The Chrome Horn News


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 high-banked third-mile.
    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 spun #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 from the back 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, for your much-needed daily dose of Modifieds.


Source:  J.A. Ackley/
Posted:  November 24, 2007

©2007 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.