June 26th, 2004
KIRKWOOD, NY - Don Hart Jr. is becoming the master of extra-distance races at Five Mile Point Speedway. After securing a victory in the season-opening 50-lap main, Hart returned to glory last Saturday night, picking up the biggest win of his career in the 40th Annual Heath Memorial. The race was run in memory of Irving L. Heath, who built the speedway in 1951; his daughter Sandra, who played an instrumental role in the speedway operation over the years; and track owner Anna Heath, who kept the facility running for a half-century before her passing on March 2 of this year. The victory in the 54-lap Modified special netted Hart $3,450 - $2,000 for the win, a $500 bonus from track management for perfect attendance and $950 in lap money.
"This is definitely special"; Hart, 30, said. "We've been trying to win one of these for quite a while now." Butch Klinger, piloting his Bicknell Sportsman car with a four-barrel carburetor and aluminum wheels, grabbed the lead from his outside pole starting position and led the early portions of the event, as sixth-starter Hart worked forward in his Enders-powered Bicknell.
On lap 11, the Bainbridge, N.Y., talent moved by James Cornell for second. Two laps later, the yellow flag flew for a slowing Dan Hineline, putting Hart up alongside the leader for the restart. Heading into turn one, the cars made significant side-to-side contact. Hart was able to wrestle the lead away on lap 14 and Klinger headed pitside with a broken panhard bar.
"Klinger and I banged together going into one," Hart said. "That really didn't do any damage to the car. On the third lap, I tagged the wall on the front stretch. I was on the outside of Hineline - I didn't know if that would hurt us, but it worked in our favor." Jim Crawn, the 1998 winner of the event, took over second on a 23rd lap restart and began his chase of Hart.
As the mid-portions of the event clicked off under the green flag, the Lerayesville, N.Y., veteran remained five car-lengths behind the leader, but couldn't pose a serious bid for the top spot. That all changed with ten laps remaining. Hart rolled off the throttle as he encountered a large pack of lapped traffic and Crawn pounced on the opportunity.
Crawn made a serious bid with two laps to go as the leaders raced into turn one. Charging hard on the outside line, he pulled even with Hart, but couldn't keep his momentum up and settled back into second. "I didn't want to get tangled up with Weaver and Vauter (the lapped traffic) so I backed it down a little," Hart said. "With a couple laps to go I saw Crawn on the outside and I told myself 'I better get going.' I didn't know he was back there."
The 40-year-old Crawn, who uncharacteristically failed to qualify for the June 19 feature, rebounded with a second place effort. "The lapped traffic backed him up to us," he said. "I figured I had one shot to get alongside him, but I couldn't get a bite on the top. There was nothing there." "This was more like it should be tonight. Last week, we sucked. My guys worked on the car all week and it was fun again. It was a lot better."
Dana Wagner of Trout Creek, N.Y., squeezed out a third place finish in the final set of corners as Dave Rumsey blew a right-rear tire. Rumsey fought the car home fourth, just in front of Joel Batzel. Heat victors for the 33 Modifieds in attendance were Bobby Puckett, James Cornell, Brian Weaver and Joel Batzel. The consolation went to Russell Hendrickson Jr.
Brandon Buck, a local favorite and life long employee of the Point picked up his first career victory in the 20-lap Sportsman main. The 24-year-old Kirkwood, N.Y., driver, who spent four seasons on the road as a crew member with the Jim Beachy team on the DIRT circuit, led wire-to-wire in his Bicknell mount to take the win in his second season of competition. "The car was a lot better for the feature," he said.
"I made some changes that I probably should have made two weeks ago. I could feel I was getting good bite off of two - that's where I was pulling them." The son of handicapper Grant Buck, Brandon has done everything from selling programs to painting the walls and working the lap counter at the track. Buck earned $605 dollars for the win in the Sportsman 20 lap event. Brett Tonkin finished second, ahead of Rick Raisner, Rodney Hart and Ricky Rutt.
Teenager Chris Strohl of Montrose, Pa., won the 20-lap Street Stock main after taking the lead from Paul Rooney on a fifth lap restart. It marked Strohl's second win at the Point in 2004. Les Gillette finished second, ahead of Darl Ellis, Bill Trego and Rooney.
Candor, N.Y.'s Gary Dence picked up his first UMP Modified win of the season in the 20-lap main after working by early pace setter Brad Shaffer on lap five. Dence then powered away for the victory, besting K.C. Cole, Scott Bennett, Joe Cole and Robin Oltz. Dence also earned the $200 posted speedway bonus that was available for any driver that could win their division with perfect attendance.
Charlie Gilbert of Binghamton, N.Y., topped the Pure Stock headliner, leading the entire 20-lap distance from his outside pole starting position. Art Darling Jr. authored his best performance of the season in second, ahead of Mahlon Shoemaker, Jeremy Shaw and Darl Ellis Jr. Gilbert garnered $550 for the 20 lap Pure Stock victory. This included his $200 perfect attendance bonus along with additional leader lap money.
Jim Baker, a longtime Five Mile Point attendee and former crew member for Carl Reynolds and the late Dave Kneisel won the 20-lap feature for the visiting Keystone Legends Tour. The Jessup, Pa., driver fought off the challenges of Paul Rochelle to take the win. Ronnie Dunstan, Race of Champions Modified star Tony Hanbury and Brian Levan rounded out the top five.
In the held over 20-lap Keystone Legends feature from May 8, Jason Urso of Binghamton, N.Y., recorded the victory over Tim Tomson, Rodney Kistler, Brian Levan and Paul Rochelle.
A former racers reunion capped off the special evening, as many racers from the past came out to trade stories, greet the fans and take in the action.
COUNTER POINTS:The night included the return of legendary Carl Nagel, a three-time winner of the Heath Memorial and a veteran of six decades of Five Mile Point competition. Nagel made his debut at the quarter-mile oval in 1959... Brian Weaver and Dan Vauter, the top two men in the Modified point standings, both endured less than ideal outings. Vauter and James Cornell got together on lap 23 in the third turn, with Vauter being sent to the tail for his involvement. Weaver, meanwhile, suffered rear suspension damage in the incident and finished one spot behind Vauter in 16th... Ed Strada Jr. made his first start of '04 in the Modified ranks…
The busy night included 24 events, seven of which were features and over 300 laps of competition around the 54-year-old facility…The backstretch grandstands were open and will be again this Saturday night... Racing resumes at Five Mile Point Speedway on Saturday, July 3 with the first annual Sportsman Challenge Cup, a 50-lap, $750-to-win main. The top five drivers from FMP, The New Afton (N.Y.) Raceway and Orange County (N.Y.) Fair Speedway through June 26 will be guaranteed starters, along with the top five at Lake Moc-A-Tek (Pa.) Speedway as of the track's May 15 closing. Heat race starting positions will be determined by a draw for position and the top 12 qualifiers will redraw. The rest of the 30-car starting field will be head's up from the heat races. If a non-guaranteed starter wins the main, he/she will receive a $200 bonus. The FMP Hoosier tires or DIRT Sportsman Hoosiers will be allowed.
A gigantic fireworks display, and a full program of Street Stocks, UMP Modifieds, Pure Stocks and Figure Eights will fill out the card. Grandstand admission will be 2-for -1. Race time is 6:30 p.m. For more info, contact the speedway office at (607) 775-5555 or check out the website: www.fivemilepointspeedway.net.
40th Annual Heath Memorial MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
DON HART Jr., Jim Crawn, Dana Wagner, Dave Rumsey, Joel Batzel, Rich Keehle Jr., Ed Strada Jr., Tom Oleski, Kirk Horton, Bobby Puckett, Carl Nagel, Brian Malcolm, J.R. Crouse, Glen Knapp, Dan Vauter, Brian Weaver, Steve Walsh, Dan Hineline, Russell Hendrickson Jr., Nick Barassi Jr., Bob Hamm, James Cornell, Butch Klinger, Ben Bushaw, Gary Griffin. Did Not Qualify: Darl Ellis, Brian Davis, Craig Hawley, Jim Allen, Buddy Altemose, Chris Ostrowsky, Gordie Isham, Dave Calaman.
40th Annual Heath Memorial SPORTSMAN MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
BRANDON BUCK, Brett Tonkin, Rick Raisner, Rodney Hart, Ricky Rutt, Jesse Kline, Brad Grim, Mike Van Tassel, Archie Myers III, Bill Moyer, Bruce Gould, Shawn Olenski, Jeremy Holt, Jason Heafy, Eric Palmer, Garth Tonkin Jr., Jim Toy, John Gray, Bob Lane, Mike Trautschold. Did Not Start: Don Hildebrant, Randy Thomas, Chris Clemons.
40th Annual Heath Memorial STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
CHRIS STROHL, Les Gillette, Darl Ellis, Bill Trego, Paul Rooney, Dave Luff, Jason Bartsch, Dan Pompey, Jerry Liford, Brett Spoor, Randy Tyler, Tom Cornell, Nick Petrilak, Kurt Decker, Ken Taugher, Carl Heater, Greg Buchanan, Bill Saxe, Bob Teribury.
40th Annual Heath Memorial UMP MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
GARY DENCE, K.C. Cole, Scott Bennett, Joe Cole, Robin Oltz, Joe Novak, Brad Shaffer, Jay Conroy, Mike Stoddard, Dave Stalker.
40th Annual Heath Memorial PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
CHARLIE GILBERT, Art Darling Jr., Mahlon Shoemaker, Jeremy Shaw, Darl Ellis Jr., Chad Stone, Mike Codington, Walt McClennon, Matt Spencer, Jerry Whitmarsh, Shane Wolf, Eddie Felker, Ken Washburn, Dave Bellis, Fred Velez, Mike Beers, Rick Seeley. Did Not Start: Larry Fenton Jr., Jonathan Carpenter.
Keystone Legends Tour FEATURE FINISH:
JIM BAKER, Paul Rochelle, Ronnie Dunstan, Tony Hanbury, Brian Levan, Tim Henry, Jason Rochelle, Craig Rochelle, JimBlack, Bob Moyer, Jason Urso, Lamar Shaffer, John Schirk, Ed Evans, Tim Tomson, Rodney Kistler, Clint Penkauskus, Mark Schaeffer, Wayne Young, Mike Brannan, George Abt, Dave Bauer, Darrell Schittler. Did Not Start: Bobby Kern.
Keystone Legends Tour Held over Feature Finish From 5/8:
JASON URSO, Tim Tomson, Rodney Kistler, Brian Levan, Paul Rochelle, Ronnie Dunstan, Tim Henry, Craig Rochelle, John Schirk, Mark Schaeffer, Wayne Young, Bob Moyer, Clint Penkauskus, George Abt, Lamar Shaffer, Jason Rochelle, Ryan Steckel, Jim Baker, Mike Brannan.