By Carol D. Haynes, ISMA PR; photos by Jim Feeney
SANDUSKY, Ohio — The 45th Sandusky Speedway Hy-Miler Nationals on Saturday was one of both attrition and excitement for the fans who filled in the grandstands. The 100-lap race was one of twists and turns at almost every lap and at the end, the guy who’s been in front at the drop of the checkered flag of late, Mike Ordway Jr was there once more. The race was filled with some of supermodified racing’s best, and had many surprises throughout. Ordway, whose car owner Clyde Booth was inducted into the Sandusky Speedway Hall of Fame earlier in the day, brought home his third Hy-Miler win to top off the day.
Ordway described the win as he stood in victory lane.
“It was just a great race. Clyde and the guys gave me a great car. Like I always say everybody at Booth Racing Performance, JRI Shocks, Performance Engines by Billy The Kid – Billy has helped turn this operation around for sure with the engine package and stuff. And so many that help out – Sweet Manufacturing, Winters Performance, again JRI Shocks, -and certainly — my parents, my wife Kelsey, Doc, Nancy and Ed, Clyde and Susan obviously, Ryan and Kaylee. I mean everybody puts in an effort that allows me to keep driving this car. And, it’s been working out so far.”
Did Ordway think for a while during the race that he was going to make it to the front?
“Yeah I was just biding my time. I was trying to base myself off of Shullick and I wanted to base myself off of Jeff Abold after we ran together during the heat race. He started behind me in the feature and never had a chance to get up there I guess. So I tried basing off Shullick. He’d get a car and it would take me a lap or two to catch up. I said okay, I’ll just stay with DJ. I knew Otto was up front and I knew he as going to be tough to beat. So I was just trying to keep DJ in check. That was the plan all along. Save what I could and then try to race those guys at the end. Unfortunately, those guys had some bad luck. Trent had a good car too and also had some bad luck. You know that 90% of these Hy-Millers are about keeping your car in one piece and keeping the tires on it, and, then being there at the end.”
“Like I always say, I like the longer races. But to be honest with you, after the restart with 16 to go and Otto was outside of me I didn’t know if I could hold him off on the second restart. You know when you have a nine-time Oswego champion and a five-time Classic winner plus the 2021 ISMA champ who is one of the best in the business outside you it’s something to think about. He’s one of the best to ever do it. I thanked him for racing me clean and I hope I raced him clean, we had a good time and put on a good show for the fans.”
“But, again as I said, I honestly did not think that I could hold him off. His car was rolling the top pretty good. He was a little bit tight and I would have rather have taken the top on the restart but I didn’t want to give up the bottom. I knew if we could get clean air, we would be fine. I’d just have to clear him in the restart. And hope the thing stayed together for the next 15 laps and fortunately it did. The cars are very aero sensitive now. If I could get clear air and be able to use the whole race track we would have an advantage on him. Fortunately we were able to do that. We were able to clear Benson on the restart before that. Again if Johnny got in clean air, he would have gotten it. Those guys brought a really good race car this weekend but we were able to get the advantage on him. Everything just worked out. We saved enough for the end and were able to race Otto to the finish.”
“We’ll go on to Oswego or whatever is next and see if we keep rolling,” Ordway concluded.
The 45th Hy-Miler Nationals 100 started off with Mark Sammut and Johnny Benson on the front row, almost immediately Ohioan Timmy Jedrzejek, driving for Howie Lane in his 9, jumped into the mix between the two front runners. Ben Seitz, in the second Lane 97 car was up to 4th by the third lap trailed by Michael Barnes in the Vic Miller 11.
It was shortly thereafter that the 7 of Otto Sitterly may have brushed with Kyle Edwards in the 11E which came to a stop in front. A broken rear end sent Edwards to the pits, ofn. Several cars such as the 12 of Jake Smith and 8 of Sawyer Stout headed into the pits for some adjustments. They both returned to the fray.
Back underway, Sammut was still the leader but within several laps Jedrzejek stole the lead leaving Sammut to fend with a Sitterly, and soon the 19 of Trent Stephens.
A few laps later Timmy J was up on the 36 of JJ Henes, putting his down a lap while Sammut, Benson, Seitz, Sitterly were on the move.
It wasn’t long before what appeared to be a night of bad luck seemed to evolve. A yellow flag found Jeff Abold’s 05 stopped at the top of pit road and the 97 of Seitz slowing to a stop on the front straight. Both Abold and Seitz were out of the race with car problems while Mike McVetta used the time to go into the pits for adjustments.
A double file restart had Timmy J and Sammut in the front row with Otto and Benson the second. But it wasn’t too long before Sammut was now in charge out front with Benson and Sitterly right behind. The 9 of Jedrzejek was loosing his momentum in the chase for the lead, slowing and pitting out of the event.
Dave Shullick Jr. took up the spot behind Sammut, Benson, and Sitterly and the front four were off… unfortunately not for long as yellow fell on lap 38 for the 19 of Trent Stephens who was off the fourth turn . Stephen’s demise was a blown motor it was reported.
The line up to take the green was getting shorter Sammut led, with Sitterly, Benson, Shullick, Mike Ordway Jr. Lilje, AJ Lesiecki, Barnes and McVetta still in contention for the Hy-Miler win with half the race remaining.
On the restart of this showdown, Benson took the point from Sammut, who lost his spot soon thereafter to Shullick. He now had to fend off Shullick as the race was almost to the halfway mark.
Benson pulled away from Shullick and Sitterly was out front of Ordway with the Lilje, Henes, Sammut, McVetta, AJ Lesiecki and Barnes staying in the action.
Lap 48 dropped the yellow when the 88 of Lesiecki quit and rolled to a stop. He was pushed to the pits and was out for the night. Several other cars pitted and returned.
Lap 60 found Benson and Shullick side by side for the restart with Sitterly and Ordway right behind.
This lap was another unkind one for some as Shullick, on the low side of Benson came around near the first turn with a cloud of smoke coming from the car. His engine had blown.
Red was called here and refueling was allowed while the Shullick car was removed and the safety crew cleaning the track. The 11 of Barnes and the 22 of McVetta used the time to go pit-side for more adjustments.
Eight cars remained for the lineup of the final forty laps. It was Benson, Ordway, Sitterly, Lilje, Sammut, Barnes, McVetta and Henes, the survivors who would try for the win as the race end was near now.
Ordway made his move on Benson just after the restart of the red flag, leaving Benson, Sitterly, Lilje, Sammut, McVetta, Barnes and Henes trailing.
The laps clicked off faster now and Ordway was able to pull away.
As stated above by Ordway, it was now Sitterly who was in second taking over for Benson. Sammut had McVetta, the 2021 event winner, on his tail.
With just over 20 to go, Ordway had Sitterly breathing down on him with the a lap car in between their battle and Benson, Lilje, Sammut, McVetta and Barnes still racing hard.
Mayhem reared up again soon thereafter when the 74 of Benson made contact with a slower car. Benson would restart but to the tail.
Another double file restart had Ordway along side of Sitterly, as Lilje, McVetta, Sammut, Barnes, Benson and the JJ Henes doubled up behind.
Lap 85 saw the last of the yellow flags as the 32 of Lilje had stopped in turn 3. A quick tire change brought the 32 back to the tail of the field.
Now the excitement and anticipation that Ordway talked about came into one heck of a battle as the 61 and 7 rain side by side when the green fell but the 61 was able to grab that clean air that he also spoke of.
With ten to go, the end was near and for some, probably not at all too soon. Ordway was able to leave Sitterly behind enough to have some breathing room. Mike McVetta had now moved into a podium spot as he was trailed by Barnes, Lilje, Benson, and Sammut.
The green fell quickly for the remaining survivors. It was Ordway, Sitterly, McVetta, Lilje, Barnes, Benson and Sammut, the top and only seven left as with the top three headed for victory lane.
Second place runner Sitterly said afterwards, “If I couldn’t win, I am happy Mike won. He’s a good guy. My car was too tight. I want to thanks Johnny and the whole crew as well as all those bean farmers down south, 5 Brothers, Torbert Farms, Georgia Crate and Basket who support us. And to Corr Pak Merchandising, Flip Electric, Fathead-z eye wear.”
Third place finisher, who was the defending race champion, Mike McVetta was pretty ecstatic in victory lane. “After the weekend we’ve had we are sitting on the podium. This is great to see the stands are full and to see all the red t-shirts up there! I have to thank my wife and kids, Perfection Fabrication, Fallsway Equipment, Cerni Motors, the 4th turn crazies, and Gary’s Body Shop.”
Candid Pit Photos HERE
Jim Feeney race photos (full results below) —
45th Annual Hy-Miler Nationals Recap
July 30, 2022 • Sandusky Speedway • Sandusky, Ohio
Heat:1 Mark Sammut, Mike McVetta, Dave Shullick Jr., Kyle Edwards, Michael Barnes, Trent Stephens, AJ Lesiecki, JJ Henes.
Heat 2: Timmy Jedrzejek, Otto Sitterly, Johnny Benson, Ben Seitz, Jeff Abold, Moe Lilje, Mike Ordway Jr,, Sawyer Stout, Jake Smith
Feature: 1. 61 MIKE ORDWAY JR., 2. 7 Otto Sitterly, 3. 22 Mike McVetta, 4. 32 Moe Lilje, 5. 11 Michael Barnes, 6. 74 Johnny Benson, 7. 78 Mark Sammut, 8. 36, JJ Henes, 9. 95 DJ Shullick Jr., 10. 88 AJ Lesiecki, 11. 19 Trent Stephens, 12. 9 Timmy Jedrzejek, 13. 97 Ben Seitz, 14. 05 Jeff Abold, 15. 8 Sawyer Stout, 16. 11E Kyle Edwards, 17. 12 Jake Smith.
Fast Time Trialer: 61 Mike Ordway Jr. – 14,417 – $100 sponsored by ML Graphics
Hard Charger: Moe Lilje 32 – $100 sponsored by NY Racing Mom
Last Car Running, Mark Sammut, 78 – $100 sponsored by Butts and More Party Mart
Random Draw in each heat split $150
Top 3 finishers get $300, $200, $100 from ASAP Plumbing (Jay Houston)
Anonymous Donor: $100 to leader of lap 99 in memory of Bruce Robey (winner Mike Ordway Jr)