up to 10th position when he was caught up in a multiple
car wreck on lap 49 and had to be towed from the track with severe right front car damage.
The 100-lap race was caution filled and it seemed as though the race was never going go any further then lap 70. There were four cautions one right after the other during lap 70 restarts and on the last one, the leader, Ken Wooley, was caught up in the race troubles.
Wooley had a very good car, but just not one that would make it to the end of the event.
“This is my first time out this year since the last Turkey Derby.”
Wooley led for 71 laps until on a restart just before the start finish line he and Jimmy Blewett tangled. Wooley’s car went left into an infield wall. Wooley’s car had to leave the track on a flat bed while Blewett went on to lead the rest of the race and took the very controversial win.
“Up until the wreck, it was good race,” said Wooley. “The car was great. I had a bunch of good runs with Johnny and Jamie on restarts. Those guys all pitted, so it made them a little bit better. I wanted to pit but my crew advised me to hang out. So on the restart when Jimmy got on me the car got a little sideways and he hit me in the right front. It broke the right front steering and that was it for us.”
JIMMY BLEWETT HAMS IT UP AT TURKEY DERBY by Denise DuPont
Fans Not Impressed By His Last Lap Antics
The 33rd Annual Turkey Derby at Wall Township Speedway (NJ) was won by Jimmy Blewett. But judging by the fan reaction after “Showtime” Blewett climbed from his #12 Modified in victory lane, the Turkey Derby was actually won by…well, a turkey.
As Blewett was getting the ceremonial winner’s wreath placed on his shoulders, the Wall fans booed him loudly for contact between Blewett and Les Hinckley just short of the finish. Hinckley’s #06 car went to the outside to pass Blewett entering turn three. As the two came into turn four, Blewett drifted higher and higher up in the track, giving Hinckley little room.
Just before the start finish line, contact was made and Hinckley was sent into into the front stretch wall. Blewett went on to claim the checkers.
“Yeah, there was some contact that was made,” said Blewett. “We were racing for a win here. There were
only five laps to go. I don’t know what everybody expects out of me, but I was racing for the win. I was trying to win for the hometown crowd. It really feels great.”
That feeling of victory wasn’t muted one bit by the response of the crowd. In fact, it almost seemed like Blewett didn’t even care that they were there at all.
“No matter how many people sit here and boo me, I really don’t even care because you guys do not mean anything. It does not matter anyway. We had a good season; I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to drive [for car owner Eddie Partridge]. I appreciate it and hope that I can drive the #12 car again next year.”
Blewett tells the Turkey Derby fans how excited he was to win. (Jim DuPont Photo)
thought that it would be. They all told me to stay calm and play it out at the end. There will not be a whole lot left at the end.”
Donny Lia followed behind Hinckley in the familiar #18 car to take third spot, John Blewett, III was right behind Lia to take fourth and Rowan Pennick had a strong fifth place finish even after he started from the rear after being involved in caution number eight.
On Saturday morning, Lia won the pole with the fast time followed closely by John Blewett, III, Tim Arre, Zane Zeiner, and Ken Wooley, Jr., Steve Whitt, Hinckley, Tommy Farrell, Tony Ferrante, Jr. and Reggie Ruggiero. The cars were very fast during qualifying and a little over one second separated the times for the 35 cars on hand to qualify. There were 29 cars that started the feature leaving six cars from the field of cars that showed to go home. The top ten cars redrew for starting positions with Farrell and Wooley led the race field to the green.
On lap 70, during one of the many restart cautions, Les Hinckley spun on the front stretch.
“We got racing with Jimmy before we spun out,” said Hinckley. “He did not give me a whole lot of room and we got spun out. We were not going to pit at that point but when we were spun out and stayed on the lead lap we decided to come in for tires and there was no time to waste at that time. We had a big march to get back to the front.”
Ruggiero had spun on lap 24, bringing out the first caution of the night. After pitting he had worked his way
Hinckley's #06 goes around after his first incident with Jimmy Blewett. (Howie Hodge Photo)
With two laps to go in the race, Les Hinckley in the bright yellow #06 car came to the outside to pass Jimmy just before turn three. As the two came into turn four, Blewett in his #12 car continued to go higher and higher up in the track groove giving Les no room.
Just before the start finish line, Blewett pushed Hinckley into the front stretch wall and took the white flag. Blewett went on to claim the checkers. Hinckley regrouped his car and came across the start finish line to take a well deserved second place finish.
“It was pretty good and it was pretty rough,” said Hinckley of his first Turkey Derby. “There was a lot of beating and banging. Some local race friends told me that it would be like that. It was a little rougher than I
Blewett (#12) roughs Les Hinckley up a little bit on the last lap. (Howie Hodge Photo)
“Hats off to my crew and everybody that gave me a hand this weekend,” said Blewett. “They all did an awesome job. It is too bad that nobody likes a winner. Anybody who was in the same situation would have done the same thing to Les. I would just like to thank all of the fans for coming out here every Turkey Derby. I hope that we get the same crowd next year. Thanks everybody.”
The two number 99 cars had good top ten finishes. Jamie the “Jet” Tomaino came in sixth and Pete Britain managed to hang on for seventh with a car without a back spoiler. Brittain’s car looked like a truck without a tailgate as it crossed the start finish line.
There were only 15 cars left racing at the end of the caution-filled race.
The crowd were all on their feet for the last ten laps as Hinckley passed Blewett. Even with a plane flying a good luck banner over the track and a support band playing Jimmy’s song earlier in the day, Blewett did not get the support of the fans for his win. The entire grandstand, filled with people, stood and continued to boo loudly as Jimmy continued his victory speech.