Story By: FIVE MILE POINT SPEEDWAY – KIRKWOOD, NY – Tyler Willard made his first ever appearance at Five Mile Point Speedway a memorable one as he picked up the victory in the 55 lap “Great Crate Race” on Saturday, November 4th.
The victory was worth $2,555 and marked the final race at the historic quarter mile oval. Gene Sharpsteen, a racing legend on both asphalt and dirt in the Southern Tier also secured his place in history at the speedway with the victory in the Street Stock special. The race event was the third and final of the Fall Series.
Willard, from St. Catharines, Ontario joined an impressive list of Canadian drivers to win big Fall events at Five Mile Point Speedway. “Drivin’ Ivan” Little, also from St. Catharines was the winner of the Southern Tier 100 in 1970. Stewart Friesen was also a repeat fall 100 lapper winner. Willard drove from the seventeenth starting slot and took over the race lead on lap 34 from Ray Leonard to go on for the impressive victory.
Ray Leonard and Gordon Smith started on the front row for the 55 lap Crate Sportsman “Great Crate Race”. After a four-wide salute the drivers were ready to go racing. The race got off to a rocky start as two consecutive yellows reset the field. Once things settled down, Leonard took the lead utilizing the outside line around the quarter mile oval. Smith remained a challenger as the two ran side by side often during the first half of the race. Gordon Smith took the lead on lap 16 only to see the yellow flag fly relinquishing him back to second. Gary Smith, a multi-time feature winner at Five Mile Point Speedway ran in third with Skylar Sheriff and Dale Welty running in the top five during the early stages.
The top five changed dramatically as the race hit lap 20. During a yellow flag period Gary Smith pitted with a tire going down as did Sheriff. Leonard and Smith continued to show the way up front as now Brad Weaver ran third, Willard was up to fourth and Travis Green sat in fifth place. Weaver was hoping to keep Gary Smith in check as the two were battling for the Fall Series Championship. When racing resumed it only took two laps for Willard to dispatch of Gordon Smith for the second slot. He immediately set his site on Leonard for the race lead. A tremendous race for the took place for the next dozen laps as Leonard remained committed to the extreme outside of the speedway and Willard ran the very bottom of the quarter mile.
On lap 33 Weaver saw his title hopes take a hit when a multi-car jingle found him hooked with Welty. Both would restart at the back. On lap 34 Willard worked past Leonard for the race lead after a strong restart. Travis Green made his way past Leonard on lap 36. Gary Smith was now making his way forward around the outside of the speedway as we not only looking for a title but the victory. As the laps wound down the top five continued to shuffle as Gordon Smith made his way past Leonard and Gary Smith broke into the top five.
When the checkers flew, Willard was able to hold off Green for the victory. Gordon Smith finished third. Blaine Klinger charged all the way from the twenty-sixth starting spot to claim fourth. Klinger also was named the “Hard Charger” of the race with his great drive forward. Leonard had to settle for fifth after leading the majority of the race. Gary Smith finished sixth which proved to be enough to win the Fall Series title by only three points over Brad Weaver.
CRATE SPORTSMAN “GREAT CRATE RACE” OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (55 LAPS): TYLER WILLARD ($2,555), Travis Green, Gordon Smith, Blaine Klinger, Ray Leonard, Gary Smith, Brian Calabrese, Mike Doty, Brad Weaver, Mike Loney, Will Eastman, Joe Buchanon, Ralph Mele, Brett Wooster, Butch Irwin, Dale Welty, Skylar Sheriff, Nick Faust, Tom Davey, Scott Torbett, Dane Hedlund, Tim Guild, Rich Green, Mike Engwer, Bill Davey, Alan Komar, Ned Fitch.
HARD CHARGER: Blaine Klinger (26th – 4th) – ($100)
FALL SERIES CHAMPION: GARY SMITH
FACTORY STOCK OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (25 LAPS): JERRY LOBDELL JR., Buck Mills Jr., Justin Slezak, Billy Shoemaker, Brandon Conklin, Rich Sharpsteen, Zach Mills, Mahlon Shoemaker, Blake Furman, Rich Glover, Nate Shay, Charlie Towner, Nate Arnold, Eric Beach, Buck Mills Jr. DNS – Max Moshier, DQ – Jordan Towner.
FALL SERIES CHAMPION: JERRY LOBDELL, Jr.
STREET STOCK OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (25 LAPS): GENE SHARPSTEEN, Steve Hartman, Chris Woodard, Travis Brockner, Jerry Lobdell Jr., Don Reeves. DNS – Junior Kobbe.
FALL SERIES CHAMPION: JERRY LOBDELL, Jr.
600 MODIFIED OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS): RYAN DAVID-KADARONAK, Aiden Miller, Doug Newbigging, Jake Waibel, Brenton Payne, John Hoover, Ali Scutt, Larry Furman, Gaege Higley, Bailey Boyd, Nick Johnson.
FALL SERIES CHAMPION: RANY DAVID-KADARONAK
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE FOUR CYLINDER EXPERT OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS): JUSTIN POPE, Dave Simms, Craig Decamp, Chris Yob, Scott Beach, Ralph Cuozzo, Dakota Fuller, Tim Vandemark, Mike Girjatowicz, Rich Wagner, Brian Salmini, Jeremy Warren, Kenny Undwerood.
FALL SERIES CHAMPION – TIM VANDEMARK
FUTURE SPORTSMAN OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS): LANCE HILL, Buck Brown, Todd Falter, Mike Zuk, Josh Fedo.
FALL SERIES CHAMPION: LANCE HILL
FRONT WHEEL DRIVE FOUR CYLINDER NOVICE OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (15 LAPS): TANNER MILLIRON, Nick Milliron, Nash Ford, Cory Schmeck.
FALL SERIES CHAMPION: TANNER MILLIRON
VINTAGE CAR OPEN OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS): MODIFIEDS – MIKE NAGEL, Tom Fletcher, Dan Morden. SPORTSMAN – ACE PRENTICE, Brett Williams, Roger Williams. ANTIQUE – MIKE COLE