NORTH EAST, PA – Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, NY, won the Sportsman Modified Series Tribute to Joe Reilly Crown Royal Classic 54 Saturday at Lake Erie Speedway as part of the Presque Isle Downs & Casino Race of Champions Weekend.
The win was Jankowiak’s second in as many year’s after winning the sportsman modified feature at last year’s championship weekend.
Before the race, the field was led around the track by Jayme Thompson as the racers’ crews lined the backstretch in order to honor the late Joe Reilly. After the race, fans were invited onto the track to send 54 lanterns into the night sky as well.
“It was a beautiful tribute that they did for Joe,” Jankowiak said after the race. “Joe is a huge part of our class and he’s a sportsman-winning champion crew chief.”
It was Jankowiak and George Skora III of Eden, NY, who provided much of the in-race action, as the two traded the top two spots. Jankowiak lost the lead momentarily after a bad lap-25 restart, but was able to regain the lead and ultimately hold on.
“I want to say thanks to George for racing me clean,” Jankowiak added. “I don’t always get that courtesy near the end of races. I always appreciate that and that will always be returned.”
Following Skora was Mike Leaty of Williamson, NY, in third; Daryl Lewis Jr. of Ontario, NY, in fourth; and Jake Vernon of Hamburg, NY, who finished fifth after starting on the pole.
Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA, Zack Curren of Horseheads, NY, Tony Hanbury of Owego, NY, Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY, and Eddie Hawkins of Marion, NY, finished off the top 10 finishers, respectively.
David Milbrand of Clarence, NY, finished first in the second of three Dash Series Triple Challenge races after taking the lead on lap 22 of 25.
Bob Palmer of Buffalo, NY, and Jason Anasiewicz of Alden, NY, rounded out the top three, and all three improved on their starting positions by at least six spots. Anasiewicz came off a second-place finish in the first race of the series Friday night.
Charles Palmer of Cheektowaga, NY, took fourth while Nicholas Robinson of Waverly, NY, came from a bottom-half start to finish fifth. Briar Dils of Derby, NY, who took the checkered flag in the first race of the challenge Friday after a late surge, was forced to settle with 15th on Saturday.Dils won the single-race version of the event last year.
On Friday, Joey Bevacqua of Rome, PA, was quick to take the lead after drawing second position to start the race, and he retained the lead through the first half. Dils took the lead on lap 11, but lost it to Anasiewicz after rubbing tires heading into turn three. Anasiewicz did his best to hold off Dils, but was forced to setlle for second place after giving back the lead on lap 19. DJ Shaw of Waverly, NY, and Milbrand finished third and fourth, respectively.
The asphalt 4-cylinders will conclude their series Sunday.
Jerick Johnson of Mooresville, NC, kicked off the feature events Saturday with a repeat win in the Rick Wylie 48 late model feature after leading most of the race. After, he made sure to acknowledge the contributions Rick Wylie made to the sport.
“I want to thank the Wylie’s for everything they did for the late model class,” he said. “With the pay and what Race of Champions does with this race, I can’t believe we don’t get to race here more often.”
Rick’s son, Scott, had some early bad luck in the inaugural event after starting on the pole. A slow start saw him quickly slip to third, only to get pushed to the back after he was spun around in an early caution. He was only able to claw his way back up to seventh.
Mirroring last year’s event, Johnson and Sam Fullone of North Collins, NY led the bulk of the way, while Patrick Emerling finished third in his first of three races this weekend. Brandan Marhefka of Windber, PA, and Dave Heitzhaus of Strykersville, NY, finished fourth and fifth. Tommy Catalano of Ontario, NY, who was part of the lead trio until experiencing tire issues, finished in sixth.
Tommy Krawcyzk of Orchard Park, NY, capitalized on a mid-race restart to take first and held on for the win in the Super Stock Series National Parts Peddler 40.
“That was awesome,” Krawczyk said from victory lane. “It’s been a crazy year with the pandemic and everything. Looking around, this is what we do, and it’s great to be out here with this group of cars.”
Cole Hicks of Brockport, NY, who started on the pole, lost his lead early to Andy Cryan of Hamburg, NY, and wound up settling for a last-place finish. Krawcyzk trailed Cryan for much of the first half before taking the lead on lap 20.
Cryan fell out of the top 15, and nobody who started in the top 5 finished there. Tommy Baron finished second, with Josh Hunter of Derby, NY; TJ Cochrane of Cheektowaga, NY; and Jason Dieter of Lake View, NY, rounding out the top five finishers.
Bobby Holmes delivered an impressive finish in the first of two TQ Midget features this weekend as the Race of Champions weekend will feature a midget race on both Saturday and Sunday due to a new partnership with the NYPA TQ Midget Series
Saturday’s event was a points paying event in the NYPA program, while Sunday will see the Race of Champions TQ Midget “Harry Macy Classic.”
Holmes made quick work of the pack, jumping six spots to third place after just one lap. From there, Holmes was able to wrestle away the lead and fend off Dave Wollaber after a late-race, single-file restart.
“I figured if he was going to take it, he’d have to go on the outside because I was going to take the bottom,” Holmes said of Wollaber.
Wollaber took second, with Jankowiak, Andy Nye, and Kyle Hutchinson the top five finishers.
Full results may be found at www.rocmodifiedseries.com
The Presque Isle Downs & Casino Race of Champions Weekend rolls on Sunday with the “Harry Macy Classic” 29-lap TQ Midget Series feature, “Butch Palmer Classic” Dash Series Triple Challenge finale, Street Stock Series 30-lap feature, and the 70th Annual Race of Champions 250.
The Race of Champions is a sanctioning body presenting Modified and Stock Car racing on asphalt and dirt surfaces throughout the Northeast, with events in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey with primary marketing partners Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels, Upstate Automotive Group, Waddell Communications, Pilat Graphic Design, TDH Refrigeration, Sherwood Racing Wheels, PavedTrackDigest.com and Speed51.com. The 70th annual Race of Champions weekend will take place in 2020 at Lake Erie Speedway in North East, Pennsylvania and is the second longest consecutive auto-racing event in North America, second only to the Indianapolis 500.
For more information, contact
Race of Champions Media at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on Twitter; Instagram and Facebook; @RoCModSeries or visit our website: www.rocmodifiedseries.com