Column By: RAY ROGERS / RPW – ALBANY, NY – As race fans all over the northeast begin to get that racing itch and Speedweeks just now underway, the Indoor Auto Racing TQ Midget Championship returned to New York for its 2018 season finale.
After a 15-year absence from the state, the TQ’s returned at the Times Union Center in Albany for two great nights of racing action.
On Friday, the 2018 racing season kicked off in the Capital District with fast and furious action for the slingshots and the 750cc TQ Midgets. After an afternoon of practice and time trials, Albany’s first heat races rolled into the arena for three Slingshot heats. Steve Svanda, Dan Morgiewicz, and Joe Toth all collected 8-lap qualifiers.
The TQ Midgets took to the quick little indoor oval for their 10-lap heat races. Tim Nye claimed the first of four races with Tommy Catalano, Andy Jankowiak and Jonathan Reid also taking checkers.
The Slingshot B-Main went to Kurt Bettler while the TQ’s had two 12-lap last chance qualifiers. Scott Kreutter and Tyler Thompson were able to secure the top spots in those races.
Come feature time, Steve Svanda quickly took control of the 20-lap A-Main for the Slingshots and went on to win his first Indoor Slingshot feature. Joe Toth tried to get the race lead a few times but just didn’t have enough, finishing second. Those two were followed by Kyle Herve, Dan Morgiewicz and Chris Kurtz in positions three through five.
Friday’s main event of the evening, the TQ midget A-Main, turned out to be a full-contact event. Tim Nye sat on the pole for the 40-lap feature that was a wild one for sure.
After several cautions, things settled down a bit as Andy Jankowiak and Erick Rudolph were putting on a show up front. However, on lap 30, the two tangled and caused “the big one” on the front stretch, taking out many of the top runners.
Young Hot Shoe Anthony Payne, who started at the tail end of the field, was there to pounce. The “Tornado” would keep it smooth and go on to add his name to the record books as an Indoor Auto Racing TQ-Midget feature winner. Matt Janisch would fight his way to the runner-up spot with Tim Nye finishing third, Matt Roselli fourth and Briggs Danner would be scored in fifth after Tony DiMattia came up light on the scales.
Saturday’s action got rolling with an afternoon hot lap session, so everyone could get dialed in for the night’s action. Joining the TQ’s and Slingshots for the evening were the mighty Champ Karts.
Shane Andrews took control of things for opening ceremonies and paid tribute to a true legend of our sport, Ted Christopher. Ted tragically lost his life in a plane crash last September.
TC, as he was so affectionately known, won just about everything he ever raced, including several races in TQ midgets. Ted’s legacy will surely live on with the Indoor Racing Championship trophy now known as the Ted Christopher Memorial Cup.
Following Friday night’s feature, Justin Bonsignore sat atop the points leaderboard with Erick Rudolph second and Matt Janisch third. All had hopes of hoisting the Championship hardware later that evening.
“Cowboy” Paul Szmal was calling the racing action from the booth and when Shane and Cowboy are calling the action together, ya know its gonna be a good night.
Champ Karts got things rolling with three 8-lap heats. Cale Ross, Tyler Brown and Gene Gregoric all secured spots for the A-Main with qualifying wins. The TQ Midgets ran four heats next and those were claimed by Jankowiak, Tim Buckwalter, Bonsignore and Jonathan Reid.
A little Slingshot heat action was up next and Seth Spayd, Austin Silfee, and Jared Silfee all took the checkers in their 8-lap qualifiers.
In B-Main action, the Champ Kart 10-lap shootout went to Damon Schuster and TQ B-main’s went to Ryan Tidman and Tommy Catalano.
The Karts lined up for the first feature of the night and Cale Ross battled with Tyler Brown to the closing laps of the feature, which went flag-to-flag. But, Brown would make a last lap pass to claim the victory.
Nick Del Campo grabbed the lead on lap 13 of the 20-lap Slingshot feature and never looked back. He was followed to the line by 2018 Slingshot Indoor Auto Racing Series Champion Cody Kline, Matt Mertz, Joe Toth, and Dan Morgiewicz.
Twenty-four TQ Midgets lined up on the tacky Times Union Center arena floor for 40-laps to decide the 2018 Series champion. Andy Jankowiak certainly did not have the best of luck on Friday, but on Saturday, he turned things around. Jankowiak took the lead on lap six and would not be denied the win.
Tim Buckwalter, who started on the pole, came home second with Timmy Catalano third, Matt Janisch fourth and Erick Rudolph completing the top five.
Justin Bonsignore hoisted the Ted Christopher Memorial Cup as the 2018 Indoor Auto Racing Champion when all was set and done after finishing 11th in Saturday’s main.
If your looking for interviews with all the weekend’s top finishers, RPW’s Fast Eddie and Mike Warren have you covered. Click the Video page on the website to re-live it all.
What a great weekend of racing. The promoters of the Indoor Auto Racing Championship certainly know how to give the race fans just what they needed after a long cold winter.
As I wandered around the TU Center last weekend, I caught up with a few of our own dirt drivers who were enjoying the races from the other side of the fence.
One driver who is no stranger to indoor racing, young Derrick McGrew Jr., is set to join the ranks of the Rookie Sportsman at Glen Ridge this year.
I spoke to another young driver, Demetrios Drellos, who was sidelined a few weeks ago due to a broken wing.
“It will be all healed come spring and I’ll be ready” he told me Friday night. “We are really looking forward to racing at Fonda this year. It’s kinda like a homecoming.”
Drellos will be driving for Nelson Motorsports in the 85 on Saturday and his family-owned 111 on Friday’s at Albany-Saratoga.
Josh Flint was taking in some racing action this past weekend before his season gets started. Josh plans to run the full season with the Empire Super Sprints in the Hannay Reels, Flach Performance #41j.
Future Fonda Speedway Hall of Famer Rocky Warner was in the house Friday, showing his support for racing along with several other local drivers I spotted in the crowd.
Now that I have some heat to my engine, its time to start looking forward to this season. The Super DIRTcar series kicks off it’s 2018 campaign this week with the DIRTcar Nationals from Volusia Speedway Park in Florida. Race Pro Weekly will have all the results from down in the Sunshine State and all the news from the local dirt scene. Check back regularly and we will have you covered.