2014 ATQMRA Champion Matt Jansich started his title defense the same way he clinched it. By Winning. It was the third consecutive opening night victory for the TQ veteran at Mahoning Valley. A strong contingent of Rookie drivers were on hand with young Avery Stoehr at the head of that class. Heat races were won by Avery Stoehr and Matt Roselli. The next event on the schedule for the ATQMRA is the independent sanction $1,000 to win race at Chapel Hill Speedway in New York on May 2 followed by the next Points paying race at Wall Stadium on Saturday May 16th.
The ATQMRA opened its 59th season of racing at the fabled Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton, Pa. For the third consecutive year Matt Janisch parked a white and orange 48 in Victory Lane.
The Feature race started out with a Metz Racing front Row of Rob Vivona and Geoffey Sutton taking Bobby Stull's green flag. Vivona looked like he was shot from a cannon on the start Jumping out to the early lead. Vivona lead teammate Geoffrey Sutton for the first pair of circuits before perennial Mahoning contender Matt Roselli moved into second. Vivona opened a lead on second place until the caution flew on lap ten.
The restart put the trio of Janisch, Roselli, and Tidman on Vivona's bumper. Vivona
held the lead on the restart only to complete a lap before another quick caution flew. This was the deciding restart where Janisch rocketed into the lead followed into second by 2013 Rookie of the year Joey Bailey.
The restart from the lap 16 caution put Ryan Tidman and Roselli to the back of the pack. Apparent contact between Tidman and Stoehr on the restart sent Tidman spinning with Roselli taking evasive action to avoid a collision. The pair would charge back through the field to finish fifth and seventh.
Once out front Janisch was never seriously threatened. Top finishing Rookie Avery Stoehr finished second with Joey Bailey earning a podium finish in third. The versatile Rob Vivona rolled across the line in fourth following up his second place finish Friday night at Bridgeport in his Dirt 600. A resurgent Tidman was fifth.
Winner of the last ATQMRA race at Mahoning Valley, Buddy Sload was sixth followed by Matt Roselli.
Rookie Alex Greenzweig was the second highest finishing rookie in the race in eighth followed by his car owner and fellow ATQMRA Rookie Pat VanVarick. Greenzweig was impressive in his first TQ midget start adapting quickly to the powerful TQ midgets. His car owner Pat VanVarrick who is hardly a rookie in racing was the highest finishing 600 micro sprint of the day. VanVarrick had numerous wins in his Hyper Hugger 600 at Borgers Speedway in 2014 and brings a wealth of racing experience to the ATQMRA.
Geoffrey Sutton had a disappointing night at Mahoning. In the final tally he finished ninth but posted the fifth fastest lap in the feature race but fell victim to a blistered right rear tire. Kurt Bettler was driving the other VanVarick 600 in the field racing the George and Marilyn Manieri/VanVarrick 600. The team struggled getting the car hooked up but learned some lessons to carry forward.
Rookie of the year hopeful Patrick Force made steady gains all day earning valuable experience that only seat time can provide. He was teamed with his brother Bill Force Jr. who's 26 car was plagued with an engine gremlin that kept him from getting up to speed.
This win was the third consecutive Season opening Victory for Janisch at Mahoning Valley. It also marked the debut of Janisch's 13 inch tire Yuhas Chassis car and was the first outdoor race for the car. Builder Jimmy Yuhas made his first trip to Mahoning Valley a good one by visiting the Hoosier Tire ATQMRA Victory Lane to see the car he constructed for Janisch take the checkered flag. This marked Jansich's fifth victory at Mahoning in four different TQ midgets.
The heat races were won by Avery Stoehr and Matt Roselli. Stoehr only led one lap in his heat race and it was the lap that counted. He earned a victory in his first outing in the fabled Alan Mollot 51 Lindblad Badger. He was followed across the line by Buddy Sload and Pat VanVarrick. Tidman was followed by Janisch across the line in the second heat.
ATQMRA Rookie Report: Five drivers with Rookie eligibility were in competition on the day. The top finishing rookie was last years NEMA Rookie of the year and second in points finishing Avery Stoehr in the Alan Mollot 51 Lindblad Badger. Stoehr will be running a handful of races in the Mollot car including the upcoming ATQMRA race at Wall Stadium on May 16th but will see limited time in the TQs due to his NEMA midget schedule. Alex Greenzweig made an impressive debut putting himself in second position early in the ATQMRA Rookie Championship standings. Pat VanVarick was third followed by Kurt Bettler and Patrick Force.
ATQMRA News and Notes: Jeff Kot was making his return to the track in his Lindblad Badger but suffered a driveline failure that sidelined him in practice. The Brice's NAPA Auto Parts ATQMRA Clean Start Program handed out fourteen buckets of cleaning products to the teams at the show at Mahoning Valley. Each team registering a car for the season received a five gallon NAPA bucket commemorating the Intrepid Fallen Heros Fund that contained cleaning products to help teams to a clean start to the season. A special thanks to Norm Williamson at Williamsigns in Allentown for quickly producing the Hoosier Tire Victory Lane Banner for the ATQMRA. Feature winner Jansich tried to double down on the night but came up short in SpeedSTR competition with a 9th place finish.
1 51 Avery Stoehr 2 53 Buddy Sload 3 17 Pat VonVarick 4 46v Rob Vivona 5 02 Joey Bailey 6 18 Patrick Force dns 95 Jeff Kot
1 98x Matt Roselli 2 1B Ryan Tidman 3 48 Matt Janisch 4 17v Alex Greenzweig 5 46 Geoffrey Sutton 6 43 Kurt Bettler dns 26 Bill Force Jr
Feature 25 Laps
1 48 Matt Janisch 2 51 Avery Stoehr 3 02 Joey Bailey 4 46v Rob Vivona 5 1B Ryan Tidman 6 53 Buddy Sload 7 98x Matt Roselli 8 17v Alex Greenzweig 9 17 Pat VanVarick 10 46 Geoffrey Sutton 11 43 Kurt Bettler 12 18 Patrick Force 13 26 Bill Force Jr dns 95 Jeff Kot