Riverhead, NY Nov. 14th
By Bob Finan
If one of many on-line gambling sites were to list odds for the 5th annual East-West Marine Supply Islip 300 at Riverhead Raceway, JB Fortin’s name may have been somewhere in the middle of favorites to score the win. Sunday Fortin, 27 bet on himself during a late restart, making an impressive move to wrestle the lead away from Ryan Preece of Berlin, Ct. Fortin would survive two more restarts to score what some consider an upset win. The 300 was run one day later than scheduled due to severe weather Saturday that included a tornado to the southwest of the track.
Dylan Slepian of Dix Hill was the quickest of the 28 cars that took time for the East-West Marine Supply 300 with a lap of 11.399 earning the $300 Brigandi Brothers Automotive Pole Award. Ryan Preece was second quick with a 11.417. Going into the 300 many knew Preece would be highly motivated to win the 5th annual edition of the race that was the vision and dream of his fallen car owner Eddie Partridge. Just hours after the Partridge owned team with Ryan at the wheel won the September 17th WMT race at Richmond Raceway, Eddie took ill and passed away. Indeed when the green waved Ryan wasted little time getting the Morton Buildings entry to the lead. Jimmy Blewett who time in fourth quickly made his way to second on lap two, he too a former Partridge race team driver who was seeking to win won for Eddie.
Sitting third behind Preece & Blewett, Dylan Slepian’s car came to life passing Blewett on lap 21 for second and one lap later Preece for the lead. Dylan would lead for six laps before a double file restart found Preece reclaiming the lead on lap 39. Back out front Preece would begin to flex his muscles some getting away from Blewett and others. Further back in the field several drivers started to move forward in the running order including JB Fortin, John Beatty Jr., Eric Goodale, Justin Bonsignore and Ron Silk.
With the laps clicking off when not interrupted by caution many wondered when the tire strategies of the top running teams would come into play. While some cars seem to fall of as the race moved towards halfway, others did not, primarily Preece whose car was performing as if it were the early stages of the race. As the crossed flags were displayed at halfway, things started coming into to focus with Preece still leading the way with Justin Bonsignore racing to second. Bonsignore, the 2021 WMT champion was shut out of Riverhead victory lane in the 3 WMT races contested was looking to change that stat with a 300 win.
Unfortunately for Bonsignore just as the cars were doubled up on the backstretch for a restart on lap 200, the M3 Technology Chevy shut off just before coming to green forcing the yellow to be displayed. Justin fired the car back up but lost positions in the process and later on lap 223 the issue arose again ending his night with a bad alternator. That turn of events moved Ron Silk to second in a race that as of Friday he didn’t even plan on running. Ron was tabbed to drive the Kennedy Realty of L.I. entry when usual driver Roger Turbush could not make the rain date as he departed on a family Disney vacation Sunday morning.
As the field went back just past the 200-lap mark Preece was the leader with Silk, a driver who combined with Eddie & Connie Partridge to win the 2011 WMT title now second. However neither two drivers along with 80% of the field had yet pitted for their change tires. Mattered not to leader Ryan Preece as his car still showed no tire fall off. On lap 234 the question was answered when just after a caution waved and the pits were open all but a handful of cars came to the pits. When the race resumed Preece remained the race leader with Silk second but it was upstart driver JB Fortin putting himself in position to make a run for the lead.
During a 251st lap restart Silk would get the measure of Preece but Ryan would come back to reclaim the top spot some laps later, with Fortin waiting in the wings. When Ryan Preece chose the outside for a lap 276 restart JB Fortin would was scored second over Silk when the yellow waved was ready to go for broke. When the green light came on Fortin got a good launch inside and they ran even until they got back to three and four a lap later. There Fortin made Preece uncomfortable on the outside and was able to take the race lead. Preece however was not going anywhere as he stayed glued to Fortin with sitting Silk third.
On lap 286 Preece sent his car into the first turn a ton to the outside of Fortin, attempting a crossover to slide under JB exiting the second turn. Unfortunately for Ryan he just clipped the right front wheel of third place Silk. Preece spun and Silk fell to the infield with front end damage. That would not be the only time that scenario would play out. Just moments later with Fortin leading “Showtime” Jimmy Blewett tried a similar crossover in the third and fourth turn with nearly the same result. When Blewett crossed over he clipped the right front of Kyle Bonsignore who had moved to third. Blewett spun but Bonsignore was able to solder on.
After the field was reset JB Fortin would now lead Kyle Bonsignore and Patrcik Emerling with just a handful of laps remaining in the event. When the race resumed both drivers attempted to close in on JB Fortin but over the closing laps the second generation driver was able to keep his two nearest rivals at arms length. When the dueling checker flags waved JB Fortin in the Peerless Boilers Chevy scored the biggest of his three career Riverhead Raceway wins to date.
“I knew we could do this” Fortin proclaimed in the winners circle, “thanks to my guys led by Kenny Lechner Sr., they gave me a car I could run the inside with. When I got to Ryan for the lead I knew I would have to make him uncomfortable, he like all of us really wanted to win Eddie’s race”. Not only did JB win the Islip 300 but he also in the process clinched the Crown Jewel Series title and was presented the Ted Christopher Cup, “pretty cool and honored to win Teddy’s cup, he was a giant in our game” JB reflected. The race winner also took the opportunity to let his racing family in on some exciting news, “happy to let everyone know my wife Eriin & I are going to have our first child, been pretty exciting”
Kyle Bonsignore of Mooresville, NC was runner-up in the Island International Industries Chevy just happy to finish the race, “first 50-laps or so were pretty rough out there” Kyle looked back, “my front bumper is junk. Close call when Jimmy came across our nose there late in the race, no harm no foul though. We had a long run car, would have loved to seen another 40-laps and maybe we could have gotten to JB”.
September Riverhead WMT winner Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park was third in the Captain pip’s Hideaway & Marinia machine. “Hey first off congrats to JB and his family. In June when we got rained out here and had to come back Sunday they let us stay with them, we’ve since then gotten to know each other pretty good” Patrick said post race. “As for the race we were not that good early but things fell our way we’ll take out third”.
Ryan Preece was fourth at the finish while Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown turned heads late in the race with his performance bringing the North Fork Sanitation Chevy home fifth.
The Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds went 50-laps prior to the Islip 300 and the division provided the chilled crowd with a caution free race.Qualifying saw Michael Berner of Patchogue quickest with a lap of 12.458 with Owen Grennan of Glen Cove second fastest at 12.558. When the field took to the track Berner chose the outside groove moving Grennan to the inside. When the green flags waved it would be Grennan first to the first turn taking the lead with Berner tucking into second. Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead making his second start in the Steve Ratti entry who timed in third followed Grennan and Berner. The top three cars broke away from the pack and while they ran in close quarters all race long no change of positions among them were in the offering. When the race ended Owen Grennan in the Dillner Precast Chevy earned his 10th career victory moving him just one behind all-time win leader Dave Brigati of Calverton. Berner in the M3 Technology Chevy was runner-up while Ellwood corssed the line third in the Rosemar Industries Chevy.
Cam Bolin of Sharon, SC had never laid eyes on Riverhead Raceway before Sunday. By the time he left he was holding a Islip 300 winners trophy having won the 40-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature event. Bolin was offered the chance to drive the Jim Sylvester Benimax Trucking entry and Cam took full advantage of the offer made by Stan Morabito of Benimax. Bolin got his day off on the right foot setting fast time among the 36 on hand with a lap of 13.361, Anthony Marsh of Riverhead was second quick 13.481. The race was a rough one with numerous caution flag but Cam Bolin survived five restarts along the way. Jason Castaldo chased Bolin for the first 16-laps before Marsh moved by for just a lap. On the 32nd lap four time winner in ’21 Joey Braun moved to second and seemed to be gaining some on Bolin but with just eight laps remaining “Blankets” would run out of time. Cam Bolin came, he saw & he conquered a track he never saw before, ” when I walked in this place, I fell in love. A perfect track for Legends.” Cam noted afterwards Joey Braun of Manorville was second in the Uncle Carmine’s Hot Peppers racer while Anthony Marsh of Riverhead was third in the Riverhead Trailer mount.
Islip 300: 1. JB Fortin 2. Kyle Bonsignore 3. Patrick Emerling 4. Ryan Preece 5. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 6. Jimmy Blewett 7. Anthony Nocella 8. Dave Sapienza 9. Justin Brown 10. Kyle Soper 11. JR Bertuccio 12. Craig Lutz 13. Dylan Slepian 14. Timmy Solomito 15. Ron Silk 16. John Fortin Sr. 17. Noah Korner 18. Eric Goodale 19. Chris Young 20. John Beatty Jr. 21. Michael Christopher Jr. 22. Jon McKennedy 23. Michael Rutkoski 24. Gary McDonald 25. Justin Bonsignore 26. John Baker 27. Jack Handley Jr. 28. Chris Turbush DNS- CJ Lehmann, Artie Pedersen III
Crate Modifieds: 1. Owen Grennan 2. Michael Berner 3. Kyle Ellwood 4. Sean Glennon 5. AJ DeSantis 6. Mike Albasini 7. Charles Macwhinnie 8. Vinny Delaney 9. Alex Colasanto 10. Jason Agugliaro 11. Brian Brown 12. Mike Alcaro 13. Stephen Coleman 14. Chase Grennan 15. Dennis Krupski 16. Terry Stiles 17. Ken Southard 18. Mike Stone 19. Scott Pedersen DNS- Cole Kugler
Legend Race Cars: 1. Cam Bolin 2. Joey Braun 3. Anthony Marsh 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Jason Castaldo 6. Luke Lebrun 7. Richie Davidowitz 8. George Tomko Jr. 9. Allan Pedersen 10. Chris Sinatro 11. Jack Baldwin 12. Reagan Parent 13. Jacob Burns 14. Zach Martinez 15. Colin Hoeffner 16. Joseph Costello 17. Charlie Hodge 18. Mike Benton Jr. 19. Mike Van Houten Jr. 20. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 21. Eric Hersey 22. Sean McElearney 23. Nick Morabito 24. Christopher Coleman 25. Jim Sylvester 26. Jake Curran