Tanner VanDoren: Invite to Race a Backup Car Leads to Win

Tanner VanDoren: Invite to Race a Backup Car Leads to Win

After a seasoned vet competed against Tanner VanDoren, he invited VanDoren to race a backup entry for his team. That eventually led to a victory on Friday during the Ironton Global Allentown Indoor TQ Midget Race at the PPL Center in Pennsylvania.

VanDoren had raced with Anthony Sesely in a TQ midget at Evergreen Raceway in Drums, Pennsylvania, two years ago. Sesely asked VanDoren steer the backup car for the Kluth Motorsports team he competes for.

“I was surprised to get an invite from Anthony offering me a chance at qualifying one of his backup cars in the Indoor Auto Racing Championship,” VanDoren, of Slatington, Pennsylvania, said. “I guess all it took was that one time racing alongside him.”

VanDoren had planned to be in Allentown, but in a different role.

“I was going there anyway to help Tim Buckwalter, so I told Sesely I would be glad to drive his backup car,” said VanDoren.

VanDoren won his heat race and drew third to start the feature. ARCA Menards Series driver Andy Jankowiak and NASCAR Cup Series tire changer Ryan Flores blew by VanDoren early in the event.

“I was watching ahead of me and saw Andy J’s car blow a water line on the frontstretch,” VanDoren said. “I lifted. Everyone in front of me spun out and hit each other. I was able to steer around everyone without spinning.”

VanDoren took the lead on the restart. Tim Buckwalter — yes, the driver he was there to help — closed in on him coming to the white-flag lap.

“Tim gave me a shot coming into the frontstretch on the white-flag lap,” said VanDoren. “My car shot forward and his slowed down. I drove as fast as I could to the finish.”

Sesely, who finished 15th, joined VanDoren in victory lane.

“I had no wins last season,” said VanDoren, who had competed in dirt modifieds. “I’m off to a good start for 2024. I hope it keeps going this way.”

Tanner VanDoren followed that up with a fourth-place finish Saturday. He looks to return to racing modifieds this season. That will start when the Short Track Super Series visits All-Tech Raceway in Lake City, Florida, in February.

In the meantime, Tanner VanDoren had to deal with the aftermath of the post-race fame after the local television station covered it.

“When I came into school Monday, the teachers congratulated me,” VanDoren said. “Not many people at school knew that I raced, but they do now.”