Whelen Modified Tour Driver Slices Through Showdown Field
THOMPSON, Conn. – Not that Jimmy Blewett needed to live up to his nickname, but “Showtime” was at it again on Sunday at Thompson International Speedway.
Blewett drove from 27th in the 32-car UNOH Showdown field and finished second after challenging eventual winner Ted Christopher for the lead in the late going of the non-points showcase featuring both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. After being a non-factor in the Town Fair Tire Northern 75 earlier in the afternoon, Blewett was a force in the main event.
“I enjoy making runs like that, because it proves to the people who work with me how much I really appreciate this, you know what I mean? They stick with me no matter how many bad runs I have or how many good runs I have,” said Blewett, who finished 20th in the Town Fair Tire Northern 75.
“It's nice to show people you can still do it.”
One person who didn't see Blewett's impressive performance was his grandfather, John Blewett Sr. – though the family patriarch had some pertinent advice for his grandson before the 50-lap UNOH Showdown.
“My grandfather, he's getting a little older and he funds the whole operation, he came and watched the first race. The car wasn't running the way we needed it to run today, and he left after the first race because he didn't realize we were in (The Showdown),” Blewett said. “He said, 'I'm on my way home, I'm really tired, but I just want to tell you: Don't give up, keep going.'
“It's a shame he couldn't be here to see it, because everybody knows this place has a weight on our shoulders.”
In 2007, Blewett's brother, John Blewett III, was killed in a crash at Thompson during a Whelen Modified Tour event.
For a myriad of reasons, Blewett was happy to have returned to his “Showtime” ways on Sunday.
“This place was (at) one time my home track weekly,” said Blewett, of Howell, N.J. “To come from the back like that and be able to show some of the fans that are still here from when I used to race here that I can still get it done, it feels good.”
TWO-TIME: Justin Bonsignore's championship season never took shape, but he's rounding into form in the late stages of 2012.
Bonsignore passed Ryan Preece with 14 laps remaining Sunday afternoon and went on to survive a green-white-checkered finish to win the Town Fair Tire Northern 75 at Thompson. It was Bonsignore's first win of the season and second of his career, and it came at a track where he had three DNFs in his three most recent starts.
“This is unbelievable. This is just long overdue for this team,” Bonsignore said. “We've been struggling all year. We were so close last year, we thought we could contend for the title this year. Things just didn't go our way. We made some changes, and it just proves that hard work and dedication can (come through) when you need it.”
Bonsignore's victory wasn't without its anxious moments.
Bonsignore had to compete with two of the best competitors Thompson has seen – both this year and in recent years – as well as some radio issues in the No. 51. He had to chase down the pole-sitter Preece – who has nine wins in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified competition at the track this season – while holding off Christopher. Christopher has 13 career Tour wins at Thompson and has now finished in the Top-5 in 15 of the last 18 Tour events at the track.
“We had a lot of radio trouble, and I was complaining a lot,” Bonsignore said.
“I had to work Teddy over, and he's the best around this place. I can't thank Ryan and Teddy enough for racing me clean. It was a lot of fun racing with those guys.”
The Tour now heads to Riverhead Raceway – Bonsignore's home track – where he won a Whelen All-American Series Modified feature two weeks ago and earned his first career Tour victory last season. He's moved to sixth in the Tour standings, 13 points out of fourth.
NEW LOOK: Andy Seuss' win in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour GreenPointe Energy Southern 75 came as a result of having found a new way to get around the high-banked Thompson track.
Seuss rode the high line all the way along the wall for most of the event, holding off Matt Hirschman in heavy traffic to record his 12th career victory.
His best previous finish at Thompson was ninth in a Whelen Modified Tour race in 2007.
“I just went where the car was fast, and that's where they told me the car was fastest,” said Seuss, a native of Hampstead, N.H., who recently moved to North Carolina. “I could get good momentum on people.
“It was loose the whole race. I was chasing the rear end right up the hill, but it worked up there.”
Seuss qualified third for the GreenPointe Energy Southern 75, but he said his car hadn't been that good during practice and qualifying on Saturday.
“This crew worked so hard in practice yesterday,” Seuss said. “We threw everything at it this morning. It's a different car. I just had to drive it how it was handling.”
FURTHER BACK: While Bonsignore was winning the Town Fair Tire Northern 75, the point leaders were engaged in one of the quietest point battles seen in quite sometime. It may have lacked the lap-by-lap drama of last season's XtraMart World Series 150 at Thompson last October, but it may end up having no less of an impact.
On a day that looked like leader Doug Coby's point lead was going to take a big hit with an ill-performing car, things changed on the final lap when Ron Silk brought out the caution with a wrecked car in Turn 2.
Silk was running seventh on the green-white-checkered restart when he brushed the frontstretch wall and then ended up having wrecked a quarter of a lap later as a result of the damage he suffered. He lost five points to Coby – who started third but spent the bulk of the race running outside the Top-10.
Unofficially, Coby now holds a 32-point lead over Silk with four races remaining.
Sources: Travis Barrett, Special To NASCAR Home Tracks