MUSTO EARNS FIRST CAREER WIN AFTER CHAOTIC FEATURE AT HILLSIDE
Holland, New York, September 1st, 2018- If last Saturday’s feature at the Track at Hillside does not prove that the Jerry Gradl NYPA Midget season still has plenty more surprises in store, what will? Not only did a tangle-up with Dave Wollaber and Kyle Hutchinson force both of these drivers to restart deep in the field with only a few laps remaining but this set up the situation for Erik Musto to earn his first series win. This chaos resulted in an exciting finish, as Wollaber and Hutchinson carved their way to the front giving Musto the opportunity to earn his first win by holding off two of the winningest drivers in series history.
18 TQ midgets showed up to the high banks of Hillside, one of which was piloted by TQ veteran Timex Morgan, who was back in the car after recovering from an accident in an indoor TQ Midget race earlier this year. Morgan came incredibly close to winning his heat, however Hutchinson and Wollaber would not be denied, slashing their way through the field in once again from less than optimal starting positions. The heats were also a source of misfortune for a few drivers. Chad Haywood, found himself and his machine upside down after contact with Tim Nies while R.o.C Modified regular and previous Hillside winner Andy Jankowiak retired due to motor issues. Thankfully all was not lost as the BGF crew thrashed to fix Haywoods machine before the feature while Jankowiak found out that a piece of hose clogged his engine, he would avoid the DNS by starting scratch for the feature but the eventually the motor would fail him as he was attempting a pass for the lead late in the closing laps.
An eager Vinnie Christiano, Jr. brought out a caution to reset the field for jumping the start. Vinnie Christiano III thundered past polesitter Ted Jones, Jr. to take the lead on the second lap. Christiano III’s lead would be short lived, as a caution gave Wollaber the chance to take the lead on the restart. However, with Hutchinson managing to follow Wollaber through traffic into third, holding onto first would be no easy task. Hutchinson and Wollaber would run side by side roaring past lap cars like they were standing still. Real estate was scarce around lap cars, but Hutchinson gave no quarter as things came to a head with seven laps to go. Hutchinson made contact coming off turn two, causing Wollaber to spin, Wollaber’s car was undamaged but the stage was set for a thriller as both cars would have to restart in the back of the field.
With Hutchinson sent to the back of the field with Wollaber, Musto inherited the lead. Facing the possibility of scoring his first ever Jerry Gradl Motors NYPA Midget Association feature win, Musto knew he had his work cut out for him as Andy Jankowiak would be starting in the p2 with Morgan following in p3. This is possibly the worst thing a first time winner wants to see at this moment. Jankowiak to Musto’s outside on the restart nobody in the press box, or even the grandstands, knew who was going to win this race as its clear Timex Morgan is living up to his nickname, not only does he just keep going, but he is still going pretty fast!
Jankowiak attacked as soon as the green flag dropped, but his fight for the lead was short lived as his motor gave out in turn three, spewing smoke and fluid all over the track. The ensuing caution must have been agonizing for Musto as there is nothing speedy about an oil clean up on the track even though a product named speedy-dry gets smothered all over the track. Eventually Musto would have to calm himself and prepare to defend again, and again, and again. With three cautions on the same lap, you would be forgiven if you thought the lap counter had broken and was frozen with seven laps to go. The drama that unfolded would see Wollaber spin from contact with Tim Nies while Hutchinson narrowly avoided the incident.
The final caution would fly with five laps to go finding the red and white machine of Hutchinson back in striking distance of the lead. With Hutchinson restarting p4 Musto would now have to battle the winningest driver of the season as Hutchinson found his way to 2nd almost immediately on the restart. In the end it would be Musto who would give no quarter as he dove his #6 TQ midget all the way to the bottom of the track and ran his line for the final laps keeping any attempt by Hutchinson to play the villain in his fairytale a subplot at best. Wollaber would recover from his contact with Nies, taking home third after making a last-lap pass on Christiano III who would end up in 4th.
With a very popular underdog victory Musto made his way around the Track at Hillside for his first ever victory lap, and took a moment to catch his breath after stopping his car in Victory Lane. “I don’t know how many restarts we had there,” Musto remarked, “It worked out, got a little help from Dave [Wollaber] and [Kyle] Hutchinson getting together there midway through the race, but sometimes that’s what it takes.”
Holding a 135 point lead over Hutchinson, Wollaber was able to salvage a finish that only lost him five points between him and second place. Wollaber’s flawless driving and consistency has kept Hutchinson’s 7 wins an irrelevant stat in the championship standings. With only three points-paying races left in the 2018 season, the only way for Hutchinson to take the championship this year is for Wollaber to post finishes tenth or lower for the rest of the year, while Hutchinson must win every race left on the schedule.
The Jerry Gradl NYPA Midget Association makes its last visit to the Track at Hillside next Friday, September 7th fort the ROC Late Model BUD 100. Taking to the track for a 25 lap feature, fans will get to see the white-knuckle open wheel action that the Jerry Gradl NYPA Midget Association is known for providing. Tickets at the gate are $20 for general admission, $17 for seniors 65 and older, and $15 for members of the military. Gates open at 6:30 PM, heats begin at 7:30, and features will follow after the heat races.
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.