Seth Zacharias Garners First Ever Sportsman Win At Five Mile Point; Gary Smith Claims Title

Story By: FIVE MILE POINT SPEEDWAY – KIRKWOOD, NY – Saturday night was Season Championship night at Five Mile Point Speedway which determined the 2020 Track Champions and ended the regular season of racing.

Third generation Crate Sportsman Rookie Seth Zacharias raced to his first career win in the 20 lap main event. Gary Smith, who finished second claimed his first ever Five Mile Point Speedway Track Championship in the Insinger Performance Crate Sportsman division.

The post season starts on Sunday, September 13th with a fall fling series for all classes.

2020 marked the 70th consecutive season of racing at Five Mile Point Speedway. Prior to start of the season a big schedule had been put in place for the anniversary season. Things certainly changed in early March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Historically, this season will long be remembered for many things that included the first ever season with no spectators attending the racing. Despite the NYS restrictions that were in place all season the race teams responded with outstanding racing and a renewed energy for having fun and racing hard.

Entering Saturday Gary Smith had been the point leader in the Insinger Performance Crate Sportsman division for the majority of the season. His main contenders for the Track Championship entering Saturday were Matt Brewer, Brandon Loucks and Blaine Klinger. For both Smith and race winner Seth Zacharias the night started off as a challenge Smith started last in the first of four heats and Zacharias started last in his heat race number two. Both advanced far enough in their heat race to make the handicap for the feature event. This would ultimately prove the difference in the championship hunt.

Brian Durbin and Zacharias led the twenty-seven car field to the green flag for the 20 lap championship event. Zacharias used the racy outside line of the quarter mile to immediately take the race lead at the green. Smith wasted no time as he advanced from fourth to second place on lap 1 and Tighe Sherlock followed Smith to immediately advance from fifth to third. The first caution of the race flew on lap 5 and on the restart Smith worked past Zacharias for the race lead. Unfortunately for Smith the caution flew again nullifying the pass. For Zacharias, it was a wake up call and wasn’t caught off guard again.

When racing resumed Zacharias pulled ahead with Smith, Sherlock, Benke and Durbin all running in the top five slots. It didn’t take long for the leaders to find lapped traffic as the race went caution free for an extended time. Zacharias had established his lead over the field by the halfway mark but lapped traffic began to allow Smith to close the gap again. At this point twenty-five of the original starters were still on the track. The final caution of the race flew on lap 17 as a multi-car tangle took place. This again put the veteran driver Smith on the back of the rookie for the restart.

Zacharias responded like multi-season driver when the green flew as he again opened his advantage over Smith. When the checkered flags flew Zacharias had earned his first ever Sportsman victory. Smith finished second and that was enough to secure his first ever Five Mile Point Speedway Track Championship. Tighe Sherlock had another impressive outing coming home in third with Benke and Loucks completing the top five. Bobby Flood wound up fifth after starting ninth. Last weeks winner Tyler Johnston was seventh, Joe Gustella finished eight with Matt Brewer advancing from eighteenth to finish ninth. James Cornell made his return to racing and scored the tenth position.

Bob Hamm entered the evening as the point leader in the 600 Modified division. His top contender for the Track Championship was multi-time feature winner Brett Gray. Eli Akshar and Hamm started on the front row but it certainly would not be an easy event for Hamm. Akshar took the early race lead in the 20 lap feature event. Gray wasted no time as he moved from his third starting position into the race lead on lap 3. The title hopes for Hamm were in jeopardy as the caution flew as he was involved in a multi-car wreck in turn 1. Hamm wound up with a flat tire and headed to the pits. It looked as if Gray could possibly win the race and the track title. As the race was about to go green Hamm made it back on the speedway and restarted in the rear. At the green Gray immediately pulled away from Doug Lattner as he hoped to secure the track title and the win. Hamm began to work his way back through the field as he was looking to protect his point lead and title hopes. On lap 13 James Randall worked past Lattner for second place Chelse Beebe and now Hamm were in the top five. The final caution of the race flew on lap 17 when Randall spun Hamm in turn 1 as the race for second had heated up. Hamm was able to pull away from the wreck and Randall headed to the pits. The final restart saw Gray quickly open up his lead and go on for another win. For the second straight week he collected his own bounty this time winning $450 for the victory. Lattner, Dave Brown, Jason Sullivan and Akshar rounded out the top five. Hamm finished sixth which proved to be enough to lock up his first Five Mile Point Speedway Track Championship. His dad was a former Mini-Stock Champion at the speedway.

A tight point battle was taking place in the Factory Stock division as Justin Slezak entered the night as the point leader with Ray Lindquist and Adam Gilbert both within striking distance of the title. Slezak took the initial lead in the 20 lap feature event but for the second straight week Josh Dumas powered past to take the point on lap 3. The caution flew on lap 5 and on the restart Slezak re-established himself as the race leader. His lead would again be short lived as two laps later Dumas again took over the top spot. The leaders had a furious battle as Lindquist saw his title hopes extinguished as he headed to the infield on lap 7. Dumas again looked for his first ever win but ultimately, he would see heartbreak again. With only one lap remaining Dumas had a wheel come off exiting turn 2 taking away his victory hopes. The week prior he had crossed the finish line first only to have the win taken away in post-race inspection. Slezak would lead the last lap for the win and secure his first ever title in the process. Dumas made it back out to finish second with Kurtis Stickle having his best of the season in third. Adam Gilbert and Billy Shoemaker completed the top five finishers.

Walter Decker entered the evening chasing Tim Vandemark in the FWD Four Cylinder Expert class title battle. Decker led every lap to record his second straight win and collect the posted bounty on Vandemark. Vandemark finished in second which was enough to lock up the Track Championship in the class. Dave Simms, Tim Degroat and Ken Evans crossed the line in that order.

Doug Newbigging and Owen Clark entered the evening tied for the point lead in the FWD Novice division and the duo matched each other’s effort the entire race. Bethany Bertram raced out to the early lead but Newbigging took over on lap 2. Clark chased Newbigging the entire race for the race lead and ultimately the Track Championship. On the final lap Clark dove under Newbigging making contact as the two raced inches apart to the finish line. Newbigging was credited for the win and the Track Championship with Clark finishing second. The two congratulated each other with great sportsmanship in post-race inspection. Gregg Slater, Austin Slater and Mike Jenks completed the top five.

Jeremy Warren led wire to wire in the 20 lap Crate Sportsman Futures division. It was his first career win in the Crate Sportsman class.

Avery Decker was the Juniors Inner Loop winner and champion.

COUNTER POINTS…The regular season was culminated on Saturday night as the 70th Anniversary Track Champions are now in the record books…A Fall Fling Series will begin for all classes on Sunday, September 13th…

OFFICIAL INSINGER FUELS CRATE SPORTSMAN FEATURE FINISH (20 LAPS): SETH ZACHARIAS, Gary Smith, Tighe Sherlock, Russell Benke, Brandon Loucks, Bobby Flood, Tyler Johnston, Joe Gustella, Matt Brewer, James Cornell, Jason VonDoren, Blaine Klinger, Charles Loidice, Jared Labaugh, Matt Sobiech, Tom Hampton, Brandon Fritsch, Mark Longstreet, Devon Zona, Corey Wood, Patrick Dempsey, Dominic Roselli, Leah Decker, Jamie Yannone, Jared Miller, Brian Durbin, Tyler Stoddard. DNS – Michael Corbin, Tyler Peet. 2020 Track Champion Gary Smith (Brandon Loucks, Matt Brewer, Blaine Klinger, Russell Benke final top five).

FACTORY STOCK OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (20): JUSTIN SLEZAK, Josh Dumas, Kurtis Stickle, Adam Gilbert, Billy Shoemaker, Ray Lindquist, Charles Donald. 2020 Track Champion Justin Slezak (Ray Lindquist, Adam Gilbert, Kurtis Stickle, Josh Dumas final top five).

6O0 MODIFIED OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (20): BRETT GRAY, Doug Lattner, David Brown, Jason Sullivan, Eli Akshar, Bob Hamm, Sharon Sealey, James Randall, Chelsea Beebe, Brenton Miller. 2020 Track Champion Bob Hamm (Brett Gray, David Brown, Jason Sullivan, Sharon Sealy final top five).

FWD FOUR CYLINDER EXPERT OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (15): WALTER DECKER, Tim Vandemark, Dave Simms, Tim Degroat, Kenneth Evans, Randy Lane, Brandon Conklin. DNS – Steve Lunn, Kenny Underwood. 2020 Track Champion Tim Vandemark (Walter Decker, Randy Lane, Dave Simms, Steve Lunn top five).

FWD FOUR CYLINDER NOVICE OFFICIAL FEATURE FINISH (12): DOUG NEWBIGGING, Owen Clark, Gregg Slater, Austin Slater, Mike Jenks, Ashley Slater, Bethany Bertram. 2020 Track Champion Doug Newbigging (Owen Clark, Bethany Bertram, Greg Slater, Austin Slater top five).


JUNIOR 600 MODIFIED/SLINGSHOT: AVERY DECKER. 2020 Track Champion Avery Decker.