Y., native recorded his fourth consecutive Modified title at Penn-Can (Pa.) Speedway. He also scored feature wins at Utica-Rome (N.Y.) Speedway and FMP.
In 26 years of dirt Modified competition, Robbie Green has never won a feature at Five Mile Point. He’ll try to change that record in 2005. The Wallkill, N.Y., veteran – one of the most popular drivers in the Northeast with a racing resume pages long – will make FMP his home this season, making the two-hour haul up Route 17 to wheel his green and white Precision-powered Teo-Pro No. 69.
Green won three races en route to a third-place finish in Accord (N.Y.) Speedway’s point standings in 2004. Only an October make-up race that he missed due to a pre-booked family vacation kept the championship trophy from Green’s mantle.
Last year’s point runner-up Rich Keehle Jr. recently inked an agreement with Dr. John Deuel to wheel a Doug’s Speed Shop-powered Bicknell chassis for 2005. The Windsor, N.Y., talent will not be driving a Troyer car for the first time in his career. Keehle, 25, looks to return to Victory Lane for the first time since the Southern Tier Open on Oct. 18, 2003.
Dana Wagner won the FMP Season Opener in 2003. He’ll try to repeat that effort this year with a former Jeff Heotzler Bicknell that he acquired over the winter. The Trout Creek, N.Y., racer finished a stout third in the ’04 point standings, wheeling his family’s No. 25W.
Glenn Knapp Jr. can barely hide his enthusiasm as he prepares for his 30th Five Mile Point season. The Johnson City, N.Y., driver, recognized as one of the 50 Greatest in the track’s history, will debut a 2005 Troyer “drop rail maxi-flex” chassis. The car was assembled with all-new parts, a first for Knapp, who is looking to return his familiar No. 26 to prominence.
After splitting with owner Bill Chalker following last year’s finale, Jim Crawn of LeRaysville, Pa., has a new operation at the ready. Crawn, a former champion whose list of accomplishments includes victories in the Southern Tier Open and Southern Tier 100, will pilot a new Bicknell owned by Tommy Coar and Bill Wayman.
Meanwhile, Late Model ace Dave Zona of Montrose, Pa., will fill the seat in the Chalker Motorsports entry. Zona’s open-wheel foray will be accompanied by Late Model action at Penn-Can on Friday nights.
Keystone State competitor J.R. Crouse was looking to try something a little different. That’s why the Nazareth, Pa., teamed up with Greentown, Pa.-based Fabrications by Tauschman to wheel a TRC-chassied No. 8JR car this season. The TRC brand of cars is unique to Ed Tauschman, who designs and builds the cars from the ground up. Crouse will drive for Tauschman in the Race of Champions Dirt Tour and select FMP shows in a second TRC car with a Dave Van Horn-built big-block.
Amidst a dense fog on a steamy August night, Joel Batzel outdistanced Dave Rumsey to win his first Modified feature at the Point in ’04. Vestal, N.Y.’s Batzel will return with his Country Town Auto Service No. 27 Teo-Pro car. Last year’s Afton (N.Y.) Speedway championship-winning ’04 Bicknell, purchased from Mitch Gibbs, is also at the ready in the team’s shop.
2004 Rookie of the Year James Cornell managed two third place finishes and a top 10 finish in the point standings in his freshman year. The Street Stock graduate from Harpursville, N.Y., has higher expectations for his sophomore effort. The 21-year-old will compete in a 2003 Troyer SLR mount that Arnie Slade achieved a great deal of success with in Sportsman competition last year.
Brian Malcolm earned his first FMP win on Aug. 14. He’ll be back in 2005 looking to repeat that effort. Gary Griffin’s 25th season will be centered at Five Mile Point. Pennsylvania’s Dan Hineline ended 2004 on a high note when he drove to an upset win on Season Championship Night. The “Radio Racer” looks to open the new season in winning fashion.
Butch Klinger scored a pair of extra-distance Sportsman wins (Pack the Track Night and Sportsman Challenge Cup) in 2004. He also earned a Modified victory over Kirk Horton on July 10 and will no doubt be a threat in ’05.
Bobby Puckett, Tom Oleski, Chris Ostrowsky, Bob Hamm Jr., Dave Rumsey, Matt Smith Jim and Brian Corcoran and a host of others will do battle in one of the most competitive Modified fields ever assembled at FMP.
Joining the Big Block/Small Block Modifieds on the weekly card will be the Sportsman, Street Stocks, FMP Modifieds and Pure Stocks. The popular Figure Eight cars will make several appearances throughout the season. Racing is scheduled to begin at Five Mile Point with the Southern Tier Open: Part I on Sat., April 9 featuring the Bobcat of Buffalo Patriot Sprint Group Season Opener, underscored by a 30-lap Sportsman Open and Pure Stocks in a 25-lap Open. Race time is 4 p.m. and, in the event of inclement weather, April 16 will be reserved as a rain date.
The Southern Tier Open: Part II is slated for Sun., April 17. A 50-lap feature for the Modifieds will headline the card. Sail panels, alcohol and any 13 x 92 inch tire will be permitted. The IMCA/UMP Modifieds will take part in a 25-lap Shootout, with the Street Stocks in a 25-lap Open and the Four Cylinder Stocks competing in a 20-lapper. Race time is 2 p.m.
Practice sessions on April 23 and 30 (12-4 p.m.) will serve as a segue-way into the regular season. The 2005 campaign will officially get underway on Sat., May 7 with the 55th Season Opener, headlined by a 50-lap Big Block/Small Block Modified main plus Sportsman, FMP Modifieds, Street Stocks, and Pure Stocks. The point battles will begin for all divisions on that night. Race time is 6 p.m. For further information on Five Mile Speedway, contact the speedway office at (607) 775-5555 or visit the website: www.fivemilepointspeedway.net.