Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, N.Y. outran Ryan Flores of Davidson, N.C., and Jimmy Blewett of Howell, N.J., Saturday night to win the 13th running of the Gamblers Classic 40-lap Three Quarter (TQ) Midget feature in front of a large crowd inside Atlantic City’s famed Boardwalk Hall.
The three way battle also had profound ramifications in the Len Sammons Motorsports Productions TQ Midget Championship contest. By winning the race, Rudolph earned the tiebreaker after him and Flores, who was winless in the series, each ended up with 320 points.
Rudolph shared the front row at the start of the Gamblers Classic with Patrick Emerling, on the inside, gaining the advantage at the start.
Flores, who lined up third, and Friday night winner Andy Jankowiak, ran behind the pair with Jimmy Blewett joining the battle, up from an eighth place starting berth.
Lapped traffic began to play a role by lap ten and that enabled Jankowiak to pass Rudolph for second and move in on Emerling. Caution on lap 15 gave Jankowiak a chance for the lead but Emerling hung tough.
The race slowed on lap 21 just the halfway mark when seven cars stacked up. Emerling maintained the lead but on the 27th lap, Rudolph shot to the inside off turn four and took command. Rudolph had muscled under Jankowiak two laps prior.
A late race restart following a red flag for an eleven car crash in the middle of the backstretch proved to be the opportunity for Flores to assert himself.
On the 32nd lap, Flores muscled under Emerling for second bringing Blewett and Jankowiak with him and dropping Emerling to fifth. That’s the way they finished with Ted Christopher sixth, Ryan Susice seventh, Neal Williams eighth, Joey Payne ninth and Tim Buckwalter tenth.
Williams drove a masterful race, having started 24h in the 26-car field. His effort earned him the Doug Craig Charger Of The Race award.
The twenty-four car, twenty-five lap, Lentini Auto Salvage Slingshot feature came down to a highly controversial finish. Coming down the backstretch for the final lap, Gary Hieber, who had spun out on the first lap, made a bid for the lead against leader Demetrious Drellos.
Drellos had taken the lead on lap five after Jerry Schott, leader from the outset, bobbled.
On the final run down the backstretch, Hieber drew even with Drellos on the inside. That’s when Drellos forced Hieber into the third turn infield tire barrier. Hieber flipped in spectacular style across the track, collecting Drellos, who drove away with body damage.
Officials reasoned that Drellos had driven overly aggressively and disqualified him. Jason Hartman thus advanced from third to first with John Gilroy making a last turn pass to shade Jesse Hartman for second. Kyle Herve and Mike Glass rounded out the top five.
Donnie Nall of Lawsonville, N.C., invaded Boardwalk Hall for the first time and walked off with top honors in the 25-lap Champ Kart feature. The win had added significance because Nall had to hold off a late race challenge from perennial contender Chris Daley before claiming the victory. Nall was so elated in Victory Lane that he had a hard time expressing his feelings to Victory Lane interviewer Mike Mallett. Jon Cash was third, Doug Stearly, who came within one turn of winning the 2014 Champ Kart Boardwalk Hall race, was fourth and Rich Davidowitz, one of Long Island’s top Kart racers, was fifth.
Potential contender Danny Bouc, who had set fastest time in Friday trials, was among the early retirees in accidents.
Dates for the 14th running of NAPA KNOW HOW Race Weekend will be announced shortly,
NAPA KNOW HOW TQ Midget Gamblers Classic (40 Laps): 1. Erick Rudolph, 2. Ryan Flores, 3. Jimmy Blewett, 4. Andy Jankowiak, 5. Patrick Emerling, 6. Ted Christopher, 7. Ryan Susice, 8. Neal Williams, 9. Joey Payne, 10. Tim Buckwalter, 11. Rob Vivona, 12. Jon Gambuti, 13. Andy Nye, 14. Matt Janisch, 15. Mike Lichty, 16. Chad Jones, 17. Anthony Sesely, 18. Zane Zeiner, 19. Earl Paules, 20. Brett Michalski, 21. Geoffrey Sutton, 22. Shawn Nye, 23. Kyle Reinhardt, 24. Matt Roselli, 25. Pat Bealer, 26. Timmy Nye.
Lentini Auto Salvage Slingshot Feature (25 Laps): 1. Jason Hartman, 2. John Gilroy, 3. Jesse Hartman, 4. Kyle Herve, 5. Mike Glass, 6. Matt Massone, 7. Kurt Bettler, 8. AJ Gerhart, 9. Nick Shaw, 10. Eddie Reeder, 11. Don Boonstra, 12. Matt Langbein, 13. Vern McLaughlin III, 14. Walter Lapicki, 15. Gary Hieber, 16. Joe Kata, 17. Cody Kline, 18. Brett Bieber, 19. Mike Glass, 20. Ryan Quackenbush, 21. Simon Egan, 22. Jerry Schott Jr., 23. Jackson Ring, 24. Demetrious Drellos (DQ).
Champ Kart Feature (25 Laps): 1. Donnie Nall, 2. Chris Daley, 3. Jon Cash, 4. Doug Stearly, 5. Rich Davidowitz, 6. Kyle Kania, 7. Ron Midford Jr., 8. Zach Myers, 9. Scott Neary, 10. James Hayden, 11. Eric Zeh, 12. DJ Doyle, 13. Dalton Rovira, 14. Anthony Colandro, 15. Jon Keister, 16. Todd Root, 17. AJ Slideways, 18. Justin Gumley, 19. Alex Colasato, 20. Joseph Pacovich, 21. Danny Bouc, 22. Mike Perry, 23. Brian Kendall, 24. Ryan Schwartz.