Mondschein and Rochelle Take Checkereds In ARDC 'First Feature' Show Sunday FLEMINGTON, N.J., Sept. 6 - Two second-generation drivers - Gary Mondschein of Stewartsville, N.J. and Craig Rochelle of ...
Mondschein and Rochelle Take Checkereds In ARDC 'First Feature' Show Sunday
FLEMINGTON, N.J., Sept. 6 - Two second-generation drivers - Gary Mondschein of Stewartsville, N.J. and Craig Rochelle of Hackettstown, N.J. - recorded their first midget feature victories in the twin 15-lap "First Feature" program Sunday afternoon at Flemington Speedway. The non-point American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) special event was open only to drivers who have never won an ARDC feature.
Mondschein, the son of former midget driver Mel Mondschein, won the first 15-lap feature during RCN Cable Day at the Flemington Fair. Rochelle, the son of former modified and United Racing Club (URC) sprint car driver Paul "Sandy" Rochelle, was victorious in the second 15-lapper.
Second through fourth were the same in both races. Billy Courtwright of Hackettstown, N.J. was the runner-up in both events to celebrate his birthday a day early. Mark Wakefoose of Hopatcong, N.J, took home two thirds. Slatington, Pa.'s Mike Lapp finished fourth in both races. Fred Schell of Phoenixville, Pa., was fifth in the first 15-lapper. Dan Shelbo Jr. of Bethlehem, Pa., strapped into Mondschein's Ellis Gaerte for the second feature and brought it home fifth.
Lapp led the first two laps of the first race before Mondschein took command on lap three. Courtwright charged ahead with five laps to go but Mondschein was not to be denied, taking the lead back on lap 11 and holding Courtwright off at the wire, much to the delight of his father; his wife, Maureen; crew chief Joe Grandinetti of Southampton, Pa.; and crew member Don Keller of Morristown, Pa. It was also a banner day for Mondschein's sponsors: Gold Cup Sporting Goods of Phillipsburg, N.J.; Chestnuthill Trailers and Motorsports of Effort, Pa.; R.G. Hoffman Electrical Contractors of Bangor, Pa.; Bellevue Tool Corp. of Bellevue, N.J.; General Machine Kraft of Phillipsburg, N.J.; Pro Signs of Phillipsburg, N.J.; Rick Felch Auto Sales of Stroudsburg, Pa.; and Sage Concepts of Stewartsville, N.J.
"Of all the tracks at which ARDC competes, Flemington happens to be my personal favorite, so it is truly an honor to win at the famed square," Mondschein said. "It was a very competitive race, and I had to run as hard as I could to beat Billy Courtwright and Mark Wakefoose."
"Gary has been racing a number of years, and all competitors who work as hard as he does should have a moment in victory lane," Grandinetti noted. "This Sunday afternoon was Gary's."
Rochelle knows that sense of accomplishment too. He is the chief mechanic for the driver that he beat, Courtwright, and he was driving Courtwright's midget while Courtwright drove the car usually driven by the current ARDC CARQUEST Midget Series point leader, Bryan Kobylarz of Birdsboro, Pa.
That race got off to a slow start. Attempting to compete in her first auto race ever, Krystle Katz of Somerville, N.J. took the green in the car usually driven by Brian Suchy of Palmyra, Pa., but it immediately leaked oil all over the frontstretch and into the first and second turns. (Suchy tried out Shelbo's car for the second 15-lapper.) Many laps were necessary for the clean-up before the complete restart, but when the race got going Rochelle immediately jumped into the lead and he led the entire distance.
Courtwright, who had started sixth, used the outside groove to advance into second by the end of the second lap and he immediately dogged his teammate, since the Courtwright/Fontana that Rochelle was driving is owned by Doug Starrett of Yorktown, Va., and the Ellis Fontana that Courtwright was in is owned by Starrett's wife, Claudette.
By lap eight Courtwright was really pressuring Rochelle for the lead, but with five laps to go he just tapped the inside guardrail in turn one and lost quite a bit of ground. Lapped cars allowed him to close up again at the end but Rochelle held him off for the victory in the same car that Courtwright usually drives. Since the car he owns beat the one that Mrs. Starrett owns, Mr. Starrett had to buy supper on the way home.
The winning car is sponsored by Coal Export Services, Shadow Racing Products, Rich's Rainbow Room, A1 Racing Products and Pete's Automotive.
"I usually drive Ed Kehan's car; I understand I got that ride because I'm not fussy about the car's paint scheme like one of his other drivers is," Rochelle said. "Last weekend we decided that I'd drive Bill's car in today's races and I want to thank the Starretts and Billy Courtwright for giving me this opportunity and a real good race car to drive."
Many of the drivers on hand also competed in the ARDC/NEMA race at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway the night before, burning the midnight oil in order to be on hand for the Flemington show the following afternoon. The one-two finish in the second 15-lapper was especially satisfying for the Starrett team, since it was the only team out of the four still running for the championship that supported the club by fielding cars in the Flemington program. Its lead driver, Kobylarz, leads the point standings going into the two remaining races on the schedule: a wingless show on the clay at Lincoln Speedway in New Oxford, Pa., next Saturday night, Sept. 12, and the season finale on the asphalt of Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., on Saturday, Sept. 19.
First Feature (15 laps): 1. Gary Mondschein, 2. Billy Courtwright, 3. Mark Wakefoose, 4. Mike Lapp, 5. Fred Schell, 6. Dan Shelbo, 7. Craig Rochelle, 8. Brian Suchy, 9. Dave Suchy, 10. Bill Ertel, 11. Jim Jackson, 12. Shawn Burke.
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-2, Lapp; laps 3-9, Mondschein; lap 10, Courtwright; laps 11-15, Mondschein.
Second Feature (15 laps): 1. Craig Rochelle, 2. Billy Courtwright, 3. Mark Wakefoose, 4. Mike Lapp, 5. Dan Shelbo, 6. Fred Schell, 7. Brian Suchy, 8. Bill Ertel, 9. Jim Jackson, 10. Shawn Burke, 11. Krystle Katz.
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-15, Rochelle.