Jan 12th, 2008





By BRETT DEYO/Area Auto Racing News

BINGHAMTON, NY (Jan. 5) - Jim Crawn wasn't the typical Modified track champion with a beaming smile last Saturday night.
In fact, Crawn looked kind of somber while celebrating his third points title at N.Y.'s Five Mile Point Speedway on Saturday night during the Race of Champions Dart Dirt & Asphalt/Five Mile Point Awards Banquet at the Binghamton Regency Hotel and Conference Center.
That's because Crawn has decided to curtail his weekly racing after a 17-year career.

"I already got yelled at tonight twice for not smiling," a sincere Crawn told the audience of more than 600 during his farewell speech. "It's tough."
Crawn, 44, has a long history at Five Mile Point, having won the title previously in 1998 and 2000. He is a past winner of the Heath Memorial (1998), Southern Tier 100 (1998) and Southern Tier Open (2000) - the marquee events at the Kirkwood, N.Y., oval.
"I've always considered Five Mile Point my hometrack," Crawn bottom-lined, giving praise to former promoter Dan Harpell and current owner Andrew Harpell after he was presented his hardware by the weekly announcing team of Leon Andrus and Jeff Olin, who shared the microphone during the FMP portion of the evening.

By no means was Crawn's on-track performance a reason for retirement.
Driving a Tom and Terry Coar-owned No. J30, the LeRaysville, Pa., driver racked up five feature wins, a streak of three in a row (June 9, 16 & 23). He outlasted runner-up Tom McGurrin by 80 points.  In his typical modest fashion, Crawn credited his Gail Clark small-block engine, Bicknell chassis and Penske Shocks (through Ed Tauschman at Fabrications by Tauschman) for his success.

"It all comes down to getting what you need," Crawn said. "We had that this year - I owe this championship to Tom and Terry Coar."
Crawn, who wasn't ruled out taking part in some special shows, has decided to cut back on racing due to commitments to his growing business (Crawn Logging) and a desire to spend more time with his family, including his wife and four grandchildren. Crawn shocked the Southern Tier racing community when he announced his retirement entering the National Quarter Mile Dirt Track Championship Weekend in October.
Crawn's family came out in full force to support him on Saturday night as he said goodbye to his "racing family."
"There are a lot of memories over 17 years," he reflected. "A championship is a lot to smile about, but it is the friendships that I'll always remember. Everyone has treated me with respect over the years."  McGurrin, of Newton Lake, Pa., finished second in the standings driving a Sharkey's Fuels-sponsored No. 35. James Cornell of Harpursville, N.Y., was third, while fellow rookies and good friends off the track, Eric Palmer of Cresco, Pa., and Jesse Kline of Bangor, Pa., tied for fourth.

In the Sportsman division, consistent Walton, N.Y., veteran Butch Klinger took advantage of a rain-postponed points-season finale on Oct. 6 to best Brian Puckett for the crown by 15 points. Klinger was a three-time winner at the Point during the '07 season.
Puckett, of Old Forge, Pa., was second, trailed by Brad Grim, Les Gillette and Jerry Tonti.

Though he went winless this season, Afton, N.Y., driver Gary Roberts notched the first championship of his long driving career in the sanctioned IMCA-Modified division. Joe Cole was 11 points back in second.

Full-fender stalwart Charlie Gilbert of Binghamton, N.Y., compiled six feature wins in a dominant Pure Stock season, ending the title fight some 86 points ahead of Harry Marvin III.

Other champions recognized were Gary Kinne (Four Cylinder), Kay Brigham (A League of Their Own) and Mark Cardew (Figure Eight).

The annual Glenn Knapp Sr. Owner of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious recognitions in area auto racing, was presented to Charlie Gilbert for his years of success and hard work as a driver/owner. The Knapp family made the presentation.
Sportsman racer Eric Stephens Jr. took to the stage to present longtime Five Mile Point supporter Glenn Knapp with the Eric Stephens Memorial Perseverance Award in memory of his late father.

Andrew Harpell presented the Special Recognition Award to Maureen Gilbert for her efforts in garnering Five Mile Point Speedway local media coverage through her photography work.

Pit steward Brian Cochardo annually presents awards uniquely picked from his pitside perspective. This year's recipients were Ken Titus, a Modified racer who generously loaned an engine to a pair of different racers; and Dave Simms & Gary Kinne, instrumental in the formation and growth of the entry-level Four Cylinder division.

Other special awards presented were:
*Best Appearing Car - Jim Crawn (Modified), Nick Rochinski (Sportsman), Jeremy Shaw (IMCA-Modified) and Rob Loucks (Pure Stock);
*Most Improved Driver - Chris Ostrowsky (Modified), Brian Puckett (Sportsman), Joe Cole (IMCA-Modified) and Joe Rafferty Jr. (Pure Stock);
*Hard Luck Award - Bobby Puckett (Modified), Andy Stout (Sportsman), K.C. Cole (IMCA-Modified) and Doug Stack (Pure Stock); and
*Rookie of the Year - Jesse Kline and Eric Palmer (Modified), Les Gillette (Sportsman) and Josh French (Pure Stock).

COUNTER POINTS: Andrew Harpell concluded the night by affirming his solid commitment to improving Five Mile Point well into the future. This spring, new high-rise bleachers will be installed, while more work will be done to turns three and four before the oval's 58th consecutive season of racing commences....
Earlier in the afteroon, Five Mile Point Modified and Sportsman racers gathered for an informational meeting outlining plans and rules for the 2008 season....