WALL TOWNSHIP – One week after scoring his career first Wall Stadium Speedway Modified stock car victory, Blake Barney of Jackson returned on Aug. 15 and won the 60th running of the NAPA Garden State Classic.
A Barney family No. 14 entry also won the first Garden State Classic held on the one-third mile paved oval in 1959 and has won several other “Classics” during the event’s long history, according to a press release.
Derek Hopkinson of Toms River darted to the lead at the outset of the 125-lap event which was presented by NAPA dealers Brice’s Auto Supply and Van Wickle Auto Supply.
Manasquan’s Kenny Van Wickle shadowed the leader early before Howell’s Jimmy Blewett advanced to second approaching the 40-lap mark. Blewett then chased Hopkinson before driving to the outside lane for the lead on lap 52.
A caution a few laps later saw Blewett and Jackson’s Steven Reed dive into the pit area for new tires as Holmdel’s Andrew Krause and Barney, who had started ninth, advanced to second and third.
Hopkinson continued to lead the way as Blewett and Reed charged back to the front on the strength of new tires. Soon Blewett and Reed took over the top two positions and a battle for the lead was on as the duo swapped the top spot a few times near the 100-lap mark.
Blewett then held his ground before spinning on lap 117. He soon left the race with reported mechanical trouble.
That development left Reed and Hopkinson to fight for first as Howell’s Kevin Davison and Barney lurked close behind.
The war for the win boiled over with six laps to go in turn two when Reed and Hopkinson touched and Hopkinson went spinning to force a caution flag.
As a result, Hopkinson went to the rear of the field for causing the caution and Reed was sent to the back as officials felt he had contributed to Hopkinson’s incident, according to the press release.
Davison and Barney wrestled on the restart before Barney charged to the front while Davison faded.
Jackson’s Kyle Scisco finished an impressive second after starting 20th, as Ron Frees of Lanoka Harbor raced from 21st to finish third. Farmingdale’s Tommy Martino and Krause wrapped up the top five. Brick Township’s Eddie McCarthy, who was a contender most of the way, was sixth.
“If you would have told me with 20 laps to go that we would win this race I wouldn’t have believed you,” Barney said after the event. “But this team has never given up in its history and I have learned not to give up. This car is a rocket. Just like when we won last week, the car is great on the outside and I knew if we got a chance in the closing laps we could win it.”
Grabbing the lead just before the halfway point, defending champion Elliott Wohl of Beachwood raced to his first win of the year in the 25-lap Factory Stock main event.
Wohl’s victory broke a three race win streak for Neptune City’s Bryan O’Shea, who finished seventh. Mike Montano of Freeport, N.Y., Kevin Flores of Brick Township, John Bowers of Point Pleasant and early race leader Nick Kilmer of Howell wrapped up the top five.
Wall Township’s T.J. Graves crossed the finish line first in the 25-lap 4-Cylinder Stock feature, but lost the win after post-race inspection. Sal Liguori of Hazlet got the victory, while Ryan Maher of Neptune City, Howell’s Doug Ashford, Darianne McLaren of Edison and Sean Vulsanic completed the top five.
Former champion Shannon Mongeau of Howell returned to win the Limited Late Model 25-lap race. Hazlet’s Chris Silvestri, Jackson’s Greg Gastelu, Ricky Giannino and Buddy Miller were second through fifth.
The 2020 regular season continues Aug. 22 with the Sportsman cars, Factory Stocks, 4-Cylinder Stocks, Legend Cars and Limited Late Models seeing action in 25-lap main events.
Discounted grandstand admission and carnival activities will be offered. The pit area will open at 1 p.m. Grandstands will open at 4:30 p.m., qualifying starts at 5:30 p.m. and main event action starts at 7 p.m., according to the press release.
Wall Stadium is on Route 34 in Wall Township. For more information, call 732-681-6400.