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Look For Our HOMETOWN DAY SPECIAL In The July 14th Issue Of The County Transcript

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Issue Home July 6, 2004 Site Home

Local Sports Scene
The Car Is King, But It Must Get There First
Stewart Comments On NASCAR Penalty
Rick Mauro Featured In Press-Sun Golf Series

Blue Ridge's Bovenkamp Keys All-Star Game Victory

John Bovenkamp gave the Division III all-stars the lead in the top of the seventh inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Bovenkamp made sure his team held the lead.

The recent Blue Ridge graduate scored the winning run and was the winning pitcher June 30 when the Division III team edged Division II, 3-2, in the Lackawanna Baseball Challenge at Lackawanna County Stadium.

When Bovenkamp headed for the stadium that night he anticipated his position as a starting outfielder. He was not so sure about ending the game on the mound.

Two no-shows, however, opened up more pitching opportunities and Bovenkamp was trusted with the game on the line.

Pinning down the win required working out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the bottom of the seventh.

"I knew they wouldn't take me out," Bovenkamp said. "I knew I had to do it.

"I don't know if we had anyone else. I knew it was up to me."

Bovenkamp had given up a home run in the bottom of the sixth when Scranton Prep catcher Pete Paris put his first pitch on the top of the fence down the right-field line.

The Paris home run gave Division II a 2-1 lead, but Division III answered with two runs in the top of the inning.

Bovenkamp faced Paris again with the bases loaded, but got a strikeout for the second out. Another strikeout, Bovenkamp's third in the two-inning outing, finished off the game.

Bovenkamp got into a bind when he hit Montrose American Legion teammate Aaron Taylor with a pitch, then hit another batter who leaned in on a curve-ball that Bovenkamp thought was going to be a strike.

After a walk, Paris came up again.

"That was pretty tough," Bovenkamp said of the at-bat in which Paris fouled off several two-strike pitches.

Elk Lake's Doug MacArthur also contributed to the winning rally in the top of the seventh.

MacArthur singled to move Riverside's Mike Dunkailo to third base.

Bovenkamp grounded into a force play, replacing MacArthur on the bases.

Dunkailo and Bovenkamp both scored on a hit to center field by Riverside's Jay Colarusso. Bovenkamp never hesitated and was able to score from first when the ball was not fielded cleanly.

"He ran in, but he didn't get it the first time," Bovenkamp said of the Division II center fielder. "I just kept running the whole way around."

Bovenkamp, who plans to play baseball for Lackawanna Junior College next season, scored easily.

The winning run and win on the mound capped a high school career in which Bovenkamp was a two-time division all-star outfielder after being a second-team choice as a sophomore.

Blue Ridge's Mike Ostrowski was the assistant coach on the Division III team, a year after being the coach for another winning all-star effort.

MacArthur was joined by Elk Lake teammates John Pierson and Tony Dorman on the Division III team. Pierson was the leadoff hitter.

Forest City's Shane Malicky also played for Division III.

Taylor and Montrose teammate Jess Tyler were on the Division II team.


Montrose graduate Rich Thompson spent April in the major leagues with the Kansas City Royals, but by the time June was over he had already climbed to the top of the Pacific Coast League in both triples and stolen bases.

Thompson, who was returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization when Kansas City removed him from the major-league roster, is back playing with the Nashville Sounds of the PCL.

With Pittsburgh's top farm team, Thompson needed just 50 games to produce league-high totals of 22 stolen bases and seven triples.

Through 51 games, Thompson was hitting .297 with 36 runs and 54 hits. He also has four doubles, a triple and 13 RBIs. He is 22-for-28 as a base stealer.


The Eastern League all-star teams have been announced. There are six Binghamton Mets on the Northern Division roster for the July 14 game in Bowie, Md.

Catcher Justin Huber, second baseman David Bacani, outfielder Angel Pagan, left-handed pitchers Blake McGinley and Neal Musser, and right-handed pitcher Cam Reimers were named to the team for their part in helping Binghamton to the division lead.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached on-line at

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Daytona Beach, FL – Jeff Gordon’s win over teammate Jimmie Johnson in Saturday night’s Pepsi 400 was his second consecutive victory, and the fourth of the season.

Gordon and Johnson drafted by Tony Stewart on lap 154 of the 160 lap race to take over the lead. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had led earlier in the race, was also able to get by Stewart for third.

"That’s unbelievable," said Gordon. "What an awesome race car we had tonight. But what a great job Jimmie did to help me get to the front."

Johnson helped Gordon to the front by pushing him past Stewart. It appeared Earnhardt Jr. might be able to push Johnson past Gordon as the laps wound down, but the move never came.

"He (Earnhardt Jr.) was trying to set me up in order to get by," said Johnson. "But he was never behind me long enough or close enough to make the move he needed."

Earnhardt Jr. had gotten crowded off pit road and into the grass during lap 71.

"It’s a good finish for us," said Earnhardt Jr. "I’m a bit disappointed, because we lost a lot of track position in the pits, and the place to be was out front in that clean air. I tried to make a run on them (Gordon and Johnson), but I just didn’t have the car to there.

"It was a tough battle at the end, but we didn’t have anything for ’em. If they would’ve gone side-by-side on the last lap, it could’ve been interesting. I would’ve probably gone with Jimmie if that would’ve happened, because Jeff has more wins (laughing)."

A heavy downpour dumped more than two inches of rain on the track and caused a two-hour delay. Three unidentified men were struck by lightning while walking past souvenir trailers before the start. They were transported to the care center and held briefly for observation, track spokesman David Talley said.

Top ten finishing order: 1. Jeff Gordon, 2. Jimmie Johnson, 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 4. Kurt Busch, 5. Tony Stewart, 6. Mark Martin, 7. Bobby Labonte, 8. Terry Labonte, 9. Terry Labonte, 10. Joe Nemechek.

Chase For The NEXTEL Cup – 1. Johnson-2545, 2. Earnhardt Jr.-2518, 3. J. Gordon-2313, 4. Stewart-2203, 5. Kenseth-2189, 6. B. Labonte-2164, 7. Busch-2153, 8. Sadler-2152, 9. Newman-2112, 10. Harvick-2095.

Here are the top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Truex Jr.-2742, 2. Busch-2674, 3. Biffle-2415, 4. Hornaday-2361, 5. Hamilton Jr.-2354, 6. D. Green-2353, 7. Keller-2334, 8. Leffler-2298, 9. Waltrip-2179, 10. Bliss-2163.

Here are the top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Setzer-1527, 2. Edwards-1493, 3. Hamilton-1466, 4. Crawford-1395, 5. Crafton-1341, 6. Chaffin-1330, 7. Wood-1327, 8. Kvapil-1300, 9. Musgrave-1299, 10. Sprague-1299.

New Changes Leave NASCAR With Credibility Problem – The only thing consistent about NASCAR’s actions and decisions is their inconsistency.

The latest snafu occurred during Friday’s Busch race at Daytona, which was won by Mike Wallace. On the final lap while leading the race, Jason Leffler saw the biggest threat to his victory quickly approaching behind him – Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt Jr. went to the high side of the track in an effort to pass Leffler in the final turn. Leffler drove his car up to prevent Earnhardt Jr. from doing so. He did what countless drivers have done countless times on countless restrictor-plate tracks.

But this time, for trying to do everything he could to win, Leffler was assessed a one-second penalty and dropped from second to 13th after the race.

He was penalized for "unnecessary roughness."

One of the most talked about events involved Tony Stewart at Sonoma, a week ago.

But even before that, there have many breakdowns in their scoring and procedural systems. There have been so many mix-ups lately that fans as well as some teams believe NASCAR needs to slow down and allow all the new rules changes, a chance to work themselves out.

"I have seen more new rules and procedures introduced this past year, than I have in the past decade," said L. B. of Taylorsville, NC. "I think it’s just too much for them to keep up with.

"Change is good, but you’ve got to be able to enforce the rules correctly. And right now, those officials aren’t able to handle many of the situations as they arise."

The June 13 Dover race had endless laps of caution and confusion.

The next week at Pocono, there was another show of irresponsibility when pit officials goofed on a call.

While most major league sports are trying to speed up their games, NASCAR is trying to slow them down and confuse both the drivers and fans.

At Sonoma, NASCAR decided not to have a double-file restart, because it was too dangerous.

During the Sonoma race, Tony Stewart spun out Brian Vickers, and then punched him in the chest after the race. For his actions, Stewart was given a slap on the wrist.

Meanwhile Brian Vickers, who was Stewart’s victim, has shown a lot of class, especially for a rookie driver.

For the incident, Stewart was fined $50,000 by NASCAR, docked 25 points, and placed on probation until Aug. 18. Stewart issued a statement, but no where in his comments did he apologize to Vickers for hitting him in the chest.

Vickers said he stood behind his statements he made after the race and respected NASCAR's decision. Vickers said he hasn't spoken with Stewart since the incident but would welcome a chance to talk.

"It's fine with me," Vickers said. "He's more than welcome to talk me at any point. We can sit down and try to figure out what happened. We can agree on what happened and we can agree to disagree.

"It doesn't matter. I'm going to go and approach this race like I do any other race. That situation doesn't bother me anymore. I'd be more than happy to talk with him if he wants to."

My hat is off to Vickers. He is a fine young driver, whose actions deserve recognition.

But NASCAR needs to regroup and get their decision-making process back together before the fans start rebelling It’s more about getting back to professionalism, rather than just staging weekend shows.


The Nextel and Busch teams race at Joliet, IL, just outside Chicago, while the Craftsman Trucks will be in Sparta, KY.

Saturday, July 10, Busch Series Twister 300, race 19 of 34, 200 laps/300 miles, 2 p.m. TV: NBC.

Craftsman Trucks Built Ford Tough 225, race 11 of 25, 150 laps/225 miles, 8 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.

Sunday, July 11, Nextel Cup Tropicana 400, race 18 of 36, 267 laps/400 miles, 2:30 p.m. TV: NBC.

Racing Trivia Question: Fox Broadcast Analyst Larry McReynolds has served as crew chief for several NASCAR teams. Name the most celebrated driver McReynolds’ worked with.

Last Week’s Question: Name the two California speedways that NASCAR ran on in the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. Answer. It was Ontario and Fontana Speedways.

If you would like to read additional racing stories by Gerald Hodges/the Racing Reporter, go to

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The Car Is King, But It Must Get There First

The car is king in NASCAR. Drivers drive the car. Mechanics work on the car. Writers write about the car. TV and radio personalities talk about the car. But first, the car has to actually arrive at the race track, and heading up that cornerstone effort for the No. 20 Home Depot Racing Team is Scott Crowell.

Crowell, better known as "Scooter" amongst those in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garage area, spends about 170 days on the road getting Tony Stewart's signature Home Depot Chevrolet from Joe Gibbs Racing's headquarters in Huntersville, NC, to all points near and far on the 38-race NEXTEL Cup schedule.

It was the furthest point this past weekend, as the traveling circus that is NASCAR stopped in Sonoma, Calif., to race at the 1.99-mile road course 30 minutes outside San Francisco. It marked the toughest stretch of travel for transporter drivers like Crowell, who after racing in Brooklyn, Mich., on June 20, had to restock their rolling race shops in double time.

"We left Michigan at 6 o'clock Sunday night and had to be in Huntersville to get the truck turned around to come out to the West Cost," said Crowell, whose trip to Sonoma comprised just 5,700 of the roughly 65,000 miles he'll log this year. "We had guys at the shop waiting for us to get there, and we rolled in at 5:30 a.m. They got all the road course cars and parts and pieces loaded up and we left the shop at 11 o'clock Monday night to come out to Sonoma. We got there Wednesday at 6:30 in the morning."

If that itinerary sounds impossible for one man to accomplish, it's because it is. Danny "Gumby" Heidtke (pronounced Hide-key) is Crowell's co-pilot, and it's the only way such long journeys are completed in such short periods of time.

"It's the difference between me still doing this job and not doing this job," said Crowell about the unique arrangement Joe Gibbs Racing has by employing two full-time truck drivers for the No. 20 team. "It's more work than people can possibly conceive. I couldn't do it without him (Heidtke) and he knows that. And I don't think he'd even want to remotely try this by himself. It's a two person position, and a year-round, full-time one at that. There's no primary and backup at our place. We're equals.

"Most people in this profession will tell you that their deal is pretty good, but…, and more often than not the 'but' portion of it consists of, 'Man, I only got a half day off this week.' I couldn't do this without a second person."

"It's a good arrangement," added Heidtke. "I'm here to help. Scooter does most of the stuff at the track, where I'm more at the shop working to get the truck turned around so that he can get a couple of days off. And then when we have a tough stretch of races like we have right now, I'm available to help with the driving. You just can't run seven days a week anymore. The way the schedule is now, you need time off."

"This part of our schedule is, hands down, the worst," said Crowell. "And then to complicate matters we go from a road course to Daytona (Fla.). Everything that's on the trailer has to be taken off so that you can put all of your speedway stuff on.

"We anticipate getting back to the shop sometime early afternoon on Tuesday. And it's just the same deal all over again. We have to get the truck turned around quickly because we have to be in Daytona first thing Thursday morning."

Swapping out the parts and pieces within a 53-foot long transporter is far more involved than just replacing road course cars with cars designed for 200 mph speeds at Daytona.

"Going from a road course to a restrictor plate race, we have to change out everything," said Crowell. "Other than your radios and your fire suits, it's a total changeover. All that stuff that bolts onto the race car just doesn't translate from a road course car to a speedway car. We're talking about gears and transmissions, all your car parts - your spindles, truck arms - all the stuff from your road course package has to be changed out. It's a lot of work. It's something that'll take us a good 10-12 hours to have everything right.

"If we went from a mile oval and then had to go to another mile race track the next weekend, you'd cut your work in half because you would only have to off-load a small portion of things. Your engines would stay the same, and a lot of your spindles and truck arm combinations would stay the same."

Crowell and Heidtke's experience is highly valued by crew chief Greg Zipadelli. He knows that without them, all the preparation and man hours that go into a race weekend could be lost if the truck carrying the cars and equipment doesn't arrive on time.

"The more we start making these West Coast trips the more important it is to have guys you can trust and rely on," said Zipadelli. "It's more important than just getting from point A to point B safely and representing Joe Gibbs Racing and Home Depot in a professional and safe manner when they're going down the road. They take ownership of what's on the truck. They oversee all that gets switched out and they make sure they have the right parts and pieces for the cars we have on the trailer.

"I like the guys I have. Having two truck drivers is what we need to do. It keeps them fresh and it gives them some time off. I don't want to use them up in a two- or three-year window when I can hopefully keep them for six, eight or 10 years."

Crowell likes that line of thinking.

"I always felt from the first day I started at Joe Gibbs Racing that my job was as equally important as the brake specialist's, or the tire specialist's or the crew chief's and everybody else," said Crowell. "I hadn't been anywhere else where I truly felt like that. Joe Gibbs Racing appreciates and knows how important our position is as much as any of the other key personnel."

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Stewart Comments On NASCAR Penalty

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 30, 2004) - NASCAR has penalized NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Tony Stewart following a garage area incident with fellow driver Brian Vickers after last Sunday's race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Stewart, driver of the #20 Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing, was docked 25 championship points, fined $50,000 and placed on probation until Aug. 18. The #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Team was also docked 25 owner points.

The following is a statement from Tony Stewart:

"I understand and accept NASCAR's penalty. With NASCAR's continued growth and their rise in mainstream popularity, I realize their rules have become stricter than they were in the past. And after meeting with Brian France (NASCAR Chairman and CEO), I know it's my job to live within those rules.

"I'm putting this incident behind me and I plan no further comments. I'm going to focus on Daytona and the remaining races before the final 10-race run for the championship."

The following is a statement from J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing:

"On behalf of everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing, we agree with NASCAR that Tony Stewart's actions after the Sonoma race were unacceptable. We understand the reason for the penalties handed down by NASCAR and we accept their decision."

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Rick Mauro Featured In Press-Sun Golf Series

The Binghamton Press/Sun Bulletin has started a series on Golf Pros in the area. The first to be honored is Rick Mauro, Golf Pro at the Ely Park Golf Course. Rick, age 46, is the son of former Susquehanna residents Armond and Marge (Spears) Mauro. As all of the Mauro clan, Rick started golfing at an early age. He is following in the footsteps of his late uncle, Al (Lefty) Mauro, who not only excelled on the golf course winning several championships, but also starred on the baseball field and bowling lanes.

Several years ago, the Susquehanna Transcript (as its editor I) called on Al Mauro the greatest all around athlete in the county. Rick’s’ cousin, Jimmy Mauro, is the pro at a Warrenton, VA Golf Course. Rick has been at the Ely course for the past 12 years.

Rick, his dad, Armond and brothers, Jimmy and Armond, for years have been top notch golfers in the Broome County area. Knowing his parents real well, we know that father Armond kept after his sons – religiously – to do well in any sport, but mostly on the golf links. It seems like it paid off, as Rick has been a pro golfer since 1993.

He is a graduate of Broome Community College, majoring in Marketing and Management. We know that his dad would be very proud of him.

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