July 12th, 2018
JOHN FORTIN SR. SURVIVES MULTIPLE RESTARTS TO SCORE WEDNESDAY NIGHT VICTORY AT RIVERHEAD RACEWAY
Bob Finan PR
The first Wednesday night show at Riverhead Raceway in 26 years was met with plenty of enthusiasm as a large crowd turned out for the NASCAR Whelen All American Series program that saw former three time NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville survive multiple restarts to score the 40-lap victory. The win was the 32nd in John's successful career which ties him for 5th on the all-time win list with track legends Wayne Anderson and Bill Park. Not even a 25 minute rain delay just after opening ceremonies could dampen the spirits of those on hand.
Dillon Steuer of Bohemia making his first asphalt start of 2018 set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 11.823 and in the redraw the teenage driver would pick the pole. When the 17-car field took the green Steuer inched out in front of John Fortin Sr. for the first two laps before a quick caution waved for Sal Accardi Jr. who spun between turns one and two. On the ensuing restart cagey veteran Fortin was able to get a run on Steuer to the outside for the race lead. Dillon in his quest to race back to the lead made a bold move under Fortin with the duo making contact. Steuer looped his car while Fortin was able to gather up his unruly racer to remain out front while the caution waved for Steuer's spin. When the race resumed Fortin remained out front with rookie driver CJ Lehmann making his way to second.
The remainder of the race would be a classic case of teacher vs. student as Fortin and Lehmann lined up side by side for several restarts along w\the way. Earlier in the season when CJ's ride was not ready Fortin loaned him his back-up car, ironically the car John was wheeling for the mid-week special. During each double file restart Lehmann would see if he could find a way around the outside of the race leader but when it became apparent he couldn't he'd quickly tuck in behind Fortin by the time the duo reached the first and second turn. Meanwhile just behind the leader a torrid duel for third was underway between Kyle Soper and John Beatty Jr. as the diced side by side for several laps.
In the end John Fortin Sr. and his Long island Truck Parts team would prevail taking down their first win of 2018, "we broke out old reliable for tonight and the old guy behind the wheel was able to bring her home for the win" Fortin quipped afterwards. Not lost on the race winner was the importance of the win as far as track history is concerned, "to be in tied with Wayne Anderson and Bill Park with 32 wins is pretty special" Fortin offered.
CJ Lehmann of Shirley turned his best performance of the year with a solid runner-up tally in the Sypher Industries Chevy keeping the pressure on the eventual race winner until the conclusion of the race. Championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville would come out on top in the race for third in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown completed the top five.
Just days after having what appeared to be his first Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified win stripped from him in post-race tech due to a fuel miscalculation, Owen Grennan of Glen Cove came back with a vengeance setting a new track record for the class in qualifying and going wire to wire to indeed capture his first ever win. Grennan would set the new standard with a lap of 12.580 eclipsing Dave Brigati's track record of 12.615 set almost a year prior to the day on July 15th, 2017. Owen's good fortune continued in the redraw and the driver of the All Island Concrete Pumping Chevy took full advantage of his front row starting berth racing out to the lead at the throw of the green. Former Late Model champion Peter Berutccio had a solid car all race long as he chased Grennan for nearly the entire event. However championship leader and three time winner Michael Rutkoski got to Bertuccio later in the race and the duo would tussle for second which was just fine with leader Grennan. As the two to go signal was displayed Rutkoski wrestled his way Bertuccio for seocnd but by that time it was too little, too late as Owen Grennan took home his first win. Rutkoski of Mattituck was runner-up in his Elbow East Chevy with Justin Brown of Manorville third in the SEDHI Inc. entry. Bertuccio faded to fourth at the finish.
Mark Stewart of Riverhead notched the 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature event win the 16th of his budding driving career. Dave Brigati the defending champion of the class set fast time in qualifying with a circuit of 13.435 and the veteran talent played a major role in the outcome of the race. Starting on the outside pole after the top 5 redrew Brigati took a slim lead over pole sitter Jimmy Rennick when the race started. However Rennick was not going to go away and over the first 13 laps of the race the duo ran side by side with minimal contact. That would change on lap 13 as the tandem made contact going into turn three with the end result finding Brigati coming to a halt in turn four. Dave feeling as though he had a tire down pitted during the caution while Rennick assumed the race lead. The double file restart that followed found Mark Stewart pitted to the outside of Rennick and when the race got back underway the driver known as "The Real Deal" rode the outside groove by Rennick for the race lead. Over the final 7 laps of the contest Stewart would drive off to the victory in his East Side Builders Chevy. Rennick of Howard Beach crossed the line second in the Sonny's Collision Center machine while former multi time champion Lou Maestri of Deer Park was third in the Hunter Business School Chevy.
For the fourth time this year "Big Money" Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches topped the INEX Legend Race Car main event notching his 18th career win. Ray Fitzgerald turned heads in qualifying when he laid down the fast time with a lap of 13.888 in his Blue Point Auto Body mount. Unfortunately for Ray he redrew 5th for the 20-lap main event. Richie Davidowitz armed with the outside pole for the race zipped quickly into the lead with George Tomko Jr. in tow for the first two laps. Tomko's race would go south in a hurry as the field started the third lap as he spun off turn two collecting Eric Hersey and Jim Sylvester in the process. Damage was minimal and all three continued. The restart that followed saw Allan Pedersen make his way to second and he'd chase Davidowitz for the next 14 laps. Pedersen soon was distracted by a challenge from third place Brad Van Houten who pressured the young lion for second before making his way by for the spot on lap 18. However it mattered not who ran second in the race as Richie Davidowitz marched off to another win moving him just one back of the all-time win record in the class which is held by both Danny McNamara and Kyle Ellwood. Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches was moved to second in the final finish in his TJ Hero's entry after Brad Van Houten's car failed post-race tech. Vinny Delaney of Holtsville was third in the Stakey's Pumpkin Farm racer.
Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon scored his first 8-Cylinder Enduro win of 2018 as he went wire to wire in their 40-lap feature. Sean burst right into the lead at the start of the race chased over the first 10 laps by most recent winner Kevin Coyle. Defending champion Dominic Ranieri made his way by Coyle for second on lap 11 but even though the race was only a quarter old Fitzpatrick in his Lakewood Used Auto Parts Chevy had already built up an insurmountable lead which he kept until the checkers flew. Ranieri of Northport was second in his Spare Parts Racing machine while Jared Halsey of Southampton was third in the Sabrosa Mexican Grill Chevy.
Paul Fox of Riverhead is now two for two in School Bus Figure Eight action this year as he dominated the 15-lap event. Popular Michael "Cheesebox" Rommeney chased Fox early on putting on the pressure before Fx was able to pull away and drive to a comfortable victory.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. John Fortin Sr. 2. CJ Lehmann 3. Kyle Soper 4. John Beatty Jr. 5. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 6. Howie Brode 7. Dave Brigati 8. John Fortin Jr. 9. David Schneider 10. Tom Rogers Jr. 11. Dillon Steuer 12. Brad Van Houten 13. Chris Young 14. Tim Lento 15. Dylan Slepian 16. Sal Accardi Jr. 17. Roger Turbush
Crate Modifieds: 1. Owen Grennan 2. Michael Rutkoski 3. Justin Brown 4. Peter Bertuccio 5. Dennis Krupski 6. Artie Pedersen III 7. Scott Pedersen 8. AJ DeSantis 9. Jason Hansen 10. Chris Rogers
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Mark Stewart 2. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 3. Lou Maestri 4. Eddie Schutze 5. Michael Albasini 6. Dave Brigati 7. Frank Dumicich Jr. 8. Sean Glennon 9. Frank Dumicich Sr. 10. Darren McCabe 11. Tom Sullivan
Legend Race Cars: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. Allan Pedersen 3. Vinny Delaney 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Jerry Curran 6. George Tomko Jr. 7. Ed Cheslak 8. Jim Sylvester 9. Eric Hersey 10. Jeff Otto Jr. 11. Jonathan Parsons 12. Mike Benton 13. Riely O'Keefe 14. Matt Brode 15. Stephan Coleman 16. Pat Moore 17. Mike Van Houten Jr. 18. Steve Woytysiak 19. Scott Cheslak 20. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 21. Steve Hersey 22. Bard Van Houten
8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Sean Fitzpatrick 2. Dominic Ranieri 3. Jared Halsey 4. Brian Halsey 5. Pat Collins 6. Christian Kalbfleisch 7. Stacey Halsey 8. Dennis Jones 9. Eric Germuth 10. Dillon Vanston 12. Tom Talbot 13. Drew Scalfani 14. CJ Zukowski 15. John O'Rourke 16. Amber Weiss 17. Will Ebert 18. Mark Wolf 19. David Verbeeck 20. Bill Quinn 21. Steve Jones 22. Richie Hubbard
School Bus Figure Eight: Winner- Paul Fox