HESSLER WINS SURPRISE FILLED FEATURE AT LANCASTER
Holland, New York, September 8th, 2018- Leading all 20 laps, AJ Hessler defied expectations at Lancaster National Speedway by dominating the entire feature after taking the lead as soon as the green flag dropped. The usual suspects Dave Wollaber and Kyle Hutchinson had a hard time making their way through traffic. Hessler instead would have to contend with Mark Schulz throughout the race. A string of back to back cautions on lap 18 would give Schulz his only real chance to contend for the lead. However, with each restart he would have to worry about losing the 2nd spot to the 88 of Hutchinson who was looking to put his signature mark on the final lap of the race.
The two champions, Hutchinson and Wollaber would find it difficult to improve upon their starting positions. Hutchinson was able to pass Canadian invader Ryan Fraser, making his way to third, but couldn’t quite make it by the second place car of Schulz. Wollaber didn’t have much luck getting by Fraser and would end up settling for a fifth place finish by the time the checkers fell.
The struggles of the top two drivers in the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association points standings were evident during the heat races, which sometimes provide insight on how the feature will unfold. Wollaber made his way to second after a caution in his heat, but leader Andy Nye was able to hold him off and win. Meanwhile, Hutchinson made an early charge in the second heat, but likewise settled for second behind Hessler’s lightning fast Pippard powered machine.
Hessler showed his pace early in the race, starting second and taking the lead from polesitter Ted Jones, Jr. almost instantly. Following from fourth on the outside was Schulz, who likewise made quick work of Jones beginning an 18 lap pursuit of Hessler. Hutchinson and Wollaber making their way around Nye and Jones for fifth and fourth, respectively, would get mired behind Fraser in third.
Hessler used this to his advantage, pulling away from the pack with Schulz following from several car lengths back. Hessler’s cushion over Schulz had diminished by the time the halfway point was reached, with his pursuer closing in with every passing lap. Searching for a way around Hessler, Schulz took a peek to the inside as they approached lap traffic, but ended up losing ground to the leader as they navigated around the slower cars.
Hutchinson, Wollaber and Nye still rode behind Fraser, but on lap 16 Hutchinson found a way around the Canadian as the group caught up to lap cars. Hutchinson had plenty of speed to challenge for the lead if only he could catch them. Hessler held a straightaway sized advantage over the Hillside champion, and it came into question whether or not Hutchinson could make up the ground. It turned out that Hutchinson wouldn’t have to make up the deficit himself as a late race caution involving second Canadian invader Adrian Stahle and Vinnie Christiano II bunched the field back together.
On the first of three restarts, it seemed Hutchinson made it past Schulz for second, but another quick caution and confirmation from timing & scoring would prove otherwise. On the restart Hutchinson was would barely get a chance to try the move again due to a flip by Jones Jr which put field under a red flag condition. The ambulance rushed to the scene of the accident, but ultimately was not needed as Jones quickly got back on all fours.
Jones re-entered the race despite a spectacular rollover. At the drop of the green for the final restart, Hutchinson once again couldn’t find his way into a position to challenge for the lead, and Hessler crossed the finish line with all 20 laps led. Schulz, Hutchinson, Fraser, and Wollaber rounded out the rest of the top five.
“I saw [Kyle Hutchinson] and [Dave Wollaber],” said Hessler, “Those guys are always tough. I got a little nervous and thought I was gonna step on my shoe and lose it, but it didn’t happen.” Hessler purchased the car from [series director] Charlie DiRosa earlier this year and showed improvement with each race this season. With a power plant from Billy Pippard, the purple #90 machine had plenty of motor leaving just two things for the new owner to deal with, choosing the right set up and wheeling the sleek machine through traffic. “We got it from Charlie DiRosa put some new rubber on it -didn’t have too much luck last night in the feature- had a better starting spot, and this thing had been on rails all day.”
With the upcoming event at Chapel Hill Raceway cancelled, the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association will race its final event at Lancaster National Speedway for the 30th Annual US Open. Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association will race a non points paying feature on Saturday, September 22nd as part of an entire weekend of short track racing action. Gates on Saturday open at 2 PM, and grandstand admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students 12-17, and kids 11 & under are FREE. A family pass for 2 adults and 2 students is also available for $50. Come out this Saturday to give the Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midgets a final farewell in the last race of 2018!
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.