ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Jimmy Blewett, Howell, N.J., Earl Paules, Palmerton, Pa., Ryan Tidman, Holland, Pa., and Timmy Catalano, Ontario, N.Y., each punched their tickets into Saturday night’s Gambler’s Classic (Three Quarter) TQ Midget feature by winning their twenty-lap A-Main Qualifiers Friday at Boardwalk Hall in day one action of NAPA Know How Weekend in Atlantic City, N.J.
The winning quartet plus the top five drivers in accumulated Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels point standings, which includes points earned in Friday’s qualifying plus at the previous Indoor Auto Races in Allentown, Pa. in early January, will race in a Dash event Saturday to determine the top nine starters in the Gambler’s Classic.
Blewett, 2017 Wall Stadium Modified champion and perennial Indoor Auto Racing Series favorite, started seventh in his heat race and outran Justin Bonsignore to the checkered.
Paules, a past champion at Mahoning Valley Speedway in both Modifieds and Late Models, outran a determined Andy Jankowiak to take the checkered.
Tidman took advantage of a situation in which leader Keith Rocco and challenger Erick Rudolph tangled, ending Rocco’s race. Rudolph was then penalized, putting Tidman in front. Tim Buckwalter came on to finish second.
Timmy Catalano, the youngest of the Catalano racing brothers, held off Anthony Sesely for the win, set up when Ryan Flores spun and third place driver at the time, Scott Kreutter was penalized.
The remainder of the 26-car field will be set through a series of heat races that will start the Saturday night race program.
Earlier in the afternoon, Flores, Cornelius, N.C., out qualified 64 other TQ Midget drivers in time trials. Flores’ 8.042 clocking set the standard for the class.
In Champ Kart action, Cale Ross set fast time (9.455 seconds) to outpace 47 other Karters. Ten lap Champ Kart heat races were won by Eric Zeh, Jeremy Tuttle and John Berger.
Damon Paul (9.864 seconds) was fastest among 42 Slingshot time trailers while Mike Lapicki, Kyle Herve and Tyler Truex were winners of the trio of ten lap qualifiers. It was Truex’s first time in a Slingshot and first time in an Indoor race.
At the end of the third TQ A-Main Qualifying race, a multi car accident saw driver Mike Tidaback, Brick, N.J., a former Gambler’s Classic winner (2008), sustain injuries. Tidaback was initially unconscious but did became responsive as he was being evaluated at an area hospital. No further information was available on his condition at this time.
Friday’s action set the stage for Saturday’s Gambler’s Classic for the TQ Midgets, a 40-lap feature for the Indoor Auto Racing Series’ top class. Champ Karts and Slingshots will each complete their racing NAPA Know How Weekend action with 20-lap feature races.
Saturday racing begins at 7:00 PM preceded by Fan Fest, an event that allows ticket holders to meet and greet the drivers, receive autographs and snap pictures.
Tickets are available for the Saturday Gambler’s Classic from the Boardwalk Hall Box Office up until race time. Tickets can be purchased in advance through Ticketmaster outlets.
First TQ Qualifier (20 Laps): Jimmy Blewett, Justin Bonsignore, Jonathan Reid, Matt Roselli, Chris deRitis, Chad Jones, Brandon Azzalina, Brett Michalski, Mike Iles, Geoffrey Sutton, Bobby Butler, Justin Moensch, Ronnie Flaim, Tony DiMattia, Dakota Kessler, Mark Yoder. DNS: Chad Parks.
Second TQ Qualifier (20 Laps): Earl Paules, Andy Jankowiak, Steve Kemery, Matt Janisch, Danny Bouc, Jesse Maurer, Jack Conover, Robert Geibel, Eddie Strada, Tyler Thompson, Bob Baker, Eric Hershey, Mike Lichty, Austin Bishop, Jason Treat, Tommy Catalano.
Third TQ Qualifier (20 Laps): Ryan Tidman, Tim Buckwalter, Ryan Preece, Mike Maresca, Erick Rudolph, Tim Nye, Anthony Payne, Brett Conkling, Kevin VanValkenburg, John Ivy, Timmy Solomito, Jeffrey Kot, Mike Tidaback, Cole Mullen, Keith Rocco, Andrew Nye.
Fourth Heat (20 Laps): Timmy Catalano, Anthony Sesely, Briggs Danner, Ryan Flores, Ryan Bartlett, Andrew Molleur, Connor Sellers, Scott Kreutter, DJ Forbes Jr., Kyle Lick, Bruce Leote, Joey Payne, Bill Force Jr., Patrick Emerling, Shawn Nye.