ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Story and photo by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda —
It was an eventful 24 hours for the Blewett Racing team between Friday and Saturday’s features in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
Car owner Jimmy “Showtime” Blewett fought the flu Friday night to finish sixth and lock a spot in Saturday’s feature. NASCAR crew member Ryan “Skip” Flores took home third in Friday’s event and fell one spot short of winning the Saturday portion of the Gambler’s Classic.
Flores made a mad dash to the front in the final few laps with a good short-run car, but couldn’t get to eventual winner Erick Ruldolph.
“We got a little too tight there at the end,” Flores said. “We were a little bit better on the short runs, but kept getting good restarts and just (feel) very fortunate to be here racing this car.”
Flores’ No. 15 car came from Blewett’s race shop and allowed him to run both Atlantic City and the Battle of Trenton last month. Before shifting his efforts towards Daytona Speedweeks, the New Jersey driver scored two runner-up finishes in both races.
“I’m just happy to be here,” Flores said. “Happy to have my family here and can’t wait to come back next year.”
Flores returns to his day job, serving as a crew member for Penske Racing, with Speedweeks being just two weeks away. Flores drove one of three Blewett Racing cars that also saw driver Kyle Reinhardt wheeling the No. 66 TQ machine.
Reinhardt and Blewett raced around each other early in the going Saturday night before Reinhardt was collected in a spin and relegated to a 23rd-place finish.
“Kyle, Ryan, all these guys, all these cars came out of my shop,” Blewett said. “They made good adjustments on their own, but I don’t want them to come out here and not race me just as hard as I would race them.”
After Blewett’s sixth place effort in Friday’s race, he came in right behind Flores in the A-main Saturday. It was a tough weekend mentally for Blewett dealing with the flu — and tougher still after he had a moment in the TQ midget dash race.
The Howell, N.J. native was caught up in a wreck and got his hand caught in the steering wheel. It forced Blewett to have tape on his hand, but didn’t slow down his progress. The car suffered minimal damage from the crash, with only a tie-rod end and a few minor repairs needing to be made.
At the end of Saturday night, Blewett fought off several challenges from several drivers around him to take home a third-place finish and put two Blewett Racing cars on the podium.
“It feels good,” Blewett said. “I’m happy that all of the stuff that came out of my garage ran good. That wouldn’t be able to be possible without all the people that put it together with us.”
The Atlantic City Indoor Event wraps up the Len Sammons Motorsports Productions TQ points for the 2014-2015 winter season, accrued from both this weekend and from Trenton in December. Flores tied with Eric Rudolph for most points (320), but the tie-breaker went to Rudolph because of his Gambler’s Classic victory. Friday night winner Andy Jankowiak finished one point behind the two.
While the outside lane worked for Jankowiak on the first night of the races, it was the exact opposite Saturday. Drivers who were stuck in the outside lane fell back a few spots and re-starting the race on the inside was the way to go.
“You’d spin your tires, so it helped being on the bottom [lane] on the last couple starts,” Flores said.
NASCAR driver Corey LaJoie served as the crew chief for Flores and guided him to both runner-up finishes at Atlantic City and Trenton.
With tconclusion of the indoor season, Blewett will now shift his focus to the 2015 outdoor season. Blewett plans to run the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour part-time and hopes the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway will be his first modified event of the season.