Flores Comes Up Aces During Atlantic City TQ Run

Ryan Flores

Ryan Flores poses in victory lane inside Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday night. (Indoor Auto Racing photo)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Ryan ‘Skip’ Flores took maximum advantage of a front-row starting position in Friday night’s Indoor Auto Racing Championship BlackJack 21 for TQ Midgets.

When all was said and done, Flores found victory lane for the eighth time in series history.

Flores’ premium starting position was earned in a game of Blackjack with fellow TQ Qualifier winner Anthony Sesely, part of a new and unique format for the Friday show at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.

Flores, who won an indoor feature in a full-sized national midget during December’s Rumble in Fort Wayne and was part of Ryan Blaney’s NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning pit crew last season, said post-race that his Atlantic City score was also a special victory.

“I’m a very happy winner tonight,” Flores said. “What makes it special for me is that it’s a new event with a different format. And it’s a format, obviously, that I liked.”

Tanner VanDoren finished a close second, with Tommy Catalano third, Sesely fourth, and Kyle Lick fifth.

A lap 18 caution collected Timmy and Trevor Catalano. Both were part of a seven-car crash that saw both siblings flip violently in tandem. Neither Catalano was hurt.

The crash also took out contenders Briggs Danner, Matt Janisch, and Tyler Lindsay.

Andy Jankowiak came back from a pit stop with eight laps to go to finish sixth. Ryan Bartlett, Steve Kemery, Timmy Buckwalter, and Jeremy Haudricourt completed the top 10.

To qualify for the Blackjack 21, TQ Midget drivers raced in a pair of 21-car, 21-lap qualifiers, with the top 10 transferring into the Blackjack 21 headliner.

Sesely outran teammate VanDoren and Lick to win the first race, while Flores shaded Shawn Nye and Matt Swanson to win the second event. The 21st qualifying spot for the feature, decided in the CRAPS Last Chance Qualifier, was won by Timmy Catalano with a last-lap pass of Chris Hirt.

Earlier in the program, a pair of ‘7 Come 11’ Heats – 11-lap races transferring the top seven finishers into the 21-car qualifier races – were won by Matt Roselli and Anthony Payne.

TQ Midget Time Trials were run Friday in an unusual format. Fifty-three drivers attempted to qualify in a 45-minute timed session, with drivers being able to make multiple attempts if they sacrificed their previous time.

A total of 140 attempts were ultimately made, with VanDoren leading the field with a 7.984-second lap, marginally faster than Flores’ 7.997-second clip. The top 30 drivers were separated by .319 seconds.

Indoor Auto Racing Series competition returns to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall Saturday night with the annual running of the NAPA Auto Parts Gambler’s Classic for TQ Midgets, a 40-lap headliner.

Slingshots, Champ Karts and 600c micros will also run features. The Slingshots and Champ Karts will go 25 laps, while 20 laps will be on tap for the 600cc micro sprints.

The Gambler’s Classic finale on Saturday night will decide the Indoor Auto Racing ‘Concrete Series’ championship. Flores, with 300 points, brings a one-point lead into the finale over VanDoren’s 299.

Tommy Catalano, with 244 points, is also still in contention heading into the finale.

The finish:

Blackjack TQ Midget Feature (21 Laps): 1. Ryan Flores, 2. Tanner VanDoren, 3. Tommy Catalano, 4. Anthony Sesely, 5. Kyle Lick, 6. Andy Jankowiak, 7. Ryan Bartlett, 8. Steve Kemery, 9. Timmy Buckwalter, 10. Jeremy Haudricourt, 11. Shawn Nye, 12. Matt Swanson, 13. Jonathan Reid, 14. Nick Ladyga, 15. Tyler Ferris, 16. Billy Pauch Jr., 17. Bobby Holmes, 18. Matt Janisch, 19. Trevor Catalano, 20. Tyler Lindsay, 21. Timmy Catalano, 22. Briggs Danner.

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