Andy Jankowiak has joined the Myracenews team and will be sharing his travels with our readers. This is his first installment which he originally posted on Facebook. Enjoy following Andy around the country racing his modified, SST modified and his TQ. Welcome aboard Andy.
A long time ago, way back in 2007 I was a hot shot teenage street stock competitor. I enjoyed some success in my sport of choice in my teenage years so I’m sure you can imagine that I could sometimes be a little full of myself. (I know, its hard to imagine me being cocky right?) So one day I’m hanging around the shop over at Trey’s and I’m fresh off of a couple of wins. I’m walking tall. My buddy Alvin was always quick to take me down a peg (still is). He tells me “You think your good? You know Karl won 13 features in one year once.” The challenge was accepted. By years end I had fallen just short. I had 12. Season over. Done. Then I see a poster while vacationing at the North South Shootout. “Turkey Derby”. They had a factory stock division. I fell in love with the idea. This was the first time in my racing career that supporters and friends asked me a now commonly asked question. “Why?” “Why are you going to that race?” At that time my answer was simple. A stubborn persistence to Trey’s challenge. We ended up going. We won the event. The friendships that were established and strengthened in that weekend are some that I value greatly today. (Jersey loves me!) Jake called it the smartest dumb decision we ever made. I spent a grand to win 150 but I get to look at that golden turkey standing atop a marble platform every time I look at my trophy case. I carry that enthusiasm with me to every race. When the nights in the shop seem to go on forever and I want to go home and sleep I have one thought that doesn’t let me quit. “Maybe I’ll win” “What if I skip this one and we were going to win” The guys on my team that are standing next to me at 5 am, covered in grease have the same song in their heart. “Lets get a win tomorrow”. We aren’t always so fortunate, racing is tough and it only gets tougher the father we go. Its impossible to think about going to Bowman Gray, Seekonk, Oswego or Hickory and say we’re going to go and win a race. That’s to lofty for anyone to say. We always believe that we can though. I know I do. Still….when I crossed that finish line at Hickory Motor Speedway to finish out last weekend I’m still not sure I believed it. Its taken this long for me to process what we did that weekend and it still hasn’t completely sunken in. I knew we could do. If I didn’t think we could I wouldn’t have been there. Its all a bit overwhelming I suppose.
A Modified win at Oswego and a win at Hickory Motor Speedway. I may have been able to call it a career on either accomplishment and been satisfied. For a heart that beats for racing you cannot possibly ask for anything more. They say you remember the first wins the best. I can recall my first win in the Hangover 100 in 2004, I can go lap for lap when I won my first street stock race in the 2006 US Open. All I can remember from the Oswego race was trying not to puke on the last lap because I was so nervous. “Just don’t spin out, we have a good lead. All you can do to screw up now is spin out.” This was my logic the last 2 laps. I mean…it worked lol. Oswego was just the perfect race for us. We had a pit stop plan and the race played perfectly into our strategy. The car could not have handled any better and we capitalized. It was just perfect.
Hickory? Not as perfect. We played a similar strategy but I just over adjusted the car on the pit stop. To tight! Ugh. I wasn’t sure where we would fall but I could tell we still had a fast car. I knew some of the guys would back up to us on a long run and all of them pretty much did, except one. We got to second once it was go time but our run stalled out there behind the 95. I adjusted my line but the best I could do was keep pace. Then it happened. Coming to five to go the leader was caught in the left front tire by a lap car. Both cars diverted in different directions and gathered themselves. We pulled a “Moses” and “parted the seas” between them and split though the middle. The yellow lights didn’t come on so I knew that the 95 must have gathered himself. Richie Evans assured me on the radio that he had and that this race wasn’t over. I ran my favorite Perry Speedway line for the last 5 laps, right in the middle. It was enough.
Wow. We just won Hickory. I’m living it as I’m typing it.
Lost to some extent in the excitement was our stellar weekend this past weekend at Waterford! It felt like we had just gotten home from Hickory and we were off to Connecticut before I could type out a long boring racing story! I guess this ones a two-for. We got to Waterford on Saturday and we were fast quick. This can be problematic for two chassis gurus like me and Rick Kluth. Being fast early means we have lots of time to use our awesome chassis knowledge to make it better! In a collective team effort we worked hard and made some big changes. When it was all said and done we successfully lost a half a second and made the car basically UN-driveable. A fantastically terrible pill draw by Steve Mendoza on top of this landed us in the back of a heat, and then a consi. Wisdom finally prevailed for the B-main when we decided to try the Saturday setup again. That was a swell plan. We won our way into the race and got a 6th place finish with a tight race car! I feel like we missed a bit of an opportunity. If we had more practice tuning time and i called for a better adjustment on the stop i think we could have been so much better. We had it up to second but we were just pushing the right front to hard and faded. Still a great effort against a great field! We were happy to take it after a long day.
My favorite part of this stretch run since my last post still may be watching my Leximarie Lily running her first racing laps in me and Jody London’s go kart. I was so very proud of her. She did a good job. Made some passes high and low, clubbed into a few things and got better as the day went.
I was asked in an interview the other day if I’m frustrated about not having a big sponsor. While a big sponsor might make life easier if it ever where to happen, I honestly in my heart could not possibly ask for anything more then what I have in my racing life. To do what were doing and to have the people behind me, I’m the luckiest guy in racing. I wouldn’t trade what I have right now for anything. I owe that to all of you who make this possible for me to do all this. If I had a million years on this earth I don’t think I could ever repay all the favors that got me to that finish line at Hickory. I’m just grateful.
Next time you ask me why I’m going to that race that doesn’t make any sense, I will probably give my rough justification that I made up that week. Deep down though, this is why we do it. I couldn’t be any happier.