Jimmy Blewett will not be returning to the No. 4 Mystic Missile Modified team for the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season. Blewett confirmed the news with Speed51.com on Tuesday morning, stating that it was just a one-year deal in place between himself and team owner Bob Garbarino for the 2016 season.
“Definitely not running for Bob next season, it was kind of just a one-year deal that we had,” Blewett said. “It was kind of just a one-year deal, a mutual thing. There are no hard feelings or anything, we just only signed up for a year and didn’t sign up for any more than that. It was a great opportunity and I had a great time doing it. It was an honor to drive his car, but at this point it was just a year-to-year deal.”
Blewett finished the 2016 NWMT campaign sixth in the championship standings with one win and seven top-five finishes, even with missing one race due to illness. Despite having a relatively successful season in his return to full-time tour competition, the two parties decided not to extend their deal to the 2017 season.
“We just kind of, at the end of the season, we never really even talked about this upcoming year,” Blewett explained. “I kind of just went into it thinking it was a one-year deal anyways. It’s all good. I’ve talked to Bob since the end of the season and we haven’t even really talked about racing. That’s really it.”
With uncertainty surrounding the recently announced merger of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Blewett is unsure of his plans moving forward. Like many drivers and teams, he is waiting to see a schedule and information about the purse before making concrete plans.
“I’m sure it’s going to impact everyone,” Blewett said of the merger. “But before anyone jumps to conclusions they really need to wait and see what NASCAR comes up with as far as their schedule and what they’re going to be paying for these races. If they came out guns blazing with a big payroll, that’s definitely going to be extra motivation for people to race the Modified Tour. I feel with the schedule changes there will be some purse changes, and I feel it will be for the better.”
While Blewett would like to compete on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2017, he’s also perfectly content with staying close to home on the Jersey Shore.
“I’m just still kind of weighing out my options here. I do still have a few things cooking, but I kind of feel that it’s starting to get a little late already even though the racing season just ended,” Blewett stated. “Kind of just going to play it by ear. If something good comes together I’ll take it and run with it, but if it doesn’t then I’m totally content staying close to home racing and having some fun with my brother’s son and my son over here at Wall (Stadium) on Saturdays and Sundays. Maybe I’ll venture off to a handful of tour races with my family car.”
Speed51.com reached out to Mystic Missile team owner Bob Garbarino for comment, but attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. This story will be updated with his comments and more information when they’re available.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen