Riverhead, NY Nov. 14th.
By Bob Finan
Saturday Ryan Preece of Berlin, Ct. enjoyed two Long island homecomings on a picture perfect fall day. His first is when he strolled through the pit gate at Riverhead Raceway where many were waiting to greet the NASCAR Cup Series star. His second homecoming came at the conclusion of the Islip 300 by East West Marine Supply when he parked his TS Haulers Tour Type Modified in the winners circle becoming the first repeat winner of the 300.
Twenty nine cars registered for the 4th annual Islip 300 and with the race been advertised as starting 25 cars Riverhead Raceway owners Eddie & Connie Partridge & Tom Gatz in a show of gratitude decided to start all 29 cars entrants. Qualifying saw 2019 Islip 300 winner Kyle Soper of Manorville win the $300 Brigandi Brothers Automotive Pole Award with a lap of 11.416 with Jon McKennedey of Chelmsford, Ma second quick at 11.427.
When the green flags waved on the Islip 300 by East West Marine Supply it was Kyle Soper breaking out to the early advantage over Jon McKenndey. Soper running a special tribute pain scheme to his racing Grandfather would pace McKennedy over the first 19 circuits. As the field raced off the fourth corner to start the 20th lap Craig Lutz slipped under McKennedy for second. Earl on Soper was able to get away from Lutz and rivals by setting a fairly quick pace with lap time in the 11.6 to 11.7 range. Kyle was hoping to put as many cars as he could a lap down but with such a large field that task would no be easy.
On lap 96 McKennedy came roaring by Lutz for second executing his own inside pass for the spot off turn four. McKenndey was able to reel in Soper with the aide of some well placed cautions and a fast car and on lap 115 exiting the fourth turn Jon made a power move to the outside to take over the race lead. Soper soon fell further back in the top five when he was passed by Ryan Preece for second on lap 119. The next 12 laps found Ryan reeling in and then pressuring McKennedy for the race lead which he took with an inside pass entering the third turn on lap 131.
McKenndey ran second until a lap 152 restart when 2020 NASCAR WMT champion Justin Bosignore not only passed Jon for second but also worked his way by Preece for the race lead on lap 153. Bonsignore was among a handful of drivers who had not yet pitted for either their 3 change tires or adjustments when he took over the race lead. As the race hit the 200-lap mark Kyle Soper who did pit for changes to his Eastport Feeds Chevy was back in the mix and on lap 207 during a restart made his way Bonsignore for the race lead. Soon thereafter another caution flag would wave and that is when Bonsignore and several other teams made their way to the pits for tires and adjustments.
With Soper having pitted earlier than other contenders the two time track NASCAR Modified champion led the race but knew there were some fast cars with fresher tires zeroing in on his race lead. On lap 228 Preece was in the picture once again making his way to second during a restart and just one lap later Ryan powered his way by Soper for the race lead. Once passed by Preece for the lead Soper would soon have to contend with former three time track champion John Fortin who was among the teams making a later pit stop during the 300.
On lap 258 Fortin a 34-time winner at Riverhead made his way by Soper for second and those in attendance wondered if the 57-year old talent would be able to race his way up to Preece to contend for the rich win and take the biggest win of his career. However as the race hit a green flag run Craig Lutz who pitted at the same time Bonsignore and Fortin did was also on the move and on lap 264 made his way by Fortin for second.
With 35-laps left in the 300 Craig Lutz could only watch from a dozen car lengths back as the TS Haulers Chevy of Ryan Preece raced off to victory and his second Islip 300 by East West Marine Supply trophy. ‘Man this is great, we had a rough, rough year and to come here and win this race is special” Preece noted in the winners circle as he was greeted by his team. “This car was hurt pretty bad at Stafford but my father just kept thrashing away at it, this win is for him. It’s his birthday so Happy Birthday Dad!” As for the race and day Ryan offered, “we unloaded and I just didn’t like the way the car was but it’s funny I texted my wife Heather and she wrote back that when I’m unhappy early on race day the race usually goes our way and sure enough it did”
Craig Lutz of Miller Place was runner-up and reflected afterwards not so much on the race but his overall 2020 season, “we had a good run today, would have been nice to win in our Riverhead Building Supply team’s backyard but I can’t say enough about Russell Goodale and this team. We had a good year and to cap it off with second is nice”.
Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville was third and the driver of the Phoenix Communications Chevy offered his post race thoughts “first off congratulations to Ryan and his team, great to see him back winning with the Modifieds”. As for his race Justin looked back, “we tried to out tire them so to speak pitting as late as we could for new rubber but it may have been too late, plus that long caution for the oil clean-up took some laps away but all in all a good day”.
Kyle Soper of Manorville and Tom Rogers Jr. completed the top five while the remainder of the top ten were, John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville, Roger Turbush of Riverhead, John Beatty Jr. of Merrick, Keith Rocco of Berlin, Ct and Matt Galko of Meriden, Ct.
In the 50-lap Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified race NASCAR Modified champion Tom Rogers Jr. subbed for his nephew Michael Berner for the race as Michael recovers from a recent wrist procedure with the end result finding Rogers taking down the victory. Owen Grennan of Glen Cove won the @Jlynnemortgages $150 pole award with a lap of 12.738 with Rogers second quick with a 12.753. At the throw of the green flag Grennan, a 4-time winner in 2020 broke to the lead over Rogers but the challenger wasn’t going anywhere as he stayed hot on the heels of the leader. After spending the first 20 circuits pressuring Grennan for the lead Rogers made a power move off the fourth turn and down the front stretch passing Owen for the lead to the outside to start lap 21.
The very next lap the duo were side by side for the race lead in a dead heat with Grennan having a slight edge on lap 23. One lap later Rogers still riding the outside lane worked his way by Grennan with another outside pass off the fourth corner. This time Tom Rogers Jr. was able to keep the M3 Technology Chevy out front despite heavy pressure from Owen Grennan who’d settle for second in his Dillner Precast Chevy. 2020 champion Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches was third at the line in his Benimax Trucking Chevy. Brian Brown of Riverhead won the $100 Tiger Tom Baldwin hard Charger Award racing his way from 18th to 11th.
In the 40-lap INEX Legend Race Car main event it was invading Mike Alcaro of Newton, NJ scoring his third career Riverhead Raceway win driving for L.I. based car owner Paul Dodorico. Joseph Braun of Manorville was quickest in qualifying with a lap of 13.516 earning the $150 @Jlynnemortgages Pole Award. Bruan and former champion Dylan Slepian who was second quick in qualifying with a lap of 13.585 brought the field to green with Bruan breaking to the race lead. Brad Van Houten who started third moved under Slepian at the start to come to second where he ran for the first dozen laps.
On lap 13 Mike Alcaro who raced his way from 6th made a pass of van Houten for second. With Braun leading and seeking his third win of 2020 disaster struck on lap 14 when Joey threw his car into the infield with a broken axle surrendering the lead to Alcaro. Allan Pedersen made his way to second and was able to stay within striking distance of the race leader but that would be as good as it got for the Arcadia College student. At the conclusion it was Mike Alcaro sitting in victory lane with the Dr. Martha Baker, DDS entry while Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches was runner-up in The Boiler Guy racer. Brad Van Houten of Wading River was third in the Mike Van Houten Trucking machine. Charlie Hodge of Selden won the $100 Tiger Tom Baldwin Hard Charger Award starting 28th and finishing 14th. Nick Morabito of Manorville won the Finishline Demolition & Carting $100 Young Lion of the Race Award with his 16th place finish.
Riverhead Raceway Race Results 11/14/2020
Islip 300 Tour Type Modifieds: 1. Ryan Preece 2. Craig Lutz 3. Justin Bonsignore 4. Kyle Soper 5. Tom Rogers Jr. 6. John Fortin Sr. 7. Roger Turbush 8. John Beatty Jr. 9. Keith Rocco 10. Matt Galko 11. Max Zachem 12. Michael Rutkoski 13. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 14. Jon McKennedy 15. Dave Sapienza 16. Artie Pedersen III 17. Justin Brown 18. Matt Brode 19. Dave Brigati 20. Chris Young 21. JB Fortin 22. CJ Lehmann 23. Dylan Slepian 24. Anthony Bello 25. Dillon Steuer 26. Ronnie Williams 27. Eric Goodale 28. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 29. Brian Weber
Crate Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Owen Grennan 3. Richie Davidowitz 4. Eric Zeh 5. Matt Brode 6. Terry Stiles 7. Mark Stewart 8. Mike Albasini 9. Dennis Krupski 10. Steve Ratti 11. Brian Brown 12. Roger Tramm 13. Alex Colasanto 14. Max Handley 15. Frank Dumicich Jr. 16. Peter Bertuccio 17. Vinny Delaney 18. Eddie Schutze
Legend Race Cars: 1. Mike Alcaro 2. Allan Pedersen 3. Brad Van Houten 4. Kevin Nowak 5. Riely O’Keefe 6. George Tomko Jr. 7. Dylan Slepian 8. Jason Castaldo 9. Jerry Curran 10. Anthony Colandro 11. Ed Cheslak 12. Colin Volpe 13. Mike Van Houten Jr. 14. Charlie Hodge 15. Robert Henninger III 16. Nick Morabito 17. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 18. Patrick Moore 19. Tanner Jones 20. Jake Curran 21. Chris Sinatro 22. Mike Benton 23. Kyle Ellwood 24. Eugene Drew 25. Tristin Bruce 26. Joseph Braun 27. Jonathan Parsons 28. Sean McElearney 29. Michael Metcalf