A late race caution flag with four laps left shuffled the deck Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway in The Flying Dutchman 90 NASCAR Modified event and when the dust settled John Beatty Jr. of Merrick master the late race restart to capture a milestone 10th career win. A strong field of 27 Tour Type Modifieds turned out for the race celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Fred Harbach’s winning the final race of his career leading to the track championship on September 19th,1992.
Qualifying fell to Timmy Solomito of Islip who won the Pro’s Choice Racing $200 pole award with a lap of 11.527, John Beatty Jr. was second at 11.623 with John Baker of Brookhaven third with a qualifying lap of 11.639. Fred Harbach’s daughter Joanne Harbach-Kitzen dropped green flag on the the 27-car field with pole sitter Timmy Solomito breaking out front early over John Beatty Jr.. Timmy quickly gained himself a comfortable enough margin over Beatty, even winning the $112 bonus for leading lap 12 which he sponsored through his Natural Design Concepts and Apparel in honor of Joe Hodge. Despite a congested track with 27 starters the laps clicked off without incident over the first half of the race, unfortunately for leader Solomito the first caution would wave a lap 58 for an incident that took him out of the race and potential victory. While working the third and fourth turn a lapped car just in front of Timmy spun around in turn four with the leader having nowhere to go, clipping the spun car with his right front suffering race ending damage.
When the race resumed John Beatty Jr. was now out front with Tom Rogers Jr. second but the caution would quickly waved again on lap 61 for Chris Turbush and Dave Brigati tangle. Just after that restart Eddie Brunnhoelzl III who started 5th threw his hat into the ring passing Rogers for second on lap 63. After a seven lap green flag run the caution waved again on lap 68 for a spinning Kyle Ellwood in turn four. On the ensuing restart Brunnhoelzl would get the measure of Beatty for the lead taking the top spot on lap 69. Beatty was also passed by defending champion Kyle Soper who moved to second on lap 70. Brunnhoelzl, whose grandfather and father both raced against Fred Harbach seemed poised to collect his second career NASCAR Modified win at Riverhead but fate would step in with a mile left in the contest when a yellow flag waved on lap 86 for JR Bertuccio’s disabled car in turn four.
With the choose cone only being used for extra distance races in 2022 what happened when the field realigned was somewhat shocking when second place driver Soper chose the inside behind leader Brunnhoelzl allowing Beatty to move alongside the leader for the final restart. When the green waved for the final time John Beatty Jr. drove his car for all it was worth and it paid off as he was the new race leader on lap 87 with Brunnhoelzl and Soper trying to chase him down in the waning laps.
When the checkers waved John Beatty Jr. flashed under them first in his MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy, “Truly an honor to win a race run for Fred Harbach” Beatty proclaimed exiting his car. John earned an extra $890 for the win from the Harbach family. “Eddie had a good car but I knew it was now or never on that last restart” Beatty continued, “hats off to my car owner Mark S. Mina and my guys, they work their tails off to put the best car under me when we race”.
For runner-up Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown and his North Fork Sanitation team they was left to winder what could have been if not for that late race caution. Eddie earned a $290 bonus for the Harbach family as did third place finisher Kyle Soper of Manorville in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. Fourth place went to John Baker of Brookhaven earning $100 bonus from Danielle Quilligan, while JB Fortin of Holtsville was fifth earning $190 from the Harbach family in bonus money.
In Crate Modified action Michael Berner of Patchogue roared to his fourth career win when he led all 25-laps of their main event Saturday. Starting on the pole Berner wasted no time in getting his Diesel Pro Chevy out to the race lead with Eddie Schutze giving chase over the first half of the race. On lap 13 second year Crate Modified driver Chase Grennan flexed his muscles moving by Schutze for second and setting his sights on leader Berner. However it would be a bitter results eight laps later for Grennan when he spun after contact on lap 20 drawing a caution flag. With a five lap dash for the cash remaining Berner was now pursued by opening night winner Eric Hersey for the final green flag run with the young talent holding on for his first win of 2022. Hersey of Commack was runner-up in the Jack Anthony Pools Chevy with Owen Grennan of Glen Cove third in the Merkenti Construction entry.
Defending Figure Eight champion Scott Pedersen of Shirley won the 15-lap feature event for his first win of the year. Pedersen with a rare pole starting spot broke to the lead early chased by sophomore pilot Ryan Warren. On lap 10 during a double file restart Warren got the measure of Pedersen taking the lead on lap 11 and for a spell looked as though he’d pocket his first career win. However just after taking the white flag Scott Pedersen roared back to take the lead and the victory in his Land, Air & Water Environmental Camaro. Warren of Ridge was second in the South Bay Sayville Auto Repair Cadillac while Gary Fitz Jr. of Mastic Beach in his sponsor wanted racer was third.
Another 2021 champion grabbing a win Saturday night was George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue who won the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature. Staring third behind the front row of Christopher Coleman and Mike Van Houten Jr., George wasted no time in making a bold move to take the race lead before the first lap was completed. Nick Morabito quickly came to second behind Tomko and would chase race leader Tomko until a late race double file restart on lap 16. On that restart Tomko in his Montauk Distilling machine would remain out front with Eric Hersey who started 8th making his way by Morabito for second. With just a mile remaining George Tomko Jr. raced off to his fourth career win while Eric Hersey settled for second in the Silver Fox Racing mount. Nick Morabito of Miller Place came home a solid third in the Benimax Trucking entry. The race was red flagged when former champion Jim Sylvester of Massapequa flipped in turn one destroying a brand new race car. Jim was treated and released from Peconic Bay Medical Center, sore but otherwise okay.
After missing the first Eddie Partridge Vintage All Star event due to illness, former five time NASCAR Modified champion Don Howe of Water Mill took the lead on lap 3 and never looked back to score the win in his Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier. Opening event winner Tony Ferrante Jr of New Hyde Park was second in the Ferrante & Son Inc Chevy while Mark Miller of Hauppauge was third in the Meade’s Fabrication Cavalier.
Tested tough Enduro veteran Woot Lawrence of Southampton won the 40-lap Truck Enduro in his Gregor Well Drilling “grocery getter”. Phil LaManna broke to the early lead over his son Brandon but Lawrence would interupt the family reunion when he came to second on lap 2. Over the following 18 laps LaManna and Lawrence would swap the lead with Lawrence taking control as the field received the halfway signal on lap 20 and drove to victory, while LaManna later fell out of the race. Mariah Lawrence, Woot’s sister and defending champion was second in her sponsor wanted truck while Dusty Cole of Seaford had a stellar run for third in the Cole Boys Racing entry.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. John Beatty Jr. 2. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 3. Kyle Soper 4. John Baker 5. JB Fortin 6. Kyle Ellwood 7. Jack Handley Jr. 8. Chris Rogers 9. Michael Rutkoski 10. Chris Young 11. Eric Zeh 12. Roger Turbush 13. Matt Brode 14. Jason Agugliaro 15. Dave Brigati 16. Artie Pedersen III 17. JR Bertuccio 18. Dylan Slepian 19. Tom Rogers Jr. 20. Chris Turbush 21. Joey Braun 22. Timmy Solomito 23. Allan Pedersen 24. Justin Brown 25. Sal Accardi Jr. 26. Brian Brown 27. Owen Grennan
Crate Modifieds: 1. Michael Berner 2. Eric Hersey 3. Owen Grennan 4. Alex Colasanto 5. Sean Glennon 6. Mike Albasini 7. Vinny Delaney 8. Michael Rutkoski 9. Rich Gerbe 10. AJ DeSantis 11. Mark Wolf 12. Chase Grennan 13. Ken Massa Jr. 14. Dennis Krupski 15. Charles Macwhinnie 16. Patrick Glennon 17. Eddie Schutze 18. Stephen Coleman 19. Max Handley 20. Chris Rogers 21. Terry Stiles
Figure Eights: 1. Scott Pedersen 2. Vinny Delaney 3. Gary Fritz Jr. 4. Ken Hyde Jr. 5. Joe Warren Jr. 6. Bryan Quilliam 7. Cody Triola 8. Bob Dalke 9. Ryan Warren 10. Allan Pedersen
Legend Race Cars: 1. George Tomko Jr. 2. Eric Hersey 3. Nick Morabito 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Richie Davidowitz 6. Jason Castaldo 7. Anthony Marsh 8. Chrsitopher Coleman 9. Collin Hoeffner 10. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 11. Chris Sinatro 12. Jerry Curran 13. Pat Moore 14. Jake Curran 15. Chase Van Houten 16. Mike Van Houten Jr. 17. Ray Stulz 18. Joey Braun 19. Mike Benton 20. Jayden Glennister 21. Michael Collier 22. Peter Fallon 23. Ryan Barberi 24. Rich Braun 25. Jay McConnell 26. Kim Danielle
Vintage All Stars: 1. Don Howe 2. Tony Ferrante Jr. 3. Mark Miller 4. Frank Saladino 5. Don Conradis 6. Jimmy Reed 7. Mike Siraco 8. AJ Kitz
Truck Enduro: 1. Woot Lawrence 2. Mariah Lawrence 3. Dusty Cole 4. Don Nelson Jr. 5. Kerry Botts 6. Emily Hubbard 7. Brandon LaManna 8. Gary Voight 9. Steve Reisert 10. Chris Grover 11. Danielle Cohen 12. Jackie Germuth 13. Amanda Brown 14. John Schultz 15. Chloe Phillips 16. Nikki Giordano 17. Hallie Campo 18. Jennifer Hohwiesner 19. Phil LaManna 20. Kayla Kelly