ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – Ryan Flores gained the lead with thirteen laps left in the sixteenth running of the Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Racing Fuels TQ Midget Gambler’s Classic Saturday night inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall when leader Tim Buckwalter went spinning off turn two, and then held off Jimmy Blewett for the final thirteen laps of the race to claim his first Gambler’s Classic win.
“I want to apologize to Timmy,” Flores said in Victory Lane. “He slowed up a little, I got a bump from behind and couldn’t avoid hitting him.”
Flores outdistanced Blewett, third place finisher Justin Bonsignore, Matt Janisch and Buckwalter, who stormed from the back of the field into the top five in the final dozen laps.
Erick Rudolph, Ryan Preece, Anthony Sesely, Ryan Tidman and Timmy Catalano rounded out the top ten.
The race was red flagged on lap 18 for a crash on a restart that sent Brandon Azzalina’s car slamming into the fourth turn wall. Azzalina needed to be extricated from his car before being transported to an area hospital. He was said to be complaining of lower back pain but was conscious and alert.
Cale Ross of Lambertville, N.J., scored the 25-lap Champ Kart headliner. Ross’s win was his second straight in Boardwalk Hall and his second straight in the 2018 Indoor Auto Racing Series, having won the Series’ early January inaugural in Allentown, Pa.
Cameron Carter, who was leading the Champ Kart main event, would up being involved in an accident that occurred when another driver, who was running near the back of the field, spun in front of Carter.
Ross then acquired the lead and held off Doug Stearly, Ryan Kendall, Todd Crenshaw and Tyler Brown to win. Champ Kart results are considered unofficial, pending a post-race technical inspection of the top finishers.
Brett Bieber drove to victory in the Slingshot 25-lap main event over Seth Spayd, Tyler Truex, Kyle Herve and Cody Kline.
Tim Buckwalter earned the pole position for the Gambler’s Classic by winning the five-lap, nine-car Pole Position Dash that determined the starting order for the four winners of Friday’s TQ A Main qualifiers and the top five drivers in accumulated qualifying points.
Six 10-lap TQ heat races, each transferring the two top finishers into the A Main, were won by Justin Bonsignore, Matt Janisch, Ryan Preece, Briggs Danner, Kyle Lick and Mike Iles. Lick’s win came in a Micro Sprint.
Three TQ B Mains, each transferring the top two finishers into the Gambler’s Classic, were won by Mike Lichty, Steve Kemery and Pat Bealer.
Saturday evening Champ Kart B-Main qualifiers were won by Ryan Kendall and DJ Doyle while Dakota Kohler and Mike Bednar captured the Slingshot B-Mains.
Numerous special awards were presented to TQ competitors for unusual achievements over the NAPA Know How Weekend. They were presented as follows: Larry Michaels Fast Time Award: Ryan Flores; Tony Romit Second Fast Time Award: Erick Rudolph; Sonny Saunders Third Fast Time Award: Andy Jankowiak; Bob Hilbert Halfway Leader Bonus: Tim Buckwalter; Saturday TQ Heat Winners Bonus: Justin Bonsignore, Matt Janisch, Ryan Preece, Briggs Danner, Mike Iles and Kyle Lick; Nick Fornoro Jr. Lap One Leader: Tim Buckwalter; George Stockinger First Non-Gambler Award: Timmy Catalano; Doug Craig Hard Charger: Justin Bonsignore; Joe Pratt Determination Award: Pat Bealer; Ray McCabe ATQMVC Best Appearing Car Award: Matt Janisch.
The Atlantic City race was the second of three events on the Indoor Auto Racing Series schedule. The finale is set for Friday and Saturday, February 9-10, 2018 at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., where the Indoor Auto Racing Series champion will earn the TC Cup, emblematic of TQ Midget racing season excellence.
Tickets for the Albany race are available either at the Times Union Center Box Office or through Ticketmaster outlets.
Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget Feature (40 Laps): Ryan Flores, Jimmy Blewett, Justin Bonsignore, Matt Janisch, Tim Buckwalter, Erick Rudolph, Ryan Preece, Anthony Sesely, Ryan Tidman, Timmy Catalano, Pat Bealer, Steve Kemery, Jesse Maurer, Earl Paules, Mike Iles, Briggs Danner, Andy Jankowiak, Jonathan Reid, Joey Payne, Matt Roselli, Brandon Azzalina, DJ Forbes Jr., Scott Kreutter, Mike Lichty, Keith Rocco, Kyle Lick.
Champ Kart Feature (25 Laps): Cale Ross, Doug Stearly, Ryan Kendall, Todd Crenshaw, Tyler Brown, Ron Midford, Jr., Tony Bootes, Ryan Swartz, John Berger, Chris Daley, DJ Doyle, Brian Chin, Mike Perry, AJ Jadacki, Gene Gregoric, Jeremy Tuttle, Dalton Rivira, Zachary Asklar, Cameron Carter, Anthony Colandro, Richie Davidowitz, Nick Demling, TJ Reed, Eric Zeh.
Slingshot Feature (25 Laps): Brett Bieber, Seth Spayd, Tyler Truex, Kyle Herve, Cody Kline, Chris Grbac, Kurt Bettler, Joe Toth, Dan Spellmon, Damon Paul, Dakota Kessler, Mike Toth, Chris Gall, Alex Lizotte, Mike Lapicki, Scott Adams, Ben Whitaker, Danny Buccafusca, Nick DelCampo, Mike Bednar, Nick Shaw, Jimmy Gagne, Anthony Raisner, Chris Kurtz.