What a difference a week makes, just ask Justin Brown of Manorville. A week after being the first car out of The Bubba 150, Justin rebounded Saturday night scoring his first career NASCAR Modified victory in a 50-lap, non stop event before a standing room only crowd at Riverhead Raceway. Brown earned the win the old fashioned way by going to the outside to execute the winning pass.
By Bob Finan
Eric Zeh and Jack Handley Jr. sat at the front of the field for the start and when the green waved the shuffling of positions started on the very first lap. During that first circuit Zeh was in the middle groove forcing Handley high. Cooler heads prevailed and when the first lap was completed Handley with a big head of steam on the outside led Brown and the two young lions led the way. One driver on the march would be Timmy Solomito who quickly came to third after starting from the 7th slot. With not a caution flag to be found the laps were clicking off quickly with both Handley and Brown seeking their first career win, with 20-time winner Solomito hot on their heels
After the halfway mark Brown, realizing Solomito was on his rear spoiler knew if he had something for Handley now was the time to show it. Justin looked several times to the inside of the race leader but quickly realized he’d need to go the long way around if he were to have a shot at a pass. During the 33 lap Brown got a nice run to the outside of Handley and by the time the duo started the 34th circuit Brown was the new race leader with Handley giving the new leader plenty of room on the high side. Handley was able to tuck in behind Brown for second with Solomito still lurking in third.
Over the final 15 lap run Justin Brown hit his marks and was in route to realizing the dream of a lifetime when he was first under the checker flags securing his first career NASCAR Modified victory in the Motorcycle Mike Attorney At Law Chevy. “Man this is so great’ Brown boasted in the winners circle. “We had a great, clean battle with Jack, thanks to him for racing clean. I was trying him down low but my car was just a tick off down there, so we switched lanes and took her to the outside”. Not lost in the big moment was those who helped him get there, man my parents stood behind me all the way, Motorcycle Mike, Goetz Electric and now we have Kennedy L.I. Realty on board too, thanks to all of them helping me realize my dream” Brown concluded.
Jack Handley Jr of Medford turned on a stellar performance for second in the Hydro Action Chevy, with Timmy Solomito of Islip third in the Highmark Building Efficiency Chevy. John Beatty Jr of Merrick was fourth while championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville crossed the line fifth.
When it comes to drama at Riverhead Raceway in 2022, look no further than the Figure Eight division. Saturday their second race of the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series was contested with the 20-lap race run in honor of Ken Hyde Sr. on what would have been his 59th birthday. Gary Fritz Jr of Mastic set fast time in qualifying earning the $303 Top Notch Performance Pole Award. He and brother in law Ken Hyde Jr. brought the field to green with Fritz leading the first two laps before Hyde took over on lap 3. On the 9th lap Allan Pedersen was able to make his presence know slipping by Fritz for second and going right after Hyde for the lead. Just three laps later Hyde’s night would come to a grinding end when Bob Dalke ran the intersection and the two had a hard impact nose to nose crash at the “X”. Both drivers were okay. Hyde was seeking to win his12th career race that would have tied him with his father on the all time win list but that was quickly erased with the crash. When the race resumed Allan Pedersen was the new race leader however Gary Fritz Jr. re-entered the picture on lap 16 taking the lead from Pedersen after a side by side battle. Once out front Gary Fritz Jr. was able to lead the final four circuits to score his first win of 2022, his first in five year in his sponsor wanted Cadillac. Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches was second in the Paul Puma Law Group Chevy, while his uncle Scott Pedersen of Shirley placed third in the Land, Air & Water Environmental Camaro.
Nick Morabito of Miller Place has won INEX Legend Race Car events at other race tracks during his budding career but never at his home track. Saturday Nick checked off that box when he won in a wild three car photo finish by a mere 0.029 as the huge crowd roared with approval. Jake Curran led the first two laps of the contest before he was passed to the inside off turn two by Christopher Coleman with Curran now second. A see saw battle for second developed on lap 8 when Michael Benton got by Curran, but one lap later Curran took the spot back but Benton came back to second on lap 10. However Nick Morabito who started 8th was on the move passing Benton for second on lap 11. Over the following six laps Coleman was able to stay just inches ahead of Morabito before a late race caution waved on lap 17. It would be on the ensuing restart that Morabito would be scored the race leader by inches over Coleman with tested tough veteran Ray Fitzgerald third. Racing side by side with no to minimal contact Morabito and Coleman wowed the crowd with their driving. On the white flag lap the top three drivers went for broke and were side by side by side coming to the checker. When the dust settled Nick Morabito in the Benimax Trucking coupe enjoyed the thrill of victory for the first time. “Cookies” Christopher Coleman of East Islip was runner-up in the Fidge Factor Web Design racer while Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville was third in the EP Milling & Sweeping entry. Fitzgerald was just 0.100 back of the race winner.
Greg Harris of Riverhead scored his second Street Stock win of the season coming out on top in a 20-lap affair. Pole sitter Danny Pizzo broke to the race lead at the throw of the green with Rhett Fogg in tow. After peaking to the inside of Pizzo for a few laps, Fogg switched it up going to the outside, a move that paid off when he took the lead on lap 6. Fogg was sailing right along during the middle portion of the tilt when suddenly his car started to misfire. On lap 15 both Greg Harris who started 5th and Kyle Curtis who began from the 6th slot got by for first and second. Curtis went right after Harris for the race lead but with only a handful of laps remaining in the race time was running out for the challenger. At the finish Greg Harris in the River Walk Bar & Grill Chevy took down his 4th career victory. Kyle Curtis of Hampton Bays was a close runner-up in his Wilson Distributors Chevy while Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place came home third in the EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy on his 21st birthday.
Andrew Farnham of Baldwin captured his first 20-lap Mini Stock feature event of 2022, the 5th of his career. Chris Olivari and Paul Wojcik broke out front at the throw of the green but a quick yellow waved when Tom Puccia made contact with a yuke tire in turn three. On the restart Olivari remained the early race leader with Andrew Farnham who started 5th quickly making his way to second. Just after the halfway mark it appeared the handle was starting to go away slightly on leader Olivari’s car and Farnham was ready to pounce. As the duo raced off turn four to start the 15th lap Farnham was able to get under and pass Olivari for the lead. Once out front Andrew Farnham wheeling his sponsor wanted Honda drove to the win. Chris Olivari of Coram was runner-up in his self funded car while CJ Zukowski of Riverhead was third in the Walls of Fame Chevy.
Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge broke to the early race lead in the 50-lap 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro and proceeded to dominate the race winning by 6.774 in his MSM Motorsports Chevy. John Palmeri of Lindenhurst was runner-up in the J&J Towing entry while Joe Palmeri of Lindenhurst was third in the JP Automotive machine. Only four of the forty-nine starters were on the lead lap at the conclusion of the race.
“Cheesebox” Michael Rommeney of Bohemia made it a clean sweep on the two School Bus Demolition Derby events in 2022 winning in a hotly contested conclusion over “Stalker” Scott Phillips of Bay Shore. Rommeney quickly dedicated the win to his son Chevy who received 300 stitches in his leg Friday evening after a race shop accident. Doctors told the Rommeney family Chevy was a lucky young man barely missing a main artery.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Justin Brown 2. Jack Handley Jr. 3. Timmy Solomito 4. John Beatty Jr. 5. Kyle Soper 6. Chris Young 7. Dylan Slepian 8. Michael Rutkoski 9. Dave Brigati 10. Chris Turbush 11. Chris Rogers 12. Jason Agugliaro 13. Jeff Goodale 14. Artie Pedersen III 15. Howie Brode 16. Glen Steger 17. Brian Brown 18. Eric Zeh
Figure Eights: 1. Gary Fritz Jr. 2. Allan Pedersen 3. Scott Pedersen 4. Joe Warren Jr. 5. Ryan Warren 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Cody Triola 8. Bryan Quilliam 9. Ken Hyde Jr. 10. Bob Dalke 11. Kim Hyde
Legend Race Cars: 1. Nick Morbito 2. Christopher Coleman 3. Ray Fitzgerald 4. Richie Davidwoitz 5. Timmy Solomito 6. Jake Curran 7. Mike benton 8. Kyle Ellwood 9. Eric Hersey 10. Riely O’Keefe 11. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 12. Anthony Marsh 13. Jim Sylvester 14. Pat Moore 15. Charlie Hodge 16. Ray Stulz 17. Peter Fallon 18. Mike Van Houten Jr. 19. Michael Metcalf 20. Kevin Ohrnberger 21. Ed Stadtlander 22. Donald Doran 23. Chase Van Houten 24. Joey Braun 25. Chris Sinatro
Street Stocks: 1. Greg Harris 2. Kyle Curtis 3. Gerard Lawrence 4. Dave Antos 5. Jarrod Hayes 6. Alyssa Paprocky 7. Jamie Curtis 8. Kyle Halpin 9. Dennis Kurras 10. Danny Pizzo 11. James Dipietro 12. Luke Foerster 13. Rhett Fogg 14. Henry Cuesta 15. Brian McCormack 16. Chris Lescenski 17. William Kennedy
Mini Stocks: 1. Andrew Farham 2. Chris Olivari 3. CJ Zukowski 4. Tony Collinsworth 5. Joe Cooke Jr. 6. Joe Warren Jr. 7. Paul Wojcik 8. Scott Phillips 9. Charles Astacio 10. Chris Elixson 11. Tom Puccia
Gut & Go Enduro: 1. Joe Warren Jr. 2. John Palmeri 3. Joey Palmeri Jr. 4. Robert Izzo 5. Frank Raynor 6. Chris Constantine 7. Jeremy Rand 8. Mariah Lawrence 9. Kevin Coyle 10. Patrick McGay 11. Cutter Gera 12. Will Raynor 13. Michael Serpa 14. Anthony Paretta 15. Franky Abbatiello 16. Justin Moritz 17. Michael Sheridan 18. Luis Meja 19. Joe Densieski 20. Jesse Haar 21. Chris Olivari 22. George Astacio 23. Jody Fickissen 24. Sean Neenan 25. Mark Raynor 26. David Duran 27. Bruce Grahm
28. Ally Turbush 29. Zach Tyler 30. Kevin Constantine 31. Anthony Foriglio 32. Bob Dalke 33. Pat Collins Jr. 34. David Olivari 35. Bruce Grahm 36. Zach Moritz 37. Michael Halfin 38. Mike Mujsce Jr. 39 Mike Mujsce Sr. 40. Mike Mujsce III 41. Robert Jett 42. Peter Verwys Jr. 43. Adam Esposito 44. Ashley Fox Unclassified: Michael Bianco, Jack Tessa, Mike Doherty,Douglas Buddenhagen, Nick Johnson