May 29th, 2004
KIRKWOOD, NY - Dan Vauter proved once again that he can beat the best at Five Mile Point Speedway. In 2003, Vauter outdistanced veteran Mike Ricci for his first career victory in the 39th Annual Irv Heath Memorial, a "stepping stone" to the point championship.
On Saturday night, the kid backed that up with a win over Southern Tier kingpin Brian Weaver in the Binghamton Pepsi-Cola 30-lap feature. "That's why they call me the Iceman" Vauter, a Forest City, PA, high school senior smiled confidently. "The mind games don't work with me".
Vauter started fifth in his No. 85 Bicknell, but he took a back seat early onto young Matt Smith, who jumped into the lead on lap one. Smith, Joel Batzel and Vauter engaged in an intense three-car fight up front before Vauter made his deciding move on lap seven, blasting to the inside in the third turn to take the top spot. "I was confident in the ability of my car," the soft-spoken 18-year-old victor said. "I just drove to the inside of him."
On the tenth go-round Brian Weaver slipped by Smith for second and began his chase on Vauter as the lead pair encountered lapped traffic. At the halfway point, Vauter caught the tail end of the field and became momentarily trapped behind the slower car of James Cornell. That allowed Weaver to close the gap.
Weaver made a determined move on lap 17 entering turn one. The Windsor, NY, standout drove hard to the inside in his Enders-powered Bicknell, but pushed up the track and was forced to roll out of the throttle. "I noticed him down there" Vauter said of Weaver's bid. "He drove in there pretty hard on the bottom."
Vauter's big break came on lap 19 when a spin by Brian Davis brought out the race's first caution. That freed the leaders up from lapped traffic. "That caution definitely helped" he said. "Lapped traffic was tough." Two yellow flags (laps 21 and 26) slowed the final eleven laps, but Vauter was flawless, motoring on to the $1,000 payday.
"We've been struggling with the chassis on this car all year," he said, referring to Friday night action at Afton (NY) Speedway. "We made a few changes tonight and it worked out great for the feature." It was the first time for the mount at the quarter-mile oval this season. Vauter was behind the wheel of a Teo-Pro car for the opener.
Weaver, meanwhile, settled for his second consecutive runner-up effort at the Point, one night after winning the Modified main at Penn-Can (PA) Speedway. "The long runs were much better for me" the 41-year-old remarked, "I had a strategy to try and run him down." We were right there in lapped traffic, but the caution killed me. I thought I had a shot that one time in the first turn (lap 17), but I had to lift. He was fast, ran a good race, and didn't make any mistakes."
Opening night winner Don Hart Jr. emerged in third spot in the final circuits, rallying from 13th starting position. Joel Batzel was fourth and pole sitter Rich Keehle Jr. rounded out the top five. Heat winners for the 31 Modifieds in attendance were Matt Smith, Weaver, Dave Rumsey and Brian Davis. Glenn Knapp topped the consolation.
Brian Decker showed his strength with a win in the 20-lap Sportsman feature. Susquehanna, PA's Decker, who started ninth, actually grabbed the lead with an outside pass of Chris Clemons on lap four. Before the lap could be scored, however, the yellow lights flickered on and the field reverted to the last completed lap for the restart order.
It only took one circuit for Decker to regain command, powering to the inside of Clemons to take the lead for good. Tim French worked patiently up through traffic to grab second from Garth Tonkin Jr. on lap 18. Tonkin finished third, just in front of his brother Brett Tonkin and Clemons.
In what panned out to be a two-car shootout in the UMP Modified headliner, K.C. Cole of Conklin, NY, out dueled Mike Stolarcyk III for the win. Stolarcyk persistently tried the inside line on Cole over the final ten circuits of the 20-lap main but couldn't get the bite he needed to make the pass, handing Cole his first victory of 2004. Gary Dence, Joe Cole and Joe Novak trailed.
Darl Ellis picked up the win in the 20-lap Street Stock main. Binghamton, NY's Ellis, who was also in competition with his Modified car on Saturday night, worked by Bill Trego on lap five for the top spot and went unchallenged the rest of the way. Trego finished second, ahead of invader Phil Retter. May 22 feature winner Chris Strohl was fourth and Dan Pompey rounded out the top five.
Todd Buskirk made his first visit to Five Mile Point Speedway memorable with a win in the 20-lap Pure Stock feature. The Hecktown, PA, driver, displaced from Lake Moc-A-Tek (PA) Speedway, charged from 10th starting position to grab the lead with five laps remaining. Despite a final lap restart, Buskirk was able to hold off Shane Wolf to record the breakthrough win. Wolf, Josh Ellis, Jason Bond and Jeremy Shaw rounded out the top five.
Bicycle races thrilled the youngsters during the intermission period. Racing resumes at Five Mile Point Speedway on Saturday June 5 with a full program of Modifieds, Sportsman, UMP Modifieds, Street Stocks and Pure Stocks. It will be Youth Night, as all kids 17 years of age and under will be admitted free. Race time is 6:30 p.m. sharp.
COUNTER POINTS: Brian Davis, piloting the big-block mount out of the Brian Malcolm stable, pulled to the pits after spinning on lap 19. The problem: a car that “was way too tight” Word from the team calls for Malcolm to take the wheel of that car for next week's action…. Matt Smith, a 22-year-old young gun on the Southern Tier, is enjoying his role as a driver for the Bob Hamm operation. Smith, who looked impressive in winning a heat race and leading the feature early on, said his use of older tires caught up with him. ”If it was only a ten lap feature” he joked…. Brett Tonkin was one of the final cars into the pit area on Saturday after rolling his No. 15 Sportsman Friday night at Penn-Can. “I checked the car over last night in the pits the best I could” he said. “Just making sure everything was alright for tonight”;…. Steve Walsh, an Afton mainstay, made a rare Point appearance, finishing tenth…. With the growing car count the infield was used to park haulers…. Despite a dry, brisk wind and sun all day long, the track surface was smooth and essentially dust-free all night. A shot of water just before the Modified feature provided three grooves for racing…. For more information, contact the track office at (607) 775-5555 or check out the website: www.fivemilepointspeedway.net. Get to the Point!
MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
DAN VAUTER, Brian Weaver, Don Hart Jr., Joel Batzel, Rich Keehle Jr., Brian Malcolm, Jim Mahaney, Glenn Knapp, Bobby Puckett, Steve Walsh, Dana Wagner, Russell Hendrickson, J.R. Crouse, Kirk Horton, James Cornell, Butch Klinger, Matt Smith, Dave Calaman, Dave Rumsey, Jim Crawn, Brian Davis, Nick Barassi Jr., Bob Hamm, Mark Plummer. (DNQ) Dan Hineline, Darl Ellis, Tim Gutekunst, Brian Corcoran, Jim Corcoran, Ken Hineline, Jim Allen.
SPORTSMAN MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
BRIAN DECKER, Tim French, Garth Tonkin Jr., Brett Tonkin, Chris Clemons, Don Hildebrant, Shawn Olenski, Jim Toy, Brandon Buck, Ricky Rutt, Mike Trautschold, Bruce Gould, Rodney Hart, Randy Thomas, Scott Brady.
UMP MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
K.C. COLE, Mike Stolarcyk III, Gary Dence, Joe Cole, Joe Novak, Mike Stoddard, Brad Shaffer. (DNS) Scott Bennett.
STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
DARL ELLIS, Bill Trego, Phil Retter, Chris Strohl, Dan Pompey, Randy Tyler, Brett Spoor, Nick Petrilak, Neil DiBlasi, Jim Hughes Jr., Bill Saxe, Bob Teribury, Les Gillette, Dave Luff, Tom Cornell, Jim Hughes Sr., Paul Rooney, Tony Ferri. (DNS) Jason Bartch.
PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
TODD BUSKIRK, Shane Wolf, Josh Ellis, Jason Bond, Jeremy Shaw, Art Darlay, Walt McClennan, Darl Ellis Jr., Mahlon Shoemaker, Matt Spencer, John Corpene, Ken Washburn, Charlie Gilbert, Allen Metzgar, Cory Bond, Mike Coddington, Brian Mills.