It was a night of high emotion, nostalgia and some good old school NASCAR Modified racing Saturday at Riverhead Raceway and when the dust settled on the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 for the second year in a row Kyle Soper of Manorville sat in the winners circle. Soper using a perfect balance of patience and aggression took the lead with just five laps left in the contest from Timmy Solomito of Islip to pocket his 4th win of 2022, 28th of his career.
During opening ceremonies John Cozza of Medford and Rusty Turbush of Manorville were enshrined on the Cromarty Wall of Champions during a track side ceremony prior to feature racing. Then fans were asked to turn their attention to the top of the pit grandstands between turns three and four where a gray tarp was pulled back unveiling the 2020 Islip 300 winning NASCAR Modified owned by the late Eddie Partridge. The car driven by Ryan Preeece sits atop a large pole and will serve as an everlasting tribute to Eddie Partridge, a bigger than life personality in short track racing. Jimmy Blewett, who readied the car in his race shop in New Jersey was on hand for the ceremony and told the fans how much it meant for him to be part of the process. Eddie’s widow Connie and nephew Tom Gatz were part of the unveiling and needless to say there was not a dry eye in the house.
Twenty four NASCAR Modified signed in for the 77 with Timmy Solomito in the Russell Goodale owned machine quickest in qualifying with a lap of 11.567, JB Fortin of Holtsville was second at 11.662 after he and his team drove all night from Claremont Motorsports Park to run the event. At the throw of the green Solomito broke to the front as Fortin seemed content tucking into second with Dillon Steuer, making a rare asphalt start third. Racing in close quarters can lead to contact at Riverhead and such was the case on lap 14 when JB Fortin got loose going into turn one right in front of the field and a multi car pile-up ensued. Many cars were able to pull away and either continue or pit for repairs nut the cars of Chris Turbush and Eric Zeh were damaged beyond repair to continue.
When the race resumed Solomito held serve at the front of the field with Steuer now tucked into second. Meanwhile Kyle Soper was on the march from his 9th place starting berth and soon would make his presence known. On lap 27 Kyle was able to work his way around Steuer for second and set sail for Solomito. As the laps wore down Soper then started to back off some, saving his car for a late race bid for the lead. With 10 laps to go Soper turned up the wick and closed to the rear bumper of Solomito as the duo danced through lapped traffic. With five laps remaining Soper, in a move reminiscent of the late Richie Evans himself, caught Solomito off turn two as the leader lapped a back marker. With just enough room to squeeze his Eastport Feeds Chevy between the lapped car and leader Solomito Kyle was able to sneak through to take the lead and eventual win.
“This win is just another testament to my team” Kyle Soper boasted afterwards, “the hours my father Tom puts in this car and my guys who work tirelessly on it, I could never thank them and Wayne & Joette enough for this great ride we have been enjoying”. As for the race itself and how he showed patience but yet aggression when he needed Kyle offered, “I saw Timmy’s car getting loose and when we got to that lapped car going into three I knew that was my chance and here we are”. The win moved Soper into a three way tie with Don Howe and JR Bertuccio for 11th on the all time win list.
Timmy Solomito crossed the line second in the RG Hahn & Son Fuel Oil Chevy just five laps shy of his 21st career win. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills was third in his Eastport Feeds Chevy while John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and Matt Brode of East Islip were fourth and fifth. Rounding out the top ten were, Mike Christopher Jr., Michael Rutkoski, JB Fortin, Jack Handley Jr. and Dave Brigati.
In racing drivers often have what is referred to as a breakout year. One such driver is Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified driver Chase Greenan of Glen Cove who backed up his first career win on July 9th with his second win in three weeks Saturday. Stephen Coleman and Chase Grennan brought the 20-car field to green with Grennan from the outside gaining an edge on Coleman at the start. Coleman chased Grennan over the first 9 circuits before he was passed by Chris Rogers for position. Roger then spent 6 laps chasing Grennan before he was overtaken by “Mad” Max Handley on lap 17. With just eight laps to go and Chase Grennan driving another flawless race there would be no passing the teenage driver of the Dillner Precast Chevy as he ended the month of July the way he started it, with a win. Max Handely of Medford was runner-up in the Relle Electric Chevy while Stephen Coleman of East Islip turned some heads with a solid third place tally in the High End Collision Chevy.
The Blunderbusts competed in the second of three Miller Lite Triple Crown Series races for the season and when the 30-lap extra distance event was checkered defending champion Cody Triola of Bay Shore sat in victory lane. Eddie Diaz of Centereach was quickest in qualifying playing down a lap of 14.480, Triola was second quick at 14.621. When the race got underway Diaz broke out front with Triola in tow. Over the first 12 laps Triola chased leader Diaz trying to figure a way by. On lap 12 Diaz left the bottom lane open just a bit too much and Triola was able to slide underneath to grab the race lead. Once out front in the Cesspool Pros entry Triola proceeded to drive off to his first win of the 2022 campaign, 7th of his his career. Eddie Diaz would have to be content with second in his Notorious Tattoo racer having to ward off a high flying Jim Laird Jr. of Ridge who wound up third at the line in the Poolsmith Chevy. Late in the race Laird made several runs at Diaz for second with Eddie prevailing.
Youth was served in the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature when 15-year old Chase Van Houten of Wading River, a third generation driver won his first career event. Jake Curran and Van Houten brought the 26-car field to green with Curran leading the first lap before Van Houten was scored the leader of lap 2. Both teenage drivers ran side by side for several laps with zero contact while 24 other drivers tried to track them down led buy third place Christopher Coleman, yet another rising young talent. As the race got past halfway the last thing leader Van Houten wanted to see was a yellow erasing the lead he was building up. Tow cautions would wave in the second half of the tilt and both time Chase Van Houten in the Terra Vite Vineyards and Winery racer mastered them both and drove off to his first career victory. Jake Curran of Calverton scored a career best runner-up finish in the CheckerWon Motorsports racer, as did Christopher Coleman of East Islip with his third place tally in the High End Collision mount.
Former five time Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified champion Don Howe of Water Mill scored the 15-lap Eddie Partridge Vintage All Stars win. Howe driving a RE Chassis car built by Richie Evans took the lead from Frank Saladino of Huntington on lap 6. Saladino wheel a Richie Evans tribute coupe that is also 100% street legal. Once out front Don Howe drove the Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier to the winners circle. Tony Ferrante of New Hyde Park was second in the Billy Murray owned X-3 while Tom Pickerell of Huntington drove the Kevin Bacik owned machine home for third place honors.
Mariah Lawrence of Southampton is on a roll in the Truck Enduro ranks winning her second race in a week Saturday in a 40-lap contest. Truck Enduro fields are set by luck of the draw as teams enter the track and Lawrence, despite winning the week before drew outside pole alongside pole sitter Steve Reisert. Lawrence wasted no time putting her General Lee #01 to the lead at the throw of the green with Brandon LaManna coming from third to second at the start. Over the entire distance of the race Lawrence and LaManna played a game of hide and seek in lapped traffic. LaManna got to the tailgate of Lawrence more than once but never able to finish off a pass. At the finish Mariah Lawrence in the Unique Gold truck was the winner, Brandon LaManna of Smithtown enjoyed a career best second in his EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy. Woot Lawrence of Southampton was third in the Beach Collision racer.
Upon finishing the Truck Enduro, Woot Lawrence went back to the pits and jumped into the Carmine Ragusa owned 8-Cylinder Enduro Chevy and proceeded to win in a 40-lapper. Lawrence and fellow veteran driver Kevin Coyle raced hard for the lead early on before Woot started to get away in the Travers Tools backed machine. Coyle of East Meadow kept pace with Lawrence but was never able to pull up and make a bid for the lead settling for second. The drive of the night was turned in by Kris Dane of Hicksville, “Krunchy” started the race from 25th in his Ham Racing Chevy and drove through the field to finish third.
Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Timmy Solomito 3. Dylan Slepian 4. John Beatty Jr. 5. Matt Brode 6. Mike Christopher Jr. 7. Michael Rutkoski 8. JB Fortin 9. Jack Handley Jr. 10. Dave Brigati 11. Dillon Steuer 12. Chris Rogers 13. Owen Grennan 14. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 15. Allan Pedersen 16. Glen Steger 17. Chris Young 18. Artie Pedersen III 19. Jason Agugliaro 20. Roger Turbush 21. Justin Brown 22. Jimmy Blewett 23. Eric Zeh 24. Chris Turbush
Crate Modifieds: 1. Chase Grennan 2. Max Handley 3. Stephen Coleman 4. Chris Rogers 5. AJ DeSantis 6. Sean Glennon 7. Owen Grennan 8. Kyle Ellwood 9. Michael Berner 10. Terry Stiles 11. Eric Hersey 12. Mike Albasini 13. Kenneth Massa 14. Alex Colasanto 15. Dennis Krupski 16. Charles Macwhinnie 17. Mark Wolf 18. Eddie Schutze 19. Vinny Delaney 20. Michael Rutkoski
Blunderbusts: 1. Cody Triola 2. Eddie Diaz 3. Jim Laird Jr. 4. Tom Sullivan 5. Tom Puccia 6. Bill Wegmann Sr. 7. Bill Wegmann Jr. 8. AJ DeSantis 9. Jarrett Campbell 10. Gary Caldwell 11. Joshua Creel 12. Brad Bess 13. Steve Neenan 14. Brandon Hubbard
Legend Race Cars: 1. Chase Van Houten 2. Jake Curran 3. Christopher Coleman 4. Jason Castaldo 5. Riely O’Keefe 6. Collin Hoeffner 7. Jim Sylvester 8. Mike Benton 9. Eric Hersey 10. Joey Braun 11. Mike Van Houten Jr. 12. Nick Morabito 13. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 14. Ryan Lutz 15. Ray Stulz 16. Robert Henninger III 17. Michael Metcalf 18. Richie Davidowitz 19. Jayden Glennerster 20. Rich Braun 21. Cjhris Sinatro 22. Anthony Marsh 23. Ray Fitzgerald 24. Joe Costello 25. Charlie Hodge 26. Matt Triola
Vintage All Stars: 1. Don Howe 2. Tony Ferrante Jr. 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Kyle Ellwood 5. Mark Miller 6. Frank Saladino 7. Mike Siraco 8. Jimmy Reed 9. Don Conradis 10. Dan Dombal 11. Timmy Solomito
Truck Enduro: 1. Mariah Lawrence 2. Brandon LaManna 3. Woot Lawrence 4. Jarrett Campbell 5. Gary Voight 6. Kerry Botts 7. Emily Hubbard 8. Bobby Pease 9. Dusty Cole 10. Steve Reisert 11. Jackie Germuth 12. Danielle Cohen 13. James Kelly 14. Chloe Phillips 15. Chris Olsen 16. Kayla Kelly 17. Hallie Campo 18. Jennifer Hohwiesner 19. Nikki Giordano 20. Phil LaManna
8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Woot Lawrence 2. Kevin Coyle 3. Kris Dane 4. Ricky Carman 5. Pat Collins 6. Roger Tramm 7. Carmine Ragusa 8. David Verbeeck 9. Joe Boccia 10. Christian Kalbfleisch 11. Anthony Capobianco 12. James Heym 13. Will Ebert 14. Andy Denninger 15. Jody Fickeissen 16. Steve Jones 17. Donny Oliver 18. Pat Collins Jr. 19. Moody Enaya 20. Ralph Caggiano 21. Kevin Feeney 22. Greg Harris 23. Richie Carman 24. Ed Graef 25. Tim Healy