The NYPA Midgets returned to Lancaster Speedway with its largest car count yet. The field included well-known series veterans, rookies and even some invading drivers from Canada. 25 cars took to the track, with A.J. Hessler taking his first win of the season despite a hectic race.
The car count for the NYPA Midget Association has increased with each race this season. The series hit a season-high 25 cars in the feature requiring three heat races to determine the starting order.
Racing got off to a rough start, as Greg Richardson flipped after heavy contact with Jim Musto. The two drivers were unharmed, but had to retire from their heat race. Despite the rest of the first heat going without incident, heats two and three were not so fortunate. The second heat saw two spins- one from Ronnie Flaim at the start and Chuck Kowalske near the end of the race. In the third heat, Sean McNamara retired after being hit under caution and unable to restart his car. The disorderly conduct would continue into the feature. The feature so unruly that it was in jeopardy of being cut short immediately after the drop of the green flag.
Charlie DiRosa started the feature with his third consecutive pole of the year he was safely at the front of the field for the first few laps of the race. The first caution of the night came out when Kyle Hutchinson found himself airborne yet again after getting tangled with a group of cars in turn 1. On the second restart, another quick caution caused by a spin by Greg Richardson.
Upon the 2nd restart the drivers seemed to regain their composure but it would be short lived. While A.J. Hessler was attempting a pass for the lead on lap 2, Andy Patton’s car was flipping at the same time Greg Richardson was wheel hopping on top of Scott Gleed’s creating quite a spectacular string of events on track. The race was immediately red flagged to for safety and clean up, which turned into a lengthy process that further delayed the event.
A.J. Hessler was able to complete his pass before the red flag, and continued to lead, with Vinnie Christiano and Tommy Catalano rounding out the top 3. Many drivers were able to advance their positions including Dave Wollaber, who moved to 5th, with Kyle Hutchinson following him into 6th place after making a good run from his poor starting position.
The leaders found it difficult to pass with such a large field of cars, specifically the drivers making their first start of the season. The slower cars seemed to be those that were not series regulars, and it caused a fair amount of congestion and frustration for the leaders making their way through lapped traffic. This culminated in an incident on lap 16 where Arik McGruder and Chad Haywood made contact in turn 1, causing a crash between McGruder, Christiano III, DiRosa, and Bauman. McGruder and Haywood were able to continue but DiRosa, Christiano III, and Bauman’s machines were not able to continue, ending their night early.
At this point, the race had already been delayed significantly by two cautions and a red flag. A spin by Hutchinson on the restart on lap 16 did not help matters and a vote was held on whether or not to continue the race. The race was scheduled to be 25 laps and there was concern on whether or not the race would finish before it got too dark. Instead of ending the event outright, it was decided to adjust the distance from 25 laps to 20. A.J. Hessler took advantage of this change in plans, and was able to hold off Dave Wollaber long enough to take the checkered flag for his first win of the season.
Much like last weekend, emotions were high post race, and A.J. hessler was concerned about the lapped traffic ruining his and the other front runners race. “I thought I was gonna get screwed on lap traffic; they weren’t cooperating at all.” Complaints about slower cars making it difficult to navigate was a view shared by many. According to many drivers, the lap cars were not doing enough to let the leaders by. As A.J. stated, the race was more about survival and avoidance, as the lap traffic and unruly drivers made it quite difficult to race for any position. An anonymous driver was overheard stating, “Some of these guys need to pick a new hobby.”
Post race frustrations have teetered on getting ugly the last few weeks, as another two drivers had some colorful words for each other. The conversation quickly became heated between two drivers, with personal insults being exchanged almost to the boiling point, but cooler heads prevailed as one driver choose the high road and backed away, separating himself from the argument.
The NYPA Midget Association makes its next stop at Holland Speedway on Saturday, June 25th for the Kwik Fill Night at the Races. Adults get in for $12; students 8-15 $7; children under 7 FREE. Family Passes are available for $25. Gates open at 5 PM, and racing starts at 6 PM. For more information, visit http://www.hollandspeedway.com/ or www.NYPAMidgets.com
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