June 5th, 2004
KIRKWOOD, NY - If overcoming adversity is a sign of greatness, Dan Vauter fits the definition perfectly.
Vauter triumphed against the odds last Saturday night at Five Mile Point Speedway, beating a determined Brian Weaver with a crippled racecar to win the Modified feature. Despite a broken right front brake line on lap two and a damaged front suspension from contact with Weaver six laps from the finish, the 18-year-old raced to his second consecutive victory in the 30-lap main.
"It was a handful," Vauter smiled. Coming from 12th starting position, the Forest City, Pa., talent took advantage of two early caution periods to blast forward. He took over the runner-up spot from Matt Smith on a second lap restart, then worked by polesitter Jim Corcoran to grab the lead in turn four with five laps complete.
"I was gonna wait - bide my time - but I saw the holes and I went for them," Vauter said. "I thought it would be a little longer until I got near the front." Weaver, who started the main 18th following a heat race incident, advanced to third on lap seven and pressured Smith.
While Vauter walked away from the field in his No. 85 Bicknell, the Windsor, N.Y., Southern Tier standout worked over the 22-year-old young gun, finally making an inside move stick on lap 18. Weaver got the break he needed on lap 21, as a spin by Don Hart Jr. erased the straightaway advantage Vauter had accrued. Immediately, he went to work on the leader running the bottom lane.
The pivotal moment occurred on lap 24, when Weaver drove hard to the inside entering turn three and made contact with Vauter, whose car visibly bounced skyward. Weaver rolled out of the throttle as Vauter regained control and held down the top spot. "He got into me hard over there," the victor, a high school senior, remarked. "I didn't know what to think. I was the leader."
Weaver, meanwhile, contended it was a mere product of heated competition. "He slowed up a lot more than I thought and I was going in there like a freight train," he said. "Unfortunately, we got together, but I stopped, I got right out of it and let him get it straightened out. "I was not trying to wreck him. I was trying to win the race."
Weaver's hopes were diminished on lap 28 when he drifted high in turn two, which allowed Vauter to gain some breathing room en route to the $1,000 score. "The front end was screwed up pretty bad," Vauter said. "It was hard to drive." For the third consecutive week, Weaver settled for second in the Rhino Linings No. 1 as he chases the first Five Mile Point championship of his career.
"First loser for the third week," he said. "What can I say, he's (Vauter) fast." Smith, back in his own No.7, finished solidly in third position, ahead of 20th starter Jim Crawn and Nick Barassi Jr. in his best Point performance. Smith, Barassi and James Cornell were the heat winners for the 26 Modifieds in the pit area, while Joel Batzel topped the consolation.
Ricky Rutt of Phillipsburg, N.J., earned his first career Five Mile Point victory in the 20-lap Sportsman main, leading from green to checkered. In the midst of his first season at the quarter-mile oval, Rutt outraced Brett Tonkin into turn one on the first lap and was never headed, running a steady race at the front of the field in his Troyer No. 57.
Even lapped traffic in the final two laps couldn't deter the veteran campaigner, who raced to the $500 payday. "We made some changes to the car and I really didn't know how it was going to be," Rutt, who was previously a winner at Lake Moc-A-Tek (Pa.) Speedway, said. "I figured my best shot was to get out in front of (Brett) Tonkin on the start."
Mike Trautschold worked by Rodney Hart on the final lap for second. Hart, Brian Decker and Tim French trailed. The race was red flagged before one lap could be scored when nine cars stacked up in the first turn. Most spectacularly involved was Dusty Jagger, whose No. 48 stood on its nose before coming to rest on its wheels.
In a dramatic drag race to the stripe, Binghamton, NY's Darl Ellis edged out Paul Rooney to win the 20-lap Street Stock headliner. Ellis, who rebounded from an early spin to pass Rooney for the lead on lap 14, became momentarily trapped behind the slower car of Todd Sutliff in turn four on the final lap.
As Rooney carried his momentum around the outside and pulled even with the leader, Ellis moved up and the two made contact, with Ellis taking the win by a nose as Rooney's No. 54 scraped the concrete wall.
"I didn't even know he was there," said Ellis, who also pilots a Modified at the track. "I apologize. I didn't mean to squeeze him into the wall." Les Gillette, Carl Heater and Nick Petrilak rounded out the top five.
Scott Bennett of Waverly, N.Y., won the 20-lap UMP Modified main, fending off the late race challenges of K.C. Cole after grabbing the lead from a slowing Gary Dence with three laps in the books. Joe Cole, Brad Shaffer and Dence were third through fifth, respectively.
Off the strength of a brilliant three-wide move for the lead, Walt McClennon of Walton, N.Y., came home victorious in the 20-lap Pure Stock feature. McClennon ducked under Mahlon Shoemaker and Jeremy Shaw to snatch the top spot on lap nine, then raced on to the victory. Art Darling Jr., Shoemaker, Charlie Gilbert and Chad Stone filled out the front five.
Racing resumes at Five Mile Point Speedway on Saturday June 12 with a full program of Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks, UMP Modifieds and a special appearance by the Slingshots. There will also be Kiddie Rides for those who arrive at the speedway early.
Race time is 6:30 p.m. sharp. For more information, contact the speedway office at (607) 775-5555 or check out the website: www.fivemilepointspeedway.net. Make it a point to get to the Point!
COUNTER POINTS: Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was the fact that there was racing at all. With an ominous forecast (80 percent chance of rain) and precipitation falling within ten miles of the speedway, promoter Andrew Harpell said, "I really can not believe we are here." The program went off uninterrupted with the final checkered in the air just minutes after 10 p.m. However, Mother Nature's uncertainty did hurt the car counts…. When Jim Corcoran's front suspension broke on lap 15, he impacted Billy Thornton and came within "six feet" of taking out the pace car, in the words of its driver Bob Whitman…. Dan Hineline relinquished second spot on lap two of the Modified main due to a punctured right rear tire…. James Cornell's victory in the third Modified heat race was the first for the former Super Stock standout since making the jump to the open wheel ranks. The Harpursville, N.Y., 20-year-old was collected in a Bob Hamm spin on the first lap of the main. He later spun on lap 15…. Hamm's Friday night flip at Afton (N.Y.) Speedway forced Matt Smith to bring out his own equipment for the Point. Smith had been at the wheel of Hamm's car for the early season races…. Third generation driver Brad Grim of Coplay, Pa., made his first ever start at the Point, finishing ninth in his No. 611 Sportsman. Grim and his team admitted to "leaving out the left rear axle," causing him to pull off the track in his heat race…. Tom Gervasi and Tom Oleski were additions from Lake Moc-A-Tek (Pa.) Speedway….
MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
DAN VAUTER, Brian Weaver, Matt Smith, Jim Crawn, Nick Barassi Jr., Glenn Knapp, Brian Malcolm, Dave Rumsey, J.R. Crouse, Butch Klinger, Rich Keehle Jr., Joel Batzel, Tom Oleski, James Cornell, Bobby Puckett, Don Hart Jr., Dana Wagner, Darl Ellis, Jim Corcoran, Billy Thornton, Dan Hineline, Bob Hamm, Tom Gervasi, Jim Mahaney. (DNQ) Kirk Horton, Brian Corcoran.
SPORTSMAN MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
RICKY RUTT, Mike Trautschold, Rodney Hart, Brian Decker, Tim French, Brett Tonkin, Jeremy Holt, Dusty Jagger, Brad Grim, Brandon Buck, Shawn Olenski, Chris Clemons, Bruce Gould.
STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
DARL ELLIS, Paul Rooney, Les Gillette, Carl Heater, Nick Petrilak, Brett Spoor, Bob Teribury, Todd Sutliff, Chris Strohl.
UMP MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
SCOTT BENNETT, K.C. Cole, Joe Cole, Brad Shaffer, Gary Dence, Mike Stolarcyk III, Jay Conroy, Mike Stoddard, Dave Stalker.
PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
WALT MCCLENNON, Art Darling Jr., Mahlon Shoemaker, Charlie Gilbert, Chad Stone, Josh Ellis, Mike Coddington, John Carpenter, Jess Snell, Roger Wood Jr., Jason Bond, Jeremy Shaw, Shane Wolf, Ed Felkner, Cory Bond, Chris Leitner.