Riverhead NY Nov. 12th
By Bob Finan
When summer became fall and the weather started cooling down, Anthony Nocella of Woburn, Ma. began to heat up in Tour Type Modified season ending big races. Just two weeks after winning the Haunted 100 at Seekonk Speedway Nocella would score the victory Saturday in the Islip 300 at Riverhead Raceway worth $7,000 to the Nocella Paving team. Just surviving the race was a fete in itself with the race bogged down by numerous caution flags for minor spins and a couple of heavy crashes.
John Beatty Jr. of Merrick won the pole the Islip 300 with a lap of 11.445 and was joined on the front row for the start of the race by Jimmy Blewett of Howell, NJ who went a11.524. When Tommy Baldwin Jr., the honorary starter for the 300 waved the green flag Beatty broke to the early lead with Blewett in tow for the first two laps before Timmy Solomito passed Jimmy for second on lap 3. Having a strong car early Solomito would soon work his way by Beatty for the lead during a lap 20 restart, proceeding to lead the race for over the next 100-laps
Beatty and Blewett exchanged second on lap 40 but just 10-laps later Blewett’s night ended in a heap when he was squeezed into the wall up the back stretch on lap 50. From that point forward the race was slowed by numerous caution flags the remainder of the way and with teams allotted change tires many wondered how the pit strategy would play out, they go their answer two thirds of the way through the race. When the caution waved prior to lap 200 nearly the entire field came for tires with the only two notable exceptions being Anthony Nocella and Roger Turbush. Everyone else including Solomito, JB Fortin, Beatty, Matt Hirschman, Kyle Bonsignore, Kyle Soper and others got new sneakers.
After the stops when the race resumed Nocella and Turbush surprisingly were able to keep pace ahead of the pitted cars, but the duo knew sooner or later they’d have to cave in and get tires. That opportunity presented itself on lap 230 when yet another caution flag waved and Nocella and Turbush went for tire. When the dust settled after everyone made their stops Matt Hirschman in a brand new, with a new team found himself the race leader with Kyle Bonsignore second. On lap 252 Kyle Soper worked his way to second but 11 laps later Bonsignore reclaimed the position on the 263rd circuit. However, things went south for Bonsignore during another restart, his car didn’t fire off leaving Timmy Solomito nowhere to go but into him with Kyle Soper also collected in the melee.
When the race resumed Hirschman remained out front with a resurgent John Beatty Jr. hot on his heels but it was Anthony Nocella making the late race moves after pitting entering the top three with less than 20 laps to go. After working his way by Beatty for second it was full steam ahead for Nocella who was all over Hirschman’s back bumper. In fact Nocella ducked low on Hirschman and appeared to have taken the lead until Race Control penalized his one spot for passing under the line.
Undaunted by that turn of event when the race resumed with Hirschman back in front Nocella pulled up his bootstraps and went back to work. When the race got to within 10-laps to go Nocella again was all over Hirschman on on lap 292 going down the back stretch built up a big run heading into the third and fourth corner. Hirschman tried to play defense with the result Nocella getting into and getting the leader out of shape for a moment. That was all Anthony Nocella needed to take the lead on lap 293 from Hirschman for good. Matt would also lose second to John Beatty in the closing laps with Beatty trying to make a late race run at Nocella for the win.
In the end Anthony Nocella scored the big payday reflecting on the race afterwards, “I knew we had the fresher tires and were fast, I really don’t like to race that way but hey it’s the Islip 300 and $7,000” Nocella noted also adding credit to his team, “I am hard on my guys, going back & forth telling them what I want or feel, they don’t always agree but I am thankful for them’.
John Beatty Jr. would come home second and that coupled with Kyle Soper’s DNF Beatty scored the Crown Jewel Series championship and the Ted Christoper Cup for 2022. “Ted was a great guy, to win this cup with his name on it is beyond special’ the driver of the MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy stated. Breaking down his race Beatty admitted, “we had a really good car, just wished maybe I would have done a couple of things different, but it is all good”.
As for what almost was with the new Elite Towing team and wound up in a third-place finish Matt Hirschman looked back, “we knew Nocella was fast on those 35-lap fresher tires but hey still proud of this all-new team with Elite and Baker Racing, maybe they’ll have me back” Matt quipped.
The ride of the night may very well have been turned in by 17-year-old Matthew Brode of East Islip who after leaving impound after qualifying was forced to start in the rear of the field. Brode made lemonades out of lemons when he finished fourth in the A&J Crane Service Chevy. Justin Brown of Manorville was fifth in the Kennedy L.I. Realty Chevy.
In a 50-lap Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified event Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead turned in a dominating performance in scoring his first career win in the class. Right our of the trailer the Rat Pack Racing entry owned by former Charger champion Steve Ratti was fast. After winning his heat Ellwood started on the pole and broke right out to the race lead at the throw of the green. Chris Rogers, steering a car Ellwood drove during the summer came to second where he would run the first two laps. However, on an early race restart Rogers was passed for second by Sean Glennon who was hopeful of making a run at Ellwood for the lead. However, the Rosemar Industries entry of Kyle Ellwood was the dominant machine in the 19-car field and Kyle took it to victory lane. Sean Glennon of Northport was second with his R&R Brothers Electric Chevy while 2022 track champion Owen Grennan of Glen Cove crossed the line third in the Dillner Precast racer.
An astounding 47 INEX Legend Race Cars turned out trying to make the 26-car field and when the dust settled on a rough and tumble main event Jason Castaldo of Shirley pocketed his 4th win of the year. When the green light winked on Riely O’Keefe took the early race lead over invading Luke Lebrun but a quick yellow for debris on lap 1 slowed the race. On the restart O’Keefe stayed out front but Lebrun was passed by Jason Castaldo for second. Three laps later Castaldo executed an inside pass of O’Keefe entering the first turn to take the race lead. O’Keefe ran second until lap 12 when Lebrun worked his way back by but just two laps later all-time track winner of Legend races Richie Davidowitz made his way around Lebrun for second. Davidowitz seeking his first win of the year, peddled his car for all it was worth but in the end Jason Castaldo and his M3 Technology team stood tall in victory lane. Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches brought his Green Ride Medical Transport machine home second while Nick Morabito of Miller Place was third in the Benimax Trucking entry.
Islip 300: Anthony Nocella 2. John Beatty Jr. 3. Matt Hirschamn 4. Matt Brode 5. Justin Brown 6. Kyle Bonsignore 7. Brett Meservey 8. Jeff Goodale 9. JB Fortin 10. Mike Christopher Jr. 11. Chris Turbush 12. Dylan Slepian 13. Jack Handley Jr. 14. Walter Sutcliffe 15. Roger Turbush 16. Jason Agugliaro 17. Andrew Krause 18. Michael Rutkoski 19. Timmy Solomito 20. Kyle Soper 21. JR Bertuccio 22. Anthony Bello 23. Artie Pedersen III 24. Allan Pedersen 25. Chuck Hossfeld 26. Ken Heagy 27. Dillon Steuer 28. Jimmy Blewett
Crate Modifieds: 1. Kyle Ellwood 2, Sean Glennon 3. Owen Grennan 4. Chris Rogers 5. AJ DeSantis 6. Alex Colasanto 7. Michael Berner 8. Stephen Coleman 9. Mike Albasini 10. Max Handley 11. DJ Doyle 12. Charles Macwhiinie 13. Chris Sinatro 14. Eddie Schutze 15. Terry Stiles 16. Jack Baldwin 17. Vinny Delaney 18. Chase Grennan 19. Dennis Krupski DNS- Jason Agugliaro
Legend Race Cars: 1. Jason Castaldo 2. Richie Davidowitz 3. Nick Morabito 4. PJ Evans 5. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 6. Jacob Burns 7. Nick Bulkley 8. Brad Van Houten 9. Mike Benton 10. Chris Sinatro 11. Charlie Hodge 12. Jayden Glennerster 13. Mike Van Houten Jr. 14. Cole Rurobie 15. Jim Sylvester 16. Luke Lebrun 17. George Tomko Jr. 18. Jake Curran 19. Ray Fitzgerald 20. Riely O’Keefe 21. Ray Stulz 22. Allan Pedersen 23. Peter Fallon 24. Zach Martinez 25. Brody Monahan 26. Kevin Nowak