Hopkinson wins Wall Stadium Modified opener

WALL TOWNSHIP – Derek Hopkinson of Toms River raced from 10th on the starting grid to grab the lead with three laps remaining to win the long awaited season opening 40-lap Modified stock car feature race at Wall Stadium Speedway on July 25.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the spectator gathering was limited in size for the season opener that was delayed since late April, according to a press release.

Defending champion Steven Reed and Blake Barney, both of Jackson, wrestled side-by-side for the lead in the early going as Eddie McCarthy of Brick Township and Holmdel’s Andrew Krause watched from third and fourth positions.

Krause and McCarthy slipped into the second and third spots near lap 15, with Krause soon swinging to the outside lane to battle side-by-side for the top spot.

Krause was finally able to inch into the lead at the halfway point, but this race was far from over. Meanwhile, Hopkinson had climbed into third position.

Reed regained the lead with an inside lane pass on a lap 27 restart and Hopkinson was quick to take over second.

Hopkinson then shadowed Reed until lap 37 when he muscled his way into the inside lane and then raced on for the win. Reed, Krause, Barney and Manasquan’s Kenny Van Wickle completed the top five.

β€œThe car was great to be able to get me to the front from 10th,” Hopkinson said after the win. β€œAt the end of the race I knew I had to get to the inside. I just had to drive it in there and hope for the best. It worked out for me tonight.”

Bryan O’Shea of Neptune City was in the spotlight the entire way as he won the 25-lapper for the Factory Stock cars. Billy Both of Rahway chased him to the finish, while defending champion Elliott Wohl of Beachwood was third. Manchester’s Scott Riggleman and Howell’s John Carpenter wrapped up the top five.

Early leader Alonzo Morales of Burlington and Wall Township’s T.J. Graves offered up a battle royal through most of the 25-lap 4-Cylinder Stock main event as Neptune City’s Ryan Maher ran a tight third.

But when the lead duo tangled on the front stretch with one lap to go and Graves spun from contention, Maher was able to avoid the mayhem and race to his first main event win. Morales recovered for second, while Ian Ashford of Farmingdale, Chuck McDonald of Groton, Conn., and Doug Ashford of Farmingdale wrapped up the top five. Graves was scored 11th.

Howell’s Eric Lane raced to victory in the season’s first 25-lapper for the Sportsman racers. Jarret DiGiantomasso of Jackson was the early leader in this race, but when his motor exploded on lap seven the resulting oil spill also ruined the night for his brother, Carsten DiGiantomasso. Brick Township’s Robert Sutphin was also involved in the resulting tangle, but was able to continue.

Lane picked up the lead at that point and raced on to the win. Sutphin recovered from that early flat tire to finish second, while Jonathan Laureigh of Lanoka Harbor, Jake Nelke of Manahawkin and Neil Rutt III of Edison were third through fifth.

Daniel Carter of Cortland, N.Y., grabbed the win in the Legend Cars 25-lapper, fighting off Kevin Nowak of Medford, N.Y., most of the way. Bryan Gardella of Brick Township and Quinn Trimmer of Waldwick wrapped up the top five.

Defending Limited Late Model champ Chris Silvestri of Hazlet outlasted the competition to win a shortened opening night main event. Jackson’s Greg Gastelu, Mike Tillett of Bayville. Buddy Miller and Stephen Puglisi wrapped up the top five.

The 2020 Saturday night regular season continues Aug. 1 with the Modifieds, Sportsman cars, Factory Stocks, 4-Cylinder Stocks, Legend Cars and the Limited Late Models in action, according to the press release.

Wall Stadium will observe its 70th anniversary with a celebration that will feature several special guests. The pit area will open at 12:30 p.m. Grandstands will open at 4:30 p.m., qualifying starts at 5:45 p.m. and main event action starts at 7 p.m.

Current plans call for Saturday night racing action to continue through early October with schedule details at wallspeedwayracing.com.