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Jankowiak/Druar families share emotional night

When the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series competitors crossed the finish line and accepted the checkered flag Saturday evening at Lancaster Speedway, Debby Jankowiak, filled with overwhelming emotion, was racing down the grandstand steps trying to quickly reach her son Andy Jankowiak who was awaiting her in Victory Lane.

Andy had just won the Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial 110 named in honor of his late uncle Tommy Druar and his late father Tony Jankowiak. Debby is the sister of Tommy Druar and the wife of Tony Jankowiak.

Debby along with the Modified racing community, suffered great grieving many years ago when Tommy was killed in a Modified crash at Lancaster in 1989 and less than a year later Tony died in a Modified accident in Stafford, Conn.

Since that time Debby has raised Andy and supported his racing career. Tears of both happiness for her son and remembrance of  both her late brother and husband  rolled down her face moments after she witnessed Andy holding off the furious challenges of Patrick Emerling Saturday to win the race and setoff one of the most emotional scenes in Lancaster racing history.

"Oh my God, what an awesome thing to see," Debby said of Andy's win. "I am beyond happy about this finish. I'm so happy for Andy. This is a very emotional night for me. Tommy and Tony would be proud. Andy's a good driver like his uncle and his dad were. There's no doubt about that."

This was the race Andy, 30, has wanted to win for a long time.

"I'm still calming down a little bit," Andy said in Victory Lane. "My mom is so excited and happy and so is my family. I did two victory laps tonight. I planned this out about 10 years ago that if I ever won this race I would do a victory lap around the track in the normal direction for Uncle Tommy and a second lap in the reverse direction for my dad Tony. I made my whole family happy and excited tonight and that's what's important. "

Saturday's race was the second time in the last month that Andy has held off another top driver in the ROC series to score a nail-biting win. On July 21, Andy narrowly fended off the challenges of Matt Hirschman to win the Thunder in the Hills 100 at The Track at Hillside (formerly Holland Speedway).

"Pat (Emerling) and I raced well together tonight as Matt and I did at Hillside," Andy said. "Pat and I came up together so it's cool to race him at this level where we both made it. He's tough to be beat and he's had my number most of the year so to get one back on him is pretty cool."

Among the many people celebrating Saturday was Jake Jankowiak, who is both the brother of Tony and Andy's uncle. Mickey Druar who is Tommy's wife, was also happy.

Jake was a crew member on his late brother's team as well as many teams since than.

On Saturday, Jake assisted a few teams in the pits including the Bud Dreher/Tom McGrath owned No. 12 machine that Andy drove to victory.

"This is amazing," Jake said. "We had to change the clutch on Andy's car before the feature and this is so unbelievable. After the heat he thought it was slipping so we decided to change it to make sure we wouldn't have a problem. I helped them and Tom (McGrath) and the crew did great.

"I'm just so happy for Andy and his crew. I knew once Andy got in the lead he wouldn't give it up. Tommy Druar and Tony would both be happy tonight. What a great night."

Mickey watched both Andy and her own son Matt Druar grow up and become race drivers like their late fathers. Matt Druar also raced in the ROC event Saturday at Lancaster finishing back in the field.

"This is an awesome night," Mickey said. "I wouldn't want it any other way. Andy has come a long way and I just enjoy watching him along with Matt. This is so emotional. I can't express my emotion that I feel right now. There's just so much to think about but tonight is great."

The Druar and Jankowiak families has given so much to the local racing scene over many years from tragedy to triumph. On Saturday night at Lancaster, fate allowed the sport to give something positive back to them. For all they have done and still do in racing, it was very emotional and well deserved.

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