July 24th, 2004
KIRKWOOD, NY - In a picture of contrast, Dan Vauter and Don Hart Jr. split the Modified features last Saturday night at Five Mile Point Speedway.
Vauter parlayed a front row starting spot to the victory in the regularly scheduled Maines Tractor Trailer Driving School 30-lap feature, while Hart roared from 20th starting position to snatch the hard-earned win in the held over 5-Star Equipment headliner from July 17. Vauter, 18, rebounded from a three-week stretch of poor luck to score the win in a convincing performance.
The defending track champion from Forest City, PA., slid by pole sitter Dave Calaman on the second go-round with an inside pass. "I guess I was getting a run on those guys, "Vauter said. "It was a switch for me starting up front. I actually enjoy coming from the back." After taking over second on lap six, Brian Malcolm trailed Vauter until contact amidst a three-car scramble involving Ed Strada Jr. and Bobby Puckett sent the Lake Ariel, PA., driver spinning in turn three on lap 14.
That handed the runner-up spot to Gary Griffin. The Archbald, PA., standout limited Vauter's advantage to less than five car-lengths. However, he couldn't pose a serious threat to the leader, despite a final restart with two laps remaining. Vauter calmly guided his Bicknell No. 85 to his fourth win of the season, worth $1,000.
"We've had three bad weeks starting with the Heath Memorial (on June 26)," Vauter admitted. "The car was as fast or faster than it was at the beginning of the year tonight. We tried some different stuff in the rear and it worked great." Griffin settled for a season-high second, his best career FMP effort.
"I wasn't as good as I was in the first feature when the track had a little more bite in it" Griffin said. "Danny was fast tonight." Jim Crawn made a late rally for third, working by Bobby Puckett on lap 29.Puckett was fourth and J.R. Crouse rounded out the top five.
In the held over 30-lap feature, Griffin advanced from fifth to grab the lead from Dan Hineline on the sixth lap. With much of the event rolling off under the green flag, the dominant Griffin checked out, securing a half-track advantage aboard his Bicknell No. 52, which features a power plant assembled by his brother Bernie.
Charging hard through traffic, Bainbridge, N.Y.'s Hart cleared Hineline for second on lap 23, while Griffin's mount simultaneously began to slow with a deflating right rear tire. The 24-year small-block veteran attempted to wrestle the car home, but the tire exploded five laps from the finish, ending his hopes for his breakthrough FMP score.
One lap later, a caution flew for debris from Griffin's car, as Hart assumed command. "I never even knew the 52 (Griffin) was leading," Hart admitted. "I thought I passed Hineline for the lead, but when I came in they (his crew) told me the 52 was leading and got a flat." Hart raced the final four circuits in his Enders-powered No. X1 Bicknell and raced on to his third win of the '04 campaign at FMP.
The 31-year-old held his most recent victory in high regard, considering he started so deep in the field. "This one was tough," he said. "This is probably the hardest race I've run in my life." Veteran Glenn Knapp of Johnson City, N.Y., finished second, a bright spot in a frustrating year for the 44-year-old, who was named one of the 50 Greatest Drivers in the history of the 54-year-old facility.
"The car worked a lot better tonight," said a relieved Knapp." We changed a lot of stuff this week and it helped a lot. It's been a tough year so far." Crawn finished a third, just ahead of Hineline and Rich Keehle Jr. Heat victories for the 33 Modifieds in attendance went to Crouse, Vauter, Griffin and Malcolm, while Junior Green topped the consolation.
Cresco, PA.'s Eric Palmer led from wire-to-wire en route to his victorious performance in the 20-lap Sportsman main. Palmer, a graduate of the 250cc Micro-Sprint division in his rookie season of full-sized competition, was a first time FMP winner. Jesse Kline remained within striking distance of Palmer for the entire event, but couldn't get a run to challenge for the lead.
Palmer cruised to the win, backing up his pair of early-season wins at Lake Moc-A-Tek (PA.) Speedway with the $500 score at his new Saturday night home. Rodney Hart, Archie Myers III and Brian Decker rounded out the top five.
In the rain-postponed Sportsman 20-lap feature, Rodney Hart of Bainbridge, N.Y., raced to his second win of the season. Hart worked by Ricky Rutt at the halfway point after a side-by-side duel for two laps around the quarter-mile oval, then raced on for the win, motoring away over the race's second half. Rutt, of Phillipsburg, N.J., finished second, ahead of Brian Decker, Rick Raisner and Brad Grim.
Chris Strohl of Montrose, PA., topped the 20-lap Street Stock feature. The talented teenager overtook Steve Snider on the first lap, then repelled the continuous advances of Bill Trego over the final circuits for his third win of the '04 campaign. Trego settled for second after working the inside line in his bid for the win, ahead of Dave Luff, Jason Bartsch and Dan Pompey.
In the held over 20-lap Street Stock feature, Glenwood, PA.'s Dan Pompey powered around Brett Spoor on a final lap restart to score a dramatic victory. Pompey used the outside line to his advantage for his second win of the season, as Spoor fought a left front flat tire and a failing suspension on the right front. Spoor battled the car home for second, while Carl Heater, Chris Strohl and Bill Trego trailed.
When race leaders Brad Shaffer and Mike Stolarcyk III bobbled for an instant in turn two on lap six, Joe Cole took advantage and the Chenango Forks, N.Y., driver raced on to his second consecutive UMP Modified triumph in the 20-lap main. Scott Bennett, K.C. Cole, Stolarcyk and Shaffer finished second through fifth, respectively.
Binghamton, N.Y.'s Charlie Gilbert, a fan favorite at FMP, took his second checkered of the season in the 20-lap Pure Stock feature. Gilbert started third, took over the lead on lap three and raced on for the win. Following Gilbert across the line were Walt McClennon, Darl Ellis Jr., Bill Flask and Jerry Whitmarsh.
Racing resumes at Five Mile Point Speedway on July 31 with the first appearance in over 20 years by the ARDC Midgets, running one event with wings and the other wingless. Filling out the card will be the Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks, UMP Modifieds and Pure Stocks. Race time is 6 p.m.
COUNTER POINTS:The season-high total car count of 122 included 33 Modifieds,27 Sportsman, 25 Street Stocks, 10 UMP Modifieds and 27 Pure Stocks. Craig Terrell piloted the back-up Butch Klinger car, a Troyer Four-Link that Klinger campaigned himself earlier in the season. Joe Winne Jr. was a first-time Modified visitor, while Carl Nagel returned for the second time in 2004. Both failed to qualify.
Jim Crawn recorded two third place efforts on the night. That gave him the best average finish between the pair of Modified mains. 180 laps of feature action alone were turned on the Kirkwood quarter-mile, amidst the eight feature events. It was CDL Truckers night at the speedway. All Class A License holders were admitted to the grandstands free of charge. Empire Sports Network was on hand taping the action for a later broadcast date.
MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
DAN VAUTER, Gary Griffin, Jim Crawn, Bobby Puckett, J.R. Crouse, Rich Keehle Jr., Buddy Altemose, Kirk Horton, Dave Calaman, Butch Klinger, Ben Bushaw, Craig Terrell, Glen Knapp, Don Hart Jr., Junior Green, Ed Strada Jr., Steve Walsh, James Cornell, Chris Ostrowsky, Dan Hineline, Brian Malcolm, Tom Oleski, Joel Batzel, Nick Barassi Jr., Dana Wagner. Did Not Qualify: Carl Nagel, Jim Corcoran, Bob Hamm Jr., Rocky Rosetti, Matt Kaminiskas, Dave Rumsey, Joe Winne Jr., Brian Corcoran.
Held over MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
DON HART JR., Glenn Knapp, Jim Crawn, Dan Hineline, Rich Keehle Jr., Steve Walsh, Bobby Puckett, Dana Wagner, Butch Klinger, Bob Hamm Jr., James Cornell, Kirk Horton, Ben Bushaw, Tom Oleski, Ed Strada Jr., Gary Griffin, Brian Malcolm, Matt Kaminiskas, Dave Calaman, Nick Barassi Jr., Dave Rumsey, Dan Vauter, Brian Corcoran, J.R. Crouse.
SPORTSMAN MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
ERIC PALMER, Jesse Kline, Rodney Hart, Archie Myers III, Brian Decker, Bill Deckelman, Tim French, Brett Tonkin, Garth Tonkin Jr., Shawn Olenski, Rick Raisner, Brad Grim, Jeremy Holt, Andy Fayash, Brandon Buck, Rich Wallace, Ryan Grim, Chris Clemens, Rob Harder, Ted Stout, Ricky Rutt, Bruce Gould, Chris Riddle, John Gray. Did Not Start: Jim Christ, Randy Thomas, Brian Bray.
Held over SPORTSMAN MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
RODNEY HART, Ricky Rutt, Brian Decker, Rick Raisner, Brad Grim, Archie Myers III, Jeremy Holt, Rob Harder, Garth Tonkin Jr., Brett Tonkin, Jesse Kline, Brandon Buck, Andy Fayash, Eric Palmer, Shawn Olenski, Chris Clemens, Ted Stout, Brian Bray, Bill Deckelman, John Gray, Randy Thomas, Mike Lartz, Bill Moyer. Did Not Start: Bruce Gould.
STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
CHRIS STROHL, Bill Trego, Dave Luff, Jason Bartsch, Dan Pompey, Kurt Decker, Chris Higgs, Ken Taugher, Brett Spoor, Greg Buchanan, Nate Evans, Jim Hughes Jr., Bill Saxe, Carl Heater, Darwin Green, Joe Krisovich, Steve Snider, Jim Hughes Sr., Ken Hineline, Les Gillette, Keith Villano, Fred Christ, Darl Ellis. Did Not Start: Nick Petrilak, Dennis Shaffer.
Held over STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
DAN POMPEY, Brett Spoor, Carl Heater, Chris Strohl, Bill Trego, Darwin Green, Ken Hineline, Nate Evans, Chris Higgs, Greg Buchanan, Jason Bartsch, Steve Snider, Dave Luff, T.J. Amabile, Ken Taugher, Kurt Decker, Nick Petrilak, Darl Ellis, Les Gillette, Dennis Shaffer. Did Not Start: Adam Jones, Neil DiBlasi.
UMP MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
JOE COLE, Scott Bennett, K.C. Cole, Mike Stolarcyk III, Brad Shaffer, Gary Dence, Robin Oltz, Mike Stoddard, Jay Conroy, Dave Stalker.
PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
CHARLIE GILBERT, Walt McClennon, Darl Ellis Jr., Bill Flask, Jerry Whitmarsh, Art Darling Jr., John Carpenter, Jeremy Shaw, Cory Bond, Jeremy Stout, Chad Stone, Eddie Felker, Matt Spencer, Terry Petrabowski, Brian Mills, Josh Parker, Kevin Beach, Chris Wood, Mike Codington, Mahlon Shoemaker, Randy Rolison, Craig Decker, Nick Cicon, Jason Bond, Allen Metzgar, Shane Wolfe. Did Not Start: Fred Velez.