by Doug Zupan VERNON, NY - The DIRT Sportsman division at the New Utica-Rome Speedway has enjoyed a resurgence of higher car counts during the 2000 season. With that increase in cars has come a general rise in the intensity of the competition,...
by Doug Zupan
VERNON, NY - The DIRT Sportsman division at the New Utica-Rome Speedway has enjoyed a resurgence of higher car counts during the 2000 season. With that increase in cars has come a general rise in the intensity of the competition, and the racing was certainly thrilling this past summer.
Here is a look at the top ten in 2000 season point standings listed with hometown, major sponsor, chassis, and engine builder:
1. Kevin Crave - 504 Points - (West Winfield, NY - JRM Paving / Troyer No. 28 / JPM) - Kevin Crave had a very consistent season on the way to his first career Utica-Rome Track Championship in the Sportsman division. Crave had ten top five finishes and eleven top tens along with only one win on August 13 on the way to his best ever season. His racing plans for 2001 are unknown.
2. Jamie Christian - 450 Points - (West Winfield, NY - Gifford Paving / Kneisel No. 55c / Jensen) - Jamie Christian dominated the Sportsman division at Utica-Rome in 2000, with seven feature wins, ten top fives, and eleven top ten finishes driving the John Hodge owned machine. Christian, the defending track champion, led the most laps out of all competitors, with 93 laps of being out front on the fast half-mile.
3. Willy Decker - 449 Points - (Vernon, NY - Westmoreland Golf Club / Bicknell No. 1x / Campbell) - "The Jumbo Driver" Willy Decker was again one of the top forces in the DIRT Sportsman division at Utica-Rome. Decker had only one feature win on the season, which came on May 14, but he was always consistent with eight top fives and nine top tens. Speedway management has learned that Decker will most likely be moving up to the 358-Modifieds for 2001 with a new Teo Pro Car chassis he ran in the final events of 2000.
4. Paul Carey - 440 Points - (Bridgewater, NY - Drake Industrial Painting / Kneisel No. 39 / Steere) - Paul Carey had his best season ever in the DIRT Sportsman division with three top five finishes and eight top tens. His best finish on the season was a close second to Kevin Crave on August 13, which is his highest career feature finish in the division. Carey hopes to turn it up a notch in 2001 and find his way to victory lane.
5. Ron Richardson - 402 Points - (Chittenango, NY - Tacoma's Restaurant / Olsen No. 262 / Bogan) - Ron Richardson started off 2000 at Utica-Rome with a DNQ and struggled without any feature wins for the first time in many years. However, he pulled off four top five finishes and eight top tens with his best finish being second to sixteen year old Paul Kinney on July 16. Richardson has his equipment for sale and the veteran will be back for 2001.
6. John Christian - 383 Points - (West Winfield, NY - Mountain View Campground / Bicknell No. 711 / Bogan) - John Christian had the best season of any sophomore driver in the Sportsman division at Utica-Rome, almost placing in the top five in points. Christian, the cousin of Jamie Christian had two top fives and seven top tens along with a best finish of third on May 28.
7. Dan Yankowski - 379 Points - (New Berlin, NY - Ted's Body Shop / Kneisel No. 32y / Jensen) - Dan Yankowski, the 1997 Track Champion, had a decent year at Utica-Rome in 2000. He did not crack victory lane, but he had strong second place finishes to Jim Spano and Jamie Christian on August 24 and September 17, respectively. In addition, Yankowski was the highest finishing Utica-Rome regular in the UFPO "Dig Safely" Sportsman Super DIRT Series 30-lap event on August 27. Yankowski had six top five finishes, and nine top tens, and he is always a driver to watch at Utica-Rome in the Sportsman division.
8. John Kinsella - 366 Points - (Fayetteville, NY - T.H. Kinsella Stone Quarry / Bicknell No. 67 / Enders) - The veteran driver, who is the uncle of Tom Kinsella, just keeps doing what he likes to do in the Sportsman division at Utica-Rome. Kinsella chalked up a portfolio of two top fives and six top tens, with his best finish on the 2000 season being second to Tim Mayne on August 20.
9. Craig Pritchard - 364 Points - (Cassville, NY - Picture Perfect Pools / Champ Car No. 73 / Butler) - Crankin' Craig Pritchard hovered around fifth place in points for the first half of the season, but some mid season back luck dropped him down towards the tenth position. Pritchard struggled with the setup on his 1996 Champ Car, which is the last chassis built by Dave Lape, but he was still able to pull off one top five and six top tens. His best finish came on May 28, when he finished fourth.
10. Jim Roberts - 348 Points - (West Winfield, NY - Precision Automotive & Cycle / Teo No. 45 / D.LaForce) - Jim Roberts had a good sophomore season at Utica-Rome with one top five and four top ten finishes, his best finish being fourth on July 16. He showed a lot of improvement in 2000, and he could be a driver to watch for in the future.
2000 DIRT Sportsman Feature Wins
Driver Wins Date(s)
Jamie Christian 7 (5/28, 6/4, 7/2, 7/23, 8/17, 9/3, 9/17)
Tony Ross 1 (5/7)
Willy Decker 1 (5/14)
Paul Kinney 1 (7/16)
Kevin Crave 1 (8/13)
Tim Mayne 1 (8/20)
Jim Spano 1 (8/24)
Steve Gray 1 (8/27)
8 Drivers 14 Events 14 Dates
Feature Wins By Chassis
5 Chassis 14 Events
Photos - kevincrave28.jpg Kevin Crave
Wdecker1x.jpg Willy Decker
Rrichardson262.jpg Ron Richardson
Dyankowski32y.jpg Dan Yankowski
Cpritchard73.jpg Craig Pritchard