In the late stages of Friday’s Stafford 150 at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway, all the headlines were aimed towards Doug Coby as he appeared to be on his way to another dominating victory at the track. But with five laps to go the headlines changed.
Coby slowed on track, unable to restart, leaving many to believe he ran out of fuel. The culprit ended up being a faulty fuel pump and Coby’s misfortune handed Bobby Santos the lead. But the drama didn’t end there.
On a green-white-checkered, Santos’ engine was unable to come up to power, causing chaos behind with Timmy Solomito spinning into the grass to avoid disaster.
Also avoiding disaster on that restart was Jimmy Blewett, who was scored the leader as Santos was also pushed to the pits. In the end Blewett would steal all the headlines, powering Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile ahead of Justin Bonsignore on a second green-white-checkered restart to earn his sixth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory and his first since 2009, also at Stafford.
With the exception of a few calamities in 2016, Blewett has shown consistency, collecting four top-five finishes and constantly finishing better than where he started. This time around it would be the Mystic Missile crew that would put him in such a position, sending him off of pit road fourth after being on the edge of the top 10 the first half of the race.
“You got to be in position, you got to put yourself in that position,” Blewett told the media after the race. “We worked all race long to put ourselves in position for the end and that’s what we have been doing since the start of the season. We might not have had the fastest car but we’ve tried to show as much patience as we could and gain as much track position in the beginning of these races to have ourselves there in the end, to at least have a shot at it. My guys they showed why they won that pit crew contest, they got me off of pit road and gained me about five spots.”
From then on Blewett would race hard with Eric Goodale for third, taking the spot after multiple laps side by side. “Showtime” kept the pressure on Bobby Santos throughout the closing stages of the race before circumstances would turn in Blewett’s favor.
“Once I got by the 58 (Goodale) and I was in third and running down Bobby (Santos), I was like ‘man I hope I at least got enough time to get second.’ Doug ran out and I said ‘I got a shot at this.’ Soon as we took the green, I thought he missed a shift but his car was skipping and I didn’t want to beat him back to the line, because I didn’t want to get penalized for it, but at the same token I didn’t want to cause a pileup.”
The win for Blewett is an emotional one, coming over seven years after his last win, also at Stafford where he has now won three times. After jumping around, including racing his own equipment, Blewett took some time away from the Tour to run Dirt Modifieds the last two seasons in his native New Jersey and around the Northeast. The win is also his first since joining up with long-time car owner Bob Garbarino, just two weeks before the season began at Thompson in April.
“I always try to set goals for myself, small ones. When I went Dirt Racing, my grandfather and I went to the track and watched the dirt races and said to me ‘hey you think you can do that?’ I said ‘yeah I can do that, let’s get a car.’ We set a goal to go out and win some dirt races and we did,” explained Blewett.
“I missed the Tour a tremendous amount when I did do that, everybody here is like a huge family for me, the time away definitely hurt. When I got the call from Bob about midway through this past winter and said he was interested in me driving the car, he hadn’t made his mind up what he was going to do either way. I said ‘just give me a call either way, let me know even if I get it or don’t get it, I wish you the best of luck.’ To be here now after everything, to be back here in such a long period of time having off, it feels good.”
Blewett made his next goal very clear as the Tour heads to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park this coming Wednesday. He wants to score his elusive win there to honor his brother John Blewett III, who tragically lost his life at that same track nine years earlier.
“I still feel I have a lot left in me as far as racing wise, just really have one more goal, and that’s to get that Thompson win. It’s been close, but if I have one goal left on the Tour, it’s to win that race at Thompson. I feel if I win some races, I’ll put myself in position for the points.”
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-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, Long Island) – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com