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Long Pond, Pa; Matt Janisch of nearby Nazareth, Pa made history becoming the first driver to park a Modern TQ Midget in Victory Lane at Pocono International Speedway on Saturday night on a temporary fifth mile oval on the track’s front straight away. Janisch and Tim Procter were heat race winners with Fellow Lehigh Valley Quarter Midget Graduate Geoffrey Sutton finished second with Ryan Tidman third. The Acro Rookie of the race was Ronnie the Rocket Mullen in fourth with substitute driver Liquid Lou Cicconi fifth. Blu Metz winning the companion Vintage 4 stroke race and Mark Pritchard won the Vintage 2 stroke feature. Next up for the ATQMRA is a trip to Wall Stadium for wingless action on that track’s flat inner oval.
The luck of the draw set up a front Row of Brandon Azzalina in the George and Marilyn VanVarick 43 Lafler along Side Ronnie the Rocket Mullen in his BFG 39. Azzalina gained the edge at the drop of the Tom Arntz Green Flag but the caution would fly as the cars entered the third turn with Buddy Sload being the first casualty on the day with left front suspension damage.
Numerous cautions slowed the race with drivers charging hard from the back of the pack not being patient on the tight confines of the Pocono Layout.
Matt Janisch and Geoffrey Sutton started the race from the 4th row and quickly put themselves into contention with Janisch slotting himself into second with Sutton Third. Azzalina held off their charges through numerous restarts when a lap 20 caution slowed the race and officials saw the muffler hanging loose sending Azzalina to the pits. This put Janisch in front with Sutton and Tidman in his tracks. When the checkered flag flew Janisch was the winner over a hard charging Sutton followed closely by 5 timer series feature winner and point leader Ryan Tidman. Ronnie Mullen rolled across the line 4th as the ACRO Rookie of the race in his best finish to date. Liquid Lou Cicconi who was substituting for Matt Roselli who had to go to a wedding adapted to the tight track and charged to a fifth-place finish after starting shot gun on the field.
Rookie Cole Mullen posted his best feature finish in sixth at the end him and his father raced side by side with racing legend Cicconi who was the only racer in the field who raced on Pocono’s long shuttered ¾ mile oval in a midget. Cicconi was the meat in the Mullen Sandwich after charging from the rear twice to post a top five.
Mark Yoder was seventh with the lone 600 in the field Jesse Mauer rolling across the line 8th with Austin Fehr 9th and Heat Race winner Tim Procter rounding out the top ten.
The event was a success on all fronts. The setup of the temporary oval went smoothly with the cooperation of the Classic Racing Times Yellow Shirts and the Logistics Staff at Pocono battling a tight time frame to get the TQ races in on a rain shortened weekend with a tremendous amount of on track activity scheduled for the weekend.
TQ Racers Eric Corum, Austin Fehr, Chad Parks and Mark Yoder took advantage of Pocono’s ride around program where they were able to take their TQ Midgets for a lap around Pocono’s 2 ½ mile Tricky Triangle. Close to fifty TQ Midgets were on hand for the event including the modern TQs of the ATQRMA as well as both the 2 and 4 stroke TQ divisions as well as a strong number of TQs that were on display in the car show.
In a special moment racing legend and ATQMRA alum Mario Andretti became acquainted with the modern TQ midget of Lenny and Donna Boyd following the 2-seater Indy car on track sessions. Mario graciously sat in the teams 1B car and talked about old times racing TQ Midgets and talked with Lenny about how his Father Audie and uncle Howard helped keep the Triumph in the Andretti Duce running.
The top two finishers in the TQ feature both had a history at Pocono Raceway. They are both graduates from the Lehigh Valley Quarter Midget Club that’s on the grounds of Pocono Raceway and won countless races on that Dirt Tri-oval. It was certainly a strong motivator to both drivers to get another win at Pocono.
Blu Metz raced the Robert Noll owned Whehrle Slingshot 02 to victory in the First feature race that was run on Saturday in the Vintage 4 Stroke race. The regular driver in that car is Midget Racing Legend Drew Fornoro who won the last midget race on the long gone ¾ mile oval that hosted races through the late 80s. Hank Rogers Jr also a veteran of the ¾ mile oval was second followed across the line by Midwest USAC Midget and Sprint veteran Roy Caruthers.
Mark Pritchard was the winner of the 2 stroke feature race in the Dick Peterman 98 followed across the line by a Billy Hughes and Jason Hentrich who was able to race with his mentor and hero Hughes for the first time. It was as stellar day for the Metz Racing Driver Development team with Blu winning the 4 stroke race and Pritchard in the team 98 car. Geoffrey Sutton came one position from bringing all three of the beautiful Acrylic trophies back to the Metz Racing Pit. The commonality of each of the feature winning drivers in the inaugural event at Pocono including Janisch was that they were all mentored by open wheel legend Bing Metz.
Next up for the ATQMRA is a trip to Wall Stadium for another round of wingless short track racing on Wall’s flat inner oval on September 9th.
A special Thank you goes out to Gary Mondschein and his staff as well as Pocono Raceway for hosting the first Tricky Challenge event on the grounds of the Historic Pocono International Raceway.
Tricky Challenge 1. 48Matt Janisch 2. 461 Geoffrey Sutton 3. 1B Ryan Tidman4. 39 Ronnie Mullen 5. 98 Lou Cicconi6. 73c Cole Mullen7. 75 Mark Yoder8. 72 Jesse Mauer9. 73 Austin Fehr10. 98t Tim Procter11. 06 Chad Parks12. F8 Kerry Irwin13. 67 Joey Payne14. 96 Chris Deritis 15. 01 Eric Corum16. 95Jeff Kot17. 43 Brandon Azzalina18. 32 Dave Gorbatuk19. 20 Joe Keller20. 36 Buddy Sload
Heat Race 1. 98t Tim Procter2. 1B Ryan Tidman3. 98 Matt Roselli4. 36 Buddy Sload5. 43 Brandon Azzalina6. 75 Mark Yoder7. Eric Corum8. 20 Joe Keller 9. (DNS) 96 Chris Deritis
Heat Race 2. 1. 48Matt Jansich2. 461 Geoffrey Sutton3. 73 Austin Fehr4. 39 Ronnie Mullen5. 72 Jesse Mauer6. 73 Cole Mullen7. 32 Dave Gorbatuk8. F8Kerry Irwin9. Jeff Kot
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