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Showtime Says “All Bets Off” to Win at Wall Stadium
by Denise DuPont

Thirty tour type modified race teams came to Wall Stadium ready to compete for a spot in the thirty-seventh Turkey Derby race at Wall Stadium. Once again there was a full weekend of racing scheduled as pits were filled to capacity. With cold temperatures and a constant wind surrounding the track, officials made the call to start all tour type modified cars that qualified. So when the green flag flew marking the start of the traditional Thanksgiving event, thirty drivers charged forward to find that one winning spot.

The Turkey Derby race started as usual. Racers with home track advantages dominated the track and were ready to take home the top spots. It was a long, hard 150 lap race especially with caution laps not being counted. Once again the end of the race dealt another a twist of fate was dealt to the then race leader, Tommy Farrell. With only eleven laps to go, cars ran out of gas and stopped on the track to bring out a last caution. Until then Farrell had proven he had the car to beat as he was able to pit and come back through the field to take the race lead.

When the green flag flew before Farrell knew what was happening, Jimmy Blewett had the lead and Matt Hirschman had second. Farrell had to settle for third. “I do not know if Tomaino pitted for fuel or whatever happened there,” said Jimmy Blewett about the caution. “I think that if we went all the way through with the green, the #08 might have had it. Matt, the #08 (Tommy Farrell) and #99 (Jamie Tomaino) were really strong.”

The race took over two hours and was caution laden. At the end, even the winner was tired. “150 laps and double file the whole time is kind of a long time (Cautions not counting). I was not really so much concerned about the cautions, but my track position was what I was concerned about.” And with those words Blewett showed his Showtime colors. “We got the flat with Matt there. I was a little un-happy with that. If he was going to win that race, he was going to have to pay me. Meaning he was going to have to work hard for it.”

So the battle between Jimmy Blewett and Matt Hirschman raged again in Blewett’s eyes at the Turkey Derby. “Matt and I have had a past. He is not too happy with me but I will take a win any way that I can get it. After I got that flat tire all bets were off. So if he really wanted to win he was going to have to take me out of that race.” And yes, once again this year fans both cheered and booed Blewett on his victory.

Second place finisher Matt Hirschman led the race from lap 20 until Lap 113 when the caution was brought out for Blewett’s flat tire. During that caution Hirschman made his pit stop. Hirschman had waited late in the race to pit which was a different team strategy. “I made the mistake before here of giving up the lead or a top running position, within the top three and regretted it. So this time I said that we are going to stay out. The car was good. I knew that we were going to have to pit but the run was nice and clean up front. I led a lot of laps today. So we decided to stay out a little later and it ended out working out.”

So after a strong SK win Hirschman came in second in the tour mod race. Was he disappointed? “It is always nice to celebrate the win. You could have asked for a better day in racing to have won both of them. I am not down at all because we were on this weekend. We had excellent cars. Not to pat myself on the back but my driving and decision making were right on. I am really proud of the whole team including myself on the whole weekend. We were all right on. I have been fast here many times. I have finished second here many times. And now I have another one.”

Tommy Farrell ran with the leaders all race. He pitted at what seemed was the right time and went forward through the field to pass for the lead on lap 120. But then when he had a six car length lead over the field and was charging for the win, a caution came out. On the restart his car was no match for the fresh tires of prior Wall track champion, Jimmy Blewett. “We pitted a little earlier than the leaders (Jimmy Blewett and Matt Hirschman). We wore the right rear out a little faster so they had a little bit more at the end for us. If the caution did not come out we would have checked out ahead of them. But the caution came out and we ended up third.”

“This was a long tough race. There were a lot of cautions and a lot of wrecking. We were just really trying to save everything and to keep the four wheels on it. And that is hard to do sometime. You will see if you at the back of this thing (#08 car). We ended up in a couple of skirmishes there and got a flat and pitted and changed that and came back out. We pitted later on and got two right tires. We got back through the field and drove to the lead. But then we just got eaten up by two of the better cars at that point.”

We all wondered what was going on in Farrell’s mind as he sat in third watching Blewett and Hirschman going back and forth racing hard for the win. And knowing Blewett and Hirschman have a history on the track. “I was hoping that they were going to clean each other out,” said Farrell. “I think that Matty is a little too clean and knew that he would not do it but I knew if they got in the wrong situation there then I had a chance. If Matty was in the lead, I think that Jimmy was destined to win this. He wanted it real bad so he was going to do whatever it took. That is how your win races and that is what it takes in the last ten laps to do it. So that is why he is in victory lane.”

2009 Turkey Derby winner, Rowan Pennink parked his car on lap 113 after pitting several times. He briefly led the race and for a while looked like a repeated winner. “We had a real good car from the start. We got up to the front and we were kind of just taking it easy to burn some laps down. It was a long race and no cautions counted. So we were just cruising waiting to pit and we ended up blowing a power steering line. We went back out there without the power steering and it was just too hard. There was just too much oil on the windshield to see where I was going so rather than wrecking in the race, we pulled off and that was the night.”

Modified Racing Series front runner Les Hinckley had another roller coaster day of racing. “It was a challenging day out there. We kind of got behind the eight ball with time trials.” Les said about the start of his race day. “We drew so bad all year on the Modified Racing Series in the back. And then we come here and draw the pole for time trials which is the last thing we wanted. Then we went out and did not time well. Coming up through the field there were beating and banging. It was a crazy race. I have a pretty sore neck.”

Watching the race, it appeared every time Hinckley got up in the top five, Lady Luck would jump out and deal him a blow sending him back to the pits and the rear of the field. “We got to the front and we were looking pretty good after we pitted. With the stickers after we pitted cold, I was on the bottom of the race track and spun the tires on the restart and I lost spots. I thought I was going to be racing Kenny Wolley on the restart. I looked up and I was in tenth and Kenny was in second after we restarted with him. So I thought that we were in pretty good shape. Had things gone different we realistically could have won this race. But it just did not go our way. That is why it is called racing and not winning I guess.”

Well race fans, we have placed another Thanksgiving weekend and Open Tour Type Modified Turkey Derby event in the history books. And as Jimmy Blewett put it best when he summarized his 2008 Turkey Derby win over Matt Hirschman: “For Every Super Hero like Matt (Hirschman) there is a Villain like me.” So yes race fans the Showtime lives on!

Turkey Derby XXXVII Race Notes:

Matt Hirschman’s Thoughts after His 100 lap SK Mod Race Win

“It (SK Mod) was just perfect from the time that we unloaded it. That was the first time that car was ever here and we never touched a thing on it. The car was just that good. We won the pole and then redrew the pole. We had no problems with anybody (other drivers) and the restarts were really clean. There were a lot of cautions and the race took a long time. Bob Warren and Ron did a great job with the car. We had it down at the North-South (Shootout race) and we had an issue with it. The motor was not running right. So we question whether or not we were going to come (Turkey Derby). They took it (engine) out and fixed it. Now the thing runs great. Unfortunately we did not have what we should have had down at the North South. We found the problem and fixed. We have had a great record with that car this year.”

“To get a win with the SK a race here is special. You never know what the future is here. It is always year to year. It is tradition and it was a good weekend. So the season is over and we are going into next year with a lot of positives. We probably have more positive things going into next year than I have had for several years. Just the way that everybody is upbeat. All the cars that I drive for and the people we are all back together again next year. There is not even a doubt at all with any of them. We are all together, working good together.”

Source: Denise DuPont/TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: December 1, 2010

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