August 28th, 2004

Batzel Turns Special Night Into FMP Mod Win Number One

KIRKWOOD, NY - When Joel Batzel strapped into his car for hot laps last Saturday night at Five Mile Point Speedway, he had a feeling the night would be a little different than the rest.

Batzel proved that premonition by grabbing the win in his heat race, then dominating the Peoples National Bank/WBNG TV 12 Modified 30-lap feature for his first win in the headline division at the 54-year-old facility. "We've been struggling here this year with the set-up," admitted the Vestal, N.Y., driver, whose last visit to Victory Lane came in a UMP Mod early in 2003. "Tonight I went out for hot laps and the car felt really good. I know it was just hot laps, but it was different. It was hooked up right from the start."

Batzel started from the outside-pole in his No. 27 Teo-Pro car, which carries an Enders-built DIRT-legal small-block power plant. From the drop of the green, Batzel established himself as the man to beat, putting some distance on the field, despite several early caution flags. The most significant of which occurred on lap nine when six cars stacked up in turn one, eliminating Bob Hamm and Dan Vauter. "The car was really good for the first 21 laps," explained Batzel, who pocketed $1,000.

Batzel's only obstacle came in the final third of the event. As the 29-year-old began to encounter lapped traffic, his car became tighter and tighter, leaving him with no choice but to make some adjustments from the cockpit. In fact, he slowed momentarily on lap 21 in turn three, allowing Dave Rumsey to erase the advantage Batzel had built up. "The car was getting wicked tight," Batzel said. "I was adjusting on it frantically in the car, just trying to get it to turn.

"When I slowed up (on lap 21), I was just taking it easy. I didn't hear anyone behind me and I wasn't ready to mix it up with those guys (the back markers). I kind of 'rode it' to see if anyone would get close." While Batzel carefully worked through traffic in the final two circuits, Rumsey was able to close the gap, but couldn't pull off a pass, as Batzel cruised to a popular victory.

It marked Modified win number three of Batzel's career. He scored a pair of checkered flags in the early 90s at Penn-Can (Pa.) and Afton (N.Y.). His previous experience comes in a number of different types of cars, including Sportsman, Street Stocks, UMP Modifieds, Mini-Sprints and Pure Stocks. Rumsey, 48, of Conklin, N.Y., authored his best drive of the season to finish second in his Bicknell No. 1R.

"I'm just happy to finish in the top five," he said, referring to his string of sour luck throughout the 2004 campaign. "I thought I might have had a chance when he (Batzel) got into lapped traffic, but I ran out of tire. I probably should have put a pair of new rears on for the feature." Point leader Don Hart Jr. of Bainbridge, N.Y., broke into third on lap 23 and maintained the position for the remainder of the distance. An invading Mike Colsten, who started 12th, was fourth and Glenn Knapp rounded out the top five. Heat winners for the 31 Modifieds in the pit area were Knapp, Dan Hineline, Batzel and Hart, while Ralph Mele topped the consolation.

One bobble by Garth Tonkin Jr. was all it took for Tim French to steal the win in the Sportsman 20-lapper. The Rockdale, N.Y., veteran rocketed forward from 10th starting position to challenge Tonkin by lap five, as Tonkin rode the extreme outside of the quarter-mile oval, while French tried relentlessly to make a move on the bottom.

French's opportunity came on lap 15. Exiting turn four, the Carbondale, Pa., driver hopped the cushion and French pounced, slipping by for the lead. "I didn't know if I was gonna get him," French said. "He gave me a run out there." While French raced on to his second FMP win of the season, Tonkin's search for career win number one at the Kirkwood facility ended in a runner-up effort. Brad Grim finished third, ahead of Jeremy Holt and Brett Tonkin.

Montrose, Pa.'s Chris Strohl registered his fourth win of the season in the Street Stock division, with a triumph in the 20-lap headliner. Strohl and fellow Keystone State teenager Nick Petrilak diced for the number one position until the halfway mark, when Petrilak slid wide, opening the bottom for Strohl to take command. On the final circuit, Brett Spoor edged out Petrilak for second, with Darl Ellis and Jason Bartsch in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Gary Dence left little question as to the outcome of the 20-lap UMP Modified main. The Candor, N.Y., driver worked by Brad Shaffer on a lap-six restart, then motored away for his second consecutive victory. Shaffer held off the advances of Mike Stolarcyk III to retain second, while Scott Bennett and Joe Cole rounded out the top five.

In the Quarter-Mile Championship for the Figure Eight division, Steve Dechow nursed his ailing car home to the victory, number three on the season. The Downsville, N.Y., driver stalled on the final circuit, managed to fire the car back to life and sailed to the win over Jim Watson. The Figure Eight competitors raced for over $500 in bonus and lap money, as their successful season at FMP came to a conclusion.

COUNTER POINTS:With precipitation in the area, and nearby speedways pulling the plug early in the afternoon, a host of invading drivers filled the pit area to over capacity for the six-division program. Consequently, the Figure Eight race was run first to clear the infield for the influx of haulers. Among the Modified invaders were Colsten, George Kostelansky, Jeff Rudalavage and J.R. Hurlburt, while Sportsman standout Kevin Bates made his first appearance of the season, finishing sixth….

Two storms soaked the area, one at 1 p.m. that deposited an inch of rain, then another at 4:30 p.m. The track crew managed to work the clay back into shape, while the show started less than 45 minutes off the scheduled time…. Car counts were 31 Modifieds, 25 Sportsman, 19 Street Stocks, 8 UMP Modifieds, 24 Pure Stocks and 6 Figure Eights…. Early retirees in the Mod main included Vauter (broken shock tower) and Gary Griffin (something "binding" in his car), while a right-rear flat hampered Kostelansky's run….

Racing resumes at Five Mile Point Speedway on Saturday September 4 with Advance Auto Parts Season Championship Night, featuring a 50-lap Modified feature, plus Sportsman, Street Stocks, UMP Modifieds, Pure Stocks and the second appearance of 2004 by the Legends Cars. A post race bonfire/pit party will conclude the regular season after the races. Racing starts at 6 p.m. For more information, contact the speedway office at (607) 775-5555 or check out the website:


JOEL BATZEL, Dave Rumsey, Don Hart Jr., Mike Colsten, Glenn Knapp, Jim Crawn, J.R. Crouse, Ed Strada Jr., Bobby Puckett, Rich Keehle Jr., J.R. Hurlburt, Brian Malcolm, Jeff Rudalavage, James Cornell, Dana Wagner, Ralph Mele, Tom Oleski, Barry White, Dan Hineline, Brian Corcoran, George Kostelansky, Bob Hamm, Gary Griffin, Dan Vauter. Did Not Qualify: Brent Wilcox, Steve Walsh, Jim Corcoran, Allan Kellogg, Jim Allen, Duane Hiller, Dave Calaman.

TIM FRENCH, Garth Tonkin Jr., Brad Grim, Jeremy Holt, Brett Tonkin, Kevin Bates, Rodney Hart, Brian Decker, Rob Harder, Mike Decker, Ricky Rutt, Archie Myers III, Ryan Grim, Rich Wallace, Andy Stout, Shawn Olenski, Brandon Buck, Bruce Gould, Ken Titus, Eric Palmer, Jesse Kline, Bill Deckelman, Ted Stout, Rick Raisner, Willard Knecht.

CHRIS STROHL, Brett Spoor, Nick Petrilak, Darl Ellis, Jason Bartsch, Kurt Decker, Bill Trego, Dan Pompey, Les Gillette, Jerry Colsten, Ken Taugher, Bill Saxe, Chris Higgs, Carl Heater, Ken Hineline, Neil DiBlasi. Did Not Start: Darren Stout, Keith Villano.

GARY DENCE, Brad Shaffer, Mike Stolarcyk III, Scott Bennett, Joe Cole, K.C. Cole, Dave Stalker. Did Not Start: Jay Conroy.

ART DARLING JR., Shane Wolfe, Mahlon Shoemaker, Charlie Gilbert, Buck Mills, Mike Codington, Jeremy Shaw, Darl Ellis Jr., Walt McClennon, Jess Snell, Jason Bond, Fred Velez, Jonathan Carpenter, Matt Spencer, Allen Metzgar, Dan Callen, Chris Wood, Harry Cook Jr., Ralph Jennings, Jerry Whitmarsh, Eddie Felker, Craig Decker, Corey Bond, Rich Talada.

STEVE DECHOW, Jim Watson, Tom Miller, Jesse Velez, Steve Matson, Scott "Guido" McGonigile.