October 18th, 2003
KIRKWOOD, NY…Mike Clapperton, Rich Keehle, Randy Percival and Nate Stevens brought down the curtain on the 2003 racing season Saturday at Five Mile Point Speedway. It was the biggest day of racing in the 53 year history of the track.
The day started with the running of the 34th Binghamton Pepsi-Cola Southern Tier 100, a race that was packed full of drama. Ryan Phelps and Paul Jensen brought the field down to the green flag but Phelps immediately had mechanical troubles as he exited turn two. Jensen was the early leader before giving up the top spot to Alan Rudalavage on lap four.
Rudalavage was hooked up and flying as he opened a comfortable lead over the field. Bobby Puckett started to close in along with George Kostelansky, who started 11th. Jim Crawn was also on the move, coming from 23rd to crack the top ten in just 19 laps. When a car spun on lap 24, Crawn was collected and went to the back to begin another charge to the front.
Mike Colsten dropped into the pits on the same lap with a flat tire and returned without losing a lap. Colsten would also make a late race charge. By the halfway point of the race it was still Rudalavage out front ahead of Kostelansky, Puckett, Mike Clapperton and J.R. Crouse.
Kostelansky made his move on lap 51 to take the lead and once in front, the veteran driver pulled away from the field. Rudalavage began to fade and Clapperton started to come on. Colsten and Crawn had worked their way back into the thick of things with 75 laps complete.
Glenn Knapp ran a steady race and methodically worked his way to the front from his 24th starting spot. Kostelansky had checked out on the field and appeared to be on his way to the biggest win of his career, but the drama had just begun.
A caution on lap 87 once again collected Crawn after working back up to fourth from the earlier incident. That set the table for the unbelievable finish.
Kostelansky was having things all his own way until lap 97 when the lapped car of Jeremy Markle had the rear end lock up coming out of turn four. Markle spun on the homestretch and Kostelansky couldn’t avoid him, making heavy contact and turning what was sure to be a win into a heartbreaking loss.
Clapperton, who was more than a straightaway behind, inherited the lead and then held off Crouse for the win. They were followed by Colsten, Rudalavage and Knapp. Sixth through tenth went to Dana Wagner, Crawn, Brian Weaver, Ed Strada and Kirk Horton.
While the 100 lapper starting the night, the evening was capped off with an action packed Sandra Heath Phelps Southern Tier Open for the Big Block and Small Block Modifieds presented by BPG Motorsports. Bobby Puckett and Brian Weaver brought the field to the start of the 50 lapper with Pucket moving out front.
Allan Kellogg quickly overtook Weaver for second and went to work on Puckett. The race came to an abrupt halt on lap two when a vicious homestretch crash eliminated several cars. Mike Nagel crashed hard into the fourth turn wall and was collected by several cars.
While their were no injuries, the crash eliminated Nagel, Danny Johnson, Paul Jensen and Dave Rosa with heavy damage. While the track crew was doing a tremendous job cleaning up the wreckage, a light rain began to fall.
When the race resumed the light rain continued but it wasn’t hard enough to stop the action. Puckett continued to lead with Kellogg all over him in a great battle. Weaver ran third ahead of Mike Colsten, Kirk Horton and Jim Crawn.
Weaver lost the handle in turn two on lap 27, collecting Horton and Crawn in the process. The light rain kept coming as did Rich Keehle. Keehle, who had a rough season, was looking to turn things around on this night as he charged ahead of Colsten for third on lap 29.
Keehle then took second from Kellogg on lap 30 and needed less than a lap to dispose of Puckett to capture the lead. Keehle was flying around the quarter mile on the high side and was able to pull away from the field. Kellog was able to get around Puckett for second with seven laps to go but wasn’t able to mount a serious challenge on Keehle.
Keehle cruised to the biggest win of his career with Kellogg second ahead of Puckett, Glenn Knapp and Horton, who charged to the front after the earlier incident. Sixth through tenth went to Ed Strada, Crawn, Alan Shliffler, Alan Rudalavage and track champion Dan Vauter.
The Pure Stocks went to battle in their 30 lap Southern Tier Open event and it was Randy Percival that set the pace. Percival, who is a past winner of this race, has sat out most of the season. He led caution filled event for most of the race.
Doug Stack challenged him for many laps before taking the lead on lap 19. Stack went up in smoke on lap 24, giving the lead back to Percival. Mike Wilbur was able to get past Percival for the lead but a crash involving Mahlon Shoemaker on that same lap, eliminated Wilburs’ chances.
Percival was chased to the checkers by young stars Harry Marvin III and Mike Lartz. Tom Garren and Mark Goodwin completed the top five. Positions six through ten went to Gene Galligan, Shane Wolf, Josh Ellis, Brad Butcher and Wayne Baldwin.
Nate Stevens went wire to wire to capture the 20 lap Four Cylinder Stock feature event. Stevens was chased throughout the event by Bob Doolittle, who had to settle for second. Jim Money was third ahead of Harold Humphrey and George Crippen. Sixth through tenth went to Jack Hill, Dick Murtaugh, Josh Taylor, Mitch Hurlburt and John Carter.
The big night of racing brought an end to the promotional era of Dan Harpell on a high note with a hugh car count and great crowd on a cold and ultimately rainy day. Harpell leaves after 15 years at the helm.
There are still two events left on the schedule. The 13th annual Racers Flea Market will take place on Saturday, November 1st. It will run from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Vendor spaces are $20 apiece and are available in advance at the speedway office or at the track on the day of the event.
The final official event under Harpell’s direction will be the 2003 Awards Banquet. It will take place on Saturday, November 15th at the St. John’s Memorial Center in Johnson City. Tickets are available at the speedway office, Doug’s Speed Shop or by mail. For further information on either of these events please call the speedway office at 607-775-5555 or log onto our website at www.fivemilepointspeedway.net.
COUNTER POINTS… 62 Modifieds, 35 Pure Stock and 25 Four Cylinder Stocks filled the pit area…The Southern Tier Open was run in memory of Sandra Heath Phelps, the daughter of track owner Anna Heath…The track remained smooth and extremely fast throughout the long day of racing…Street Stock track champ James Cornell made his Modified debut in the Ray Menard 97 but failed to qualify…This was the first time the Southern Tier 100 and Southern Tier Open were run on the same day…Glenn Knapp, who is one of the 50 greatest drivers, having won features in four different decades, had the best average finish of the day by notching a fourth and a fifth.
BINGHAMTON PEPSI-COLA SOUTHERN TIER 100 FINISH:
MIKE CLAPPERTON, J.R. Crouse, Mike Colsten, Alan Rudalavage, Glenn Knapp, Dana Wagner, Jim Crawn, Brian Weaver, Ed Strada, Kirk Horton, Bob Lane, Jim Mahaney, George Kostelansky, Jeremy Markle, Dick Sundgren, Brian Corcoran, Bobby Puckett, Russell Hendrickson, Paul Jensen, Bob Hamm, Ryan Phelps, Don Hart, Jr., Brett Tonkin, Dan Vauter.
BPG MOTORSPORTS SANDRA HEATH PHELPS MEMORIAL SOUTHERN TIER OPEN FINISH:
RICH KEEHLE, Allan Kellogg, Bobby Puckett, Glenn Knapp, Kirk Horton, Ed Strada, Jim Crawn, Alan Shiffler, Alan Rudalavage, Dan Vauter, J.R. Crouse, Brian White, Chris Grbac, Brian Malcolm, Mike Clapperton, Eddie White, Mike Colsten, Brian Weaver, Bob Hamm, Dana Wagner, Don Hart, Jr., Brett Tonkin, Dave Rosa, Danny Johnson, Mike Nagel, Paul Jensen.
BPG MOTORSPORTS PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
RANDY PERCIVAL, Harry Marvin III, Mike Lartz, Tom Garren, Mark Goodwin, Gene Galligan, Shane Wolf, Josh Ellis, Brad Butcher, Wayne Baldwin, Mike Wilbur, Frank Mills, Mahlon Shoemaker, Louie Gordinier, Doug Stack, Toby Sparks, Paul Harrington, Bob Butcher, Gary Roberts, Jamie Rosh, Bob Boynton, Rob Belloma, Darl Ellis, George Carpenter.
FOUR CYLINDER STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
NATE STEVENS, Bob Doolittle, Jim Money, Harold Humphrey, George Crippen, Jack Hill, Dick Murtaugh, Josh Taylor, Mitch Hurlburt, John Carter, Jay Johnson, Ray Hyer, Jeff Herbert, Jeff Leslie, Chris Smith, Jason Tuttle, Rich Powell, Mike Navone, Chuck Powelczyk, Dan Talada, Don Potter, Ken Houghtaling. DNS: Skip Pickwick, Chuck Wheeland.