Jankowiak Becomes Latest King of the Hill, Wollaber Crowned Champion
Great Valley, New York, September 8th, 2019- In a wild turn of events during the closing laps of the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association finale at Chapel Hill Raceway, Andy Jankowiak scored the feature win. Jankowiak took the lead after leader and favorite to win Bobby Holmes got tangled up, forcing him to the rear of the field. A strong defensive game by Jankowiak enabled him to hold of Wollaber and cap off his 2019 campaign with a victory.
Nestled comfortably in the hills of Great Valley, NY, Chapel Hill Raceway returned to the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association schedule in 2019. The tight confines of the ⅕ mile course are even more unforgiving than the inner oval at New York International Raceway Park. As a result, driver errors are magnified by how close the competition is combined with the sheer amount of cars on the track. In last Saturday’s event, the speedway was packed with TQ midgets, presenting a considerable challenge for the leaders trying to navigate through lap traffic.
Chad Haywood started the feature on pole; a short-lived lead as Vinnie Christiano III charged to the front shortly after a quick first lap caution. No place on the track quite seemed safe as the drivers fought in close quarters, but Holmes remained vigilant and took command of the race on a restart after the second caution. Wollaber stayed glued to Holmes’ tail, patiently waiting for an opportunity as the top two pulled away, all while Kyle Hutchinson attempted to work his way up from fifth.
The leaders caught up to lap traffic as soon as lap nine, where the close nature of the track made it difficult to navigate through lap traffic. A couple of close calls with lapped cars kept drivers and fans alike on their toes, with Holmes and Wollaber going three wide to split slower cars at times. As Holmes continued to lead the race, the frenzy culminated in contact between him and a lap car. Holmes spun across the grass, bringing out another yellow that resulted in him having to go to the back of the field, allowing Jankowiak to inherit the lead.
With only a handful of laps remaining, all Jankowiak would have to do is hold off Wollaber, who had likewise shown eagerness to end his championship season with a feature win. Back in the picture by now was Hutchinson, who sat in the third spot and challenged Wollaber for silver. The two battled behind Jankowiak but still managed to keep up with him, sliding off of the turns and driving on the very edge. The best efforts of Wollaber and Hutchinson weren’t enough as Jankowiak went on to conquer Chapel Hill.
For the second time in a row, Dave Wollaber was crowned champion of the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association season. By virtue of his strong finishes all year long, not once ever placing outside the top two, Wollaber more than earned the title. Consistent finishes triumphing over a driver’s race win tally was a common theme last year as well, and the key ingredient to his success last year as well. With Wollaber constantly finishing on the winning driver’s tail, there was very little that a winning driver could do to put distance on him in the points.
Last Saturday’s race was also Kenny Hangauer’s final gig for the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association, who announced his retirement at the end of 2019 earlier this year. Hangauer’s voice graced the ears of countless fans in the WNY area, and called the races in just about every short track category you can think of. From TQ Midget racing to Sportsman Modifieds, Hangauer would use his passion and artistic way with words to spice up the drama for those listening in at the track. Hangauer was presented with a plaque at the conclusion of the race, recognizing his impact on the local racing scene as he was greeted with well wishes.
The Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association would like to thank all its fans, sponsors, drivers, and everybody who helped make this season possible. As we eagerly await the 2020 season, stay tuned to the NYPA Midget Association Facebook page and website for updates on all future events.
About NYPA Midgets: The Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association 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 NYIRP. 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.