Over a racing career a driver will have certain nights standout in their memory over time. For rising driving talent Jack Handley Jr of Medford, Saturday May 13th, 2023 will be a night he soon won’t forget after winning the 50-lap NASCAR Modified feature just an hour or so after winning his second straight Super Pro Truck event of the young Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series season.
By Bob Finan
For a better part of the NASCAR Modified feature it appeared as though Justin Brown of Manorville who is running for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors on the Whelen Modified Tour was going to steer his family car to victory lane. Brown started the race on the pole by virtue of accumulating passing points in his heat race broke out to the lead in a race that nearly went to the halfway mark without interruption. However the caution flags did start to wave just prior to the midway point leading up to numerous double file restarts. The real fireworks were yet to come in the second half. On lap 33 Brown and Michael Rutkoski were pitted side by side for a restart and when the green waved contact ensued with Rutkoski getting two heels off the ground with a they race quickly going back under caution. Rutkoski would continue at the rear after drawing the yellow, Brown was asked to join Rutkoski by race control. Feeling he was not in the wrong, Brown parked his car for the balance.
That moved John Beatty Jr. and Dave Brigati to the front row to resume the race. When the green lights came back on Beatty didn’t fire off the way he normally does and Brigati was quick to take advantage and the race lead. However on lap 42 as he exited turn two his car began to slow and he pulled to the infield with a broken rear end assembly. That moved second generation driver Matt Brode to the race lead with Jack Handley Jr. now second with just eight laps left in the contest. Matt, son of three-time track champion Howie Brode had just two miles between he and his first career NASCAR Modified win, all he needed to have happen was have the remainder of the race play out without caution. Unfortunately for Matt the final yellow of the race waved on lap 45 for a minor spin. On the ensuing restart Brode and Handley, two young, agressive drivers both wanting to win raced hard for the victory. Brode was protecting and Handley pressuring and momentary contact was made getting Matt askew allowing Handley to move out front. Jack was not done though, as now he was the hunted as Dylan Slepian, who raced all the way back from an early race penalty was all over Jack over the final laps.
At the checker Jack Handley Jr. in the Joe Densieski owned, Suffolk Precast Chevy prevailed. “Wow what a night” Jack boasted afterwards, “I’m so blessed to have a Super Pro Truck owner like Andre Vega and Joe D with the Modified, they give me such wonderful opportunities”. As he closed out his post-race comments Handley looked over at the backstretch grandstands and pointed out, “I have some of my work friends here and a bunch of New York City Firefighters, let’s get the party started”. The victory is the second career Modified win for Handley.
Nobody passed more cars in the 50-lapper than runner-up Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills in the Eastport Feeds Chevy, while Chris Rogers of Patchogue turned in an impressive third place tally in the JDL Environmental Chevy. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck pressed on for fourth and fifth.
For the second week in a row a Grennan sat in the winners circle at the conclusion of the 25-lap Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds. On opening night Chase Grennan of Glen Cove was declared the winners of the race after tech. Saturday defending champion and older brother Owen pocketed his 15th career win when he led flag to flag for the win. Starting from the pole Owen broke right to the lead with outside pole sitter Kyle Ellwood in tow. It was Ellwood’s car that was disqualified for unapproved header modifications on opening night and indeed Kyle was determined to find a way if he could pass Owen Grennan for the win. In the end there would be no passing the Dillner Precast Chevy of Owen Grennan who flashed under the checkers first. Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead was second in the Rosemar Industries Chevy while Michael Berner of Patchogue placed on the podium with a third in the All Island Car Wash entry.
The Pedersen family version of Family Feud continued to play out in the second 15-lap Figure Eight feature of the season, this time Scott Pedersen of Shirley staved off challenges from his nephew Allan Pedersen for the 15-lap victory. Opening night, the roles were reversed with Allan topping Uncle Scott, the defending champion in the class. During the off-season Scott switched teams moving to the Northeaster Office Equipment/Richo Business Systems effort and so far they new pairing are quick out of the gate. Despite heavy challenges from his nephew Allan, who was seeking his fourth win in a row dating back to last year Scott held on for his 11th career win. Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches was runner-up in the Top Notch Performance Chevy with Gary Fritz Jr,. of Mastic third in the Bobby’s One Stop Auto & Exhaust Cadillac.
Prior to winning the NASCAR Modified event, Jack Handley Jr. topped the 30-lap Super Pro Truck main event, the first race of their 2023 Miller Lite Triple Crown Series. The race wound-up being a replay of opening night as Handley would lead Lou Maestri of Deer Park over the entire race distance. While able to stay in the tire tracks of the leader, Maestri, all-time leading winner of the class could not pull up to post a challenge. For the 18th time in his career when the Super Pro Truck event ended Jack Handley Jr. took home the win in the River Walk Bar & Grill Toyota. Lou Maestri was runner-up in the Monetary Recovery Company racer while Matt Triola of Bay Shore was third in the Cesspool Pros Chevy.
After going winless in 2022, “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches returned to his winning ways in the INEX Legend Race Cars topping their 25-lap feature. Young gun Jeffrey Farruggia Jr. broke to the early lead and was doing a masterful job of leading the 26-car field, especially considering Davidowitz the all-time leading winner with 25 wins was hot on his heels. After sizing up Farruggia for a few laps Davidowitz made his move to the lead. Now second Farruggia and two other up and coming teenage talents in Christopher Coleman and Chase Van Houten took up a three-car race for second, which was just fine with Davidowitz out front. In the end Richie Davidowitz sat in victory lane with his Hampton Fleet Service entry, “Cookies” Christopher Coleman of East Islip was an impressive runner-up in the Fidge Factor Web Design machine with Jeffrey Farruggia of Riverhead third in the KMK Contracting mount.
The 40-lap 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro was captured by CJ Zurkowski of Riverhead in the Newtown Landscaping Chevy. Robert Izzo and Jack Tessa were second and third.
In the 12-lap School Bus Figure Eight race 15-year old Chevy Rommeney of Bohemia scored the extremely popular Scout Night win in his first ever School Bus event.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Dylan Slepian 3. Chris Rogers 4. John Beatty Jr. 5. Michael Rutkoski 6. Chris Young 7. Tom Rogers Jr. 8. Allan Pedersen 9. Matt Brode 10. Owen Grennan 11. Jason Agugliaro 12. JR Bertuccio 13. Dave Brigati 14. Justin Brown 15. Chris Turbush
Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds: 1. Owen Grennan 2. Kyle Ellwood 3. Michael Berner 4. Terry Stiles 5. Sean Glennon 6. Max Handley 7. Eric Hersey 8. Owen Grennan 9. Vinny Delaney 10. Stephen Coleman 11. Charles Macwhinnie 12. Alex Colasanto 13. Dennis Krupski 14. Eddie Schutze 15. Chevy Rommeney 16. Ken Massa Jr. 17. AJ DeSantis 18. Mike Albasini
Figure Eights: 1. Scott Pedersen 2. Allan Pedersen 3. Gary Fritz Jr. 4. Artie Pedersen III 5. Ryan Warren 6. Ken Hyde Jr. 7. Cody Triola 8. Vinny Delaney 9. Bryan Quilliam 10. Kim Hyde 11. Bob Dalke 12. Paulo Miguel DNS-Brian Ayala
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Lou Maestri 3. Matt Triola 4. Ethan Brown 5. Joe Cerabino 6. Chris Lescenski 7. Frank Dumicich Sr. 8. Liam Patrick 9. Erin Solomito 10. Rob Corwin
Legend Race Cars: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. Christopher Coleman 3. Jeffrey Farruggia 4. Chase Van Houten 5. Jim Sylvester 6. Ryan Lutz 7. Eric Hersey 8. Mike Benton 9. Ray Stulz 10. Chris Sinatro 11. Ryan Barbieri 12. Michael Metcalf 13. Charlie Hodge III 14. Kim Daniel 15. Rodney Dowless Sr. 16. Marc Godnick 17. Kendall Van Houten 18. Ray Fitzgerald 19. Jason Castaldo 20. Joey Braun 21. Jayden Glennerster 22. Mike Van Houten Jr. 23. Nick Kocis 24. Brad Van Houten 25. Riely O’Keefe 26. Kevin Nowak
Gut & Go Enduro: 1. CJ Zukowski 2. Rob Izzo 3. Jack Tessa 4. Zach Tyler 5. Frank Raynor 6. Chris Olivari 7. David Olivari 8. Mariah Lawrence 9. Mike Mujsce III 10. PJ McGay 11. Bob Dalke 12. Chris Constantine 13. Michael Fragola 14. Anthony Paretta 15. Dillon Reid 16. Jesse Bischel 17. Charles Astacio 18. Jacob Hartard 19. Ally Turbush 20. Will Raynor 21. Jeremy Rand 22. Anthony Fioriglio 23. Dave Duran 24. Franky Abbatiello 25. Brandon Turbush 26. Mike Mujsce Jr. 27. Dan Atkinson 28. Ronan Levesque 29. George Astacio 30. Eoughn Heyward 31. Hunter Cummings
School Bus Figure Eight: Winner- Chevy Rommeney
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