Blewett III Wins Caution-Filled Tour-Type Modified Race by Steve Neely
Racy Track For Some, Tricky For Others
Yellow was the color of the night as the drivers of the Tour-Type Modifieds beat and banged their way through Monday night’s feature race at New Smyrna Speedway. After taking the night off on Sunday, the drivers resumed their fierce competition right where they left off.
In the end, it was John Blewett III who fended off numerous challenges from Zach Sylvester to claim his first victory at The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. The win also came about two hours after younger brother Jimmy claimed a victory in the SK Modified event, making it a clean sweep on the night for the Blewett family in the modified divisions.
John Blewett III celebrates his first Speedweeks win of 2007 Monday night. (51 Photos)
“On the start, I was able to run the high side and get a good run down the back and grab the lead on the first lap,” said Blewett III. “I didn’t anticipate getting the lead that fast.”
Blewett III took advantage of several short green-flag runs in-between cautions to maintain his advantage over Sylvester, hanging on for a margin of victory of about two-car lengths.
The feature was slowed a half-dozen times for cautions, leading many to wonder why so many drivers were taking chances. Second-place finisher Sylvester credited racing against Blewett III with patience as the reason why he was able to bring home a car in one piece.
“You take your shots when you can get them,” said Sylvester. “You can’t be overaggressive because it doesn’t get me or him anywhere. It’s a long week and neither of us want to do any more work than we have to. Tomorrow night is another night to get him.”
Sylvester said the reason for all the bent sheet metal was actually the competition at the fast half-mile oval.
“The track is just too fast,” said Sylvester. “Usually you have to give a little more than you can take. A lot of guys don’t do that and end up spending more time on their cars than they have to.”
Bobby Holmes was a victim of the carnage Monday night. (Jim DuPont photo)
Blewett III agreed about the competitiveness of the track.
“The track was really racy tonight,” said Blewett III. “I think the other guys were racy too, especially some of the good cars who had to start in the back tonight. They were trying to work their way back to the front.”
Two of the drivers who were moving forward were Eric Beers and Jimmy Blewett, whose cars, in an illustration of the weirdness of the night, became locked together nose-to-tail on the backstretch to cause a caution. Both cars continued, with Beers finishing 11th and Jimmy Blewett 13th.
The biggest incident on the day came when four drivers crashed on the backstretch. One of those involved was Bobby Holmes, who is running New Smyrna for the first time this week. He offered his theory for the high number of cautions.
“The track is fast, and there’s no place to go to pass anyone,” said Holmes. “You almost have to move someone to pass them. We made it through today but we backed it into the wall. They just need to settle down. We have a long time here - a week left - so it’s tough.”
MOD NOTES: NIGHT FOUR
Third-Straight For Jimmy In SK
Jimmy Blewett continued his Speedweeks domination in the SK Modified feature by winning his third race in a row in the division on Monday night.
Call him "Showtime" or "The People's Champ," Jimmy Blewett has been fast in the SK ranks at Smyrna.
In racing though, it is not a one-man show.
"It is all due to the crew preparing me a good car out there," said Blewett. "You know, I am just driving this thing. These guys are giving me a great car day in and day out. I can't ask for any more out of my guys."
Blewett was challenged hard in the late stages of the race. Earl Paules tried high and low to get by, but Blewett blocked every move.
"You can't let it go with five to go," said Blewett.
Earl Paules Quietly Making His Presence Known
He may not have won a race yet during Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway, but Earl Paules has been in the hunt without making much of a stir.
"The car has been good," said Paules, after finishing third in the Tour-Type Modified race on Monday night. "We haven't hit it quite perfect yet. We've been time-trialing in the top five every night, so that was my biggest concern coming down here. We do not time trial ever, so that worked out pretty well."
With two top-six Speedweeks finishes, Paules still feels the team has work on his Tour-Type Modified to get to the winner's circle.
Earl Paules' Tour-Type Mod
"I didn't keep up with the race track myself," explained Paules. "We were a little loose tonight, but we are getting really good."
In his SK Modified, Paules has come close to winning in all three events, only to finish the first two events in the runner-up spot to Jimmy Blewett. Monday night he looked destined for the win, but a pre-race mistake cost him a chance at the victory.
"I left the fans on (after qualifying) and actually killed the battery," said Paules. "We didn't realize it until after we went across the scales. We quickly threw a charge in the battery, but it wasn't enough to make the whole race."
This did not dampen his spirits.
"We have five more nights. We will be there."
Lia Continues Top-Five Runs
After winning Saturday night's Tour-Type Modified race, Donny Lia looked to enter victory lane for the second-straight race.
It wasn't quite a win, but a fourth-place finish suited him just fine.
"The car wasn't really perfect but we are creeping up on it every night," said Lia. "Saturday we won, but we started from the pole. I think we are going to be good here. We have a few changes we need to make to the car. We had a smart run and everyone worked good together."
On his day off Sunday from the Modified, Lia competed in the R/C Snowbird Nationals in Orlando. Although he finished the A Main in eighth position, he was satisfied with his first nationals event.
"It was a good experience," said Lia. "It is a hobby of mine and I have fun with it. They are just little race cars, the only difference is that you are not in them. It is pretty addicting."
Logano Not Afraid To Mix It Up With The Regulars
Joey Logano is having plenty of fun running Gary Cretty's Modified.
Early in the race while challenging for the third position, Logano tangled with Ted Christopher, resulting in Christopher's car going into the spin cycle.
"He shouldn't have came down on me," said Logano. "We touched, he came across my right front, but when I am there, I am there. I am not backing off for anybody."
Mechanical problems plagued his first night at New Smyrna, which continued again, puzzling Logano.
"It was a decent run," he said. "I started third but my power steering went out again, on lap three. I don't get it. It doesn't make it any easier for me but the car got a little tight. It was a long day. We blew up a transmission in practice, and got that changed just in time. The guys did an awesome job."
In just two Modified races under his belt, Logano's confidence is high.
"I went out there, got blocked a couple of spots and was trying to get by somebody and they got loose, and I lost all my momentum. It's tough to pass out there. I will take it; I think we have a fast enough car to win
some. Get a little bit power and a little bit more grip and we should be there. So we will see."
Hossfeld Finishes A Strong Fifth Place
Chuck Hossfeld rolled out a different car for Monday night's competition hoping it would carry him to the win. But the race didn't start off too well as mechanical issues challenged his determination.
Chuck Hossfeld hoped the white car would bring him some better luck Monday night.
"The one thing that really bummed me out was that we had a miss or something on the original start and it was sputtering and banging and stuff," said Hossfeld. "This was the first night that we ran this car, I don't know if there was some dirt in the carburetor or something so I lost some ground there. I made it up later on."
Hossfeld was able to get his #79 machine up to speed. By the end of the race, he worked his way up to the fifth position. While satisfied, he was left wanting more.
"We passed a couple of guys, and it ended up being a good night from where we started to be honest," said Hossfeld. "I would really like to thank my friends from Coors Light who were here tonight. I wish that we could have done a little bit better for them but as far as points, I would really like to win the championship, I Have been second two years in a row now and it was really close last year. I would really like to win that, If we keep gaining like we are I think that we will be a contender for it."