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John Fortin Keeps Ted Christopher At Bay To Win Hard Fought
Riverhead Raceway Whelen Event Night NASCAR Modified Feature
by Bob FInan
It was another titanic battle for the NASCAR Modified honors Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway and when the dust settled on the Whelen Event Night 35-lap contest it was John Fortin of Holtsville holding off a hard charging Ted Christopher of Plainville, Ct to score his 27th career victory. Through the NASCAR Clean Air Tree Planting Program Riverhead promoters Barbara & Jim Cromarty donated 100 trees to the Town of Riverhead with Supervisor Sean Walter on hand to accept the gift.
John Fortin was the third car out in pre-race time trials and set fast time with a lap of 11.845 among the 22 entrants and in the redraw he'd grab the pole with Shawn Solomito picking the outside pole. Fortin quickly raced his way to the race lead when the Whelen green lights winked on with Solomito tucking to second and Ted Christopher who timed second quickest moving to third from his 4th starting spot. Lap 3 found "TC" slipping by Solomito for second with an inside pass entering the third turn. The race nearly went caution free but a series of late race yellows after lap 22 set-up some classic single file and heated restarts between Fortin and Christopher.
Every time the duo lined up to go back to green flag racing Christopher would firmly plant his front bumper on Fortin's rear bumper and actually nudge the race leader going into the third and fourth turn. Each time when the green waved Teddy turned the heat up, especially on the final restart after a lap 31 yellow. Over the final four laps of the race Christopher would apply the "chrome horn" to Fortin trying to loosen the leader up and slip by for the win. Fortin, a tested tough former three time NASCAR Modified champion at the rugged quarter mile was having none of it and he'd score the hard fought victory in his SGS Stone Works Chevy.
As he exited his winning mount John was greeted by Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter along with the Cromarty's to which he noted, "I love this place it's right in my backyard and I hope it's here forever" Supervisor Walter responded, "this track has a long history in the Town of Riverhead and I'm happy to announce it has many more good years of entertainment like tonight to give us". As for the aggressive restarts late in the race by Ted Christopher, the happy winner reflected, "he never once tried the outside, I don't race that way, but maybe one day it will be me running second to him and we'll see how that goes". With the victory Fortin trims Howie Brode's point lead from 42 to now a 30-point margin, 226 to 196.
For the third week in a row Ted Christopher, not from the lack of trying had to be content with runner-up money in the Long Island Fuel Oil Accessories Chevy, while Shawn Solomito of Islip steering his brother Timmy's American Tent Chevy collected third place money. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown and Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue rounded out the top five.
For the 105th time in his illustrious career Roger Maynor of Bay Shore came home the winner of the 15-lap Figure Eight main event. Maynor and defending champion Arne Pedersen went to the front of the field early and the duo who have enjoyed many duels for the win were in the process of doing so once again. However during a 7th lap yellow for a Tim Mulqueen spin Pedersen suddenly darted to the pits with front end issue never to return to the race. That moved point leader Mike Mujsce to second behind leader Roger Maynor. Mujsce was able to keep in stride with Maynor however he wasn't able to make a serious bid for the win which would go to Roger in his Barrasso & Sons Mason Supplies Ford. Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach was second in the Bill Beener Tree Service Chevy, while Ken Hyde Jr. of Medford scored third place honors in his Planet Speed racer.
Two good friends off the race track found themselves the main contestants to win the 30-lap Charger feature with Jeremy McDermott of E. Stroudsburg, Pa topping Eric Zeh of Selden for the win. It was a wild scramble for the lead at the throw of the green as "Radiant" Ray Minieri would emerge as the early leader with CJ Lehmann in tow for the first four laps. Lap 5 found Eric Zeh racing to second and over the next nine laps he'd chase Minieri before making a successful pass for the lead on lap 15. Just one lap later McDermott moved to second and the race with Zeh was on. Some great side by side racing took place without contact by the two buddies with McDermott making an inside pass off turn four under Zeh for the lead as they started the 24th lap. Once out front Jeremy McDermott would lead the remaining six laps to post his 4th career win in the JDP Mechanical Chevy and in the process taking sole possession of the point lead. Eric Zeh would have to be happy with runner-up money in the Finishline Container & Construction Chevy, while early leader Ray Minieri of Bay Shore was third in the Sunrise Chiropractic Pontiac.
Taking full advantage of a rare front row starting berth Scott Maliszewski led wire to wire to win the 20-lap Blunderbust feature event for his 16th career victory. Scott's early season run of hard luck put him on the outside of the front row and he quickly moved his Rush Hour Towing Chevy to the race lead. Second year driver Tom Puccia Jr. tailed Maliszewski over the first 16 laps of the race before "Racing" Ray Shannon squeezed by with an inside pass on lap 17 going into the third turn. With Puccia, Shannon and "Krazy" Ed Mistretta all racing for second, which Mistretta would eventually take on lap 19, leader Maliszewski was loving what he saw in his mirror that allowed him to drive off to victory lane. Ed Mistretta of New Hyde Park had the drive of the night as he raced his Busy Bee Pest Control entry from 14th to second place honors, while Ray Shannon of Centereach was third in the Centereach Transmission Chevy. Puccia was a victim of a late race spin that dropped him to 20th in the final finish.
Life is good for Riverhead High School Junior Kyle Ellwood right now after he set a new track record in qualifying and then led all 20-laps to win the Legend Race car feature event. Ellwood turned a lap of 13.749 on the first of his two qualifying laps to set the new record and afterwards drew the #1 pill making the race a straight-up start. Vinny Delaney chased Ellwood over the first five laps of the race before Cliff Corwith drew a yellow in a one car incident. The restart found Chris Young making his way by Delaney for second but just one lap later the defending champion's night would go south with a spin of his own. That moved Delaney back to second behind Ellwood but it didn't matter who was second in this race as Kyle Ellwood "walked the dog" and drove to a convincing win in the Riverhead Building Supply entry. Vinny Delaney of Holtsville was runner-up in his sponsor wanted machine, while Kyle Soper of Manorville placed third in the News 12 Long Island racer.
Brian Fass of Holbrook scored his first career Demolition Derby win when he topped the 8-Cylinder event. Fass and Andrew Fowler were the last two cars standing and after Brian made one last hit on Andrew the latter waved his arms in surrender as his car just wouldn't go anymore. Fowler of Wantagh was voted Judge's Choice, while "Pistol" Pete Mikos of Lake Ronkonkoma was tabbed Fan's Choice.
Whelen Event Night NASCAR Modifieds:
1. John Fortin 2. Ted Christopher 3. Shawn Solomito 4. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 5. Tom Rogers Jr. 6. Jerry Solomito Jr. 7. Howie Brode 8. Kevin Orlando 9. Vinny Biondolillo 10. Amber Fortin 11. John Fortin Jr. 12. Don Howe 13. John Beatty Jr. 14. Ken Darch 15. Dave Sapienza 16. Chris McGuire 17. Al Ermmarino 18. Marisa Niederauer 19. Jason Agugliaro 20. Brad Van Houten 21. Rob McCormick 22. Sal Accardi Jr.
1. Roger Maynor 2. Mike Mujsce 3. Ken Hyde Jr. 4. Tom Ferrara 5. George Seus 6. Tim Farrell 7. Mike Smith 8. Tim Mulqueen 9. Arne Pedersen DNS- George Brown
1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Eric Zeh 3. Ray Minieri 4. CJ Lehmann 5. Chris Turbush 6. John Baker 7. Jayson White 8. Brian Doyle 9. Cory Midgett 10. Derek Stachecki 11. Brian Brown
1. Scott Maliszewski 2. Ed Mistretta 3. Ray Shannon 4. Tom Pickerell 5. Tommy Walkowiak 6. Justin Wahl 7. Tim Mulqueen 8. Fred Nolan 9. Paul Parisi 10. Scott Sepe 11. Bryan Quilliam 12. Jessica Cohan 13. Joe Seeger 14. Jack Handley Jr. 15. Rob Bader 16. Mike Accordino 17. Bob Muller 18. Bill Portney Sr. 19. Frankie LaPocca Jr. 20. Tom Puccia Jr. 21. Gregg Seus 22. Jimmy White Jr. 23. Tom Sullivan
Legend Race Cars:
1. Kyle Ellwood 2. Vinny Delaney 3. Kyle Soper 4. Kevin Nowak 5. Paul Dodorico 6. Jeffery Goodale 7. Richie Davidowitz 8. Alex Urbina 9. Brendon Bock 10. Frank Scimeca Jr. 11. Jim Byrne 12. Christian Conklin 13. Chris Rogers 14. Joe Scibelli 15. Jay Sendlewski 16. Jim Sylvester 17. Chris Young 18. Shawn Wanat 19. Bryan Kelly 20. Greg Harris 21. Artie Pedersen III 22. Matt Guida 23. Steve Hershey 24. Cliff Corwith 25. Eric Hershey 26. Anthony Marsh DNS- Fred Card DNS-Mike Smith
8-Cylinder Demolition Derby:
Winner- Brian Fassn
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