June 5, 2021
JB FORTIN CAPITALIZES ON MID RACE RESTART TO CAPTURE RIVERHEAD RACEWAY NASCAR MODIFIED HONORS SATURDAY NIGHT
Bob Finan PR
Just two weeks after his father John Fortin Sr. struck gold in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modifieds at Riverhead Raceway second generation racer JB Fortin of Holtsville made it back to back wins for the Fortin clan Saturday night in a 50-lap event. JB would master a restart at the halfway mark of the race to claim his second career victory.
Roger Turbush and JB Fortin made up the front row for the 20-car Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified 50-lapper with Turbush breaking out front at the start of the race with the younger Fortin second. Just behind them Michael Rutkoski and Dave Brigati tussled for third with Brigati taking that position early on. The first 25-laps of the race ran caution free and after the first couple of circuits the field settled into a single file formation but that was about to all change right after the field took the halfway signal. A lap 25 caution for debris was displayed and that would set up what would turn out to be the turning point of the race.
With the leader having choice of which lane to fire off from on restarts Turbush decided he like his chances with the outside groove moving Fortin to the inside. When the race resumed Fortin made the inside lane work for him as he bolted out to the race lead on lap 26 with Turbush tucking into second after a brief battle with his father-in-law Brigati. After running 25 laps caution free the second half of the race not so much. On lap 29 a multi car tangle involving CJ Lehmann, Chris Turbush and Justin Brown in the first and second turn sent all three cars off on the hook, only Brown returned.
When the field was called to order Fortin stuck to the lane that brought him to the lead choosing the inside forcing Turbush to the outside and when the race resumed JB Fortin would remain the race leader in the Peerless Boilers Chevy right up until the checker flag waved claiming a win he predicted earlier in the afternoon in the pit area. As JB exited his car he looked over at announcer Bob Finan holding the trophy and reminded Bob, "I told you I was coming to see you for a trophy tonight" As for whether he was surprised Turbush chose the outside lane on the 25th lap restart JB recalled, "somewhat but I wasn't worried my car had been sticking the bottom pretty good and I knew we had the car to beat thanks to Kenny Lechner Sr and my loyal team and family".
Roger Turbush of Riverhead would have to be content with second in the Kennedy L.I. Realty Chevy and lamented afterwards, "we sure didn't need that debris caution" Roger reflected, "my car was getting tight anyway but if we run it out caution free who knows" Dave Brigati of Calverton who earlier in the day was hoping to change his racing luck did just that with a third place tally in the Coors Light Chevy. Defending champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead and John Baker of Brookhaven were fourth and fifth.
The first event of the night was the Jim Kelly Memorial 22 for the Vintage All Stars with Tony Ferrante Jr. of New Hyde Park driving the Bill Murray owned X-3 Cavalier to the win. Opening ceremonies featured a tribute to Jim Kelly who passed away last November from Covid-19 complications. Jim's wife Debbie and family watched on with pride and emotion as Jim's #22 Vintage Modified sat one last time in victory lane before Tom Rogers Jr. paced the race with the car. Early on Mark Miller led the way over an impressive Don Conradis with Miller driving a John Meade tribute car and Conradis in a Bob Polverari 711. The duo led the first half of the race before Tony Ferrante Jr. who started the race from 7th came along and passed Miller for the lead on lap 11 with an inside pass in turn three. Two laps later Don Howe who started 6th on the grid came to second and he quickly set his radar on leader Ferrante. In the closing laps Howe was able to gain on Ferrante but never really able to gain a solid enough run to pass him for the lead. At the finish Tony Ferrante Jr. in the Anthony Ferrante & Company Chevy was the race winner. In victory lane Tony stated he was going to give the winning trophy to the Kelly family. Don Howe of Water Mill was second in the Corwith's Auto Body Cavalier while early leader Mark Miller of Hauppauge was third in the Spirit In The Sky Chevy.
After three weeks off the Super Pro Trucks returned for a 20-lap event and when the dust settled on a very competitive race former multi time champion Lou Maestri of Deer Park scored his division leading 35th career win perhaps the most hard fought win to date. The front row was made up of the student and the professor as 17-year old Ethan Brown was on the pole with Maestri alongside and when the green light flashed on Maestri rode the outside to the early race advantage. Brown ran second for the first two laps before Jimmy Rennick Jr. passed him on lap 3. Rennick who stared 5th in the field quickly went to work on challenging Maestri for the lead eyeing a run to the inside. Lou played defense to Jimmy's advances but Rennick was still pushing the envelope. On lap 8 entering the third turn Rennick dove under Maestri who reacted and the end result was Rennick spinning drawing a caution flag. When the race resumed new second place driver Jack Handley Jr. restarted outside of Maestri and actually led the 9th lap before Lou came charging back to reclaim the lead on lap 10. Soon Jack Handley was forced to turn his attention to a duel for second as his younger brother Max was looking for a way by and on lap 13 found one to move to second after some brotherly love contact. With all that going on just behind him Lou Maestri was able to steer his Hunter Business School machine to the winners circle. Max Handley of Medford was runner-up in the Hollis Court Collision Chevy while brother Jack also of Medford was third in the Waste Waterworks entry.
The 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature would find 16-year old Jeffrey Farruggia Jr. of Riverhead scoring a hard fought and well deserved first career feature win after surviving and mastering several late race restarts. Sean McElearney and Farruggia made up the front row for the 26 car field after 37 cars tried to make the cut in qualifying with Farruggia breaking out to the early race lead. Former champion Jim Sylvester who started 4th on the grid worked his way by McElearney on lap 2 setting up a 18-lap fight for the lead between he and leader Farruggia. Sylvetser the author of 8 career wins glued himself to the rear bumper of the leader at times applying the pressure on the youngster. Not only was Farruggia able to thwart those efforts but he was also able to keep Sylvetser at bay on several double file restarts that were needed in the final 8 laps. Each time Jeffrey chose the inside lane moving Sylvester to the outside while Brad Van Houten and Nick Morabito watched from third and fourth. Restart after restart Jeffrey Farruggia Jr. remained cool as a cucumber and drove off to a very popular first career win in the AJ Painting Inc. racer. Jim Sylvester of Massapequa was runner-up in the 860 Motorsports machine while Brad Van Houten of Wading River claimed third in the Mike Van Houten Trucking entry.
The INEX Bandoleros ran their second race of the 2021 campaign and when the race was checkered on lap 9 of a scheduled 15 due to a 15-minute time limit Chevy Rommeney of Bohemia made a bold pass in lapped traffic payoff for his first career victory. Nicholas Hodge moved out front at the throw of the green with Darren Krantz Jr. in tow. On a 2nd lap restart Krantz the opening night winner was able to take the lead from Hodge who one lap later was passed for second by Rommeney. On the 5th lap Krantz and Rommeney hot some slower lapped traffic and exiting the second turn Krantz went low while Rommeney threw his Cheez-It racer to the outside and when the car stuck was able to take the lead from Krantz. A series of caution flags for minor spins slowed the race and on lap 9 when the yellow reappeared the race hit the time limit. An elated Chevy Rommeney, son of "Cheesebox" Michael Rommeney and wife Cindy took his victory lap and nailed his first victory lane interview. Darren Krantz Jr. of Huntington was runner-up in the PinkTie.org machine while Kaitlyn Stradley of Wilmington, Delaware came from 12th starting spot to finish third in the Seven Seas Yacht Service racer.
After the 2020 race season concluded Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place and his family decided to sell their Crate Modified because as he put it "we were in over our heads". For the 2021 season Lawrence with an offer from Phil LaManna to drive his EP Milling & Sweeping Street Stock returned to his racing roots and Saturday he returned to victory lane at the end of 20-laps. With scheduled pole sitter Danny Pizzo unable to start the inside lane was moved up giving Lawrence the pole rather than starting third. Rhett Fogg who started outside the front row led the first lap riding the outside line but Lawrence passed Fogg as they started the second circuit to the outside on the front stretch. With the race going green to checker non stop Lawrence was able to open a comfortable lead and that was good cause later in the race opening day winner Brian Brown came to second. Brown lap after lap was shaving some of the advantage Lawrence had built down but the laps were running out and Gerard Lawrence would flash under the checkers first. Brian Brown of Riverhead was runner-up in the Robert's Express Oil Chevy while Chris Lescenski of Riverhead placed third in the Eastport Feeds Chevy.
Former Mini Stock champion Paul Wojcik of Patchogue scored his 5th career victory in a 20-lap affair his first of 2021. Pole sitter Joe Cooke Jr. led the first lap of the race before he was overtaken by Paul Wojcik with an outside pass up the beck stretch on lap 2. Cooke's night got even worse on lap 4 when he was the subject of a yellow flag after a turn two incident. That turn of events moved opening day winner Mike Mujsce Jr to second with Mike spending the rest of the race trying to figure a way by Wojcik for his second win of the year. However Paul Wojcik in the Moe's Southwest Grill Restaurants of Long Island Honda was not to be stopped in this race driving to victory. Mike Mujsce Jr. of Hampton Bays was second in the Mike's Auto Service of Quogue was second while Tom Puccia of Shirley was third in the Onsite Cleaning Service mount.
The most exciting finish of the night hands down went to the 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go drivers with the lead changing hands three times in the final two laps with Ryan T. Warren of Indialantic, Fl. scoring the exciting victory. Chris Olivari broke to the early race lead and after surviving two early race red flags would lead the first 22 laps of the race before spinning off the track relinquishing the lead. Ryan Warren became the new race leader and would work his way through a the heavy traffic around the track. Most recent winner Bob Haeger made his way back to second late in the race after getting shuffled out of the top three earlier. Haeger made a go for broke move on lap 38 as the field took the two to go signal passing Warren for the lead. However Warren, a transplanted Long Islander didn't fly up from Florida to give up without a fight and on the white flag lap made his own go for broke move reclaiming the lead from Haeger by inches as they raced off the fourth turn to the checkers. By 0.009 Ryan T Warren in a car loaned to him for the race by Mike Mujsce Jr. won the race over Bob Haeger of Hampton Bays in the 27 Dollar Band racer. Kevin Coyle of East Meadow was third after starting from 24th.
The night concluded with a 4/6-Cylinder Demolition Derby with second generation driver Joey Palmeri Jr. of Lindenhurst the last car standing. Joey not only had his brother John to contend with in this event but his father Joey Sr. entered as well. In the end the event boiled down to Joey Palmeri Jr. and Robert Savoy with Savoy using a car his used at a demo earlier in May at Bether Motor Speedway. Palmeri in the J&J Towing machine had the stronger car and would score the win. Robert Savoy of Selden was runner-up in the Monsters Recycling machine while John Palmeri of Lindenhurst in the JP Automotive car was third.
Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modifieds; 1. JB Fortin 2. Roger Turbush 3. Dave Brigati 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. John Baker 6. Chris Young 7. Kyle Soper 8. Michael Rutkoski 9. John Fortin Sr. 10. John Beatty Jr. 11. Dylan Slepian 12. Jack Handley Jr. 13. Justin Brown 14. Howie Brode 15. Kyle Ellwood 16. Glen Steger 17. Shawn Solomito 18. CJ Lehmann 19. Artie Pedersen III 20. Chris Turbush DNS- Jeremy McDermott
Vintage All Stars Jim Kelly memorial: 1. Tony Ferrante Jr. 2. Don Howe 3. Mark Miller 4. Frank Saladino 5. Don Conradis 6. Mike Siraco 7. Dan Dombal 8. Boots Jasinski 9. Bill Meyer 10. Jimmy Reed 11. Tim Daly
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Lou Maestri 2. Max Handley 3. Jack Handley Jr. 4. Matt Triola 5. Mark Stewart 6. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 7. Frank Dumicich Sr. 8. Ethan Brown 9. Joe Cerabino 10. Daniel Creegan
Legend Race Cars: 1. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 2. Jim Sylvester 3. Brad Van Houten 4. Nick Morabito 5. Allan Pedersen 6. Riely O'Keefe 7. Kevin Nowak 8. Eric Hersey 9. George Tomko Jr. 10. Anthony Marsh 11. Jerry Curran 12. Sean Glennon 13. Alex Halinar 14. Jake Curran 15. Devin Deshies 16. Jeff Otto Jr. 17. Mike Van Houten Jr. 18. Ray Stulz 19. Steven Woytsiak 20. Sean McElearney 21. Charlie Hodge 22. Pat Moore 23. Jason Castaldo 24. Joey Braun 25. Mike Alcaro 26. Mike Benton
Bandoleros: 1. Chevy Rommeney 2. Darren Krantz Jr. 3. Kaitlyn Stradley 4. Ben Morabito 5. Reid Halpin 6. Nick Hodge 7. Rodney Dowless Jr. 8. Julianna Kramer 9. Jayden Owens-Bader 10. Tucker Bock 11. Wayne Meyer Jr. 12. Giavanna Agugliaro 13. Matthew Vescovy Jr. 14. Chris Mancz Jr. 15. Austin Allen
Street Stocks: 1. Gerard Lawrence 2. Brian Brown 3. Chris Lescenski 4. Brian McCormack 5. Russ Jansen 6. Jimmy White Jr. 7. Jay Hanschel 8. Roger Oxee 9. Rhett Fogg 10. Ed Fontana 11. James DiPietro 12. James Pape 13. Luke Foerster DNS- Danny Pizzo
Mini Stocks: 1. Paul Wojcik 2. Mike Mujsce Jr. 3. Tom Puccia 4. Ryan Warren 5. Jesse St. Clair 6. Chris Elixson 7. James O'Connell 8. Scott Phillips 9. Martin O'Connell 10. Nick Kocis 11. Joe Cooke Jr. 12. CJ Zukowski 13. Andrew Farnham 14. Tony Collinsworth 15. Rayn Zukowski 16. Joe Warren Jr. 17. Justin Squires
4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro: 1. Ryan T. Warren 2. Bob Haeger 3. Kevin Coyle 4. John Palmeri 5. Frank Raynor 6. Patrick Collins 7. Patrick McGay 8. Woot Lawrence 9. Joe Palmeri Jr. 10. Chris Constantine 11. Zach Tyler 12. Chris Olivari 13. Jody Fickissen 14. Jack Tessa 15. Steven Reisart 16. Chris Grover 17. Franky Abbatiello 18. Michael Campbell 19. James Sutera 20. Stephen Elliston 21. Jeremy Rand 22. Charles Astacio 23. Vincent Ambrosio 24. Ed LaSpina 25. Eric Jaeckel 26. Henry Cuesta 27. George Astacio 28. Russ Jansen 29. Andrew Cuesta 30. David Olivari 31. Robert Linder 32. Michael Brincat 33. Michael Bianco 34. David Durran 35. Will Raynor 36. Mark Raynor 37. Peter Verwys Jr. 38. Keri Handley 39. Rocko Fox 40. Kyle Curtis 41. Alex Endres 42. Alyssa Benton 43. Nick Johnson 44. Jack McGee 45. Scott Tufarella
Demolition Derby: 1. Joey Palmeri Jr.