ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Ryan Flores ended a long quest for victory in a Len Sammons Motorsports Productions Three Quarter Midget feature Friday night inside the Allentown PPL Center.
Flores passed Jimmy Blewett for the lead on lap three and bested Erick Rudolph in a spectacular fight for supremacy that lasted the first half of the 40-lap race and ended with Rudolph slamming the first-turn fence.
The race was the first of the two-day Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series presented by VP Racing Fuels.
“I always come to these races with the intentions of winning,” said Flores, who had chalked up five second-place finishes in his indoor driving career prior to this night.
“To win, you have to beat Erick (Rudolph) but I would like to have done it without him crashing.”
The Flores-Rudolph battle had an early race twist when on lap four Rudolph got under Flores for the lead. But caution flag for a spin by Shawn Nye negated the pass. Flores adjusted his car’s setup under caution from the cockpit and amended own driving technique on the following restart. Rudolph fell in behind Flores this time.
The defining moment came on lap 20 when Ronnie Flaim, running at the back of the field, bounced off the inside wall and came across the track in front of the leaders.
“I saw him, swerved and slowed down but Erick ran over my right-rear wheel and got airborne,” Flores said.
Zane Zeiner, Justin Bonsignore and Rob Neely assumed second, third and fourth spots after Rudolph’s departure and held their spots for the second half of the race to finish in order.
“I’m happy with second tonight but there is room for improvement for tomorrow’s race,” Zeiner said.
“I had a third or fourth place car tonight and finished third with it,” Bonsignore said. “There’s more in the car, I just have to find it.”
Fourth place finisher Neely, a Canadian TQ ace, was satisfied with his efforts.
“This is the first one of these races I think I have ever completed the distance in,” Neely said. “I wasn’t really pushing the issue, just wanted to get a finish.”
Ryan Tidman ended a spectacular day with an improbable fifth place finish. Tidman flipped in practice, posted second fastest time in time trials moments later, got spun out of his heat race while in a qualifying spot, made the feature through his consolation race, started 19th and finished a solid fifth.
Rudolph’s crew managed to assess his damaged car’s condition well enough to allow him to return track where he moved from the rear of the field to finish sixth.
Tim Buckwalter, Scott Kreutter, Matt Janisch and Brett Michalski rounded out the top 10.
Rudolph bested the 52-car TQ Midget field in time trials with a 7.611 lap.
Danny Buccafusca won the 20-lap Slingshot feature after moving into the lead on lap 14 following a mixup in with lapped traffic that took out victory-bound Cody Kline.
Kline had led the race from the outset but crashed while lapping Jason Eidson and Myron Moyer, allowing then runner-up Buccafusca to inherit the lead. Dan Morgiewicz, a dirt track specialist running just his second race indoors, moved up to finish second in the shuffle with Kurt Bettler, Seth Spayd and Kyle Herve filling out the top five.
Ryan Flores, Zane Zeiner, Justin Bonsignore, Rob Neely, Ryan Tidman, Erick Rudolph, Tim Buckwalter, Scott Kreutter, Matt Janisch, Brett Michalski, Anthony Sesely, Andy Jankowiak, Jimmy Blewett, Aaron Bartelemy, Ronnie Flaim, Steve Kemery, Matt Roselli, Andrew Nye, Ryan Krachun, Ted Christopher, Andrew Krause, Brandon Azzalina, Shawn Nye, Earl Paules, Chris deRitis