The annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 event for the NASCAR Modifieds at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night was both a very competitive race with 10 changes for position among the top two positions as well at times a rough affair on equipment. In the end former three time NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin of Holtsville was in the right place at the right time to lay claim to the victory, the 30th of his illustrious career.
In qualifying Howie Brode laid down the quickest lap with a 11.934 and a lucky fan, Gail Ricobono drew the #8 pill out of the bucket meaning the top eight would redraw with Eric Goodale picking the pole with Brode to the outside. Goodale got the jump on Brode to lead him for the first five laps before a caution waved for the damaged racer of Kyle Soper. When the race went back to green Brendon Bock slipped under Brode on the restart for second and stayed there until lap 17 when Brode reclaimed the spot. On a lap 23 restart Goodale’s machine sputtered off the fourth turn just for a moment and Brode was able to race his way by on the outside for the lead.
Brode, a former three time winner of the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek tribute race would lead until the 50th lap when a resurgent Eric Goodale worked his way under the race leader entering the first turn with his car again performing to it’s peak. While Eric and Howie went toe to toe right behind the duo Ron Silk and John Fortin tussled for third which would become a very important part of the races outcome. A series of late race restarts found Brode trying to stick his car to the outside of Goodale in a attempt to reclaim the lead with the tandem exciting the fans with their side by side racing. Unfortunately on lap 74 that side by side racing got too close with contact made entering the third turn. Brode would wind up making hard contact with the wall in turn four ending his fine ride and his bid for a 4th win in the 77. Race Director Scott Tapley moved Eric Goodale to the rear of the field for his part in the incident. Brode’s car was heavily damaged but Howie was okay.
Suddenly the pass John Fortin made on Ron Silk for third just laps prior to the Goodale/Brode tangle would actually end up being the winning move of the race as John led the final three laps of the race in his John’s Fuel Oil/John’s Tree Removal Chevy. “By far this is the best car I’ve had here this year” Fortin reflected in victory lane “we probably were looking at the third place run which I was happy with and then the leaders get together and here we are”. The victory was as satisfying on a personal note as it was professional for John, “my wife Nicole has to have some more major surgery in the city Wednesday plus it was my crew chief Kenny Lechner’s birthday yesterday, I’m glad we got this one for them”.
Dave Brigati of Calverton sporting some damage from an earlier tangle brought the JDL Environmental Chevy home for runner-up money with Ron Silk of Norwalk, Ct crossing the line third in the Horton Avenue Materials Chevy. Two young guns had a good showing in the 77 with John Fortin Jr. coming home fourth while rookie Cory Midgett of East Hampton was fifth.
“Jumping” Jack Orlando of Calverton had to endure a painful off season breaking his leg in a work related accident but showed no ill effects from the injury as he triumphed in the 25-lap Late Model main event. It was Jack’s 7th win in the class to go along with his 24 wins in the old Charger class. Kyle Ellwood paced the race for the first 3 laps before Orlando came calling taking the lead on lap 4 with an outside pass on a double file restart. Ellwood hung in second for a spell before defending LM champion Jeremy McDermott made his way by for the position. Aided by some double file restarts McDermott was able to pull alongside Orlando numerous times as the race wore down but in the end the crafty veteran was able to keep his Staria Automotive entry out front for the win. Afterwards Jack noted “I knew Jeremy would not turn down into me, he’s a clean racer, one I enjoy racing with”. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was runner-up in the Statewide Roofing Chevy while point leader David Roys of Coram was third in the Squirrel Detailing machine.
“The Alter Boy” Tom Ferrara of Patchogue on the strength of a late racer restart topped the 15-lap Figure Eight feature event in his Daiquiri Daddy racer. Scott Pedersen moved out front at the throw of the green and would lead all but the final two laps of the race. Mike Mujsce chased Scott at first before Tom Ferrara got by on a 10th lap restart. Ferrara more than likely was looking at a runner-up finish before the yellow waved on lap 13. On the ensuing restart Tom broke out front and later sheepishly admitted “I might have gone a bit early” but the restart stood and and Ferrara led the final two laps in route to the victory. Scott Pedersen of Shirley would perhaps agree with Tom’s assessment of the last restart was a disappointed runner-up in the Reliable Motors Chevy with Mike Mujsce Sr. of Quogue was third in the Mike’s Auto Service mount.
It’s not often defending Blunderbust champion “Slick Pick” Tom Pickerell of Huntington gets a front row starting spot for a 20-lap Blunderbust event but that was the case Saturday and he took full advantage. Starting alongside former champion in Scott Maliszewski on the outside pole Tom was able to work his way by Scott for the race lead. Just laps later on the 5th circuit Maliszewski fighting a loose race car would spin off turn two moving Tim Mulqueen to second. Tim ran second to Pickerell until the halfway mark of the race when Jim Laird raced by for the position in a car he borrowed from good friend Rob Bader with an inside pass on lap 11. Like Maliszewski and Mulqueen before him Laird could only watch as Tom Pickerell drove his USIC Utility Locating Chevy to victory. Jim Laird of Islip brought the Robert’s Express Oil entry home second with championship leader Jack Handley Jr. of Medford third in the Relle Electric Chevy.
Former multi time Super Pro Truck champion Roger Turbush of Riverhead scored a clean sweep of the 30-lap main event in that class, setting fast time in qualifying with a lap of 13.589. RJ, a young 4-year old fan was picked to see how the field would line up for the race and when he drew the #1 pill Turbush was elated as it meant a straight up from qualifying line up. When the green light winked on Turbush, the 2015 New England Truck Series champion broke out to the race lead chased by his father-in-law Dave Brigati. The family affair would be broken up on lap 10 when Brian McElearney passed Brigati for second and for a spell cut into the lead Turbush had built. However as the race wore on it was all Roger Turbush in the Baldwin Automotive Chevy as he drove off to his 23rd career victory. Brian McElearney of N. Babylon was second in the Food & Fun Deli Chevy with Dave Briagti of Calverton third in the Outlaw Racing machine.
Former 4/6-Cylinder Car Enduro kingpin Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge started deep in the 31 car field and drove like a man possessed on his way to victory in the 50-lap contest. Brandon Esposito moved to the race lead when the green flag dropped and quickly built a very comfortable lead early on. Then suddenly on lap 25 Esposito was aggressively working lapped traffic when his fine ride ended with a right front flat tire. That moved Joe Warren into the race lead, a lead he’d never surrender. Steve “The Pitbull” Trimboli of Freeport was runner-up in the Pitbull Motors Mercedes with Ed Fontana of Wading River in the Good Woodshop entry third.
“Cheesebox” Michael Rommeney of Bohemia had to contend with his younger brother Kevin for the entire distance of the 15-lap School Bus Figure Eight race before taking the popular win. Also in the mix was Michael’s father-in-law Dennis “The Menace” Scott with the trio completing the top three at the end of the popular race.
Charles Guarino of Westbury topped the Spectator Drags in the Chevy Blazer but in the semi-final he nearly wrecked his street ride. Guarino got loose off turn four in that race and spun crossing the finish line in that spin. His truck nearly hit the cement safety blocks on the infield with his right front slightly touching the barrier. Undaunted Gaurino went out to easily win the final.
Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77: 1. John Fortin Sr. 2. Dave Brigati 3. Ron Silk 4. John Fortin Jr. 5. Cory Midgett 6. Vinny Biondolillo 7. Eric Goodale 8. Dillon Steuer 9. Howie Brode 10. Jason Agugliaro 11. Shawn Solomito 12. Brendon Bock 13. John Baker 14. Jeffrey Goodale 15. Ken Darch 16. Kyle Soper
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release