RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Turkey Derby At Wall; A Time-Honored Tradition, NASCAR Tour Changes & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Wall Stadium in New Jersey wrapped up the 2021 northeast racing season with the annual Turkey Derby.

The final day of Turkey Derby was on Saturday Nov. 27 and featured a six-feature card headlined by the $10,000 to win 150-lap Tour Type Modified feature. Jimmy Blewett won the 48th annual Turkey Derby.

Blewett, driving a new car for a new team, was at the front throughout the race and took the lead for good from Tyler Truex with about 40 laps to go. Finishing second was Blake Barney, third was Angelo Belsito, fourth was Timmy Solomito, who rebounded from a late-race spin – and fifth was Danny Bohn. Matt Hirschman led laps early but was sidelined with a blown engine just before halfway. There were 28 tour type modifieds on hand.

Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa. jumped to the lead from the pole on the 24 car field while others including Blake Barney of Jackson, Long Island’s Timmy Solomito, Tyler Truex of Egg Harbor Township and Blewett tried to track him down. When Hirschman dropped from the race on lap 67 with engine woes, Solomito took command and stayed in the top spot until lap 82 when he, Blewett and a host of others pitted for tire changes.

Anthony Sesely of Keyport and Holmdel’s Andrew Krause were the top two when action resumed before Krause took command on lap 90. Truex soon raced into the top spot and held the lead until a lap 113 restart when Blewett powered to the front. Angelo Belsito of Oxford, Mass. qualified at the rear of the field through the last chance race.

In other modified action at the Jersey shore oval that was patterned after the Lonsdale Arena in Rhode Island, Andrew Krause raced from mid-pack to win a suspense filled 100-lap Wall Modified (sk type) stock car feature race during the previous weekend of the 48th annual Turkey Derby.

In the Wall Modified 100-lapper, Ricky Collins of Willow Grove, Pa. and Brick’s Dom Fattaruso wrestled for the top spot early as Howell’s Jimmy Blewett and Krause raced towards the front of the field. By lap 20 Blewett and Krause moved into the top two spots and then a battle that would keep most fans riveted ensued. Lap after green flag lap Blewett and Krause raced in tight formation with Krause often times darting to either side of Blewett looking for a path to the front.

A lap 89 restart then offered a side-by-side front row with the leader Blewett electing to start in the outside lane with Krause on his inside. Blewett nosed ahead for a moment, before the duo raced side-by-side for several laps before Krause moved to the front on the 92nd circuit. Krause, the track’s 2021 driving champ, then raced to his seventh win of the year with Blewett, Anthony Sesely of Hazlet, Jackson’s Blake Barney and Derek Hopkinson of Toms River completing the top five.

NASCAR announced last Tue, Nov 23 that the return of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. will be delayed by a few months. Earlier this month it was announced that the Whelen Modified Tour would return to Langley Speedway for the first time since 2018 for an April 23 event in 2022.

It was announced Tuesday that NASCAR and Langley Speedway have made the decision to move the event from April 23 to to Aug. 27. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour director Jimmy Wilson said the decision to move the event was due to scheduling conflicts. NASCAR is expected in the coming weeks to announce a bonus program for the three Whelen Modified Tour events in Virginia for the 2022 season. The series will also run at Richmond Raceway (April 1) and Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 27).

The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and Pro All Stars Series (PASS) have finalized the 2022 oval track schedule for Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The sanctioning bodies will again put on six events for the 83rd season of racing at the historic 5/8-mile oval.

The season begins the first weekend of April with the annual Icebreaker. Friday, April 1 is an open practice day for Icebreaker divisions. Saturday, April 2 is Icebreaker Day 1 headlined by a 75-lap National Championship feature for the PASS Super Late Models. The Outlaw Open Modified Series returns Sunday, April 3 for the $10,000-to-win Icebreaker 125 as part of Icebreaker Day 2. All five of Thompson Speedway’s local divisions — the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsmen, SK Light Modifieds, and Mini Stocks — are also part of the Icebreaker. Additional divisions and the full schedule of events for each day will be announced at a later date.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour runs on Friday night, April 1 in Richmond. Competitors who wish to partake in the Thompson Ice Breaker will have to do an all-nighter but its do-able as its approximately 7-8 hours to Thompson to Richmond.

The local divisions will also be part of each Wednesday night “Summer Series” event. The summer racing series begins Wednesday, June 15 at 6:00pm with the Nutmeg State 75 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series, which will pay a minimum of $5,000 to win. The same line-up is on tap for the Midsummer 75 on Wednesday, July 13.

As previously announced, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) makes its return to Thompson Speedway on Wednesday, August 17 at 6:00pm for the Thompson 150. It’s the first NASCAR Modified visit to Thompson since the 2020 World Series. The Outlaw Open Modifieds will get that night off. They return for the Tripoint Showdown 75 on Wednesday, September 14 to wrap up the Summer Series.

The season concludes with the 60th Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing from Friday, October 7 to Sunday, October 9.

Fred Harbach was the first Long Islander to venture to Stafford in the late 60’s. His Chevy II Modified was competitive but never won. Charlie Jarzombek made his first off island venture a successful one as he entered a 100 lapper on Memorial Day weekend in 1969 with his highly off-set coupe. He won the event and set the stage for other outside competitors to take on the regulars at Stafford.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. The book documents Modified Racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway from 1967 to 1986. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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