By Bill Foley
Entering the final night of the “Thunder on the Thruway” series, both Alex Yankowski and Cody Clark were the championship contenders.
It all came down to the final race at Utica-Rome.
Throughout the season, a challenge series of races merged action from Fonda and Utica-Rome, with the drivers racing for prestige and extra cash.
Yankowski seemed mired midpack throughout the event, but in the last seven laps, he went from 10th to fifth, while Clark settled for a disappointing 18th.
Thus, Yankowski earned the “Thunder on the Thruway” crown.
Alex discussed the accomplishment with Dirt Track Digest.
In regards to what the achievement meant to him, he said, “I think it shows how good our maintenance program is and how hard everybody works in the shop. I’m just super proud of everybody, but I’m super bummed we haven’t been able to win a race at either track. We had a shot, a lot of speed almost every week, and so that’s the big thing.”
He talked about the competition being tough, and one of the obstacles that the team faced was his lack of time at Fonda.
Alex noted, “I think we did a good job in our first year at Fonda. We had to kind of get up to speed, and being in contention meant quite a bit to us. There’s a lot of really good names there, so just to be able to run with them, you have to be consistent.”
Continuing on getting used to Fonda, he said, “It’s really hard. You got guys like Rocky, who’s been racing these tracks longer than me, and Cody Clark, who showed a ton of speed on his rookie campaign. He’s gonna be a capable wheel guy forever. We’re super happy. It’s good for the financial end. And it just gives the boys a little bit of pep in their step.”
Finishing fifth to clinch the championship wasn’t easy, as he was midpack for most of the race.
Yankowski explained, “I just ran a bad race. It was race driver error. I just got mad and frustrated when I wasn’t able to clear guys. I wasn’t doing a great job driving, and then in the second half of the race, we needed to go. It was go time, and I hoped it wasn’t too late. I dug myself a hole, so I dug out of it. It’s not fair to everyone else that works their butt off and you got to perform, so I just had to dig myself out of a pretty big hole.”
Well, the hole might have been big, but Alex Yankowski got up on the wheel in those last five laps on Saturday night and went from eighth to a very respectable fifth-place finish in the “Thunder on the Thruway” finale.