NJMP 2023 - For The Win
In 2022 when Blake entered MotoAmerica's Twins Cup class we were told that if he ever got a top 10 finish that season, we should be proud. Well, he went and surprised us all to become the Twins Cup Champion. Then, when we started this season I felt like the “reigning champ” should have a good grip on the championship and that was NOT how it went.
Going into this last round at New Jersey Motorsport Park, Blake had only won 1 race. However, he was on the podium 6 other times putting him 8 points behind the points leader and only 6 points ahead of the racer in third, keeping him in contention for the Championship. Blake knew that he and the other two racers would be fighting with all they had this weekend.
PRACTICE & QUALIFYING
Friday it was cool and sunny and Blake finished 2nd in practice and third in Qualifying 1, but we knew Tropical Storm Ophelia was on her way. Blake has fun racing in wet conditions so while others were nervous about Ophelia, Blake was welcoming her with open arms!
That night she brought the rain and for Qualifying 2 on Saturday it was wet and windy. Despite the fact that New Jersey Motorsports Park is known for being slicker than most, Blake finished Qualifying 2 in first. Even so, the times from Qualifying 1 were much faster and Blake would be starting the race in third.
When race one got underway Blake got a stellar launch and was able to take the lead. One racer was able to hang with him for the first 4 or 5 laps, but after that Blake just kept growing his lead. He had a big gap on the 2nd place rider, but he was in a groove and didn’t want to lose focus so he just kept pushing. He crossed the finish line in first place, 11.3 seconds ahead of the next racer! More importantly, the 2 other championship contenders finished 3rd and 5th respectively. That made the championship points even tighter. Blake was one point ahead of second and 20 points ahead of third.
Sunday morning Blake told me he had to win and he would push until he did. He said the racer in second would be doing the same thing and that one of them would crash trying to finish ahead of the other. Gee, thanks Blake. My nerves were so shot by the start of the race, I just wanted it to be over with, no matter the results.
There are some motorcycle racers that don’t mind racing in the rain, but I have never heard any racer say that they don’t mind half wet/half dry conditions. As Blake said of the Race 2 track conditions, it’s “really sketchy.” One of the issues is deciding if you want to run rain tires or race slicks. If the track is not wet enough, you’ll wear out your rain tires quickly and if it’s too wet, it will be super slippery on the race slicks. The team decided Blake would race on Dunlop’s rain tires.
Off the start of the race, the racer one point behind Blake took the lead. On the second lap, Blake passed by him In turn 9 and as he flicked over for turn 10, he slipped on the wet patch. That patch was super slippery with water running across it and unfortunately, another racer did crash on it and the race was red flagged.
Since only 2 laps were completed they went back to their original grid spots for the restart. The officials reduced the race to 7 laps and once it got started, the other racer got a better launch again. Though he tried a few times, Blake couldn't get by him until turn one on lap 3.
Earlier in the weekend Blake told me the last turn onto the front straight was the scariest because you can hold it wide open, but you really don’t feel like you should and there’s not a whole lot of run off there. As I watched the race he seemed okay there, he looked pretty comfortable. The rain slowed things down, so I guess that turn wasn’t as scary after all.
After the weekend was over he told me he was feeling good in that turn and was able to get a good drive giving him a better pace over the second place racer and sure enough on that 3rd lap, the other racer crashed right there. The race was red-flagged, the racer was okay, but his motorcycle was toast and the championship was over! BLAKE WAS THE WINNER!!!
With two wins this weekend, Blake is the first 2 time REV IT! Twins Cup Champion! Both years he was aboard his N2/BobbleHeadMoto Yamaha YZF-R7 It has been six years since the inception of the Twins Cup class no other champion has been able to defend their title, just wanted to add that feather to his cap, or um, helmet.
Blake did it with a lot of great people supporting him and you’re one of them. Whether a friend, fan, or sponsor, we are thankful for you and the role you have played in Blake’s career. That may mean you encourage him through social media, or cheer for him trackside, or sponsor with your hard-working dollars; we appreciate it all. Our family knows that time is precious, gifts are costly, and God has blessed us with you!
MotoAmerica is a wrap, but there is one last endurance race of the season. Blake will be racing with his Alpha Omega teammates in the final round of the N2/WERA Endurance Series by Dunlop October 20th at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL. We will leave there that night and head to Daytona International Speedway for an ASRA race on the 21st. Yes, it’s going to be a lot of driving!
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