By Dino Oberto
(LEHIGHTON, PA 9-17-11) The ATQMRA competed in a pair of twin-20 lap features only events Saturday night at Lehighton’s Mahoning Valley Speedway with Matt Roselli of Brodheadsville and Ryan Tidman of Levittown scoring victories. For each driver it marked return trips to the popular paved quarter mile’s Victory Lane this season.
In the first main pole sitter Austin Fehr took the opening lap lead with top Rookie of the Year contender Buddy Sload running second. Roselli, who started on the outside of the front row, tagged along closely in third.
One of the amazing sights of racing at Mahoning Valley is witnessing the high speed laps that the TQ’s produce, low 9-seconds, while also negotiating lapped traffic with such keen precision. Indeed that was the case as Fehr was zipping in and out of traffic while maintaining his lead at nearly 100 mph.
Sload and Roselli never let him pull far ahead as they remained within close sight. By lap six Roselli went to second while making a charge through the pack was Lou Cicconi who was up to fourth at the halfway mark.
As the race was nearing the finish, Roselli suddenly found a burst of energy as he took advantage of some lapped cars that Fehr was dealing with. He was then able to reel him in and made a race winning pass with two laps to go. It marked was his second straight victory at Mahoning.
Cicconi went by Sload on the final lap to secure third with Matt Janisch completing the top five.
In the second feature Tidman started sixth and needed only three laps to get past pole sitter and early leader Frank Fischer for the top spot. Mahoning Valley’s fastest man on record, (8.924) Tidman was then pulling away while second place was being waged amongst Sload and Fischer.
Just as in the first feature, Cicconi was again making advances to the front. While Tidman was comfortably leading, Cicconi was on a mission to track him down. He was hovering in the fifth spot until mid-race when he began his forward push.
First he had to get by Fischer which he did on lap 11. Then it was a tussle in doing the same with Sload. All the while Tidman was able to keep a safe haven from them.
On lap 16 Cicconi finally took care of Sload and then caught a huge break when a caution came out on the ensuing lap. That set up an intense shootout to the checkers as Cicconi did everything possible to get by Tidman including making a diving inside move off the final turn only to come up a few inches short.
The margin of victory came out as .056-seconds. Sload, Roselli and Fischer rounded out the top five.
“Right from the time we started our hot laps I knew we had a very good car and once the flag dropped I was able to go on the outside from sixth to first in a matter of a few laps,” said Tidman who also captured the TQ series title at Mahoning.
After the final restart on lap 17 Tidman knew he was going have to be sharp, especially having to fend off the likes of Cicconi.
“On the last two laps I heard him (Cicconi) and I just stood on the throttle and hoped that he didn’t have enough to pass me. I knew he would try and go real low in the corner but thankfully we held on with just enough to pull off the win. Whenever you can beat a guy like Lou Cicconi, it really means a lot. He is one of the best.”
This was Cicconi’s first time back at Mahoning Valley since September 16, 1995 when he raced in a 40 lap ARDC Midget feature. Interestingly enough in that race he also lost by inches to Doug Borger in much the same way.
TQ Midget 1st Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Matt Roselli, 2. Austin Fehr, 3. Lou Cicconi, 4. Buddy Sload, 5. Matt Janisch, 6. Robin Johnston, 7. Ryan Tidman, 8. Dominic Melair, 9. Allison Cumens, 10. Chad Jones, 11. Jeff Kot 12. Mark Rogers, 13. AJ Fuge, 14. Joe Caroll, 15. Jon Gambuti, 16. Frank Fischer, 17. Josh Dalrymple
TQ Midget 2nd Feature Finish, 20 Laps: 1. Tidman, 2. Cicconi, 3. Sload, 4. Roselli, 5. Fischer, 6. Cumens, 7. Johnston, 8. Kot, 9. Jansich, 10. Fehr, 11. Jones, 12. Dalrymple, 13. Melair, 14. Fuge, 15. Caroll, 16. Gambuti, 17. Rogers