It was Thunder on the Shore and The Speedway at Wall Township by Denise DuPont
Great Battle for the Top Three Positions, But in the End, Jimmy Blewett Wins Again for the Hometown Crowd
The first was because the event was actually composed of 50-lap races, which is the newest experiment on the Tour by NASCAR. Two 50-lap heat races made up the starting field for the 50-lap Feature, the ‘Flash’ Race.
And secondly, with this race coming at Blewett’s home track, it’s no surprise that he finished second in his heat to Reggie Ruggiero, and then first in the feature. After all, it is his hometown.
“I think if my heat race was 20 more laps I might have gotten Reggie,” said Blewett. “I am not too sure there. He was having left rear wheel issues. His left rear tire was loose and it was starting to come off. So I was playing it cautious. He was leaving the outside pretty much open for me. On that last turn he got on the gas and I don’t think that he meant to run into me. He just slipped up because his right rear tire was falling off. He came over and apologized.”
Jimmy Blewett found himself in a very familar spot on. (Howie Hodge Photo)
For Jimmy Blewett, winning Sunday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Thunder on the Shore - the first “Flash Race” at Wall Township Speedway was like winning any other Saturday night 50-lap race.
There were a number of reasons this was like any normal Saturday night for him.
And it’s always good to have some family around, to give you a helping hand. Especially if that same family member won his heat race.
“My brother [John Blewett, III] helped me make some changes before the race. I do not think if we made those changes that we would have been able to come out and win here today. My game plan with Reggie was to try to get him wide. I had fresh tires and I enough to get around him. We were a little tight in the beginning there. Trying to get him on the restart was the only chance that I got. It is pretty tough to pass here.”
And it’s always good to bring home a win on your home turf.
“It feels great to bringing it home to these guys,” added Jimmy. “I have to thank everyone for coming out here and supporting us.”
John Blewett, III, another hometown boy, won the second heat race. In the feature race, he came in second behind his brother Jimmy. But was it just another Saturday night or a Modified Tour race to this Blewett Brother?
“It was a matter of experience,” said John Blewett. “Whether it was track experience or like Reg (Ruggiero), with numerous years of racing. I don’t think that the track was all that bad. If the guys do not know the race track then they do not know how you can race it. It is not as bad as it seems. The whole day today was just a matter of finishing. We needed to come in here and have a good day. I want to thank the guys, they worked hard. We are looking forward to the next couple of races.”
Jimmy Blewett and his brother John run side by side. (Howie Hodge Photo Credit)
Reggie Ruggiero came home with the third spot in the feature event, but he was able to find victory lane in the first heat race in the #14 Dick Barney car. Reggie kept Jimmy Blewett in check behind him to be first across the start finish line first in the heat.
“We were going good all day,” said Ruggiero. “Just at the beginning the car was a little bit tight until we felt it run away a little bit.”
Reg started the main feature in the front and led for one lap before “Showtime” Jimmy Blewett passed him on the second lap. After that pass, Reggie found himself in a Blewett sandwich as John Blewett had his eyes set on that second spot.
“He got by and then I had to slip back to third I guess,” added Ruggiero. “And then we got back into second and then slid back again to third.
“I almost got Johnny on the last lap there. It is just a tough little race track. It is contact sport as you can see. There were a lot of wrecks today but even when you are up front you are banging wheels and smoking tires. When I first started at Plainville Stadium and ran at Riverside Park for twenty years that is how it was there and that is how it is here. That is short track racing should be.
NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR-Thunder At The Shore Results
Wall Township Speedway
Wall Township, NJ
Lap length: 0.333 miles
(Start position in parentheses) 1. (3) Jimmy Blewett, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 50 laps, $4,200. 2. (2) John Blewett, III, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 50, $2,700. 3. (1) Reggie Ruggiero, Rocky Hill, Conn., Chevrolet, 50, $2,100. 4. (4) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 50, $2,000. 5. (9) Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I., Chevrolet, 50, $2,500. 6. (7) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Dodge, 50, $2,000. 7. (11) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 50, $1,900. 8. (5) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn., Ford, 50, $1,950. 9. (13) Jerry Marquis, Broad Brook, Conn., Chevrolet, 50, $1,600. 10. (10) Billy Pauch, Jr., Frenchtown, N.J., Dodge, 50, $1,600. 11. (20) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Ford, 50, $1,350. 12. (25) Joseph Hartmann, Calverton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 50, $1,425. 13. (19) Danny Sammons, Trenton, N.J., Chevrolet, 50, $1,125. 14. (12) Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Dodge, 50, $1,375. 15. (26) Eddie Flemke, Southington, Conn., Chevrolet, 50, $1,130. 16. (6) Chuck Hossfeld, Buffalo, N.Y., Pontiac, 50, $1,300. 17. (30) Rob Summers, Manchester, Conn., Pontiac, 49, $975. 18. (16) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Chevrolet, 49, $525. 19. (28) Ron Yuhas, Groton, Conn., Chevrolet, 49, $900. 20. (17) James Civali, Meriden, Conn., Chevrolet, 44, $1,275. 21. (29) Eric Beers, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 42, $1,225. 22. (31) Jimmy Storace, Kingston, N.H., Chevrolet, 38, suspension, $1,100. 23. (22) Wade Cole, Riverton, Conn., Chevrolet, 37, accident, $775. 24. (18) Anthony Sesely, Matawan, N.J., Chevrolet, 37, bumper, $725. 25. (15) Dick Houlihan, Bridgewater, Mass., Chevrolet, 34, $1,000. 26. (21) Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass., Chevrolet, 32, $300. 27. (14) Ryan Preece, Kensington, CT, Chevrolet, 32, $300. 28. (24) Ken Woolley, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 28, accident, $300. 29. (8) Bobby Grigas, Marshfield, MA, Chevrolet, 30, accident, $600. 30. (23) Richard Savary, Canton, Mass., Chevrolet, 29, $600. 31. (27) Zach Sylvester, Lebanon, Conn., Pontiac, 28, accident, $1,100.
Failed to Qualify: (5) Kevin Goodale (#58), Jake Marosz (#9), Glen Tyler * (#8), Anthony Ferrante, Jr (#31), Renee Dupuis (#90).
Margin of Victory: 1.6 seconds
FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER AWARD: John Blewett, III, 66 Blewett Motorsports Chevrolet
POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE: Joseph Hartmann *, 05 WMS Construction Chevrolet
SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Billy Pauch, Jr. *, 06 Greenfield Dodge Dodge
WHELEN ENGINEERING WINNER OF THE RACE: Jimmy Blewett, 12 T.S. Haulers/ United Crane Chevrolet
BUD POLE AWARD: 1st Qualifying race; Reggie Ruggiero, 2nd Qualifying race; John Blewett, III
Lap Leaders:Reggie Ruggiero 1, Jimmy Blewett 2-50. Total Laps Led:Jimmy Blewett 49, Reggie Ruggiero 1. 1 changes involving 2 drivers. Unofficial Top 20 Driver Points:Jimmy Blewett 478, Matt Hirschman * 447, James Civali 429, Todd Szegedy 418, Chuck Hossfeld 409, Donny Lia 404, Jerry Marquis 403, Ronnie Silk 399, Mike Stefanik 376, Billy Pauch, Jr. * 361, Zach Sylvester 359, Ted Christopher 348, Reggie Ruggiero 344, Bobby Grigas * 344, Jamie Tomaino 343, Eric Beers 333, John Blewett, III 325, Dick Houlihan 318, Kevin Goodale 309, Jimmy Storace 306
Next Race:Stafford Springs, Conn.
* Denotes Rookie of the Year Contender
There was very little passing of cars going on, on either the top or bottom groove other then what went on during the restarts. Wall Township Speedway is a small 1/3 mile track and the Tour cars could not get up to the same speeds as they typically do. Green flag racing was constantly interrupted by caution. There were fifteen cautions in the fifty lap race and as the saying goes, cautions breed cautions and that was the case at Wall, as each caution seemed to breed another one on the restarts.
Flash Dance is Talk of the Town
The Flash Race is the new game in town with the Whelen Modified Tour and opinions seem to vary on the subject. Some feel though as it is getting back to the roots of short track modified racing while other feel that it is taking a step down from the level of the Tour.
There was plenty of thunder on the track. (Jim DuPont Photo)
After the qualifying heat races two of the young guns; Bobby Grigas III and Billy Pauch Jr. of the Whelen Tour were discussing the racing.
They both liked the Flash format because they are use to short track racing with 50 lap shootouts or qualifying heat races. During the second heat race, Bobby Grigas and Billy Pauch, Jr. were pretty evenly matched. They each raced hard and did not give one another an inch. They started the main race in the top-10 where Pauch was able to finish, but unfortunately Grigas ran into trouble and had to settle for a 29th place finish.
Speed51.com will have more on the reaction to the flash race format coming soon. Stay tuned.
Jimmy Blewett and the rest of the Modified Tour will head next to Stafford Speedway on Friday, May 25th. That event won’t be a flash race though. It will consist of the traditional 150-lap Modified Tour format.