NEWS & NOTES
NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
• Blewett Looks To Continue His Winning Ways At NHIS
• Civali Excited About Going Back To New Hampshire After A Second And Third
• Ted Christopher To Be Joined In The Field By Twin Brother Mike
John Blewett III (No. 66 Blewett Motorsports Chevrolet) was just about
to hop on a plane last year when he got the official news: He was the
winner of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire
Blewett and James Civaili (No. 28 Ramer-Hall/Liberty
Limousine Chevrolet) were running neck and neck when the caution flag
flew on the final lap. While NASCAR reviewed the finish, Blewett had to
bolt from the track. He had a private plane waiting for him at nearby
Manchester Airport to take him back to his home state of New Jersey.
Blewett was in the hunt for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series title
and wanted to get back to Wall Speedway to race that night.
He followed up his good news from the track by winning the
Modified feature at Wall. And when he came back to NHIS for the fall
race, Blewett took his time in Victory Lane after picking up his second
straight win on the mile oval.
“I was lucky last year – my family put me in some really
great equipment,” Blewett said. “Up there, the engine, the car, the
driver – all have to be in tune. We just seemed to hit on it last year.”
Blewett had been to Victory Lane at NHIS twice before driving
for owner Curt Chase. And while he said it took nothing away from his
wins with Chase, last year was something special.
“To go up there and prove I could do it on my own,” Blewett
said. “There was a lot of self-satisfaction there.”
Blewett and Civali will be among more than 40 drivers that
will attempt to qualify for Saturday’s New England 100.
Despite the disappoint that accompanied having to hand the
trophy back to NASCAR officials last year, Civali can’t wait to get to
“Real excited, actually,” said Civali, who finished third in
the fall race last year. “It should be really good. We’re really psyched
Civali is second in points, just 19 behind Donny Lia (No. 4
Mystic River Marina Dodge), despite the fact that a flat tire midway
through the rain-shortened race at Thompson (Conn.) International
Speedway last week left him with a seventh-place finish in a car he
thought was capable of winning.
Civali suddenly found his groove at New Hampshire last year.
He and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart put on some of the
most impressive passing and drafting during last July’s event. The
secret, according to Civali, is to be able to relax on the high-speed
“Your car doesn’t have to be that fast,” Civali said. “You
just have to race well, and draft and pass. It just takes a little bit
of comfort. If you’re comfortable with the track, you’re going to be
“You really have to look around and pay attention to the race
and not just what your car is doing. That’s a race where you can go from
15th to the front in two or three laps.”
Civali compared the scenarios that play out when drafting in
a Whelen Modified Tour car at New Hampshire to NEXTEL Cup races at
Daytona and Talladega.
“I’ve lost four or five races there on the last three laps,”
Blewett said. “You try to get yourself in position where you can be
there in the final three or four laps. Sometimes leading is not the best
place to be. Other times, it is.”
For Blewett, “being there” represents a chance to continue
his dominance. Between 2000-2003, he had two wins, three 3rds and a
fourth in seven races at the track that is the highlight of the Whelen
Modified Tour schedule.
In the next two years, though, he had only one finish in the
top 20 – a 10th in 2005 – while Ted Christopher (No. 36 AI-Lee
Installations Chevrolet) was winning four straight.
“Teddy replaced me as the guy to beat,” Blewett said. “Now
I’ve seemed to have got that back.
“New Hampshire is a race that pretty much anybody in Modified
racing looks forward to, whether you’re a race fan, a driver, even a car
owner. … They did such a great job with the racetrack up there. I don’t
think there’s ever been a bad Modified race there.”
Blewett still plans a busy weekend. He will qualify the
Whelen Modified Tour car at New Hampshire Thursday afternoon and then
drive to Thompson for the weekly feature there Thursday night. Saturday,
the early afternoon start may preclude a trip back to New Jersey but his
sponsor that helped him out last year, Specialized Machinery Transport,
is on stand-by just in case.
“(Last year) I didn’t have much choice but to get the hell
out of there,” Blewett said. “(This year) we’re going to play Saturday
NEWS & NOTES
Christopher's Back On Track … Ted Christopher is coming off a
season-best second-place finish. He will be joined in the NHIS
qualifying effort by his twin brother Mike (No. 82 Ferguson Dodge), who
is making his first Whelen Modified Tour start of the season. It would
mark Mike’s first race since April 23 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor
Speedway. Mike finished second to Ted in the July 24, 2004 race at NHIS.
New Experience … None of the top six drivers in points have a
victory at NHIS. Points leader Donny Lia had just two top 5s – a fourth
and a fifth in 2004 – while third-place Jimmy Blewett has none. Todd
Szegedy (No. 2 Wisk/Snuggle Ford), who is fourth in points, has finished
second three times, most recently to Ted Christopher in September 2004.
Last year as rookies, fifth-place Matt Hirschman (No. 59 Furnace & Duct
Chevrolet) finished 24th and 13th, and sixth-place Ronnie Silk (No. 19
Major Motion Transportation/Silk Plumbing and Heating Chevrolet) was
10th and 12th. Defending Whelen Modified Tour champion Mike Stefanik
(No. 16 Diversified Metals Pontiac), currently seventh in points, has
six victories at New Hampshire. That ties him for second at the track
with Reggie Ruggiero, while Matt Hirschman’s father Tony has seven wins.
What: New England 100, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Race
Where: New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
When: 1:10 p.m., Saturday, June 30
Track layout: 1.058 mile paved oval.
Distance: 100 Laps, 105.8 miles.
Posted Awards: $164, 095
TV: SPEED (Enhanced replay premiers July 25, noon ET)
2006 winner: John Blewett III
2006 polesitter: Zach Sylvester
Record: Mike Ewanitsko, July 20, 2001, 132.742 mph; 28.693 sec.
Pre-race schedule: Thursday – Practice 11:15-12:40 p.m. ;
2:35-2:45 p.m. Qualifying, 2:50 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Top 10: 1. Donny Lia, 764; 2. James
Civali, 745; 3. Jimmy Blewett, 744; 4. Todd Szegedy, 728; 5. Matt
Hirschman, 721; 6. Ronnie Silk, 649; 7. Mike Stefanik, 621; 8. Jamie
Tomaino, 619; 9. Ted Christopher, 597; 10. Jerry Marquis, 591.
Track Contact: Fred Neergaard (603) 783-4744
Christley/NASCAR WMT PR
June 26, 2007