On Black Friday the 42nd running of Turkey Derby at New Jersey’s Wall Stadium Speedway got underway with practice for the headlining Tour-Type Modifieds, qualifying for the SK/Wall Modifieds and feature racing for many of Wall’s supporting divisions. Competitors and fans were greeted with sunny skies and 60-degree temperatures which graced the Jersey Shore, putting a smile on many faces before the engines started.


But once they did, it was down to business for all in attendance, including several headlining drivers in the Tour Modifieds. Even though Friday was just a practice day ahead of Saturday’s time trials and 150-Lap event, teams made sure to get a proper shakedown of their cars.


This was important for 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby, who is driving Rick Czarnecki’s bronze toned No. 20 car for the first time since July 2nd at Seekonk Speedway in Tri-Track Modified competition. The team decided to shake down the car on used tires to make sure the handling was to Coby’s liking. Coby said believes that with fresh tires Saturday, the speed will come to them.


Friday practice was the perfect opportunity for Ryan Preece to get re-acclimated with his familiar No. 6 Modified. Preece spent the last month competing in the final four races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and makes his first start in his Modified since last competing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on October 25th. Despite his enjoyment in driving the Cup car, experiencing the top level of the sport and feeling optimistic for another opportunity next season, Preece was more than happy to be back in familiar surroundings. His car was tight in practice, but is still confident for Saturday’s action.


Woody Pitkat set the high water mark for Tour teams in Friday practice posting quick time of teams that had their time’s electronically recorded. With cloudy cooler weather forecasted Saturday, Pitkat and crew aren’t putting a lot of stock in Friday’s track time, but feel ready to chase the elusive Derby win. Pitkat rides inside Pete Kulessa’s No. 42 car this weekend, the same entry he rode to victory with in the 2015 Modified Racing Series championship, which has the team feeling “pretty awesome” this weekend.


There are also select Tour Modified drivers who have elected to run both the 150-Lap Tour Modified race and the 100-Lap SK/Wall Modified race scheduled to end the day on Saturday.


New Jersey native Danny Bohn who has made a name down  South both in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and Bowman Gray Stadium is one of those drivers. He is as excited as ever to chase after the checkers in the Turkey Derby and for the first time will compete in both Tour and SK competition in the same weekend. Bohn is confident in his Tour Modified, but has much work to do on his SK after transferring to the big show through a 10-Lap consolation race.


Matt Hirschman returns with his championship winning RoC Tour Modified No. 60, ready to win another big money event, and is a favorite to sweep both events after qualifying his SK Modified in fourth.


Hirschman has plenty of company to compete for the sweep from Wall’s home guard. Eric Mauriello normally competes full time in Wall’s SK-type Modified division comes in as the defending winner in Tour Modified competition and is so confident that he kept his Tour Modified in the hauler. He instead chose to concentrate on his SK Modified for Friday time trials, which translated to a fifth-place starting spot in the SK feature.


Jimmy Blewett looked to be one of the confident ones on Black Friday, giving his No.76 Tour Modified a fast run in practice, and qualifying ninth in the SK/Wall Time Trials as he looks to back up his win in the 2014 SK feature.


But 2015 Wall Modified champion, Steven Reed showed plenty of muscle, storming to the pole for the SK/Wall feature and believes that the only thing that might bring him down, is pit strategy in the 100 lapper.


“If we weren’t allowed to change tires, I’d say hands down just give me the check right now. But with the tire change there’s all kinds of different strategies, anything can happen.”


Teams will be allowed to change up to two tires in both the Tour and SK races which could prove to be an interesting wrinkle come Saturday.


Feature races were held to end the Friday action with Shannon Mongeau winning both the 50-Lap Sportsman Modified and 40-Lap Factory Stock features, Mike Alcaro won in Legend Cars, and Lance Bartelemy in the 4-Cylinder feature.


For an on-demand replay of Friday’s Trackside Now coverage, click here: http://speed51.com/trackside-now-turkey-derby-friday-at-wall-stadium/


-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Contributor  – Twitter: @Connor51CT

-Photo Credit: Speed51.com


SK/Wall Modified Unofficial Starting Lineup:

  1. 55 Steven Reed
  2. 27k Andrew Krause
  3. 86 Trevor Alspach
  4. 41 Matt Hirschman
  5. 14 Eric Mauriello
  6. 34 Ken Matlach
  7. 27 Adam LaCicero
  8. 67 Zak Alspach
  9. 18 Jimmy Blewett
  10. 17 Derek Hopkinson
  11. 85 Jonathan Mandato
  12. 12 Jason Hearn
  13. 99 Chas Okerson
  14. 16 Anthony Sesely
  15. 02 Justin Gumley
  16. 66 Shawna Ingraham
  17. 31 Michael Gervais
  18. 45 Chris Renyolds
  19. 33 Jason Treat
  20. 88 Chris Lane
  21. 10x Dominick Fattaruso
  22. 51 Danny Bohn
  23. 54 Shaun Carrig
  24. 43 Ron Frees

Turkey Derby Notebook: Reed, Pitkat Among Fastest at Wall