Story By: ERNIE SAXTON / SAMMONS PRODUCTIONS – ALLENTOWN, PA – The first race of the New Year in the northeast is set for Allentown, PA’s PPL Center. The Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels begins its three race 2019 ‘concrete track’ series with the running of the Ironton Telephone Indoor Race Presented By BELFOR.
Two complete shows including qualifying and feature events will be headlined by the TQ Midgets on Friday and Saturday nights January 4th and 5th.
Heading the list of competitors is Erick Rudolph, the Ransomville, NY ace who earned the win in the second annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals in Trenton, NJ on December 15.
Rudolph has one win inside the PPL Center, the very first one, on January 2, 2016, and must be considered among the favorites. He will be aboard the latest creation designed by master TQ builder Mark Lafler, who, like Rudolph, lives in Ransomville NY.
Rudolph, who won the Series crown in 2012, 2015 and 2016, was second to Justin Bonsignore in last year’s down-to-the-wire Indoor Series title chase. Rudolph also finished second in this year’s Super DIRTcar Series big-block Modified standings.
Tim Buckwalter from Douglasville, PA will be racing as a teammate to Rudolph for the 2019 Indoor Season aboard a similarly prepared Laffler Chassis with a Pippard Engine. Buckwalter was a factor to win the Atlantic City and Albany Indoor Race last year, upon getting the seat in the Timex Morgan owned Laffler car for those events.
Last year’s race winners, Bonsignore of Holtsville, Long Island, NY and Scott Kreutter of Buffalo, NY, are likely to provide Rudolph plenty of opposition.
Bonsignore parlayed his feature win in the first of the two Allentown races last year into the Indoor Auto Racing Series Presented By VP Race Fuels season championship. He then went outdoors and won of eight of 16 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races and that championship as well.
Kreutter, who finished 12th in the Trenton Indoor Dirt race won by Rudolph, was a popular winner in Allentown last year, driving the No. 49 owned by Trey Hoddick that had been raced the previous year by the late Ted Christopher.
Ryan Flores of Cornelius, NC won back to back PPL Center races on December 30 and December 31, 2016, the only driver to sweep both races in a single year. Flores went on to win the championship that season. Last year he won the Gambler’s Classic inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for the first time in his career.
Tommy Catalano, who earned the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year award this year is eagerly anticipating his return to the TQ Midget racing with a new car of his own design. His younger brother Timmy, an upcoming Modified star, will be driving the car Tommy ran on the series last year.
Timmy Solomito, of Islip, NY, has also entered the Allentown event. Solomito is a top contender on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Teenager Andrew Molleur of Shelton, CT., who ran in several NASCAR Whelen Modified and Tri Track Open Modified Series events late in 2018, is also fielding a car for the three state Indoor TQ Series.
Other experienced Indoor TQ drivers filing entries for Allentown include Anthony Payne of Fairlawn, N.J., a first time winner on last year’s series, Ryan Tidman, Holland, PA; Tyler Thompson, Fulton, NY; Matt Roselli, Brodheadsville, PA; and Jon Reid, Lockport, NY.
On Friday the TQs will be joined by Champ Karts, the lightweight, lightning fast, supremely agile vehicles that have always performed in crowd pleasing fashion in Allentown.
On Saturday, Slingshots will be the co-feature with the TQs. These same Slingshots race outdoors at the nearby Kutztown Fairgrounds and other speedways during the outdoor season.
Following the Ironton Telephone Presented By BELFOR Allentown Indoor weekend, racing shifts to Atlantic City for the 17th running of NAPA Auto Parts Weekend, highlighted by the running of the prestigious TQ Midget Gamblers Classic. Event dates are Friday and Saturday, January 25-26, 2019.
The final event of the series takes place at a new venue, the New York State Fairgrounds Exhibition Center in Syracuse, NY. on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9, 2019. Tickets for this event will be available in the coming weeks.