LANCASTER, N.Y. (August 20, 2017) – George Skora III of Eden, N.Y. turned what looked to be bad night into one to remember on Saturday night at Lancaster National Speedway. Skora won the 28th annual Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 for his first career victory in the Race of Champions Modified Series.
Mother Nature tried to put a damper on the evening as, for the second week in a row, a heavy rain storm soaked the speedway just minutes before the show started. Once the rain ended it took about two hours for the track crew to get things dry enough to race.
A field of 21 Race of Champions Modifieds took the green flag for the 28th edition of Lancaster’s most prestigious race of the year. L2 Autosport teammates Patrick Emerling and Mike Leaty lined up on the front row. The starting positions were set through time trials with the fastest four cars in each qualifying group advancing to the redraw for the top 12 starting spots. Heat race were eliminated for all divisions to save time after the rain delay.
Emerling, the two-time and defending race winner, jumped out to the lead when the green flag waved. He was looking for his second win of the week after capturing his first NASCAR Modified Tour win on Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bobby Holmes started seventh in the Hoddick Racing #7NY. Holmes, a three-time Sportsman track champion, was the hired gun for the Hoddick crew on this night, and he was looking to put on a show in his first Modified start in a couple seasons. He quickly worked his to the front as moved from seventh to second by lap 20.
Holmes then hounded Emerling for the lead. Emerling looked like he was trying to ride out the early laps of the race, but Holmes forced him to pick up the pace. Holmes eventually wrestled the lead from Emerling on lap 33.
The first caution of the race happened on lap 36 when Tommy Rought tagged the outside wall on the front straightaway. This allowed several cars to make a pit stop for tire change, including Emerling, Leaty, Tyler Rypkema, George Skora III and Tommy Catalano.
The race restarted on lap 45 with Holmes leading Andy Jankowiak, Austin Kochenash and Chuck Hossfeld. The top four remained virtually unchanged as the race went through the middle stage with Jankowiak and Kochenash trading the runner-up spot back and forth. At the same time Leaty led the cars that pitted for a tire as they worked their way back through the field.
Leaty made his way back to the fourth by the time the caution flag came out again, this time on lap 64 for Daren Scherer. Kochenash and Hossfeld used this opportunity to make their pit stops while Holmes and Jankowiak elected to stay out.
This set up a restart on lap 71 with Holmes and Jankowiak leading Leaty, Emerling and Scott Wylie. As the cars came for the green flag both Holmes and Jankowiak tried to get the advantage on the restart, Jankowiak collided with Emerling which sent the field into chaos. The contact sent Emerling head first into the Thermal Foam blocks on the frontstrech to end his night and his quest for a third-straight win in the Tommy/Tony 110.
Jankowiak suffered damage to his right side nerf bars and had to pit. Holmes was sent to the rear of the field for not maintaining proper speed on the restart. Leaty also had to fall to the rear as he spun out in the fracas.
This temporarily handed the lead to Wylie, but he chose to make his pit stop. This moved Skora to the lead with Tommy Catalano in second followed by Daryl Lewis, Jr., Steve Hoddick and Kochenash.
Skora started 12th and spent the early part of the race outside the top ten. He had avoided danger early on as well when Daren Scherer lost control in front of him off of turn 4.
Chuck Hossfeld restarted in seventh on lap 77, and he looked to be the man on the move. Hossfeld worked his way back to third by lap 86, and he then challenged Catalano for second.
While Catalano fought off Hossfeld and Jankowiak for second during the final 20 laps, Skora pulled away from the field. He quickly built up an advantage of over a second as Skora ran his fastest laps of the night with less than 10 laps to go.
Skora cruised to the victory for his the first Modified win of his career. The second-generation driver initially made his name in Late Model racing, but he has earned his stripes since a shift to open-wheeled cars a few years ago.
“We finally got that monkey off our back, what an unbelievable night,” said Skora. “It wasn’t Bristol, but Lancaster is pretty special to me. It just played out great, Pat (Emerling) and Mike (Leaty) might have had the fastest cars, but you have to race the race. We had two jinxes earlier in the year; my luck had to change sooner or later for me.”
Catalano equaled his career best on the Race of Champions Modified Series with the runner-up finish. Jankowiak battled through his damage to finish third. Hossfeld and Lewis, Jr. rounded out the top five.
In other X-Press Signs Stock Car Series action, Rich Sharpe of Lancaster added his ninth win of the season in Advance Auto Parts Street Stocks. The start of the race was delayed by about 30 minutes to finish up drying the track following the 4-Cylinder feature.
The first half of the race was chaotic at times with a very green racing surface. Tom Northem grabbed the early lead from the pole position. Northem and Keith Flanigan got together coming off turn four on lap 3, and both cars had to slow down to avoid crashing.
That handed the lead to Garrett Cleversley who led for several laps before being passed on lap 10 by Tim Welshans. Welshans led until lap 15 when he was passed by Mark Hoch. Hoch’s stay at the front of the field was also short-lived as he lost the lead to Jake Wylie two laps later.
Sharpe had slowly worked his way through field, and was running sixth when Wylie took the lead. He then began his march to the front, taking third place on lap 19 and then moved into second place with four laps to go. Sharpe quickly caught Wylie and passed him on the outside in turn one with less than two laps to go.
Dave Milbrand, Jr. was credited with the Roaming Buffalo 4-Cylinder feature victory. Joe Brunka led all 25 laps from the pole position, but was disqualified in post-race inspection. Kevin Bainbridge, Dave Brunka, Bobby Woch and Chris Pennell completed the top five.
The NYPA TQ Midgets were scheduled to compete, but chose not to race after they were asked to run a feature only program.
Lancaster National Speedway is back in action this Saturday with Big Rig Night presented by Hunter Truck Sales and Peterbilt of Buffalo. The Sunoco Sportsman will be back in action plus the Advance Auto Parts Street Stocks will run the rescheduled Ken Heckler 51 Tribute race. The Race of Champions Super Stocks and Roaming Buffalo 4-Cylinders will also be on the race card.
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).
RACE OF CHAMPIONS MODIFIED SERIES
Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 Finish: GEORGE SKORA III, Tommy Catalano, Andy Jankowiak, Chuck Hossfeld, Daryl Lewis, Jr., Austin Kochenash, Mike Leaty, Bobby Holmes, Danny Knoll, Jr., Scott Wylie, Tylee Rypkema, Dan Majchrzak, Steve Hoddick, Amy Catalano, Bryan Sherwood, Patrick Emerling, Daren Scherer, Bill Mislin, Tommy Rought, Cam Barber, Joe Brainard DNS: Dave Rigan
Fast Qualifier: Patrick Emerling – 17.042
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS STREET STOCKS
Feature: RICH SHARPE, Jake Wylie, Garrett Cleversely, Andy Cryan, Mark Hoch, Jarrod Brown, Tim Welshans, Keith Flanigan, Tommy Wentland, Ken Maltby, Jerry Kosmowski, Frank Prell, Mike Dalfonso, Jr., Max Northem, Craig Orr, Trevor Pettit, Tom Northem, Mike Scott, Steve DeCapua DNS: Gino Pino, John Carlson, Jerome Hruby, Rich Pocobello, Matt Druar, Nate Straus
ROAMING BUFFALO 4-CYLINDERS
Feature: DAVE MILBRAND, JR., Kevin Bainbridge, Dave Brunka, Bobby Woch, Chris Pennell, Jason Anasiewicz, Josh Schosek, Jacob Gustafsson, Dan Dressel, Mark Annis, Jr., Christine Hanel, Casey Pew, Russ Hartke DNS: Tim Durfy DQ: Joe Brunka