Matt Janisch of Nazareth, Pa won the American Three Quarter Midget Racing Association's race at Mahoning Valley Speedway when he overtook race long leader Buddy Sload following a restart with five laps remaining. This is Janisch' sixth win of the season and second at Mahoning Valley making him the only TQ racer to win on Lehighton's circular oval. Sload finished second with Jeff Kot rounding out the podium. Heat Races were won by Buddy Sload and Mike Tidaback. Unofficially Janisch's win wraps up the championship heading into the ATQMRA's last race of the season at Wall Stadium Next Saturday September 17th. The ATQMRA has a pair of non point open competition wingless indoor rules package races at Stafford Springs Speedway and the annual Turkey Derby at Wall.
The front Row of pole sitter Mike Glaser and Buddy Sload took the Green flag from starter Bobby Stull. Glaser won the drag race into turn 1 but Sload was able to carry the momentum around the outside to shoot into the lead exiting the second turn. Sload looked to be on a mission to be the first ATQMRA Racer not named Janisch or Sutton to earn a win in 2016 opening a significant gap on the field.
The first caution of the race would fall when Joey Payne III's engine expired ending his night. Payne has been seemingly snake bitten all season long. He has put in a significant effort all season long to have his car prepared and at the track only to have most of his days end in frustration. This night at Mahoning was no different. Better days are ahead.
Janisch took advantage of the restart to move from sixth to third and work on Joey Bailey to get into second. He was able to move into second on lap seven. By the time Janisch made his methodical charge to the front Sload already opened up a significant lead. Janisch then set sail and began to attempt to reel Sload in. Janisch was able to negotiate lapped traffic well enough to get close to Sload's tail but couldn't make a move. The caution fell for a slowing Geoffrey Sutton on lap 20.
The lap 20 restart closed the field up behind Sload and gave Janisch the opportunity he needed. Entering the third turn following Stull's green flag Janisch dove to the bottom and beat Sload back to the finish line and proceeded to reel off the fastest laps of the day to get the win by a 2.4 second advantage over Sload. Jeff Kot in his own Behrent's Performance 95 Badger would surge on the last lap and make a daring three wide move to take the third spot.
Mike Tidaback in the Alan Mollot 51 Lindblad Badger would finish fourth with Joey Bailey rounding out the top five. Matt Roselli would roll across the line sixth with Flying Ryan Tidman seventh. The top Rookie of the race Mark Yoder would roll across the line eighth with Geoffrey Sutton ninth and Mike Glaser tenth. Kris Graver in the second Janisch mount would drop out of the race on lap 14 with Joey Payne III being credited with 12th.
Both heat races were won from the front row with Buddy Sload winning the first heat in the Colin Martin Spitfire 16. Mike Tidaback started from the Pole and won the second heat in the Alan Mollot 51 Lindblad Badger. The pair ran the fastest laps in the heat races.
The night was Mahoning Valley's Dorney Park and Mahoning Valley Nostalgia night. The Vintage TQ midgets were on hand with Gary Mondschein winning the four stroke division feature with Tom Arntz winning the two stroke division race. Incidentally the Mollot 51 Lindblad Badger that finished fourth in the modern TQ race also raced at and won on the fabled Dorney Park oval before that tracks closure in 1986.
Up next for the ATQRMA is the final Points paying race at Wall Stadium on Saturday September 17th. While unofficially it looks like Janisch has sewn up his second championship in the last three years the battle for second between Flying Ryan Tidman and Geoffrey Sutton is still close. Jansich sits exactly 100 points up on Tidman but would still earn the title if Tidman were to score a feature win in the final round with Janisch earning no points by virtue of the ATQMRA's tie breaker system that breaks any ties based on feature wins.
Janisch won his seventh TQ midget feature at Mahoning Valley putting him alone in second place on the track's all time TQ midget feature win list behind Don Adams. Adams 20 wins at Mahoning will likely never be surpassed since his win total came when the organization raced the majority of its shows at Mahoning in the early 2000s.
The ATQMRA Points paying season ends at Wall Stadium on Saturday September 17th with a wingless show on the inner oval to crown the organization's 2016 Champions. Two more races appear on the schedule as non Points wingless races running under an Indoor style rules package. The ATQMRA will make its first appearance at Stafford Motor Speedway on Saturday October 1st on that track's inner oval with the final race of the season taking place at the prestigious Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium on Saturday November 26th.
ATQMRA News and Notes: Bobby Stull who is the official Starter at Mahoning Valley Speedway and has had an active involvement with the Checkered Flag Fan Club cut his teeth as a starter under the tutelage of the legendary Nick Fornoro Sr. flagging races for the ATQMRA at Pinebrook Speedway in the 80s. Bob noted that Nick, who was a championship winning Midget racer and official starter for the ATQMRA the ARDC Midgets as well as the official starter for the CART Indy Car Series, told him that, "If you can flag at Pinebrook you can flag anywhere." Bob gets the opportunity to get back to his roots by flagging the lightening quick TQ midgets around the Mahoning Valley Circular oval.
Feature 25 Laps 1. 48 Matt Janisch 2. 16 Buddy Sload 3. 95 Jeff Kot 4. 51 Mike Tidaback 5. 02 Joey Bailey 6. 98 Matt Roselli 7. 1B Ryan Tidman 8. 75 Mark Yoder 9. 461 Geoffrey Sutton 10. f8 Mike Glaser 11. 48x Kristopher Graver 12. 67 Joey Payne
Heat Race 1 1. 16 Buddy Sload 2. 02 Joey Bailey 3. 48 Matt Janisch 4. 95 Jeff Kot 5. 1B Ryan Tidman
Heat Race 2 1. 51 Mike Tidaback 2. 98 Matt Roselli 3. 75 Mark Yoder 4. 461 Geoffrey Sutton 5. 48x Kristopher Graver 6. f8 Mike Glaser