Anthony Sesely has enjoyed a rather successful career in racing to date, but perhaps no achievement was bigger than his win in last year's NAPA Know How Atlantic City Indoor Race. Sesely fought off competitors with vast resumes during the Gambler's Classic, the 40-lap main event for Three Quarter (TQ) Midgets at the Boardwalk Hall indoor multi-purpose facility.
Despite the momentum the 2013 SK Modified Turkey Derby winner and former track champion at Wall Stadium Speedway holds, the main focus is not to get too overly confident.
"The goal is to stay as low-key as possible and keep all four wheels straight," Sesely told SB Nation at the Motorsports 2014 Show earlier in the month.
Many drivers and teams have built new cars for this event, but Sesely is bringing the same machine that carried him to victory a year ago. Despite having confidence in his vehicle and driving ability, Sesely raved about how stacked the field can get for an event like this.
"The first year I was there I was in the B-Main alongside Fred Rahmer," recalled Sesely.
Rahmer accumulated over 400 wins and 25 track championships racing Sprint Cars throughout Central Pennsylvania before retiring at the end of the 2013 season. A driver with such accomplishments being required to run a last chance race shows how difficult it is to make the Saturday night feature each year.
"Just to make the A-Main means you are in the top 25 percent," continued Sesely. "About 20 of those cars have a shot to win."
Over 90 drivers are entered from various styles of racing ranging from Midgets, pavement and dirt Modifieds, Sprint Cars, and Supermodifieds. The asphalt Modified ranks are well-represented with current and former NASCAR Whelen Modified and Race of Champions Tour regulars Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher, Patrick Emerling, Donny Lia, Billy Pauch Jr., Earl Paules, Rowan Pennink, Ryan Preece, Glen Reen, Erick Rudolph, Rob Summers, and Zane Zeiner all on the list.
A few of those drivers played a factor in last year's running.
"I had Teddy (Christopher) pull aside me, Louie (Cicconi) pull aside me, Rudolph was right there, and we managed to hold them off," Sesely noted.
Those three drivers mentioned have six Gambler's Classic wins between them, and make up for the last four wins preceding Sesely.
No matter what the result may be, the atmosphere of this race is what keeps bringing drivers like Sesely back from year to year.
"The event is what it is all about," Sesely said. "Some guys race (TQs) all season, but for me it's about racing against all these competitors from everywhere."
A regional spec division called Slingshots that resemble a mini-dirt Modified and the Champ Karts will be on hand in addition to the TQ Midgets for one of their biggest features all season. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regular Justin Bonsignore and Pro All Stars Series driver D.J. Shaw are notable entrants in the Champ Kart division.
It all gets underway on Thursday with a five hour open practice session. On Friday, all divisions will time trial in the afternoon. The fastest eight TQ Midgets lock themselves into Friday night's racing, but will take part in a unique series of one-on-one match races to set the order of the front four rows.
The top eight finishers from Friday night's A-Main advance to Saturday night's Gambler's Classic. The remainder will be forced to compete through heat races and B-Mains to set the remainder of the 26 car field.
This race also serves as a bit of a warm up for some indoor racers as many of them have plans to take part in the inaugural Battle Of Trenton at the Sun National Bank Center in New Jersey just two weeks after.
Additional stories on the 12th Annual NAPA Know How Atlantic City Indoor Races and short track racing can be found on our front page.