Friday night’s qualifying races for the third edition of the Battle of Trenton at Sun National Bank Center in New Jersey gave fans and promoters just what they wanted, three action packed shows to help build the hype for main event on Saturday. The three 20-lap races for the TQ Midgets each saw 20 drivers duke it out for a race win which guaranteed a starting spot in Saturday’s 40-lap A-Main, with three different story lines coming from each race.
The race that everyone was talking about at the end of the night was the second on the schedule, which saw home-state Modified fan-favorite Jimmy Blewett get on the inside of New York Modified standout Patrick Emerling with three laps to go, and the two bumping and banging all the way to the finish with Blewett edging out Emerling by a car length.
After the race Blewett was thrilled with the win and happy that both he and Emerling finished the night in one piece.
“Patrick and I became really good buddies on and off the track I feel like over my career.” Blewett told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “A lot of times in Indoor Racing you just use the guy up next to you. It was tight racing, we rubbed a little bit battling for the position but I didn’t want to really use him up because I know he’s had some tough luck and I have too in Indoor Racing in general. I tried to run as clean of a race as I could and put on a good show for the fans, without them we wouldn’t be racing.”
In the end, Blewett’s “Showtime” nickname lived up to itself, and he feels ready to take the show into the next night.
“I feel real good, I put no pressure on myself for this deal going into this last one. Just give it everything you got and wherever the cards fall, they fall.”
Surrounding the big moment of the evening were races that featured some feel good stories. In the first 20-lap qualifier, Indoor newcomer Nick Ladyga got out in front early and survived multiple challenges on restarts from both Ryan Fraser and Kyle Reinhardt.
“I was able to get the lead from the outside there and I had a new challenge every restart, the 18 (Ryan Fraser), the 46 (Kyle Reinhardt) was behind me a couple times,” Ladyga told 51. “I tried to pay no attention to them just keep my eyes out front keep digging, log laps, and pull off the win.”
It was just the second Indoor appearance for the Connecticut driver who moved up to the SK Modifieds at the state’s three tracks in 2015, but after much prep work and a solid showing in Atlantic City in January, Ladyga felt confident he could take the win Friday.
“We ran the car a couple of times outdoors, we work real hard in the shop, and a lot of dedication. I studied a lot of film of the other Indoor races and I got a lot of help from Mark Lafler and Billy Pipperd, they help us out a lot. I knew one was coming, maybe not so soon, but I’m really happy with it and hopefully that foreshadows good things to come Saturday.”
The Modified theme carried on into the final event of the night with dirt racer Ryan Susice taking home a commanding victory Shawn Nye and Alex Bright.
“The car came in, the track came towards us for our benefit. The guys dialed us in, we didn’t really chase anything today, we just came with a game plan, stuck to it, and it came in,” Susice said at night’s end.
Susice came into the three-race Indoor Championship with a lot of confidence at the beginning of January after winning the 2015 358 Modified title at his home track Ransomville Speedway in New York, but after a strong start in Allentown bad luck came the team’s way.
“At Allentown we had a good run going and we didn’t capitalize on it and in Atlantic City we had car troubles. So tonight is a big morale booster for us going into Saturday.”
Blewett, Ladyga, and Susice will be able to sit out of Saturday night’s heat races while the rest of their competitors go wheel-to-wheel to try and make it into the main event.
Blewett also has a leg up on the three other drivers still eligible for the points championship, with Allentown winner Erick Rudolph spinning twice in his race, Mike Lichty hitting the wall in his, and points leader Anthony Sesely succumbing to electrical problems the team fought throughout the day.
Speed51.com will carry its new Speed Central coverage on Saturday afternoon on Race Day at the Battle of Trenton.
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA and LI Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com