September 4th, 2004
KIRKWOOD, NY – When Dan Hineline climbed to his roof in Victory Lane last Saturday night at Five Mile Point Speedway, no one could blame him for his unbridled enthusiasm. After all, nine years is a long time.
Hineline emerged victorious for the first time since 1995, winning the 50-lap Modified Advance Auto Parts Season Championship feature, breaking a slump that has clouded the Lake Ariel, Pa., driver’s performance for nearly a decade. “I never say very much about anything that happens,” noted Hineline. “I try to stay optimistic through it all and say ‘we’ll get them next week’ but I began to think ‘next week’ would never come. After a while, you start to question yourself.”
Incidentally, it was good fortune that played a role in the personable driver’s win, as he snaked through some early and mid-race mayhem to inherit the lead. Outside pole sitter Dan Vauter led from the start, but his chances for a victory ended on a lap-four restart when track officials ruled he that “brake-checked,” bogging down the field and causing a chain-reaction incident involving Bobby Puckett and Steve Walsh.
At that point, he was sent to the rear of the field. The Forest City, Pa., teenager protested the decision by climbing from his car on the front stretch and was done for the remainder of the night. That handed the lead over to veteran Gary Griffin, in search of his first FMP win. Griffin, James Cornell and Hineline broke away at the front of the field, as the Archbald, Pa., native led the trio into lapped traffic by the halfway mark.
However, his run went sour on lap 35 as the right-rear tire began to visibly lose air. Finally, on lap 39, the tire exploded and Griffin’s car pitched momentarily sideways in turn four, collecting Cornell. For Griffin, it was a heartbreaking end to a dominant performance. “I’ve been around long enough to know this is part of it,” noted the quarter-century small-block veteran.
“We were fast. I thought if I could stay out of trouble we had a pretty good shot at it but it wasn’t meant to be. I ran over something and punctured it, the tire had plenty of tread left on it. “I was just trying to get down out of the way (on lap 39) when the J3 (Cornell) climbed over my front end. There was nothing he could have done, it wasn’t his fault.”
Cornell’s car limped off the track with a flattened right-rear tire, along with a broken shock and torsion bar arm on the right rear. The get-together cost the Modified rookie a shot at his breakthrough win. “I was pacing myself, saving the tires,” Cornell, 21, said. “I was letting him get out there, but not too far, just waiting. We had a car to win.”
With the top two out of the picture, Hineline walked into the lead. “I could smell Griffin’s tire for a while,” explained Hineline. “Before the feature we took a ton of gear out of the car to save the right-rear. No matter what, we were sure our tire was going all 50-laps.” A heads-up move to avoid the incident landed him at the point.
“I saw the J3 get in there and I swerved to the left,” Hineline smiled. The 37-year-old’s tire conservation strategy came to fruition over the final circuits, as he motored away from J.R. Crouse to record the popular victory in his Rich Powell-powered Bicknell No. 98.5. “I didn’t hear or feel anyone for a few laps after we went green,” Hineline said. “I just focused on hitting my marks.”
Crouse, 45, of Nazareth, Pa., rolled home in the runner-up position with his Troyer Four-Link. “We were good, just kind of waited too long,” Crouse admitted. “I should have gone hard earlier, when I was racing with Dan for third. That’s when he was skating up. “At the end, he was fast and he didn’t make any mistakes.”
Brian Davis piloted the back-up Brian Malcolm big-block powered Bicknell to third, ahead of Dana Wagner and Malcolm. With his sixth place finish, Don Hart Jr. of Bainbridge, N.Y., was crowned the 2004 Modified track champion, a distinction he received for the first time in his career. Heat winners for the 27 Modifieds were Bobby Puckett, Dan Hineline and Vauter, while Joel Batzel won the consolation.
Rodney Hart won the Sportsman championship in style, capturing the win in the 25-lap feature along with top honors in the season-long battle. Hart, whose older brother Don won the Mod title, raced from eighth to take over the lead from Ricky Rutt on lap four, then powered away for the win, capping off his stellar first full season of open-wheel competition. “It feels good to do it this way,” said the 27-year-old. Rutt, of Phillipsburg, N.J., rode out the remainder of the distance in second, ahead of Jesse Kline, Brett Tonkin and Archie Myers III.
The Street Stock 25-lap battle went to Dan Pompey by a fender at the line over Bill Trego. The Glenwood, Pa., driver actually grabbed the lead on lap 15, but he wasn’t able to break away from Trego, who rallied in lapped traffic to make a bid for the win coming to the stripe. Trego’s second place effort wasn’t good enough, as Darl Ellis finished seventh, enough to clinch the title. Third through fifth in the main went to Les Gillette, Brett Spoor and Jason Bartsch.
Gary Dence of Candor, N.Y., pulled off the hat trick in UMP Modified action with a final lap pass of Joe Cole in the 25-lap main, and also established himself as the division’s 2004 champion. Dence’s late-season streak of victories allowed him to overtake K.C. Cole at the top of the standings. Mike Stolarcyk III came home second, ahead of Scott Bennett, Joe Cole and K.C. Cole.
Late-season addition Dan Callen scored a wire-to-wire win in the 25-lap Pure Stock feature, driving the Cornell Motorsports No. 18D to the win, his first ever at FMP. The Binghamton, N.Y., driver outraced Jeremy Shaw, who spun on the final lap. Walt McClennon finished second, ahead of Charlie Gilbert, who earned the championship with a third place finish. Art Darling Jr. and Mahlon Shoemaker rounded out the front five.
Jason Rochelle of Schnecksville, Pa., dominated the third FMP stop of the ’04 campaign for the Keystone Legends Tour. Rochelle took over the lead on the fifth lap and motored on to the victory over his teammate Ronnie Dunstan, who came from 16th to second. Craig Rochelle, Dave Rochelle and Tim Tomson trailed.
COUNTER POINTS:An irony in Hineline’s victory was the fact that his night nearly came to an untimely end during qualifying action. On the final lap of the heat race, his car’s engine bogged down after developing a problem with a lifter, causing head wrench Rich Powell to pull the intake off and piece the powerplant back together for the extra-distance main….
Upon examination in the pit area, Cornell’s right-rear showed plenty of tread, leaving him to wonder what might have been. “We had a lot left,” he said….Rodney Hart’s crew scrambled to replace a broken transmission in his Sportsman car following hot laps….
Car counts were 27 Modifieds, 21 Sportsman, 23 Street Stocks, 11 UMP Mods, 25 Pure Stocks and 29 Legends….
A post-race bonfire attracted fans, drivers, officials and crew members to the backstretch in celebration of a successful season….A drawing for the top 10 in the Sportsman standings landed Ricky Rutt with a new Troyer chassis, courtesy of FMP and Doug’s Speed Shop….The speedway is now silent until the National Quarter Mile Dirt Track Championship Weekend on September 24 and 25….
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS RACE SUMMARY
MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
DAN HINELINE, J.R. Crouse, Brian Davis, Dana Wagner, Brian Malcolm, Don Hart Jr., Allan Kellogg, Glenn Knapp Jr., Tom Oleski, Bob Hamm Jr., Chris Ostrowsky, Joel Batzel, Craig Terrell, Rich Keehle Jr., Duane Hiller, James Cornell, Gary Griffin, Dave Rumsey, Butch Klinger, Brian Corcoran, Steve Walsh, Bobby Puckett, Jim Crawn, Dan Vauter. Did Not Qualify: Jim Corcoran, Mike Isles, Ed Harris.
SPORTSMAN MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
RODNEY HART, Ricky Rutt, Jesse Kline, Brett Tonkin, Archie Myers III, Brian Decker, Brad Grim, Bill Deckelman, Ryan Grim, Rob Harder, Jim Toy, Garth Tonkin Jr., Tim French, Jeremy Holt, Bruce Gould, Ted Stout, Brandon Buck, Rick Raisner, Andy Stout, Shawn Olenski, Jason Heafy.
STREET STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
DAN POMPEY, Bill Trego, Les Gillette, Brett Spoor, Jason Bartsch, Joe Krisovich, Darl Ellis, Carl Heater, Harry Marvin III, Darwin Green, Nate Evans, Neil DiBlasi, Tony Ferri, Chris Strohl, Fred Christ, Phil Retter, Nick Petrilak, Todd Buskirk, Greg Buchanan, Bill Saxe, Bob Teribury, Denny Smith.
UMP MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH:
GARY DENCE, Mike Stolarcyk III, Scott Bennett, Joe Cole, K.C. Cole, Ty Hurlburt, Dave Stalker, Brad Shaffer, Mike Stoddard, Jay Conroy, Joe Novak.
PURE STOCK FEATURE FINISH:
DAN CALLEN, Walt McClennon, Charlie Gilbert, Art Darling Jr., Mahlon Shoemaker, Josh Ellis, Craig Decker, Jeremy Shaw, Matt Spencer, Corey Bond, Harry Cook Jr., Jerry Whitmarsh, Chad Stone, Tom Garren, Jonathan Carpenter, Eddie Felker, Ralph Jennings, Darl Ellis Jr., Mike Codington, Ken Washburn, Chris Wood, Randy Rolison Jr.. Disqualified: Shane Wolfe, Fred Velez. Did Not Start: Jason Bond.
KEYSTONE LEGENDS TOUR FEATURE FINISH:
JASON ROCHELLE, Ronnie Dunstan, Craig Rochelle, Paul Rochelle, Tim Tomson, Clint Penkauskus, Wayne Young, Josh Morrow, Mark Schaffer, Jason Urso, Bob Moyer, Dave Bauer, John Schirk, George Abt, Jim Baker, Bill Harris, Tim Henry, Lamar Shaffer, Brian Levan, Harry Garber, Roy Danner, Rodney Kistler. Did Not Qualify: Greg Christman, Dave DeGracia, Jim Halbert, Ryan Steckel, Pat Zellers, Laura McGonnell, Mike Brannan.