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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

2017 U.S. Open: Jankowiak captures RoC Modified win on Sunday at Lancaster Speedway

Andy Jankowiak captured the U.S. Open 125 Race of Champions Modified Series event on Sunday afternoon at Lancaster National Speedway after starting on the pole and leading 124 of 125 laps. It was his first U.S. Open Modified victory and his seventh U.S. Open win overall.

RoC Modified winner Andy Jankowiak
Jankowiak was joined on the front row by Tommy Catalano to lead the 23-car field to the green flag. A total of 25 cars signed in at the start of the day before Tony Hanbury and Eric Beers were forced to withdraw from the event. Beers had drawn the outside pole position for the feature, but a broken rocker arm took him out of competition.

The first half of the race was dominated by Jankowiak and Catalano as the pair pulled away from the pack during a run of 66 green flag laps without a caution. By the halfway point of a race Jankowiak was catching a pack of lapped cars that included former U.S. Open winners Matt Hirschman and Chuck Hossfeld. Hirschman had started 11th and was leading the group of cars that were hanging on to the tail end of the lead lap. Hossfeld time trialed third fastest overall, but a mechanical problem kept him from running his heat race and he had to start at the rear of the field. The caution flag came on Lap 66 just before Jankowiak was going to put Hossfeld a lap down. On the ensuing pit stops, Jankowiak’s crew got him back out on the track in the lead, but the big winners were Hossfeld and Hirschman, as they followed Jankowiak out of the pits to move into second and third place, respectively.

Hirschman eventually moved into second after a restart on Lap 79 and he and Jankowiak pulled away from the field in the later stages. Jankowiak then started to pull away from Hirschman as the race went past Lap 100. Jankowiak held on to earn his first win in the U.S. Open 125. The win gives him seven career U.S. Open victories, which ties Chuck Hossfeld for most overall wins. Jankowiak also joins Karl Hehr and Todd Hoddick as the only drivers to win U.S. Open features in three different divisions.

In victory lane, Jankowiak dedicated the win to the memory of Ted Christopher. He had a piece of duct tape in his car with the phrase “Be Ted” written on it as inspiration. “I just wanted to win this for Teddy, I don’t even think he liked me,” said Jankowiak. “It’s been an emotional time for Modified racing and just what Teddy meant to racing. I always ride around and I always try to save my tires, but TC never did that. I went out and led every single lap because that's what TC would’ve done.”

Hirschman cruised to his second-place finish in his first Modified start at Lancaster this season. Mike Leaty finished third and he gained ground on teammate Emerling for the RoC Modified Series championship. Scott Wylie and George Skora III rounded out the top five.

Late Model winner Dave Heitzhaus
Dave Heitzhaus won the 30-lap Race of Champions Late Model Series feature. Heitzhaus inherited the lead on Lap 14 after Ron Nurmi and Bobby Weber tangled in Turn 2 while racing for the top spot. He then held off a late race challenge from Terry Weldy to score his second-straight U.S. Open Late Model win. Nurmi was making his final Late Model start before hanging up his helmet in retirement. The three-time track champion started on the pole and led the first 14 laps, but he got caught up in a couple incidents to finish ninth. 

Street Stock winner Rich Sharpe
Rich Sharpe of Lancaster dominated the 35-lap Advance Auto Parts Street Stock feature for his 10th win of the season. Sharpe took the lead from Mark Hoch on Lap 8 and never looked back as he cruised his way to a second-straight U.S. Open victory. A long green flag run during the second half of the race combined unseasonably hot temperatures made the race a war of attrition for several drivers. Brian Hoffman finished second followed by Andy Cryan, Garrett Cleversley and Jarrod Brown.

Keep up with the action at www.lancasternationalspeedway.com

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