Wollaber Wins the 4th Annual Jerry Gradl Memorial Mini Indy 50
Holland, New York, August 11th, 2018- Dave Wollaber and Kyle Hutchinson were once again the drivers to beat in the 4th Annual Jerry Gradl Memorial Mini Indy 50 at the Track at Hillside. With both drivers contending for the lead throughout the 50 lap feature, Wollaber would walk away with the trophy after a late-race caution gave him the opportunity to steal the lead from Hutchinson.
Dedicated to the memory of Jerry Gradl, Sr., the Mini Indy 50 is the longest race on the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association schedule. At 50 laps, the drivers are given a break at the halfway point of the race, allowing teams the opportunity to refuel their cars in order to make it to the checkered flag. With a stout field of 25 TQ midgets, three heats, and a massive trophy for the feature winner, the Mini Indy 50 once again proved itself to be the crown jewel of the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association schedule. With modified racing veterans like Patrick Emerling, Andy Jankowiak, Tony Hanbury, Tommy and Timmy Catalano joining the usual complement of TQ midget drivers, the Mini Indy 50 once again is a testament to the impact Jerry Gradl, Sr. made on the local auto racing community.
The thrills of open-wheel racing began as soon as the green flag dropped on the first heat, with Hutchinson storming through the field almost immediately to another heat win. The second heat featured an electrifying battle between Wollaber and AJ Hessler, with Wollaber taking the lead and win in the final turn at the very last opportunity. Jankowiak played spoiler in heat three, taking the win over NYPA regulars Andy Nye and Erik Musto.
In spite of a handful of cautions during the first half of the race, Wollaber managed to find the lead early on while Hutchinson gave chase in second. Regardless of whether or not lap traffic occupied the inside lane, Hutchinson threw caution to the wind and maneuvered below his rival, going side-by-side until Hutchinson finally cleared Wollaber with 33 laps to go. Hutchinson wasn’t quite out of the woods yet, as Wollaber continued to pressure him from second right up until the halfway break.
The halfway break gave drivers time to stretch their legs as their cars were being refueled, but the battle for the lead was still fresh in the minds of Wollaber and Hutchinson. During the break, Wollaber had hoped to get a longer green flag run, citing difficulties on restarts that could lower his chances of winning. Hutchinson had some concerns of his own, mentioning that his left rear tire could be affecting car handling.
The second half of the race began with Hutchinson out in front, with Nye briefly challenging Wollaber on the restart. While Hutchinson initially pulled away, Wollaber began to reel him in like in the first half. Wollaber seemed to wait patiently at first, driving up to Hutchinson’s bumper and searching for an opportunity to cut underneath. With 20 laps to go, Wollaber gets the upper hand on Hutchinson, but a caution on the same lap meant that Hutchinson would keep the lead on the restart.
While it was clear that the fight for the win was between Hutchinson and Wollaber, Nye, Hessler, and Musto lurked in the top five, observing the battle from several car lengths back. Wollaber couldn’t successfully repeat his previous move, and time began to run thin as the race came to a close. However, with 8 laps to go, a spin by Vinnie Christiano III that brought out the last caution ended up giving Wollaber the chance he needed. Wollaber chased Hutchinson as soon as the race restarted, taking the lead as Hutchinson got loose on the outside. Hutchinson lost ground as his handling continued to fade, leaving Wollaber to take home the feature win.
Pulling into victory lane for the third time this year, Wollaber was not only greeted by friends and family, but also was presented the towering trophy that caught the eyes of just about everyone in the pits. Wollaber recounted the final laps, and then dedicated his win to longtime friends Jerry Gradl, Sr and Jr., during victory lane interviews.
“I want to thank Jerry Gradl, Jr.” says Wollaber, “we’re remembering his father- a great guy and a great racer… It’s really cool to get this win for him!”
The Jerry Gradl NYPA Midget Association makes its next stop at Chapel Hill Raceway on Saturday, August 18th. The Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midgets will headline a day full of kart racing featuring Clone, Animal, and Flathead class races. Tickets at the gate are $10, and kids under 10 are FREE. The front gates open at 5 PM; don’t miss out on the crowning of the next King Of the Hill!
About NYPA Midgets: The Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget, series sanctions three-quarter midget racing in western New York and Pennsylvania. TQ midgets are known for high stakes, wheel to wheel, short track racing action and have thrilled crowds across the country for over fifty years. The NYPA Midget Association carries on that tradition of excitement at tracks like The Track at Hillside (formerly Holland Speedway), Lake Erie Speedway and Lancaster National Speedway. Check the NYPA Midget Association website www.NYPAMidgets.com for the schedule, points, and news. Find us on Facebook for up to date event information, photos, and more. Be sure to like and share with your friends.
About Jerry Gradl Motors: Since 1958 Jerry Gradl Motors has provided exceptional sales and professional service to western New York motorists. Half of their customers are referrals or repeats, which means they provide outstanding customer service. The Gradl name is a staple in WNY motorsports and will be for years to come. Jerry Gradl Motors has two locations to choose from, one at 711 Niagara Falls Blvd, North Tonawanda NY and the other located at 6704 Transit Rd. Williamsville.
8/11/2018 Final Results:
#1 – 1 Dave Wollaber North Tonawanda, NY
#2 – 88 Kyle Hutchinson Alden, NY
#3 – 66 Andy Nye Lancaster, NY
#4 – 90 A.J. Hessler Tonawanda, NY
#5 – 6 Erik Musto Lockport,NY
#6 – 39 Tony Hanbury Owego, NY
#7 – 39x Jeremy Haudricourt Bliss, NY
#8 – 32m Mark Schulz Akron, NY
#9 – 2 Vinnie Christiano Tonawanda, NY
#10 – 32 Timmy Catalano Ontario, NY
#11 – 21x Patrick Emerling Orchard Park, NY
#12 – 44 Tim Nies Lancaster, NY
#13 – 3 Vinnie Christiano III Tonawanda, NY
#14 – 14 Kevin Wilson Alden, NY
#15 – 21 Arik McGruder Amherst, NY
#16 – 05 Jamie Pew Lancaster, NY
#17 – 71 Tony Petrea Tonawanda, NY
#18 – 02 Patrick Smith Kenmore, NY
#19 – 11 Chester Haywood Orchard Park, NY
#20 – 19 Jeremy Conklin Pittsfield, NY
#21 – 98 Tommy Catalano Ontario, NY
#22 – 5 Ted Jones Jr West Valley, NY
#23 – 42 Chad Haywood West Valley, NY
#24 – 01 Andy Jankowiak Tonawanda, NY
#25 – 29 Cameron Ruggiero Lancaster, NY