Western New York Three Quarter (TQ) Midget standouts Andy Jankowiak of Buffalo and Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, added to their TQ Midget Indoor feature excellence Friday inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall when then finished first and second in the 30-lap feature after a spine tingling battle that lasted most of the race.
The contest was the first of the NAPA KNOW HOW Race Weekend that concludes tonight with the thirteenth running of the Gamblers Classic.
“The car was perfect once again,” said race winner Jankowiak, who then paused to dedicate the race win to a recently departed fellow western New York racer Tommy Lalomia.
Jankowiak’s triumph follows his mid-December win in the Battle Of Trenton race inside Sun National Bank Center. The two events are promoted by Len Sammons Motorsports Productions (LSMP); Saturday’s Gamblers Classic is the LSMP winter season finale.
Jankowiak outgunned fellow front row starter Matt Janisch at the end of the backstretch on lap one and never relinquished the lead. Rudolph, who moved to second by lap two and Ryan Flores, who grabbed third by lap three, managed to hold their spots to the end despite eight caution flags and double file restarts.
Patrick Emerling, yet another northwestern New York ace, was fourth and Canadian Mike Lichty, who was as far forward as fourth at one point slid to fifth in the final rundown.
Anthony Sesely, who had won the last three Atlantic City Indoor TQ Midget features, managed an eleventh place finish after failing to qualify in his heat race.
The most spectacular qualifying effort was that of Ted Christopher, an eight time feature winner in LSMP Indoor races over the years. Christopher’s car was wrecked in his heat race early. He faced the daunting prospect of starting 20th and last in the second ‘Last Chance Race’. Through a combination of deftly avoiding a multitude of crashes coupled with an aggressive late race drive, Christopher improbably qualified for the feature. He finished ninth in the main event after running as high as sixth.
Jimmy Blewett gritted his way to a sixth place finish. Blewett dealt with bouts of nausea throughout the day but put aside his physical misery to race creditably. Blewett teammate Kyle Reinhardt was seventh followed by Tim Buckwalter.
The first eight finishers are automatic starters in the Gamblers Classic tonight (Saturday).
All told, eighty-four TQ Midgets made time trial attempts.
Champ Karts and Lentini Auto Salvage Slingshots complete their qualifying today and run their feature events.
Danny Bouc was fastest in Champ Kart qualifying and Gary Hieber, Jr. was quickest in the LAS Slingshot timed session.
Choice tickets for the event are available at the Boardwalk Hall Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations and online at www.ticketmaster.com.
Advance purchase, lower level ticket holders are invited to Fanfest tonight starting at 5pm, for an opportunity to walk the track and meet the drivers before the racing kicks off at 7pm.
For more event info, visit www.aarn.com.
NAPA KNOW HOW Race Weekend Day 1 TQ Midget Feature Finish (30 Laps): 1. Andy Jankowiak, 2. Erick Rudolph, 3. Ryan Flores, 4. Patrick Emerling, 5. Mike Lichty, 6. Jimmy Blewett, 7. Kyle Reinhardt, 8. Tim Buckwalter, 9. Ted Christopher, 10. Joey Payne, 11. Anthony Sesely, 12. Ryan Susice, 13. Tony DiMattia, 14. Zane Zeiner, 15. Ryan Tidman, 16. Kyle Lick, 17. Matt Janisch, 18. Shawn Nye, 19. Timmy Nye, 20. Justin Bonsignore, 21. Andrew Nye, 22. Matt Roselli, 23. DJ Shaw, 24. Rob Neely.