Story By: ERNIE SAXTON / SAMMONS PRODUCTIONS – ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – When the Indoor Auto Racing VP Series storms into Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for the 18th running of the NAPA Know How Racing Weekend on Friday and Saturday January 31 and February 1, Andy Jankowiak, Ryan Flores and Erick Rudolph, the last three winners of the headline Gambler’s Classic TQ (Three Quarter) Midget races in the building, will have the same agenda in mind: win!
Rudolph, of Ramsomville, NY, and Flores of Huntersville, NC., have already tasted victory in the BELFOR Property Restoration TQ Midget ‘Concrete Series’ by scoring wins earlier this month inside Allentown, PA’s PPL Center. Unfortunately for both, neither winner finished the race he didn’t win.
Jankowiak, of the Buffalo, NY suburb of North Tonawanda, was shut out of Allentown victory lane despite leading 30 of the 40 laps of the Saturday race won by Flores. Contact between the two has set off a bit of a north-south rivalry.
‘Andy J’ still savors his 2019 Gambler’s Classic win as the highlight of his driving career and he wants nothing more to do it again.
“Every year I try hard to win this race. Early in the race, someone hit me into the infield and I dropped back to about tenth. I had to calm myself down after that. You try to do everything right to give yourself the best chance to win here. That one was by far the highlight of my career,” Jankowiak said in his post-race remarks.
Jankowiak passed three-time Atlantic City winner Anthony Sesely of Matawan, N.J. for the lead, then held off Tim Buckwalter of Douglasville, Pa.
After a problem in one of Friday’s Four 20 lap features and his Saturday heat race in 2019, Rudolph took a provisional starting spot for the Gambler’s Classic. Rudolph, the series leading winner and defending champion, then drove from a 25th starting spot to finish fifth.
Jankowiak, Flores and Rudolph all come to Atlantic City as pre-race favorites. But more threats for the Gambler’s Classic emerged from the Allentown Indoor Auto Racing Series fueled by VP Racing Fuels events in the persons of Matt Janisch, Ryan Bartlett, and Tim Buckwalter.
Janisch, of Nazareth, PA, had Allentown finishes of third and seventh and comes to Atlantic City as the points leader, a position he relishes in his quest for his first title.
Bartlett of Watertown, NY, and Buckwalter of Royersford, PA., joined Janisch as top ten feature finishers in the pair of Allentown races sponsored by Ironton Telephone. Bartlett’s races, the best of his Indoor career, came behind the wheel of a car to new him, formerly owned by Lenny and Donna Boyd.
Buckwalter, driving a car that is a mate to Rudolph’s proven winner, was running second late in the Saturday race won by Flores when he was spun.
Janisch leads Bartlett in the TQ points heading into Atlantic City by ten points. Allentown Opener winner Rudolph is third, 17 markers out of first and Briggs Danner is fourth, 20 points out of the lead. Jankiowiak completes the top five, 24 points out of first.
Jeremy Haudricourt, Shawn Nye, Buckwalter, Flores and Anthony Payne are sixth through tenth.
The wild and crazy Slingshots and darty Champ Karts will make up the tripleheader program as they have in the past.
Dylan Hoch and Tyler Brown, winners of the Allentown Indoor opening races in Slingshot and Champ Kart action, are atop their point standings heading into Atlantic City.
Danny Buccafusca is the reigning Atlantic City Indoor Slingshot race winner and Doug Stearly was the 2019 Champ Kart Atlantic City race winner. Both are entered in this year’s races.
Racing action begins on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday action getting the green flag at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 on Friday night. On Saturday doors open at 5 p.m. with fans holding reserved tickets given the opportunity to attend Fan Fest on the speedway. All cars competing in the program will be positioned on the speedway and drivers made available for autographs until 6:30.
Following the “Concrete Series” event in Atlantic City, a special non-point event will be held on a banked clay oval. The third annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals will again be held at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J. on Friday and Saturday nights February 21st and 22nd featuring nearly 100 wingless 600cc Sprints.
The “Concrete Series” season finale follows on Friday and Saturday March 13th and 14th in a second year return to the brand new Expo Center located on the grounds of the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. N.Y.