The dwindling ranks of teams in competition on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is taking yet another hit.
Jimmy Blewett confirmed Monday that he is shutting down operation of the Whelen Modified Tour team he drives for and that his grandfather John Blewett Sr. owns.
Struggling to keep things going with the organization, the 33-year old Blewett ran a part-time schedule with the team in 2013.
“I’ve decided to take a step back from it,” Blewett said. “It’s getting too hard to find the people to take the time off of work for these two and three days events. And it’s so hard to find sponsors.”
Blewett, of Howell, N.J., started six of 14 events this year on the Whelen Modified Tour, recording four top-10 finishes. He debuted the team owned by his grandfather in 2011 and ran a full season with the team in 2012, finishing eighth in the standings with four top-five finishes in 14 starts.
“It’s an extremely tough decision, but at the end of the day you can only do what you can do,” Blewett said. “If you can’t find the people to do the work with you, you can’t do it all on your own. And it comes down to paying the bills. My grandfather, he isn’t hurting, but he’s not rich either. No matter how you cut it, to go to a [Whelen Modified Tour] race it’s $5,000. Now, if you don’t win, it doesn’t cover it. Sometimes even if you do win it doesn’t cover it. It’s not even feasible money-wise to even go to them.”
Blewett, who made his first Whelen Modified Tour start in 2001, has started at least one race in the division each year for the last 13 years.
Over 105 career starts Blewett has five victories and 21 top-five’s. He has three career poles, the most recent coming in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He ran from 2005 to 2009 with team owner Eddie Partridge. He was on track competing with his older brother John Blewett III when John was killed in an accident at Thompson Speedway on Aug. 16, 2007.
Blewett said he isn’t closing the door entirely on competing with the Whelen Modified Tour, he just won’t be doing it with a family owned team.
“Maybe I can get a call over the winter for someone looking for a driver,” Blewett said. “Maybe I can do something like that. I still think I can go out there and win. I’m definitely going to miss it. I’ve got some unfinished business. I definitely want to get a win at Thompson to close that chapter for me, and there’s a couple other things I’d like to accomplish on the Tour. But if not, I had a good run while I had it. All I can do now is sit here and hope the phone rings and maybe I can set something up with somebody.”
Over the last couple years Blewett has dabbled in dirt racing and he said he will continue with that endeavor.
“I’m going to continue doing some dirt stuff at New Egypt [Speedway in New Egypt, N.J.] and Bridgeport [Speedway in Swedesboro, N.J.] and maybe even travel a little bit with that. It’s a little more efficient for me. The tire cost is down a lot more with that than what you’re seeing at a Touring Series event. It’s just a lot more feasible financially.”