KIRKWOOD, NY – With snow banks still piled on areas of the speedway property Five Mile Point Speedway held the 67th consecutive season opener on Sunday. Tom Collins, Jr. was the winner of the GRIT Crate Sportsman Series “Coldcracker” event worth $1,000. After Saturday “testing and tuning” was washed out a special Modified Dash was added for the teams that came out to get some practice. Nick Rochinski was the 12 lap “Big Dog” Modified Dash winner.
The 30 lap GRIT Crate Sportsman feature event found Collins and Dustin Jordan on the front row of the 24 car starting grid. Collins, a second generation FMP driver jumped out to the lead at the drop of the green. A star studded field was on hand as some of the best Crate Sportsman drivers in racing were battling two and three wide on the quarter mile. Perennial northeast Crate Sportsman star Rocky Warner started tenth but got caught up in a lap one skirmish that saw him drop to 24th on lap one. Warner kept the car going and began his assault from the back of the field.
2016 Five Mile Point Speedway Track Champion Kyle Rohner started seventh and quickly made his way to the front of the field during the early going. Back to back cautions on laps 4 and 5 would reshuffle the deck with Collins leading, Jordan in second and Rohner up to third. David Marcuccilli was in the fourth slot with past opening day winner Kenny Hammond up to fifth. When racing continued Collins pulled away as a tremendous battle took shape among the top five.
By lap ten the top five contenders were still the same but Marcuccilli had worked back past Rohner for third place. Back to back cautions flew again on laps 11 and 12 but when racing resumed the action was incredible on the quarter mile. Again, Collins was not seriously challenged but the racing from second to tenth was intense. Donnie Lawson, Corey Cormier and Pat Jordan joined the battle of front.
The final caution of the race flew on lap 26 as Jimmy Zacharias clipped an implement tire in turn four breaking the front end on the Lawrence racing ride. Zacharias had climbed to eighth place prior to the incident. When the green flew for the final time Collins took advantage as he opened up his lead by five car lengths. Rohner tried to chase him down over the final laps but could not make a bid for the lead. Collins would go on for the victory over Rohner. Dustin Jordan, Marcuccilli, Hammond, Pat Jordan, Lawson, Cormier, Warner and Nick Nye rounded out the top ten.
For both Collins and Rohner the new season was very reminiscent of the conclusion of 2016. Collins won the next to last event of the season worth $2,000 in an Open vs. Crate Sportsman event and Rohner was the winner of the season ending “Great Crate Race” worth $3,000.
GRIT SERIES CRATE SPORTSMAN OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (30): TOM COLLINS JR. ($1,000), Kyle Rohner, Dustin Jordan, Dave Marcuccilli, Kenny Hammond, Pat Jordan, Donnie Lawson, Cory Cormier, Rocky Warner, Nick Nye, Josh Keesey, Garret Rushlow, Randy Fox, Dale Welty, Lem Atkins, Tyler Thompson, Jimmy Zacharias, Moose Gulley, Pat LaPage, Tim Guild, Nick Plumstead, T.J. Frost, Mike Jackson, Ray Bliss.
BIG DOG CHALLENGE MODIFIED DASH: NICK ROCHINSKI, Mike Colsten, Ken Titus, Brian Nelson, Brett Barrett.