It only took two races and four days into the new year for the first major butting of bumpers in the 2020 Northeast racing season. The second and final night of racing for the Indoor Auto Racing Championship TQ Midgets at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania produced a late-race clash between eventual race winner Ryan Flores and polesitter Andy Jankowiak.
Jankowiak was the main man on top for the first quarter of the 40-lap feature, but Flores battled up to second after starting fourth in the 24-car field, keeping Jankowiak company over multiple restarts. For about 20 laps, Andy J’s defensive game kept him in front, but a single-file restart on Lap 31 gave Flores his best shot, and he did not hesitate to take it, pushing Jankowiak up the track enough to take the lead.
“Andy lost turn there in the middle (of the corner) towards the end of the race, he got tight, and I tried to work him, work him. Kind of kept brake checking every time I got a run,” Flores explained. “That’s the difference between calculated and kamikaze. I was pretty calculated, it was a single-file restart, and I knew if I could stay to him, there was speedy-dry on the bottom so I could shove him through it, and I pushed him up out of the way and went by him.”
Despite falling back to forth, a pair of quick yellows saw the second and third-place cars fall by the wayside, putting Jankowiak back to second. The New York driver saw a chance to get back to the front with the same move, but it went wrong for him. Jankowiak made hard contact with the left rear of Flores’ car, causing Flores to slide while Jankowiak braked hard to avoid another collision.
While Flores continued, Jankowiak stopped and stalled, bringing the yellow back out. He fell to the tail, while Flores maintained the lead after maintaining sufficient pace, despite the slide. Flores would hold off Steve Kemery, but just barely, as the contact from Jankowiak had punctured his left-rear tire, which was flat by the time he got to victory lane.
It was a mix of great joy and frustration for Flores after the race.
“He obviously tried to spin me out,” Flores stated. “I guess from what I’m hearing, he was about half a car length back and drove in there, gave me a jab in the left rear. I was able to save it, but he did get the left rear tire. I felt it going flat towards the end there. Just kind of limped it home, it was a little sketchy on the straights, but it still turned well.”
As for Andy J, the only person he was upset with after the race was himself.
“I should’ve just settled for second. I wasn’t trying to get him like that, I was trying to do what he did to me, shove him up and get underneath him. He spun and there was nowhere for me to go. I don’t know, it’s just, I’m very mad at myself,” Jankowiak told Speed51.
Meanwhile, Flores was especially happy to get a win for his home state New Jersey crew, who had trashed to rebuild the No. 15 after an opening lap tumble in Friday’s A-Main.
“Car was wrecked last night, the right front was cleaned off. Jimmy Blewett, Scott Davidson, Gary Fattaruso, Kyle Scisco, my crew chief Daniel LaFerrier, Jeff Harbach, my father, and all of our great sponsors. It’s just awesome to put some Wall Stadium guys in victory lane.”
Next up for the Indoor Auto Racing Championship is the series’ crown jewel event in southern New Jersey, the Atlantic City Indoor Race at the famous Boardwalk Hall. The two-day show for the TQ Midgets, Champ Karts, and Slingshots opens on Friday, January 31 with qualifying events for all three classes. Final prelims and the feature races will run on Saturday, February 1.
Results: 1. Ryan Flores, 2. Steve Kemery, 3. Jeremy Haudricourt, 4. Anthony Payne, 5. Ryan Bartlett, 6. Briggs Danner, 7. Matt Janisch, 8. Earl Paules, 9. Michael Barnes, 10. Tim Buckwalter, 11. Tim Iulg, 12. Bobby Holmes, 13. Andy Jankowiak, 14. Joey Jarowicz, 15. Pat Bealer, 16. Erick Rudolph, 17. Shawn Nye, 18. Kyle Lick, 19. Jon Reid, 20. Tyler Thompson, 21. Andrew Molleur, 22. Anthony Sesely, 23. Mike Bednar, 24. Scott Kreutter.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Content Specialist/Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51