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NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes: Riverhead

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour enters the final four races of the season, Timmy Solomito needs to gain ground in the championship standings if he wants capture his first title. And he couldn’t be heading to a better track as he looks to get that job done.

The Islip, New York, driver is heading for his home track of Riverhead Raceway for the Riverhead 200 on Saturday just 17 points from the lead, with three wins already under his belt in 2017. The driver of the No. 16 Starrett Tools Ford won the first race at Riverhead on June 24, starting from the pole and leading 151 laps en route to the victory. But he hasn’t won a race on the Tour since. Three finishes outside the top 10 in the last six races, including two accidents, have put Solomito behind some of his closest challengers in the championship chase. He enters the race fourth, chasing Ryan Preece, Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink.

Solomito’s success at Riverhead surely will give him confidence heading back to the quarter-mile bullring. In his last three races there, he has two wins and a runner-up finish.

Race: Riverhead 200
Place: Riverhead Raceway, Riverhead, New York
When: 8 p.m. ET
Track Layout: .25-mile asphalt oval
2016 Polesitter: Shawn Solomito
2016 Winner: Justin Bonsignore
Event Schedule: Garage Opens: 12:45 p.m., Practice: 3:30-4:30 p.m., Qualifying: 6 p.m., Miller Lite 200: 8 p.m.
Track Contact: Bob Finan,
Track Twitter: @RiverheadRacewa
Event Hashtag: #Riverhead200
NASCAR IMC Contact: Jason Christley,  jchristley@nascar.com



The Race: The Riverhead 200 is the 13th of 16 championship events on the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship points schedule. This is the second and final appearance at Riverhead Raceway this season. Timmy Solomito won the race back on June 24.

The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the entry blank is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 22 positions for the race will be determined through the qualifying process, while there will also be six provisionals available. The race is scheduled for 150 laps.

The Track: A quarter-mile slightly banked asphalt oval, Riverhead Raceway opened in 1949. The track has held a total of 59 races since the Whelen Modified Tour began in 1985, and is only one of two venues to play host to the Tour in each of its 31 seasons.

Race Winners: There have been 25 different drivers that have reached Victory Lane at Riverhead, led by Mike Ewanitsko’s 11 wins. Timmy Solomito has won two of the last three races at the track. Justin Bonsignore is the defending race winner.

Pole Winners: Thirty-five different drivers have won a Coors Light Pole award at Riverhead, led by Ewanitsko’s eight. Chuck Steuer set the one-lap qualifying record with a time of 11.546 seconds (77.949 mph) back in 2000. Timmy Solomito sat on the pole when the Whelen Modified Tour visited Riverhead earlier this season.

Riverhead 200 Notes:

Crucial Race For Preece: Over the last three months, it’s been tough for anyone to beat Berlin, Connecticut, driver Ryan Preece. And that doesn’t only include races on the Whelen Modified Tour. In two NASCAR XFINITY Series starts over that time, Preece finished second at New Hampshire and scored his first win at Iowa Speedway. On the Whelen Modified Tour, Preece has top five finishes in all of his last nine starts, dating all the way back to the end of April. In that time, Preece has visited Victory Lane five times behind the wheel of his No. 6 TS Hauler Chevrolet. Although he currently leads the championship standings by nine points, the Riverhead race will be a crucial one for the 26-year-old. He is slated to miss the next series event at New Hampshire on Sept. 23 to run the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Iowa, which means he needs to lead Riverhead with maximum points in order to still have a shot at the driver’s championship.

Time For Bonsignore To Score: The start to the 2017 season has been solid for Justin Bonsignore, but he is craving more. The Holtsville, New York, driver hasn’t been able to visit Victory Lane yet, but does have nine top 10 finishes in the first 12 races, including four top five runs. He has been consistent enough to keep himself in the championship fight heading for the stretch run. However, if he wants to make a move towards the top of the standings from his fifth-place position, he will need to use his home track to his advantage. Bonsignore finished fifth at Riverhead in June and has four of his 12 career wins at the quarter-mile oval. In his last five starts there, Bonsignore has three wins, a second and the fifth. A victory on Saturday would certainly help in his quest to capture his first career championship.

Riverhead Regulars: Each time the Whelen Modified Tour visits Riverhead, the weekly stars take their shot at battling some of NASCAR’s best. And Saturday’s Riverhead 200 will be no different. Riverhead Crate Modified regular CJ Lehmann will make his fourth start of the year behind the wheel of the No. 74. Lehmann has a best finish of 18th so far, which came in the June race at Riverhead. Other drivers planning to take the green include Dillon Steuer, who won the Islip 300 at Riverhead back in May. Steuer made his first career Whelen Modified Tour start at Riverhead in June and finished ninth. Kyle Soper, another New York driver, is always slated to take the green.

Winning: Through the first 12 races of the season, Preece and Solomito continue to be the only drivers to have more than one victory. Preece has five wins, while Solomito has three. Doug Coby, Patrick Emerling, Bobby Santos and Rowan Pennink have each visited Victory Lane once so far.

NASCAR Home Tracks: Whelen All American Series On Racing Card

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will not be the only division on track Saturday at the .25-mile oval in New York. The Late Models will return to the track with the Riverhead Crate Modifieds and Legends Cars also set for feature action.


Riverhead, NY Sept. 9th.
By Bob Finan
The Whelen Engineering Night NASCAR Modified Twin 50’s Saturday night told a tale of two different generations of racing at Riverhead Raceway as in the first 50-lapper young up and coming talent Kyle Soper of Manorville took home the win while in the night cap established veteran and former three time track champion John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville prevailed. For Soper it was his 5th career NASCAR Modified triumph but his first as the hired gun for car owners Wayne & Joette Anderson while for Fortin it was the 31st victory of his storied career.
Qualifying saw John Fortin Sr, lead the way with a quick lap of 11.912 edging out Kyle Soper, 11.916 and championship leader Tom Rogers Jr., 11.942. In the redraw for the first 50 Dave Brigati and John Fortin Jr. drew the front row while Fortin Sr. and Soper occupied row two. On the initial start Fortin Jr. got the measure on pole sitter Brigati on the very first lap but as the field started lap 2 Brigati would spin going into the first turn with John Fortin Sr. being sent to the rear of the field with Brigati by NASCAR Officials. That turn of events pitted John Fortin Jr. and Kyle Soper on the front row for the double file restart with Fortin holding serve when the race went back green. Soper settled into second for a few laps plotting his next move which came on lap 7 when he raced his way to the outside of leader Fortin Jr. to move out front. Fortin now ran second to leader Soper as the race entered an extended green flag run. On lap 24 caution for a minor spin set up another double file restart with Soper able to keep the lead while Fortin Jr. now had his hands full with third place Dillon Steuer. While Fortin Jr. and Steuer tussled Kyle Soper in the Eastport Feeds Chevy was able to pull away to his first win of 2017.
John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville was runner-up in the Suffolk Pro Cycle Chevy while Dillon Steuer of Bohemia crossed the line third in his Northeastern Office Equipment Chevy. Veterans Howie Brode of East Islip and Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead completed the top five.
With the top eight from the first race inverted for the second 50-lap tilt John Baker and Craig Lutz sat on the front row with Baker taking the option to start on the outside of that row while John Fortin Sr. and Tom Rogers Jr. filled out the second row. When the green light winked on for the second race Baker’s game plan worked as he roared to the race lead from the outside of the front row. Baker seeking his second career win would pace the race through lap 5 before being passed to the inside in turn three by Fortin Sr. as the pack started the 6th circuit. Once out front  Fortin would have no less than five drivers come knocking on his door over the remainder of the race. Baker, Craig Lutz, Tom Rogers Jr., Lutz again, Dillon Steuer and Kyle Soper all took turns running second to the leader. Soper came to second passing Steuer on lap 43 but with just seven laps to go in the race had little time to make a run for the win. At the finish it as John Fortin Sr. in his Robert Yates powered John’s Tree Removal entry taking down his first win of 2017.
Kyle Soper was second in the Crescent Duck Chevy with David Schneider of Northport driving home to an impressive third place tally in the ESM Motorsports racer. Dillon Steuer and Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown completed the top five.
Ken Matlach of New Hyde Park was truly in the right place at the right time when he scored his first career Late Model win in a 25-lap contest. The race would be a torrid one right from the green flag until the checkers. When the race started Matlach moved out front from the outside pole with Scott Kulesa who started the race from fourth following Matlach to run second early on. Lap 17 found Kulesa making his way to the lead working his way by Matlach and just one lap later Chris Turbush worked his way by Matlach for second on lap 18. The race for the lead would intensify as the laps clicked off with Turbush muscling his way under Kulesa for the top spot. Undaunted by surrendering the lead Kulesa went right to work on trying to reclaim the race lead from Turbush. As the tandem raced hard off turn two to receive the two to go signal contact was made with Turbush going around. NASCAR officials sent Kulesa to the rear of the field during the caution. That propelled third place Ken Matlach back to the race lead for a quick two lap dash for the cash with defending champion Jeremy McDermoot now second. When the race resumed Ken Matlach in the Bobcat of New York machine would lead the final two laps for the victory. McDermott of Riverhead was runner-up in the JDP Mechanical Chevy with championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville third in the RP Landscaping Pontiac.
“The Alter Boy” Tom Ferrara of Patchogue bested the 15-lap Figure Eight race scoring the 12th win of his career tying him with the late Ken Hyde Sr. for 12th on the all time win list. The 2017 Figure Eight season has witnessed an influx of some new talent into the ranks and early on drivers like Tom Kraft Jr., Eric Zeh and Greg Harris raced for the lead. Kraft led the first lap before Zeh and Harris raced for the top spot until just past the halfway point of the race. With just over five laps to go Ferrara and Gary Fritz Jr. would slug it out for the race lead and eventual win. Fritz ran leader Ferrara as hard as he could but in the end it would be Tom Ferrraa scoring his second win of the campaign in the Northeastern Office Equipment Cadillac. Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach also backed by Northeastern was second with championship leader Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead third in the Bays Bar & Grill of Hampton bays Chevy Coupe.
“The Fancy Farmer” Dave Brigati of Calverton scored a clean sweep in Super Pro Truck action setting fast time for their 30-lapper with a lap of 13.224 and then promptly going out and winning his third race of 2017. Brigati nearly beat out the track record of Bryan Sescila set in 2004 with a lap of 13.162. While it may appear that Dave had an easy time in scoring the clean sweep nothing could be further from the truth as he was hounded by “The Real Deal” Mark Stewart for the win. Brigati jumped to the early lead tested at first by Owen Grennan who ran second until the 11th lap. It was then that mark Stewart made an inside pass of Grennan for second in turns three & four. Once to second Mark raced his way to the rear tailgate of leader Brigati and the race was on. Stewart threw everything but the kitchen sink at Brigati but the leader was equal to all challenges on this night. At the conclusion it was Dave Brigati in the Quest Machining & Fabrication Chevy pocketing his 12th career win ironically tying him with Stewart for 6th on the all time win list. Stewart of Riverhead not from a lack of trying had to be content with second in the East End Building Chevy with Jack Handley Jr. of Medford third in the Hollis Court Collision Chevy.
As a tribute to Cromarty Wall of Fame member and one half of his car ownership team Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead painted his INEX Legend Race Car in tribute to Robin Vollmoeller’s potent #2 Charger car from days gone by. Well sentiment turned into success too as Ellwood went out and won the 20-lap Legend Race Car feature event and in the process tied Danny McNamara at 19 for the all time lead in wins for the class. The race was ultra competitive with Jerry Curran leading the first circuit before being passed  by George Tomko Jr. on lap 2. Tomko would lead until the halfway point of the race when he was passed for the lead on a double file restart by Ellwood in the Elaine & Robin Vollmoeller owned entry on lap 11. Tomko ran second for the 12th lap but was soon passed by “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz for the position. Richie stayed in Ellwood’s tire tracks for the remainder of the race and would try and make a bid for the lead but there was no stopping Kyle Ellwood and his throwback paint scheme as an emotional Robin Vollmoeller beamed on with pride. Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches crossed the line second in the Blue Point Auto Body racer while championship leader John Beatty Jr of Merrick was third in the Giella Electric mount.
With Riverhead Raceway offering 50% to all Fire, Police, EMT & Military personnel a special 30-lap Gut & Go Enduro was held for them with Rocky Point volunteer firefighter Dege Russell taking home the win in his Kelly Russell Realty machine. Russell, a former Chief with the Rocky Point FD brake out to the lead early besting Johnny Cricchio and Preston Prydatko.
In the 40-lap 8-Cylinder Enduro Dale Doherty of Jamesport collected his first win of the season in the Jamesport Auto Service Chevy. Veterans Mark Wolf of Shirley and Dominick Ranieri of East Northport were second and third.
“The Tankasaurus” Preston Prydatko of Rocky Point won the 20-lap Mini 8 Enduro on the Figure Eight course, his first career win in that class. Brandon Esposito of Farmingville was second and Doug Tittle of Riverhead third.
NASCAR Modified 1st twin 50: 1. Kyle Soper 2. John Fortin Jr. 3. Dillon Steuer 4. Howie Brode 5. Tom Rogers Jr. 6. John Fortin Sr. 7. Craig Lutz 8. John Baker 9. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 10. Ronnie Williams 11. Dylan Slepian 12. Chris Young 13. David Schneider 14. Roger Turbush 15. Ken Darch 16. Dave Brigati
NASCAR Modifieds 2nd Twin 50: 1. John Fortin Sr. 2. Kyle Soper 3. Davis Schneider 4. Dillon Setuer 5. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 6. Ronnie Williams 7. Ken Darch 8. Dylan Slepian 9. Howie Brode 10. Tom Rogers Jr. 11. John Baker 12. Roger Turbush 13. Craig Lutz 14. John FortinJr. 15. Chris Young 16. Dave Brigati
Late Models: 1. Ken Matlach 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Kyle Soper 4. Shawn Patrick 5. Eric Zeh 6. Steve Mastro Jr. 7. Kevin Metzger 8. Ray Minieri 9. Chris Turbush 10. Scott Kulesa 11. Daryn Miller 12. Darren McCabe
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Ferrara 2. Gary Fritz Jr. 3. Tom Rogers Jr. 4. Vinny Delaney 5. Greg Harris 6. Eric Zeh 7. Charlie Macwhinnie 8. Dan Lynch Jr. 9. Bob Dalke 10. Tom Kraft Jr. 11. Scott Pedersen
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Dave Brigati 2. Mark Stewart 3. Jack Handley Jr. 4. Owen Grennan 5. Mike Albasini 6. Lou Maestri 7. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 8. Sean Glennon 9. Eddie Schutze
Legend Race Cars: 1. Kyle Ellwood 2. Richie Davidowitz 3. John Beatty Jr. 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Jim Sylvester 6. Artie Pedersen III 7. Jerry Curran 8. Vinny Delaney 9. Allan Pedersen 10. Mike Van Houten Jr. 11. Eric Hersey 12. Paul Dodorico 13. Anthony Calandro 14. Jeff Otto Jr. 15. Mike Benton 16. Riley O’Keefe 17. George Tomko Jr. 18. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 19. Bryan Kelly 20. Mike Mortimer 21. Steve Boland 22. Joey Villatoro DNS- Matt Brode
Fire/Police/Military Enduro (top five) 1. Dege Russell 2. Johnny Cricchio 3. Preston Prydatko 4. Fred Grover 5. Rich Bauch
8-Cylinder Enduro (top five) 1. Dale Doherty 2. Mark Wolf 3. Dominick Ranieri 4. Sean Fitzpatrick 5. Jarrod Halsey
Mini 8 Enduro (top five) 1. Preston Prydatko 2. Brandon Esposito 3. Doug Tittle 4. Bryan Kelly 5. John Mackie

NWMT Riverhead 200 9/16/17 Entry List

01 Melissa Fifield, Wakefield, N.H. Eastern Propane & Oil Chevrolet Kenneth Fifield Jake Rheaume
2 Doug Coby, Milford, Conn. Mayhew Tools/Dunleavy/AJ Romano Const./Chevy Chevrolet Mike Smeriglio III Phillip Moran
3 Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa. Cape Cod Copper Chevrolet Jan Boehler Greg Fournier
6 Ryan Preece, Berlin, Conn. TS Haulers Inc Chevrolet Ed Partridge Jeff Preece
14 Corey Osland, East Hampton* TBA Chevrolet Brian Midgett TBA
15 Kyle Soper, Manorville, N.Y.* Eastport Feeds Chevrolet Wayne Anderson Tom Soper
16 Timmy Solomito, Islip, N.Y. Starrett Tools Ford Eric Sanderson Stanley Szaban
20 Max Zachem, Preston, Conn. Anytime Realty/East End Statuary Chevrolet Ken Zachem Steve Lemay
21 Ronnie Williams, Ellington, Conn.* Gershow Recycling Chevrolet Joseph Bertuccio TBA
26 Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma, N.Y. Lakeland Landscaping Supply/TRC Electric Chevrolet Sean McDonald Chad McDonald
33 Wade Cole, Hartland, Conn. Perf. Engines/Kendall Oil Ford Wade Cole Richard Rodenbaugh
36 Dave Sapienza, Riverhead, N.Y. Sapienza Enterprise Chevrolet Judy Thilburg Tommy Grasso
39 Calvin Carroll, Newton, N.J. * Power with Prestige/Cruising With Betty Chevrolet Joe Carroll Geary Rinehimer
45 Dillon Steuer, Bohemia, N.Y. Northeast Office Equipment Chevrolet Chuck Steuer Butch Capuano
46 Craig Lutz, Miller Place, N.Y. Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet Russell Goodale Doug Ogiejko
48 TBA Eastport Feeds Chevrolet Wayne Anderson Jerry Solomito
51 Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, N.Y. Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet Ken Massa William Michael
58 Eric Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y. GAF Roofing Chevrolet Edgar Goodale Jason Shephard
64 Rob Summers, Manchester, Conn. Hoosier Tire East/Fast Track/Hughes Motors/Complete Const. Chevrolet Mike Murphy Ron Yuhas, Jr.
74 CJ Lehmann, Shirley, Pa. * IGA Food Markets Chevrolet Marie Benevento John Visconti III
78 Walter Sutcliffe Jr., East Haven, Conn.* Last Minute Racing Chevrolet Steven Sutcliffe Kevin Anderson
82 Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn. Horton Avenue Materials Chevrolet Danny Watts Jr. Aaron Clifford.
85 Jeff Rocco, Meriden, Conn. Stuart’s Automotive/J&R Pre-Cast Chevrolet Robert Katon Jr. Don Barker
89 Matt Swanson, Acton, Mass. Starrett Tools Ford John Swanson Ken Barry

* Denotes Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate