51 Leftovers: Turkey Derby at Wall by Denise Dupont
More Civali, Hirschman, Blewett, Ferrante and Pennick

It has been of bitter sweet year of wins, losses and penalties for James Civali. To win the final race of the year was important to the young Connecticut driver.

Civali in victory lane at the Turkey Derby.   (Jim DuPont Photo)

“Winning the Turkey Derby means a lot after being disqualified in the last race,” said Civali, referring to an aggressive driving penalty imposed in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season final at Thompson.  “We were sixth in points (on the Tour) and we were looking for a top three or four. You have your ups and downs all the time. You just bounce back. Obviously, winning this race makes us feel that we have bounced back and everything is going like normal again.”

Civali attributed a lot of his success in the King Racing car this year to Woody Pitkat.

“Woody has prepared my car all year. He came in three races into the year and he has been working on the car every week all week during the day full time. He helps out a lot and he does a good job putting the car together that is for sure.”


Jimmy Blewett loves to race, and he won’t be slowing down one bit next season.

“I will be running the Wall, Riverhead, Stafford and Thompson weekly,” said Blewett of his 2008 plans.  “[I’ll also be running] The full tour and just as many races as we can race.  That is what we are going to shoot for.”


Tony Ferrante has raced in all of Wall’s major Modified  races this year and he did consistently well there.
“We came here for the Tour race and it (the race) was out of control,” said Ferrante.  “I came back for the ROC race and it was a lot calmer. I cannot see from inside the car what is causing everything. The track has plenty of grip. I do not think that the cold had anything to do with it. It is a fast tight race track. You have to be patient and no one wants to give up a spot.
There were a lot of cautions during the Turkey Derby race yet Ferrante survived to finish third.

“It is tight here. We were patient. Here you need a little bit of patience and car management. And we needed a lot of that tonight.”


Rowan Pennick wrapped up his season by finishing fourth in the Turkey Derby.  2007 was a year when he also ran full-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

“Running the Tour this year has been a big learning curve for us,” said Pennick.  “We learned a lot this year and hopefully we will come back and do better next year in the tour.”

Matt Hirschman was disappointed in his 10th-place finish at the Turkey Derby.   He wasn’t very happy about the driving style that Civali used in the race either.
“We were really good,” said Hirschman .  “I had just gotten frustrated in my attempts to pass Civali. Every time I got next to him he just came slamming into me. When the caution came out about half way and probably because I was frustrated, I decided to pit and come back and try it a little later. But just after, the cautions did not come out. We only had one more and it did not really matter anyways towards the end.

“When the last caution came out and we were in sixth we felt that we could have gotten up into fifth but the right front wheel was falling off.  We had broken a gun in the pit stop and did not get the lugs all tight. That was why I limped around the last couple of laps. The wheel was about to fall off and it was better to be safe then sorry.  Because we were going to be sorry because it was going to fall off.

“It was a frustrating way to end a really good season. But we did everythi9gn coming into here to give ourselves a chance to win and I think that we showed that. But it just did not happen.”

Matt Hirschman (Red and White #60) tries to pass James Civali's #88 - was he pushed up there?  Hirschman thinks so.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Tony Ferrante (#31) and Rowan Pennick (#93) chase Jimmy Blewett's #76 Modified.  (Jim DuPont Photo)