May 1st, 2005
KIRKWOOD, NY – On an afternoon when wet weather kept the gates of most area speedways shut, Five Mile Point Speedway squeezed in a practice session last Saturday.
The historic quarter-mile oval was in great shape as nearly 40 competitors representing each of the five weekly divisions took the opportunity to shake down their equipment on the resurfaced and reconfigured track layout in preparation for this Saturday’s (May 7) 55th Season Opener.
The afternoon also marked the return of Five Mile Point to the American Race Tires brand after one year with Hoosier as the official track tire.
Pennsylvania veterans Dan Hineline, Bobby Puckett and Tom Oleski took some laps with their potent big-block/small-block Modifieds. Hineline, last year’s Season Championship Night victor, and Puckett are longtime FMP mainstays, while 2005 will mark Oleski’s first full season as a regular.
Dana Wagner, the Trout Creek, N.Y., native who finished third in the ’04 Modified standings, was on hand with his former Jeff Heotzler No. 25W Bicknell. Wagner is looking for his second Opening Night victory – he kicked off the 2003 season with a win.
Talented Pure Stock racer Chris Wood, who burst on the scene at the Point with three victories last year, took the wheel of the Joel Batzel No. 27 for several sessions and turned some of the afternoon’s fastest times.
In the Sportsman ranks, Eric Palmer, a feature winner last year on July 24, Jesse Kline and Brad Grim turned laps. Coplay, Pa.’s Grim strapped into a new Dirt Wheels chassis for the first time as he anticipates FMP win number one. The third-generation driver has achieved success at Big Diamond (Pa.) and Lake Moc-A-Tek (Pa.) in recent years.
Making a very impressive on-track debut in the Sportsman ranks was Brian Puckett, the son of Modified racer Bobby. He'll join the FMP Sportsman field as a regular in '05.
K.C. Cole led the FMP Modified contingent, while Ken Hineline and Harry Marvin III were among those testing and tuning their Street Stock machines.
Wood led a large group of Pure Stock racers on hand that included third-generation driver Joe Rafferty Jr. Rafferty’s grandfather Eddie was a multi-time Modified winner at FMP in the 1970s. Paul Carpenter also returned to racing after an absence of a decade.
Eddie Felker, Matt Spencer and Jonathan Carpenter turned laps as well in the Pure Stocks.
With the practice session complete, the attention turns to the 55th Annual Season Opener, highlighted by the Modifieds in a 50-lapper, plus Sportsman, FMP Modifieds, Street Stocks and Pure Stocks. Race time is 6 p.m.
Last year, Don Hart Jr. (Modified), Tim French (Sportsman), Chris Strohl (Street Stock, held May 22), Brad Shaffer (FMP Mod) and Shane Wolf (Pure Stock) took Opening Night victories.
A banner field of entrants is expected for this year’s official lid-lifter, including one of the most competitive Modified fields ever assembled at the Point.
For more information, contact the speedway office at (607) 775-5555 or visit the website: www.fivemilepointspeedway.net.