Lancaster, N.Y. – Chuck Hossfeld and Andy Jankowiak continued to leave their mark on the U.S. Open record books at Lancaster National Speedway on Saturday night. Both drivers captured their eighth career Open victories to kick off the prestigious weekend of racing at the Western New York ½-mile oval.
Hossfeld, of Ransomville, N.Y., bagged his third-straight win in the Race of Champions Sportsman Series 75-lap feature while Jankowiak, of Tonawanda, N.Y., dominated the 25-lap feature for the NYPA TQ Midgets.
In other X-Press Signs Stock Car action, Joe Mancuso of Buffalo, N.Y. won the inaugural John Julicher Classic for the Race of Champions Super Stock Series. Jacob Gustafson of Webster, N.Y. won the 25-lap Race of Champions 4-Cylinder Dash Series feature.
The Saturday portion of the 30th annual U.S. Open kicked off under cool, but sunny skies with 100 cars jamming the pits across the four divisions of racing.
In the evening’s main event, Mike Ramos and Bobby Weber led the field of 26 RoC Sportsman to the opening green flag. Ramos grabbed the lead at the start with Mike Fiebelkorn, Jr. moving from the third starting to the runner-up position. He eventually passed Ramos for the lead on lap 5
The first ten laps of the race were marred by five caution periods that derailed some potential front-running cars. Bobby Weber spun out coming off of turn on lap 8 while running inside the top five. His car nearly hit the end of the inside frontstretch wall, but luckily he missed it and spun into the infield. On the ensuing start, Ramos and former U.S. Open winner Tony Hanbury both took hard hits into the backstretch wall. Both drivers were unhurt. One lap later 2018 track champion, Owen Bednasz, triggered a multicar incident on the frontstretch. Both John Barber and Andy Jankowiak took damage in the melee, but both were able to return to the track.
Once the carnage was cleared, Fiebelkorn was the leader followed by Chris Finocchario, George Skora III, Tyler Rypkema and Hossfeld. Skora and Hossfeld quickly dispatched of Finocchario when racing resumed, and they then went after the leader. The duo of RoC Modified Series stars took over the top two spots in the field from Fiebelkorn on lap 14.
Skora and Hossfeld quickly pulled away from the pack with the two-time and defending winner of the race, Hossfeld, hounding Skora for the lead. Hossfeld drove past Skora for first place on lap 22, but their battle was far from over.
They raced until lap 37 when the yellow flag reappeared after a 27-lap green flag run following an incident in turn four between Daryl Lewis, Jr. and Jayme Thompson. Hossfeld and Skora continued to duel for the lead with Skora being able to get some runs under Hossfeld in turns two and four.
As the second half of the race went on the drama continued to build as Hossfeld and Skora raced each other as well as lapped traffic. The caution came out again on lap 64 after another long green flag run. Dave Kozlowski slammed the Thermal Foam blocks at the exit of turn four, but managed to drive away. Skora was forced to go to the pits during the caution period as a broken panhard bar ended his night early.
With Skora out of the picture, there was a little less pressure on Hossfeld with just nine laps to go. Fielbelkorn had hung with leaders most of the race, and was now back to second followed Rypkema and Jankowiak. Jankowiak had motored his way through the field after suffering damage early in the event.
The final restart of the race took place with just five laps to go, and Hossfeld pulled away during the final five circuits to score the victory. The win gives him eight career U.S. Open wins between the Modifieds and Sportsman, including three-straight in the Sportsman event.
Fiebelkorn finished an impressive second as the new car that he debuted late in the season ran very well once again. Rypkema finished third and showed some speed late in the race that gave him a shot to win. Eddie Hawkins and Jankowiak rounded out the top five.
Hossfeld’s eighth U.S. Open win was a record-tying victory, and not a record-breaking one as earlier in the night Jankowiak became the first driver with eight U.S. Open wins after rolling up the field in the NYPA TQ Midget feature.
Jankowiak led all 25 laps from the pole position to break the record and he also became the first driver to win U.S. Open features in four different divisions. He previously won in the Street Stocks (2006), Sportsman (2010-2014) and last year won the U.S. Open 125 Modified race.
Dave Wollaber might have had a shot to challenge Jankowiak for the win, but would have needed a late race caution to do so. Wollaber stormed through the field to finish second followed by Mark Schulz, Kyle Hutchinson and Jeremy Haudricourt.
The inaugural John Julicher Classic for the RoC Super Stock Series featured a great battle for the win between eventual victor Joe Mancuso, Tim Gullo and Tommy Krawczyk. Scott Wylie and Zach Willis led the 26-car field to the drop of the green flag. Krawczyk started third, but took lead by the third lap of the race.
Gullo and Mancuso started tenth and 11th respectively, which forced them to work their way through the field to contend for the win. Mancuso led the charge as he made it up to sixth place by lap 8 with Gullo not far behind.
A trio of midrace cautions kept the field bunched up, which allowed Mancuso and Gullo to work their way through the top five. Mancuso and Gullo landed just behind Krawczyk in the running order with about 12 laps to go. On lap 20, Gullo managed to move from third place to take the lead from Krawczyk while Mancuso got shuffled back to fourth behind Chuck Anderson.
Mancuso had to crawl his way back to the front of the field again, and he caught Gullo with just five laps to go. He wrestled the lead from Gullo on lap 27 after an intense battle between all three cars. Gullo pushed up high into Mancuso on a couple occasions, and Krawczyk nearly passed both of them on the inside.
A final caution period on lap 28 set up a green-white-checkered finish, but Mancuso took off on the final restart. Krawczyk and Gullo were left to battle for the runner-up spot as he cruised to his third career U.S. Open Super Stock win and a $1,500 payday. Krawczyk edged Gullo for second. Jake Wylie was the hard charger of the event as he came from the 19th starting position to finish fourth. Chuck Anderson completed the top five.
Jacob Gustafson was the lone winner of the night to get his name on the U.S. Open trophy for the very first time. Gustafson led the final 11 laps of the Race of Champions 4-Cylinder Dash Series to secure his first-ever win at Lancaster.
Gustafson passed pole sitter Jimmy Pierce for the lead just after a restart on lap 13, and then drove away from the field to pick up the victory. Pierce had a strong as he controlled the first half the event from the pole position before giving way to Gustafson. He finished second followed by Jason Anasiewicz, Bobby Woch and Scott Fritz.
The 30th annual U.S. Open resumes at Lancaster National Speedway on Sunday afternoon with the RoC Modified Series U.S. Open 125 plus the RoC Late Models and Advance Auto Parts Street Stocks. Racing begins at 2 p.m.
About Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway: Founded in 1959, Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway, WNY’s Premier Motorsports and Event Facility, is a multi-use facility located on 77 acres just outside of metropolitan Buffalo, N.Y. The facility features a 1/8-mile drag strip, a 1/2-mile oval track and hosts several non-motorsports events such as car shows and concerts. For the latest information on Lancaster National Speedway & Dragway check out our website www.lancasternationalspeedway.com. Additional information for racers and fans can be found on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/LancasterSpeedway) and on Twitter (@LancasterSpdwy).
-Lancaster National Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos