Matt Hirschman and Jimmy Blewett started from the front row for the 45th annual Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium Speedway (N.J.) and dominated the race on Saturday, but an incident between the two opened the door for Dave Sapienza to claim the his first Turkey Derby victory.
Hirschman started from the pole and led approximately 75 percent of the 150-lap Tour-type event, but several cautions and dicey restarts kept “Big Money” from reaching the checkered flag first.
Blewett ran second to Hirschman most of the race, but the two tangled with about 30 to go. Several drivers stayed on the track while the leaders pitted, making things difficult for Hirschman and Blewett.
Hirschman was critical of the six-time Turkey Derby winner’s late-race maneuvers.
“Along with the 76 (Blewett), we were the class of the field,” Hirschman said. “[Sapienza] was right there in third, so I’m not taking anything away from him. But everything was going the way it needed to go in this race. Just when we took the lead – I didn’t even have the lead for a straightaway – [Blewett] just tried to harpoon me.
“He wooed me up the track with his patented move. Then he just turned me once. He pulled back and then he turned me again. I don’t know what his problem was today, but that used to be what you expect out of Jimmy Blewett. I thought he changed, but at least for today he didn’t.”
Blewett was unavailable for comment because he immediately had to prepare for the Dirt Modified feature, which was next.
Sapienza said the win was something he “needed.” He also looks forward to racing at Wall when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour visits the track in 2019.
“I’m probably going to try and win that race too,” Sapienza said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Despite running third behind Blewett and Hirschman most of the race, Sapienza felt he had a chance to contend with them had it stayed clean to the end.
“If it stayed green, I was saving it,” he said. “I knew I was going to be a top-three car. I don’t know if Jimmy was backing up or slowing up the pace, but I think I could’ve got Jimmy. I don’t know about Matt.
“It worked out in my favor. I needed this to help save my career.”
Jimmy Blewett went on to take the win in the 50-lap Dirt Modified feature.
The 100-lap feature for Wall and SK Modifieds was postponed to Sunday morning with mist moistening the track and heavy rains looming near.
For race results and a full day's recap, visit Race Day Now.
-Story by, John Haverlin, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent - Twitter: @JohnHaverlin
-Photo credit: Speed51.com