July 3rd, 2004

Klinger Shows Why He Loves Long Races At Five Mile Point

KIRKWOOD, NY - Admittedly, Butch Klinger is a fan of long distance races. Last Saturday night at Five Mile Point Speedway, he showed why. Propelled by a late race charge, Klinger pulled off the victory in the First Annual Sportsman Challenge Cup. The Walton, N.Y., driver raced past Tim French on the final circuit of the 50-lap affair to collect his second win in as many Sportsman starts at the quarter-mile oval in 2004.

Klinger, a Modified regular at the track, entered the event with a Bicknell car usually reserved for Sportsman action at The New Afton (N.Y.) Speedway on Friday evenings. He did the same on May 22, topping the 50-lap feature on that night. "I like long distance races," smiled Klinger, who picked up $750 for the win.

The 37-year-old started the extra-distance grind seventh, but it was pole sitter Rodney Hart who set a blistering pace early on. The Bainbridge, N.Y., native easily put distance on the field in the first half of the main. Following the race's final caution on lap 20, Tim French started his ascent. On lap 21, he took over second and set his sights on Hart. Using the outside lane, the Rockdale, N.Y., driver stalked the leader until he finally powered by Hart in turns three and four to grab the top spot on lap 35.

It wasn't until the final ten circuits that Klinger made his charge. He snatched third spot on lap 38, then blew by Hart for second on lap 42. At that point, he was nearly a full straightaway behind French. "I looked at the lap counter when I got up to second and I said 'oh man I waited too long," Klinger admitted. "I was coming, but I didn't think I'd have enough time to catch him."

That all changed in the final five circuits as French began to develop a steering problem. He drifted way wide on lap 47 in the fourth turn, then nearly exited the track in turn one on the final lap, drifting up the banking. The latter opened the door for Klinger, who drove calmly to the inside and snatched the victory. "He pushed up a few laps before and I saw it, but I just didn't know if I could get to him," he continued.

"My only hope until he got up high on the last lap was lapped traffic. I was thinking that might let me catch him." French, 41, settled for a heartbreaking second. "It's depressing," he said. "Something went out in the steering at the end. It had a catch in it, I just couldn't get it turned back to the left. It did it a few laps before that too, but nobody went by me. The second time, I knew somebody had to be there."

Hart finished third, ahead of Orange County (N.Y.) Fair Speedway point leader Rick Mill in a rare FMP appearance and Brett Tonkin. 23 cars entered the special, with heat wins going to Mill, Mike Trautschold and Tonkin.

Dan Pompey of Glenwood, Pa., recorded his first FMP win in a competitive 20-lap Street Stock main. Pompey spent much of the distance battling with Nazareth, Pa.'s Greg Buchanan, who led from the outset in search of his breakthrough win at the 54-year-old Southern Tier facility.

Buchanan made one costly mistake on lap 13 and Pompey seized the opportunity. Entering turn three, he momentarily slowed behind the lapped car of Carl Heater. Pompey drove to the inside, took the lead away and raced on for the win. Buchanan settled for second, ahead of Brett Spoor, Darl Ellis and Les Gillette.

Scott Bennett of Waverly, N.Y., recorded his second UMP Modified win of the season in a caution-free 20-lap feature. Bennett passed Brad Shaffer for the lead on lap two and literally checked out on the field, taking the checkered nearly a half-track ahead. K.C. Cole grabbed the runner-up spot with one lap remaining, but ran out of time to race for the win. Shaffer, Joe Cole and Gary Dence trailed. The entire event was run off in six minutes, 17 seconds.

Mike Codington, a former Street Stock regular in his first full season of Pure Stock competition, raced to career win number one in the 20-lap main. The Port Crane, N.Y., driver used the outside line to repel the continuous advances of two-time winner Walt McClennon. Codington received the $50 B&D Exhaust Warehouse bonus for winning his heat and the feature on the same night. Darl Ellis Jr., Charlie Gilbert and Shane Wolfe completed the top five.

Steve Dechow succeeded in a kamikaze last lap, last turn pass of Scott "Guido" McGonigile to win the 10-lap Figure Eight feature. The cars made contact coming to the stripe with Dechow winning by a nose. McGonigile, Bubba Folk, Jesse Velez and Jim Watson trailed.

A handful of Modified teams took the opportunity to log track time in several test and tune sessions, as the division had the night off from competition. A gigantic fireworks display concluded the Independence Day weekend show.

COUNTER POINTS:The two-for-one grandstand admission promotion brought out a sizable crowd for the Sportsman-headlined program. Hart picked up a $45 halfway bonus courtesy of Fabrications by Tauschman in Greentown, Pennsylvania. Danny Creeden, a regular at Orange County Fair Speedway and Accord Speedway in Southern New York, finished eighth in his Five Mile Point debut. The 21-year-old hadn't seen the facility in 17 years. He last attended as a spectator at age four.

Rick Mill had intended to compete with his Teo-Pro car in the special, but engine problems on Friday at Afton caused him to pull his 1991 Troyer Four-Coilcar out of the mothballs. It was his first run in that car this season. Mill, incidentally, was complimentary of the professionalism of the facility. Brett Tonkin's fifth place finish was impressive considering the 19-year-old wrestled the car for the final 35 laps without power steering. The first Challenge Cup lived up to its billing as point leaders from five different tracks competed in the Sportsman feature. Racing resumes at the Point on July 10 with a full program of Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks, UMP Modifieds and Pure Stocks. It will be Armed Forces Night and any individual presenting a Military ID will be admitted free into the grandstands. Racing starts at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact the speedway office at (607) 775-5555 or checkout the website:

BUTCH KLINGER, Tim French, Rodney Hart, Rick Mill, Brett Tonkin, Brian Decker, Eric Palmer, Danny Creeden, Rick Raisner, Brad Grim, Jesse Kline, Jeremy Holt, Ricky Rutt, Archie Myers III, Brandon Buck, Ted Stout, Greg Morgan, Mike Trautschold, Mike Van Tassel, Brice Gould, Jason Heafy, Bill Moyer, Don Hildebrant.

DAN POMPEY, Greg Buchanan, Brett Spoor, Darl Ellis, Les Gillette, Dave Luff, Nick Petrilak, Chris Strohl, Jerry Tonti, Neil DiBlasi, Nate Evans, Todd Sutliff, Carl Heater, Jason Bartsch, Eddie Kudrako, Steve Snider, Tom Cornell, Randy Tyler.

SCOTT BENNETT, K.C. Cole, Brad Shaffer, Joe Cole, Gary Dence, Joe Novak, Mike Stoddard, Robin Oltz, Jay Conroy, Dave Stalker.

MIKE CODINGTON, Walt McClennon, Darl Ellis Jr., Charlie Gilbert, Shane Wolfe, Jeremy Shaw, Mahlon Shoemaker, Eddie Felker, Dan Babcock, Jimmy Balutis, Josh Parker, Art Darling Jr., Allen Metzgar, Joe Cishey, Brian Mills, Jerry Whitmarsh, Freddie Velez, Cory Bond, Rick Seeley, Jonathan Carpenter, Rich Sharpsteen, Matt Spencer, Jason Bond, Matt Curry.

STEVE DECHOW, Scott “Guido” McGonigile, Bubba Folk, Jesse Velez, Jim Watson.