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Matt Roselli Wore The Laurels With Turkey Derby Victory

Matt Roselli used the pole position to its fullest advantage and earned his first win of the 2016 season in his Family 98 Lafler chassis mount. Ryan Tidman and Bobby Holmes rounded out the podium. 2016 ATQMRA Season Champion Matt Janisch set fast time in the Formula 1 style qualifying besting Mike Occhipinte and Geoffrey Sutton. The ATQMRA regulars took on all comers and were able to hold serve against a diverse group of many of the northeast’s top invaders from pavement and Dirt Modifieds, SuperModified, SpeedSTRs to Midget, Sprint and Micro Sprint racers. They all tried their hands on the Wall Flat track in the race dedicated to the Memory of ATQRMA Friend Chris Zrinski. Additional money was collected from fans and competitors to help sweeten the pot in the feature event.

Qualifying for the Turkey Derby was done Formula 1 Style with group qualifying against the clock with the top 12 making the feature redraw. With two to go in the final session Geoffrey Sutton in the brand new Fred Delibero Metz Racing Driver Development BGF Chassis 461 sat at the top of the chart. At the white Flag Michigan Mike Occhipinte in the 46 car that Sutton raced all season put his number at the top of the pilon only to have Matt Jansich turn the quickest lap of the day coming to the Checkered flag to set fast time.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. On this day, Matt Roselli was both. His ninth-place time trial put him in the redraw and he was lucky enough to pull the number one pill. Roselli and Occhipinte who races Modifieds in Michigan and Wisconsin would lead the field to the Green flag with Roselli powering into the lead with 2015 NYPA TQ Midget Champion Kyle Hutchinson following him into second. Hutchinson’s carbureted Suzuki challenged from the second position until lap 8 when a bent steering arm slowed his car and ended his race on lap fifteen.

2015 ATQMRA Champion Buddy Sload worked his way into second for a couple of laps before relinquishing the position to multi time Champion Ryan Tidman in the Boyd Racing 1b Lafler. Tidman would charge into the lead moving Roselli into second.

A caution flew on lap 16 when contact from Sutton send Janisch spinning into the third turn. Sutton would be assessed a 2-position penalty post-race for the incident. Cautions breed cautions and another caution fell for a 3-car tangle coming out of the fourth turn involving Marc Rogers who raced several divisions in Wall’s Turkey Derby, Occhipinte and Tim Buckwalter who is a Grandview Speedway Modified racer as well as a past ARDC Midget Champion and a stand out driver in Micro Sprints and the SpeedSTR division. Another caution fell for spinning Dirt Modified Superstar Mike Iles. The final caution of the race was the most consequential. A jumbled restart behind pole sitter Ryan Tidman led to incidental contact from Kyle Lick that sent Sutton into a spin. Janisch moved to the outside to go around the spinning Sutton but hooked Sutton’s front bumper and tore the entire left side from the Yuhas 48 car ending his day.

The final restart of the race wasn’t without incident but no caution was thrown and the race went from that point to the end with Matt Roselli determined to show he wasn’t just lucky but good enough to retake the lead and win his first Turkey Derby. After the lap 18 restart Roselli would dog Tidman who was determined to get his first win of the season after finishing second in the ATQMRA Standings. Roselli’s opportunity to pounce came on lap 21 to take the lead and never look back winning by 1.047 seconds over Tidman and a hard charging NYPA TQ Midget and Western NY Modified racer Bobby Holmes. 2015 ATQMRA Champion Buddy Sload would finish fourth with ARDC Midget, Micro sprint and SpeedSTR standout Lick crossing the line as the first micro sprint.

The 2016 version of the ATQMRA’s Turkey Derby was run to honor the passing of Big Chris Zrinski who recently lost a long battle with cancer in multiple sites in his body. Family friend John Larson had memorial decals made that were distributed to racers and put up a $100 bonus to the highest finisher sporting the decal that was awarded to Flying Ryan Tidman. John and Pat Malik posted a $100 Hard luck award that was awarded to Matt Janisch following the feature. Micky Soto Metz went through the pits and collected $480 from fans and drivers alike to boost the payout to the racers. The Zrinski traditional car numbers are 25 and 75. It was decided to divide the money collected equally between position 2, 5 and 7. Tidman’s second place finish netted him a total of $260 above the normal payout with Tim Proctor and Kyle Lick picking up $160 each for finishing in position 7 and 5. Thank you to everyone who donated to help make the Chris Zrinski memorial race special. Special thanks go to the handful of racers and friends who are making private donations to the Zrinski family Foundation. Don, Ken and Big Lou Zrinski were on hand along with Chris Son Will as well as family friend Rich.

A diverse group of racers from varying backgrounds were on hand to test the flat track at Wall in preparation for the indoor season. NYPA TQ racer as well as western NY Modified Standout Bobby Holmes raced the 21 car that he will be racing in the Sammons indoor series made his third ATQMRA start of the season racing at Waterford Speed Bowl and a show earlier in the year at Wall. Kyle Lick will be racing the same Micro Sprint he ran at Wall indoors this winter and spends time behind the wheel of an ARDC Midget SpeedSTR and Micro Sprints. Eighth finishing Joey Payne Jr. was shaking down the Rich Tolerico 5 car for the indoor series. Payne can be found in the summer months behind the wheel of TQ Midgets, Full Midgets, Nema Lites and in the ultra-fast ranks of the Big Block Super Modifieds. Fifteenth finishing Brett Michalski raced the Colin Martin 17 Micro Sprint. Brett has spent time racing Micro Sprints and recently started racing sprint cars. Anthony Payne who was in his family 45 Lafler TQ Midget is a Quarter Midget Graduate who won the Nema Lites Midget Championship in 2015 and continues racing the Lites Midgets as well as a small block Supermodified.

Write Up By : Blu Metz – ATQMRA
Video By : Jim Murdoch
Photo By : Sean Case