By Carol Haynes
Sandusky, OH- Independence, Ohio’s Tim Jedrzejek has not been a stranger in victory lane at Sandusky Speedway over his career. Dan Soule and the Soule race team had not been strangers in victory lanes either during their storied racing career. But neither Jedrzejek nor Soule had ever brought home a Hy-Miler Nationals title, the first of the traditional “Triple Crown” of supermodified racing. Saturday night they both accomplished an elusive goal. Getting together in 2011, the new owner-driver team survived what was one of the wildest Nationals 100 ever that took over two and a half hours, and 200-plus laps, counting cautions, to complete. survived five red flag incidents and two refuelings to come out on top at the end of the race which finished well after midnight. Timmy J inherited the lead on lap 47 when then leader Jeff Locke flew off the track. Jedrzejek then lost the point to Mike Lichty on lap 64, reclaiming it again on lap 74 when Lichty’s 84 broke.
The first-time Hy-Miler winners admitted in victory lane that there was luck involved in the win. “This was a wild and whacky one. It seems like whoever got in the lead had some bad luck. I was wondering if I was going to be next. Danny Soule and the whole 32 car team puts together a car that never lets us down. The team has a long history and finally we were able to produce a great win for them. Yes, we benefited from a lot of bad luck tonight, but we’ve been on that end too.
“We’ll take this win and we’ll celebrate it tonight. Thanks everyone out there and to Hy-Miler for sponsoring the race so long. Winning the 34th Hy-Miler is pretty impressive for us. This is a nice welcome home to Sandusky after being away for a year. It feels pretty good now. I don’t know what else to say except, thanks to Danny Soule, his entire team and family. We’ve been working on it and working on it. Maybe we finally hit on something. Maybe we weren’t the fastest car at times. We probably were defending our position more than we were racing hard but that’s what it’s all about. You have to be there at the end and today was our day.”
Bourne, MA driver Ben Seitz had stayed in sight of the leader and watched many drop by the wayside during the course of the long event. When Lichty handed the lead back to Jedrzejek on lap 74, Ben was right there in second. He pressured the leader to the end but with the class the 4-time NEMA midget champion has always shown. Said Seitz after the race, “I think we were a touch quicker but we couldn’t have passed him. He had the car to beat. We didn’t have enough to get by him. It was a good run. I’d like to thank all the fans for sticking with us and all my sponsors, Cape Cod Aggregates, Lorusso Heavy Equipment, my car owner Dickie Bien, R&R Motors and Lindblad Chassis. We have struggled a little bit this year, but the car is coming around. Hopefully this means we’ll be able to better for the rest of the season.”
Also applying a little pressure was 4-time Hy-Miler winner Russ Wood who ran his usual race- cautious in the first half, game on in the second. Wood, whose first Nationals win came in 1995, acknowledged he was a bit older than the two guys ahead of him. “It’s been a long weekend. It takes its toll on drivers and crews. You are just dragging the whole way. I’m not too bad after 200-plus laps though. I was probably the oldest guy out there but I hung with these guys. There was some serious racing there. I just took it easy the first half and then kind of went after that. We had some attrition and that helped us out. But, you have to be there at the end. We were close and we gave it our best. Thanks to everyone who came out and stuck with us.”
The Johnny Benson Jr. and Jeff Locke led the way to green after time trials, heats and a consi had established the 27-car field. Benson’s luck of the draw evaporated in smoke just into lap four when the Lichty 74 blew up in smoke, a possible due to a faulty oil line or tank. Red dropped immediately for the clean up and Benson was pushed pitside. Pitting here was Dave Shullick Jr. who returned to the tail.
Jeff Locke was now the leader – a dubious distinction this night. Locke took off with Timmy J, Mike Ordway Sr., Mike Lichty, Rob Summers and Trent Stephens tagging along.
Locke had put some distance on the pack by lap 20 with Ordway Sr keeping close behind until the first of many damaging incidents occurred. Defending Hy-Miler champ Mark Sammut was attempting a pass of Kyle Edwards out back when the two tangled collecting Otto Sitterly, in the Vic Miller 11, in the process. Sitterly and Edwards were hooked, and Sammut, incurring some heavy damage, went off on the flatbed. The second red had dropped and refueling was allowed.
On the restart, Locke was able to break away once again but Ordway Sr. was not far behind, but neither were Jedrzejek, Lichty, Stephens, Summers, Paul White and Charlie Schultz.
On lap 33, Locke and Ordway’s lead dwindled as yellow flew for Jim Paller and Dave Duggan. Rich Reid called it a night here, as had former Hy-Miller champ Dave McKnight.
Lap 38 was a controversial one. A quick yellow came for a Duggan spin and on the restart Ordway got the best of Locke to claim the lead – so he thought. It had been determined in the scoring tower that he had passed before the green. Ordway denied the call later saying Locke had been scrubbing his tires before restarts and then sprinting ahead suddenly. Ordway was watching for the move this time and said he’d just been trying to keep Locke from gaining an advantage, ending up alongside of Locke just before the green was called by the ISMA race director. In any case the call was made and although Ordway had built a lengthy lead, he would be sent to the rear on the next yellow which came on lap 44 for the 9 of Eddie Witkum and then again two more times for the 51 of Duggan. Duggan left the race at this juncture.
Jeff Locke was back in the lead on the restart of the second attempt at lap 44. He took off again as Timmy J trailed with Lichty third. Charlie Schultz, Trent Stephens, Ben Seitz, Rob Summers and Bobby Dawson were top eight.
As the lap counter turned to 47, Jeff Locke came off turn four, hit the inner wall and flew right off the first turn parts and dust flying. A broken wishbone bolt was deemed the culprit. Red dropped again while Jeff and car were extricated from the grassy area. He was not hurt.
Green flew again and Timmy J was now the possessor of the lead, which no one seemed to be able to hold to for long. Mike Lichty, the winner on Friday night, was tucked on the 32’s tail with a distance between the duo and Schultz, Stephens and Seitz.
The race developed into a long green spell as Jedrzejek and Lichty wove through traffic. On lap 62 they approached two slower cars who were also racing, and now it was a guessing game as to where to go for the leader and the runner-up. Lichty picked the right way by and was the leader on lap 64. He immediately took off putting lap cars behind his 84 and the 32. Moving up on the 32, in those dicey laps was the 19 of Stephens.
On lap 67, Lichty put the 5 of Jack Smith down one and then did likewise to the 16 of Paul White. On lap 68, all hell broke loose again. Trent Stephens, trying to follow Timmy J around the 5 of Smith, did not make the pass. “The 5 came out and I brushed him. The 16 may have slowed there, but I just went flying.” Said Stephens on Sunday morning. Trent’s 19 flew out off the track almost clearing the ball field fence protected by a pile of tires, landing on those tires. Just behind, Charlie Schultz and Bob Dawson were also involved in the melee. The 19 of Stephens looked to be pretty much be a write-off. Dawson was hooked. The Smith car was ofn and the 16 of White also was in the pits. Stephens later developed breathing problems and was taken to the hospital for a check up and said Sunday morning that he just was sore and received bruised ribs. The MSA point leader is hoping to have something to drive at the next event, August 13.
A couple more cautions after this red, hit on the restart of 69 and again on lap. When the green finally stuck, Lichty was the leader with Jedrzejek, Seitz, Russ Wood, Mike Ordway Jr., and Dave Shullick Jr. all benefiting from the attrition up front.
Bad luck struck yet another race leader on lap 74 when Mike Lichty slowed and was pushed to the pits. At first lack of fuel was suspected, but it was not the problem. Lichty came back out, sputtering, and then pitted again. Mike said later, “My first instinct was that I was out of fuel the way the motor drank. We knew we were going to be close, but my fuel man does an absolutely phenomenal job. It turned out to be a broken rotor and mag.”
A battle up front developed after this restart with Jedrzejek, Seitz, Wood, Ordway Jr. and Shullick Jr. BUT with 20 to go, red flew again when the 9 of Witkum had spun. Unfortunately, the caution laps allotted for fuel use on the last fuel stop, had just about run out and refueling was allowed for the second time in the lengthy event. Lichty even came back here, six laps down but with time to make up some spots on those who had exited.
Out front the three-way war was being waged between Jedrzejek, Seitz and Wood. Ordway Jr. and Shullick Jr. trailed with Schultz, White, Summers, Lichty and Witkum the only cars on the track in the last 20 laps.
It was Timmy J, Seitz, and Wood the top three with only .05 seconds separating the trio at the checkered. Nothing in the lineup changed in the fourth through tenth place spots.
Ordway Jr., who had not even planned on competing during the weekend, was very happy with a fourth. “I can’t thank Steve Stout, Rich and all those guys enough for letting me drive the car. I haven’t driven a big block in a couple years. I was racing a small block just to stay in it. I was going to come out here and just help Clyde’s team as dad was driving the 61. Then Stouts asked me to come drive the car. I struggled yesterday with it. Today was a lot better. We just kind of played it cool and then a bunch of guys dropped out. We had a pretty decent car. I think at the end we could have driven up through anyway even if there had been more cars out there.”
Another first-time driver-owner combo was Shullick Jr. in the Lane 97, subbing for Dan Lane. Shoe II said about his fifth place finish, “It was a long week. I don’t think it was a secret that we weren’t very good. We kept working on it though. For the consi, we finally hit on something. For the race the car was pretty good. It was a little freer in the middle than I wanted it to be but we had good traction all night off the corners. It’s just a testament to these guys. I worked them like dogs all weekend.
“I have to thank Howie Lane for the ride. Also thanks to Steve Stout for all the help he gave us with the car setup. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in a Bodnar car here. Some of the stuff we used to do, didn’t work so we had to rely on other people to kind of bring it along. I don’t think that, without Steve, we would have had the finish we had tonight. And, that finish was actually a weird one. We broke an oil line about the third lap into the race. We came in the pits during that stop. It had soaked my driver’s suit and I had to change driver suits. Then I got back in the car, finished the race and may have been the only driver to change suits during a Hy-Miler. Other than that it was a really good race. Getting a fifth out of this was really good.”
Summary 34th annual Hy-Miler Nationals, ISMA Event #7, July 30, 2011
Heat 1: Timmy Jedrzejek, Trent Stephens, Paul White, Kyle Edwards, Mike Ordway Jr., Otto Sitterly, Joey Scanlon, Jack Smith, Jim Paller, Moe Lilje, Gene Lee Gibson
Heat 2: Johnny Benson Jr., Ben Seitz, Rob Summers, Russ Wood, Mark Sammut, Charlie Schultz, Dave Shullick Jr., Rich Reid, Eddie Witkum Jr., AJ Lesiecki
Heat 3: Bob Dawson, Mike Lichty, Jeff Locke, Mike Ordway Sr., Dan Bowes, Dave McKnight, Dave Duggan, Craig Rayvals, Jeff Gibson, Tim Ice
Consi: Shullick Jr., Smith, Scanlon, Reid, Duggan, Paller, Lilje, Rayvals, Lesiecki, Witkum, J. Gibson.
Hy-Miler 100 – 1. Timmy Jedrrzejek (32), 2. Ben Seitz (17), 3. Russ Wood (29), 4. Mike Ordway Jr. (49), 5. Dave Shullick Jr. (97), 6. Charlie Schultz (7), 7. Paul White (16), 8. Rob Summers (35), 9. Eddie Witkum Jr. (9), 10. Mike Lichty (84), 11. Craig Rayvals (04), 12. Moe Lilje (08), 13. Trent Stephens (19), 14. Bobby Dawson (28), 15. Mike Ordway Sr. (61), 16. Jack Smith (5), 17. Jeff Locke (37), 18. Dave Duggan (51), 19. Rich Reid (92), 20. Jim Paller (64), 21 Kyle Edwards (1), 22. Mark Sammut (78), 23. Otto Sitterly (11), 24.Dave McKnight Jr. (70), 25. Joey Scanlon (88), 26. Johnny Benson Jr. (74), 27 Danny Bowes (18).