Lancaster, NY, September 22nd, 2018- A dominant feature win in the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association saw local fan favorite Andy Jankowiak set two records in the US Open at Lancaster National Speedway. After leading all 25 laps of the feature, Jankowiak scored his eighth US Open feature win in his fourth category- the first driver at the speedway to do so in the prestigious event.
As part of the 30th Annual US Open, the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association was featured along with the Race of Champions 4-Cylinder Dash, Super Stock, and Sportsman divisions as part of the lineup in an evening full of nonstop racing action. The US Open is always a special race to just about anyone who competes in it, but none more to eventual winner Jankowiak, who had entered the TQ race in hopes of making history.
A caution-free feature, the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association feature was preceded by a pair of eventful heats won by Jeremy Haudricourt and Erik Musto. Jankowiak would also find his way into trouble during his heat, spinning out as he challenged Musto for the lead. This would only prove to be a minor setback, and Jankowiak finished third, redrawing on the pole for the feature.
Jankowiak showed his pace almost as soon as the green flag dropped, putting distance on the second place car of Mark Schulz early in the feature. He quickly pulled away from the field, which included Hillside track champion Kyle Hutchinson and recently crowned NYPA champion Dave Wollaber. The two TQ titans started in the middle of the pack, and if fourth place AJ Hessler had anything to say about it, driving through the field would be no easy task. Passing opportunities seemed limited until Hutchinson attempted to make a move on Hessler on lap 4, but ended up cutting a slow and wide turn that allowed Wollaber to knock the Hillside champ out of the top five.
Hutchinson remained persistent and stuck to Wollaber’s tail, but the duo couldn’t make headway on Hessler and his tough-as-nails defense. It wasn’t until later on lap 9 when they finally found an opportunity to attack on the inside, with Wollaber and Hutchinson taking fourth and fifth respectively. Wollaber and Hutchinson, now in fourth and fifth respectively, continued to claw their way through the field as Jankowiak continued to extend his lead over Schulz. As the laps wound down, Wollaber took second place, but by then Jankowiak had already pulled away to a sizeable lead. With lap cars in the way, the only way for Wollaber to have a shot at the win would be if a caution were to be thrown late in the race, which would eliminate Jankowiak’s lead. Jankowiak not needed to worry about a yellow flag threatening his chances at the win, and he cruised all the way to the checkered flag.
The grandstands at Lancaster National Speedway erupted with excitement as the fan favorite Jankowiak spun his car around, embarking on a signature Polish victory lap around the racetrack. Greeted by friends and family, Jankowiak let out a triumphant shout. “I can’t begin to tell you what we’ve gone through on this car,” Jankowiak said, “We’ve blown engines and broken everything; we haven’t finished a race in three months. We had a bunch of problems on it this week. We worked on it every night. My car owner, Jim (Smith), he wouldn’t give up.”
Jankowiak, BGF, and the Smith Hessler Racing team had struggled to get the 01 ready again after an engine failure knocked him out of the running at Hillside earlier in the month, but were determined to get it right come the US Open. A mechanical issue during the TQ feature of the 2013 US Open took him out of the running , leaving Jankowiak heartbroken. Nevertheless, Jankowiak remained determined going into this year’s edition of the US Open, eager to get the monkey off of his back this time around. “Five years ago in Trey’s (Hoddick) car on the second to last lap the steering shaft came off and I never got over it. I wanted this one so bad.”
Jankowiak set two records with his victory: the first driver to win eight US Open features and the first driver to win in four different categories, with his TQ triumph complementing wins in the Tour-Type, Sportsman, and Street Stock categories. Chuck Hossfeld later tied the record after winning the Race of Champions Sportsman race that same night, but Jankowiak’s feature win in the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association still gave him two righteous spots in the speedway’s record books. Setting two records in one race is an incredible accomplishment that few drivers are able to pull off.
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.
30th Annual US Open Feature Results