CIVALI WINS OPEN/TOUR TYPE
TURKEY DERBY XXXIV
by J.A. Ackley
Despite brisk and blustery weather, many fans packed
the stands to witness a Thanksgiving tradition, the Turkey Derby at Wall
Township Speedway. The event attracted some of the best along the
Eastern Seaboard, including drivers as South as North Carolina and as
North as New Hampshire providing an interesting field at the interesting
27 cars would time trial, and when the dust settled, 2007 Bowman Gray
Stadium champion, #1 Burt Myers,
took fast time. Following Myers in time, would be #60 Matt Hirschman,
fresh off his North South Shootout win, #14 Reggie Ruggiero (a former
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Wall winner), #88 James Civali, and the #06
of New Jersey’s Billy Pauch Jr.
The consi would see an eclectic mix of racers, new and old,
from all parts of the Northeast. Prior to the consi, local favorite,
Steven Reed withdrew his #55, as something went amiss in his drivetrain.
NWMT regular, #09 Bobby Grigas III, started scratch as he missed time
trials. The consi started 10 cars, with only the top 6 finishers being
guaranteed a starting spot. #5 Anthony Sesely would play it cool, and
start first and finish first in the consi taking the first transfer
spot. Following Sesely, would be #36 Dave Sapienza, #54 Michael Bohn,
#81 Nevin George, #22 Jamie Tomaino, and #53 Brian DeFebo.
When all was said and done, everyone that was able to start
had a starting position with 27 cars taking the green. The redraw paved
the way for a possible classic duel of Wall greats, the #14 of Reggie
Ruggiero alongside the New Jersey fan favorite #76 of Jimmy Blewett.
This will be the last race the #76 will grace Wall Township Speedway, a
car made famous by all of the Blewett clan, and most recently by the
late, John Blewett III. John Blewett III’s son, John W. Blewett
masterfully gave the command that all drivers crave – start your
engines, and the race was set to start.
The green would wave to start the 34th Turkey Derby, and
right at the start, mayhem began.
Reggie Ruggiero’s #14 would get
tapped from behind and smack the frontstretch wall head on, coming to a
rest in turn 1, bringing out the first caution. His front row
counterpart, #76 Jimmy Blewett pitted.
With a new front row of NWMT regular, #88 James Civali and
New Jersey native, #06 Billy Pauch Jr., the field was set for green once
more, but as quickly as the green would wave, caution would fly once
more for a tangle in turns 1 and 2, involving #11 Tommy Farrell III, #09
Bobby Grigas III, #06 Les Hinckley, and #22 Jamie Tomaino.
Green would fly again, but 2 laps caution would wave once
more with the #81 Nevin George in the backstretch wall, just after turn
2. After the track crew cleaned the wrecked vehicle away, the green
would wave. #88 James Civali got a good lead over #06 Billy Pauch Jr.
and Pauch had a sizeable lead over #60 Matt Hirschman.
Caution would wave on lap 22 to end the long green run, for a
tangle among the backmarkers. Meanwhile, keep in mind that #76 Blewett
is slowly moving up through the field.
Green would fly again but on lap 24 the caution would break
for a spin off turn 4, and in those two laps, #76 Jimmy Blewett cracked
the top 10.
The next time caution waved was on lap 38 for the
#53 of Mountain Speedway’s Brian DeFebo.
At lap 38, #76 Blewett was 7th. The green flag waves, #88 Civali keeps
his lead, but #60 Hirschman moves into second as #06 Pauch falls back.
Lap 42 caution flies for the disabled #15A of Jersey native
Ken Woolley, Jr., suffering a flat tire in turn 2. Lap 43 caution again
for #1 Burt Myers whom got spun in turn 4 and as of result, #5 Anthony
Sesely got involved. Meanwhile #76 Blewett is now 5th.
Lap 44, caution flies once more for the #11 Tommy Farrell III
and #53 Brian DeFebo. The green would resume and #76 Blewett sneaks into
4th before the yellow flies once more on lap 46, as a header pipe falls
off a car and onto the track. #88 Civali and #60 Hirschman restart
side-by-side, with eager young gun, NWMT Regular #93 Rowan Pennink
trying his shot at the lead with the savvy #76 Blewett laying back to
see how this pans out.
Caution waves lap 49 for #36 Dave Sapienza, #22 Jamie
Tomaino, and #06 Les Hinckley who tangle in turns 1 and 2. #60 Hirschman
pits, providing #76 Blewett the third place spot.
#88 Civali and #93 Pennink restart the field, with #88 Civali
taking the lead and #76 Blewett grabbing second. #93 Pennink falls back
further on the high side, as Wall veteran, #31 Tony Ferrante, Jr. sneaks
underneath for third. The Civali-Blewett-Ferrante tandem would form the
lead pack for many laps to come. The Wall crowd is enjoying
every minute of it, as their favorite son, Blewett is in scoring
position for the win. On lap 59, #76 Blewett tries the high side of #88
Civali. They race side-by-side, but unfortunately Civali holds #76
Blewett off on lap 63 and keeps the lead.
Lap 74, #88 Civali starts encountering traffic, but Civali
uses it to only enhance his lead, stretching the space between him and
#76 Blewett. Around lap 80, #36 Sapienza captures his Long Island
brethren and contemplates a move on #31 Tony Ferrante Jr. The long green
run would end, as the #22 Jamie Tomaino spun from turn 2. #22 Tomaino
thought he was clear to re-enter the track, but unfortunately catches #0
Danny Sammons just slightly, bringing out the caution on lap 91.
The nine-lap shootout would feature the top five being: #88
James Civali, #76 Jimmy Blewett, #31 Tony Ferrante, Jr., #36 Dave
Sapienza, and #93 Rowan Pennink. The green would wave, and going into
turn 1, #93 Pennink dove under #36 Sapienza and the wheels of both
competitors meet. #93 Pennink would continue on, but #36 Sapienza’s day
was done. Meanwhile #88 James Civali maintained a healthy lead over #76
Blewett, and would continue to do so until the checkered flag. For
Civali, the Turkey Derby win is his biggest yet, and just an indication
of what the young star might be capable of in years to come. While there
would be no storybook win for the final run of the famed #76, it would
be a storybook run, as Jimmy Blewett drove the wheels off the car coming
of the field to the front. The run was reminiscent of all the Blewetts
that had the great fortune of running the red, white, and blue #76 at
Wall Township Speedway. Finishing third would be the semi-retired
#31 Tony Ferrante Jr. Ferrante has
been running a limited schedule in 2007, and ran well in the few races
he entered. Maybe Ferrante has found the key to youth in racing, just as
NASCAR Cup regular, Mark Martin has, running a limited schedule and
doing well in every race you run.
All-in-all, it was a race to remember, which the case is for
any Turkey Derby. With a couple months until the Modifieds next run (New
Smyrna), enjoy your off-season and be sure to stay tuned to your
favorite Modified website,
TheChromeHorn.com for your much-needed daily dose of Modifieds.
Source: J.A. Ackley/TheChromeHorn.com
November 24, 2007