Riverhead, NY – Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT notched his third NASCAR Modified victory of the 2015 season Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway when he topped the Cromarty Cup 65 on the night where the track celebrated not only the 4th of July but also the 65 Birthday of the famed quarter mile oval in addition to Jim Cromarty’s birthday. Ryan, who drives for both Eddie Partridge and Bill Park at Riverhead, was behind the wheel of his family owned machine which was renumbered in the Partridge TS Haulers colors for the night.
Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT in the Team Park entry topped qualifying with a lap of 11.921 as the first car out in the session and he’d redraw 5th for the Miller Lite night feature. Shawn Solomito and Howie Brode made up the front row of the 20-car field with Solomito quickly breaking out into the early race lead when the green flag waved. Ryan Preece who started third wasted no time sliding under Brode on the initial start moving to second and soon Timmy Solomito made his way to third. The top three ran nose to tail for the first third of the race before Preece started to make his move on Shawn Solomito for the lead. On Lap 22 Ryan quickly darted to the inside of Shawn Solomito exiting turn four and by the time the leaders hit the first turn Preece was the new race leader. Taking Preece’s cue Timmy Solomito filled the hole under his older brother to race his way to second off turn two.
With Preece and Timmy Solomito now out front the jockeying for position would start to get hot and heavy behind them as Shawn Solomtio, Howie Brode, Tom Rogers Jr. and Ron Silk all ran together for position which allowed the leaders to pull away. Later in the race on a double file restart contact was made among that group with Shawn Solomtio going around and Ron Silk with nowhere to escape got into and on top of the early race leader. Shawn was done for the night as was Ken Darch who was also collected in the incident while Silk pitted and returned. When the race went back to green Preece remained out front with Timmy Solomito hot on his heels. Timmy would try and make a run at the leader on more than one occasion but each time Ryan was able to inch away.
In the final stages of the race Ryan Preece would indeed put the hammer down as he opened up a comfortable lead that he would take all the way to victory lane. “My Dad wanted to bring our family car here tonight and, man, what a car we brought” Preece boasted after receiving the Cromarty Cup along with a couple of cases of Miller Lite. “We just got better as the race went on, I had fun racing with the Solomito brothers tonight, Timmy was on me for awhile but again we just got better as the race progressed, I can’t thank my Dad enough along with my other car owners here Eddie & Connie Partridge, Bill & Barbara Park, Brian Slaga of East West Marine for all they do for me here.” Preece noted that after testing and racing the TS Haulers entry plus SK Modifieds this coming week he would be back in the Team Park machine for the 35-lap event at Riverhead next week July 11th.
Timmy Solomtio of Wading River would cross the line second in the New England Gear Ford while Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead held on for third in the Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevy. Howie Brode of East Islip was in a heated battle with Rogers for third but had to settle for fourth with Kyle Soper of Manorville completing the top five. The Rogers-Brode feud extended past the checker flag with some bumps, taps and finger pointing.
It had been three weeks since the Figure Eight class had run a race and when their 15-lap Miller Lite night feature was complete the driver who won that race sat in victory lane once again in the person of Tom Ferrara of Patchogue. With the class on the sidelines for a few weeks the race at times was sloppy with Bryan Quilliam’s spin in turn three of the first lap just one of several caution flag on the night. When the race did go green Tom Ferrara broke our front with Scott Pedersen in tow for the first lap. Lap 2 found Roger Maynor making his way by Pedersen for second and Roger wasted no time putting the heat on leader Ferrara. On lap 4 a double file restart was needed after a yellow flag and on that attempted restart it seemed Maynor got the measure of Ferrara for the lead. However NASCAR Officials called that restart back and sent Maynor to the rear of the field for jumping the restart. When the race did resume Ferrara remained out front while his former car owner Mike Mujsce now ran second. Mike stayed on the back bumper of the race leader but in the end it was Tom Ferrara in the Northeastern Office Equipment entry scoring the win. Mike Mujsce of Quogue was runner-up in the Bill Beener Tree Service machine while Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead was third in the Paul Barylski Land Surveyor Plymouth Coupe.
Before Saturday’s 20-lap Miller Lite Charger main event the 2015 season for Cory Midgett of East Hampton was one of trials and tribulations but that all changed when he raced off to his second career win. Due to his previous misfortune Cory Midgett started the race from the pole and he wasted no time taking the lead over Greg Immerman when the green flag was displayed. The duo then ran in that order for the first half of the race during which Midgett received a major scare. Exiting turn 4 in traffic a lapped car moved right in front of leader Midgett who was left no choice but to get into and spin the slower car of Dan Lynch. That slowed Cory to the point where he lost the lead but luckily the car that spun drew the caution and Midgett had his lead back as scoring and timing went back to the last completed lap, which he led. Once back to green Eric Zeh made his way to second passing Immerman for the position in turn three just past the halfway mark on lap 11. Once Zeh, the defending champion of the class got to second he set sail for the race leader. Cory Midgett however was not to be denied on this night as he drove his Keith Grimes Excavating Chevy to a well deserved victory. Eric Zeh of Centereach was runner-up in his Finishline Demolition & Masonry Chevy while rookie driver Steve Mastro of Port Jefferson was third in the Dave Kunzler Tire entry.
Bill Wegmann Jr. of Patchogue has been a busy man at the track this Blunderbust season not only racing his car but also aiding his sons Derek, Andrew & Jason to race from time to time in the division. When the 20-lap Miller Lite night main event was over it was time for Dad to shine as Bill Wegmann Jr. topped the 19-car field. Starting from the pole Bill broke out front early and was chased by the likes of Tim Mulqueen, Ed Mistretta and Tom Sullivan over the first 13 laps of the contest. Lap 14 found Jimmy “The Kid” White Jr. make his way to second after starting the race 18th and many thought once White got to second that might spell trouble for leader Wegmann. Over the final six laps of the race Bill Wegmann Jr, would hold serve in his Crackerjack Auto Stores Chevy driving off to victory. Jimmy White Jr. of Southampton was runner-up in the Busy Bee Pest Control Cadillac while defending champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington placed third in the Premier Utility Service Chevy.
Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead, the 2012 Legend Race Car champion at the track made a triumphant return to victory lane in the class when he topped the Miller Lite night 20-lap main event. Shawn Wanat drove out to the early race lead when the green flag waved with Kyle Ellwood running second alongside him. On lap 2 exiting the second corner Vinny Delaney who was running third and Wanat touched ever so slightly breaking both their momentum which in turn allowed Ellwood to motor into the race lead with Artie Pedersen III coming from fourth to second. Over the remaining 17 laps of the race Ellwood and Pedersen would run one-two with the challenger at time throwing his car deep into the corners to try and gain a run on the race leader for a pass. In the end it would be Kyle Ellwood in the SGS Stone Works racer scoring the homecoming victory. Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches was second in the 112 Chevy entry while point leader Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills placed third in the Hurricane Grill & Wings of Manorville machine.
“Mad” Mike Smith of Kings Park once again prevailed in the Demolition Derby but not before being tested and surviving a hard hitting affair. Early on Smith and another veteran of the Demolition Derby wars “Jackpot” Jack Levix were slugging it out in a battle that at times seemed personal. Mike was able to survive that encounter as well as the challenges of Phil Ebert and Ken Hyde Jr. among others. In the end Mike Smith in his L.I. Truck & Equipment Repair machine prevailed for his third win of the year as he remains unbeaten. Phil Ebert of Hauppauge was named Judge’s Choice while “Curious” George Astacio of Shirley was voted Fan’s Choice.
Cromarty Cup 65 NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Ryan Preece 2. Timmy Solomito 3. Tom Rogers Jr. 4. Howie Brode 5. Kyle Soper 6. Vinny Biondolillo 7. Ron Silk 8. Jerry Solomito Jr 9. Jason Agugliaro 10. Dave Sapienza 11. John Fortin Sr. 12. David Schneider 13. Rob McCormick 14. John Fortin Jr. 15. Shawn Solomito 16. Ken Darch 17. Dave Brigati 18. Ken Matlach 19. Artie Pedersen III 20. Amber Fortin
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Ferrara 2. Mike Mujsce 3. Tom Rogers Jr. 4. Ken Hyde Jr. 5. Roger Maynor 6. Scott Pedersen 7. Artie Pedersen III 8. Gary Fritz Jr. 9. Bryan Quilliam 10. Brian Hansen 11. CJ Lehmann 12. Mike Herbst 13. Tom Kraft Jr.
Chargers: 1. Cory Midgett 2. Eric Zeh 3. Steve Mastro 4. CJ Lehmann 5. Ray Minieri 6. John Baker 7. Greg Immerman 8. Jason Hansen 9. David Roys 10. Brandon Turbush 11. Rich Wilson 12. Brian Midgett 13. Dennis Cunningham 14. Dan Lynch Jr. 15. Owen Grennan 16. Chris Turbush
Blunderbusts: 1. Bill Wegmann Jr. 2. Jimmy White Jr. 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Scott Maliszewski 5. Tom Sullivan 6. Tim Mulqueen 7. Tom Puccia 8. Jim Laird Jr. 9. Derek Wegmann 10. Eric Zeh 11. Terry Stiles 12. Johnny Cricchio 13. Jessica Cohan 14. Robert Ehrle 15. Tommy Walkowiak 16. Ed Mistretta 17. Ryan Zukowski 18. Jack Handley Jr. 19. Joe Warren Jr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. Kyle Ellwood 2. Artie Pedersen III 3. Dylan Slepian 4. Shawn Wanat 5. Vinny Delaney 6. Richie Davidowitz 7. Eric Hersey 8. Kevin Nowak 9. Allan Pedersen 10. Greg Harris 11. George Tomko Jr. 12. Jim Sylvester 13. Bryan Kelly 14. Vinny Colletti 15. Chris Rogers 16. Michael Rutkoski 17. Ed Cheslak 18. Kurt Krieger 19. Mike Van Houten Jr. 20. Jerry Curran 21. Bill Fitzgerald 22. Jeff Otto Jr. 23. Ray Fitzgerald 24. Gary Molnar DNS-Steve Hersey DNS-Bobby Jones
Demolition Derby: Winner- Mike Smith Judge’s Choice- Phil Ebert Fan’s Choice- George Astacio
Story: Riverhead Raceway PR – Photo: Ryan Preece Facebook Page