Story By: KYLE SOUZA / NASCAR – MEDFORD, NY – Though they are just six races in, the combination between Jimmy Blewett and Gershow Motorsports seems to be paying dividends for both sides.
Blewett, a veteran of racing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, teamed with the Gershow team over the offseason. Joe Bertuccio — another modified veteran that is well known in the garage area — is the owner of the team.
And after a rapid seven races in the first month and a half, the team is finding success at the front of the field and coming up just short of winning. It’s been what they had hoped the partnership would be.
“We are off to a great start,” Blewett said. “Everyone is getting along really well. We were going to take this one race at a time and if it worked out, it worked out. If it didn’t, we weren’t going to lose a friendship over it. At the rate we are going, I think we will be together as long as Joe wants to race together.”
They started their season in February, in Florida, before moving up the East Coast to South Carolina and North Carolina in March. Blewett competed in the 53rd annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway for the entire tour type Modified slate and came away from the week finishing third in the championship standings.
Although they didn’t win, they built a notebook of adjustments and developed crucial chemistry they were able to carry with them into the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour opener.
Saturday, Blewett opened his tenure with the Gershow Motorsports team in Whelen Modified Tour action with a third-place effort in the Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina. The team went to Caraway Speedway in North Carolina with Blewett’s family-owned car for another Modified event on Sunday, where Blewett was leading the race before a transmission failed.
“We are going to go racing,” Blewett said of the plans. “You will probably see us at all of the races. Joe said let’s get through the first few races together. We said we were going to do Speedweeks and if we did well, we were going to go Tour racing, and we ran really well at New Smyrna. We jelled good.”
And even though the records show the success they are having on the track, and Blewett feels like they are hitting on nearly all cylinders, Saturday at Myrtle Beach almost didn’t develop into what it did. On Friday night, it was looking like Blewett wouldn’t have some of his team leaders in attendance at Myrtle Beach.
Blewett’s veteran crew chief, Stash Botoua, and some additional team members, were scheduled on a flight from New York to South Carolina late in the day, but the flight was delayed. Just a few hours later, the flight was completed canceled — which meant the group was boxed into a corner with limited options.
Skip the season opener, or wait until the early morning and hope a flight was able to take off?
Grab a rental car and begin the drive south, which was approximately 10 hours.
“When their flight got cancelled, they left at 11:30 and drove through the night to get here,” Blewett said. “I ended up doing the tires myself this morning. My crew chief and my car chief were a little bit concerned that would bother me, but I have my own team and I’ve done everything on my own before. Those guys were there for me, and they were driving all through the night to get here. I’ll do anything for them.”
Blewett’s Whelen Modified Tour history includes six victories, with the most recent of them coming while driving Bob Garbarino’s famed ‘Mystic Missile’ in 2016. Over the last two years, Blewett ran a partial schedule with his family-owned operation while he focused on running for weekly Modified championships at Wall Stadium in New Jersey.
Right now, it looks like he could be on pace to chase his first Tour title. At Myrtle Beach, in ‘Showtime’ fashion, Blewett blasted through the field on fresh rubber on a few different occasions — splitting drivers three-wide in hopes of making it to the front.
“This one wasn’t a win, but it was a win, because those guys had to run through the night to get here. My hats are off to them,” Blewett said Saturday. “The problem is, I felt you needed to get the spots while the tires were fresh, otherwise, when they aren’t fresh, you can’t make the moves. We put a right-rear tire on that was a little bit too big and it cost us a lot of track position, but, we were able to pit and put two tires on, then we put one more on at the end.”
Just a few minutes after the race the team found a wire loose on the alternator, which Blewett felt definitely hurt his chances. He was up to second just under 15 laps to go and was running lap times a tick faster than eventual winner Doug Coby, before he started losing power because of a dying battery.
“The car was awesome at the end. The dead battery, I feel like it killed my shot at doing anything with Doug,” Blewett said.
But, taking the third-place finish and putting together the battles they have been through so far, including the fight for his crew to even attend the race on Saturday driving through the night, Blewett can taste Victory Lane.
“We are pretty darn close,” Blewett said of the team. “We are very, very close. My crew chief, car chief and I, it takes a team effort, but we are all on the same page when it comes down to making the adjustments. Their setup is completely different than anything I have ever run, but, the route that I tell them that I feel like we need to go and what they are going to go, it’s the same route I have been thinking in my mind. When you have that, it’s special. They’ve had fast cars, but haven’t been able to seal the deal and finish it off like we are now. We need to just keep the momentum up and keep working on it. I feel this is the team I need to be with to win races.”