Riverhead, NY Nov. 5th
By Bob Finan
Photo Michael jaworecki/Myracenews
As the laps dwindled down on a chilly Sunday in November last year during the Islip 300 at Riverhead Raceway, a caution flag waved on lap 276 setting up a double file restart that would go a long way in determining who would win the race. When leader Ryan Preece of Berlin, Ct chose the outside for the restart, JB Fortin of Holtsville quickly ducked to the inside of Preece, Fortin knew he’d have to turn in a career best restart if he were to win. When the green waved Fortin not only nailed the restart, it propelled him to the biggest win of his career and with it secured the 2021 Ted Christopher Cup as the 2021 Crown Jewel Series champion at Riverhead. With the 6th annual Islip 300 just days away Saturday November 12th, JB Fortin is hoping for more of the same.
Coming off a solid 10th place finish on the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Fortin is hoping his familiarities with his home track coupled with an aggressive driving style will be the formula needed for a second straight Islip 300 triumph. While two Islip 300 wins in a row are a distinct possibility, winning the Ted Christopher Cup for two-year running might just be too tall a task for the second-generation driver. The Crown Jewel Series, a championship within a championship at Riverhead Raceway finds four time NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville atop the standings by 14 over John Beatty Jr. of Merrick. Fortin is ranked third entering the Islip 300 with some 36 markers and will have to work some magic to repeat. The Islip 300 is the final race of five Crown Jewel Series events contested in 2022.
Kyle Soper, 2019 winner of the Islip 300 who wrapped up his fourth NASCAR Modified title in the past five years is hopeful of handing car owner Wayne Anderson another 300 trophy. Among the 28 entries received by the track office as of Friday November 4th is from the inaugural Islip 300 winner Dillon Steuer of Bohemia, who at the tender age of 15 won the 2017 event turning the Tour Type Modified world on it’s ear. Preece, the 2018 & 20202 winner will not compete in the 2022 race.
2022 NASCAR WMT Championship car owner Tommy Baldwin is bringing two bullets to the Islip 300 with two of the toughest and most successful short track aces, Doug Coby of Milford, Ct. and “Showtime” Jimmy Blewett of Howell, NJ going after the $7,000 victory. TBR Racing not only carries the momentum of the WMT title to the 300 but also the 2022 SMART Modified Tour Championship. Baldwin is just one of several two car team efforts entered for the Islip 300 as local car owner Rob Pelis has entered Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills, with whom he finished second in the Riverhead title chase and Michael Christopher Jr. of Wolcott, Ct. The Turbush brothers also enter as a tandem with Chris of Wading River and Roger of Riverhead both hoping for success. The noted Gershow Motorsports team of Joe Bertuccio is loading up two cars for JR Bertuccio of Centereach and Chuck Hossfeld the veteran driver out of Lockport, NY, while the Pedersen brothers of Center Moriches, Artie III and Allan have also entered.
Several NASCAR WMT drivers will go for Islip 300 glory Saturday with Craig Lutz of Miller Place, Kyle Bonsignore of Bay Shore, Dave Sapienza of Riverhead, Ken Heagy of Riverhead and Walter Sutcliffe Jr. of East Haven, Ct are readying for the Islip 300. Two Stafford Motor Speedway standouts Keith Rocco of Berlin, Ct. and Anthony Bello of Newton, Ct have also entered as of Friday, Rocco of course a former NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Champion.
John Beatty Jr., opening night winner in 2022 at Riverhead will be among the Riverhead Raceway regulars hoping to take home the Islip 300 trophy along with Timy Solomito of Islip, a former full time WMT driver who spent most of his ’22 season running Riverhead. Both Justin Brown of Manorville and Jack Handley Jr. of Medford notches their first career Tour Type Modified wins in 2022 at Riverhead and would love to make a Islip 300 victory win number two. Jason Agugliaro of Islip was also a winner this past season and is entered for Saturday as are Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck, Matt Brode of East Islip and Cory Midgett of East Hampton.
Much buzz is being stirred by a team that has yet to enter the race but who are expected to do so Monday. Car owner Daryl Baker sent in an entry for the #12 with a driver TBA and the speculation as to who “TBA” might be is running rampant in inner Long Island racing circles. Tour Type Modified teams can take advantage of free registration for the Islip 300 until Wednesday November 9th by visiting www.riverheadraceway.com, click on the Competitors link and complete the Islip 300 entry form in its entirety. Once completed, teams will receive entry confirmation complete with Islip 300 rules and race procedures.
Competitor pit gates will open at 7:30 am Saturday November 12th, a Tour Type Modified meeting will be held at 9:00 am. The supporting INEX Legend Race Cars will practice from 9:45-10:15 am, then a 45-minute Tour Type Modified practice will run from 10:15-11:00 am with Crate Modifieds rounding out practice from 11:00-11:30 am. At 11;30 a special Vintage Race Car on track display will take place with Flo Racing and Matt Dillner filming the session for an upcoming documentary on the “World Famous” Islip Speedway and L.I. racing history. Qualifying will commence at 12 noon with Tour Type Modified time trials that are followed by heat races for the Crate Mods and Legend Race Cars.
In the event of inclement weather Saturday, the complete Islip 300 program will run Sunday November 13th. If the entire weekend is lost the 300 shifts to Saturday November 20th. Campers are welcome at no charge, there are no hook-ups, and all campers must use the rear parking lot area that extends off where the pit area ends.