Timmy Solomito of Islip made a surprise visit to his old stomping grounds Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway and promptly went out and mastered a late race restart to win the night’s 50-lap NASCAR Modified feature event for his 20th career victory tying him with Howie Brode and Ronnie Herra for 18th on the all time win list. Making the win sweeter for the driver known as “The Natural” was his brother Shawn, a former two time champion at Riverhead called the shots as his crew chief.
Qualifying saw John Beatty Jr. of Merrick set fast time touring the track at 11.837 earning the pole for the 50-lap tilt while Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead was second quick at 11.859. When the race went green Beatty seeking his first win of the campaign bolted out to the early lead with Rogers in tow. The duo ran nose to tail over the first 11 laps of the race before a yellow waved for an incident involving Brad Van Houten which set-up a double file restart. When the race resumed Rogers rolled the top groove of the track to edge his way by Beatty for the race lead while the early leader now tucked into second. Beatty would keep pace with Rogers right up until he had a left front tire go down on lap 38 forcing John to begrudgingly pull his car to the infield done for the race. That turn of events moved Timmy Solomito to second after starting the race from the fourth spot. Right behind the leaders were Jon McKennedy, championship leader Kyle Soper and John Fortin Sr. who was seeking his third win in a row. The battle between Soper and Fortin intensified to the point where contact was made as the duo raced off turn four dashing not only their hopes for a good finish in the race but also their 2018 championship aspirations.
As the race hit it’s final five laps it appeared as though Rogers had things in control and would be headed for his 50th career win in a NASCAR Modified. Low and behold a late race yellow would wave on lap 46 setting up a four lap dash for the cash and double file restart pitting Rogers against Solomito. As the field hit the throttle off turn four Rogers car broke ever so slightly loose off the corner allowing Solomito to ride the outside lane to the race lead. Once gaining the lead on the start of the 47th lap Solomito steering the Anti 3 Protect Services hit his marks on the final three laps to drive off to a very much needed and popular win.
“This sure is a great felling to come back to my home track with our family car and my brother Shawn calling the shots, to win makes even sweeter” Timmy offered after exiting the winning car. “Gotta thank Tommy for racing me hard but clean on that last restart, looked like his car was a tick loose and he also might have been big picture racing too”. Timmy, who won his first Riverhead NASCAR Modified race back in June of 2009 concluded, “just can’t thank my parents enough for all they do, my brothers and uncles too and of course Starrett Tools who always back us” the winner concluded.
Tom Rogers Jr. with his runner-up finish in the Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevy moved into the championship lead as he seeks his fifth career title reflected after the race, “guess Jim Malone Sr. was smiling down tonight and we’ll have to wait to get that 50th win to tie him. Great run by Timmy on the final restart, we still had a great night and were able to take advantage of Kyle’s early misfortune” Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Ma was third over the line in the Accell Construction, Inc. Chevy. Young guns Chris Young of Calverton and John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville completed the top five with solid performances.
Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck rebounded from a tough week to score his 4th Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified 25-lap feature event. AJ DeSantis paced the race for the first lap before he was overtaken by rookie driver Chris Rogers who raced out front on lap 2 after a double file restart. Rogers would then lead the next four laps of the contest before Justin Brown made an outside pass on the front stretch to take over the lead. Rogers ran second until the 8th lap when he was passed by the high flying Michael Rutkoski who was on the march to the front after starting seventh. A 10th lap caution flag would pit Brown and Rutkoski, two good friends off the track against each other. When the green waved Rutkoski was able to make his way by Brown for the race lead, a lead the driver of the Buzz Chew Auto Group Chevy would not relinquish as he drove to victory lane. Brown of Manorville was runner-up in the Full Throttle Magazine Chevy while veteran Dennis Krupski of Calverton completed the podium in third with his O2 Law.com entry.
Tom Rogers Jr. continued his dominance of the Figure Eight class winning his sixth race in seven starts for the class. Tom Ferrara steering a car borrowed from Charles Macwhinnie led the first two laps of the tilt before a quick caution waved. On the ensuing restart Ferrara remained the leader with Tom Rogers Jr. who started 7th on the grid made his way to second. Rogers made his way to the lead on lap 4 with Gary Fritz Jr. coming to second as Ferrara’s borrowed ride faltered and soon fell from the race. Once in the lead Rogers would stay there in the Keith Repp owned Chevy Coupe driving off to his 41st career victory. “Have to dedicate my 41st win to George Brown, today’s his birthday and he gave me my start in stock cars after noticing me in go-karts” Tom disclosed. Brown of course made the #41 famous during his colorful career. Gary Fritz Jr. of mastic Beach was second in his sponsor wanted ’57 Chevy while Ken Hyde Jr. of Mastic Beach claimed third in the KPC Contracting machine.
In the 20-lap Blunderbust feature Cody Triola of Bay Shore seemingly won his first career feature event having taken the lead on lap15 from tested tough veteran Tim Mulqueen of Levittiown. However Cody’s car failed post race inspection for unapproved carburetor spacers handing the win over to Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead for his second win of 2018. Laird raced his way to second with just two laps to go in the race and that pass would turn out to be the winning move of the race for the driver of the Poolsmith Inc. Caprice. Jack Handley Jr. of Medford was second in the Relle Electric Chevy while defending champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington was third in the Makely Enterprises Chevy.
After transmission woes caused Mike Albasini of Bayside to miss his first Super Pro truck feature in 18 years the week prior the driver known as “The King of Queens” rebounded nice Saturday night winning their 20-lap main event for his 13th career victory. Albasini in his Hollis Court Collision Chevy took full advantage of his pole starting position as he broke to the race lead at the drop of the green flag. Second year driver Eddie Schutze chased Mike for the first 6 laps before he was overtaken by former multi champion Lou Maestri on lap 7. Lou still in search of his 30th career win would hold down second until a 10th lap restart saw Jimmy Rennick Jr. make his way by to the inside. However it didn’t matter who ran second to Mike Albasini in this race he he sped off to his first win of the season. Rennick of Howard Beach was runner-up in his Metropolitan Recycling Chevy while championship leader Mark Stewart of Riverhead was third in the M. Spero Motorsports racer.
Jim Kelly of East Moriches took home his second LIVARS vintage race car win of 2018. Kelly in his East End RV entry raced out front at the throw of the green chased over the first six laps by Mark Miller. Don Howe made his way to Miller’s back bumper and by lap 7 with an outside pass came to second setting his sights on leader Kelly. Try as he might there would be no catching Kelly who backed up his opening race win with another victory. Don Howe of Water Mill was second in the Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier with Miller of Hauppauge third.
Undeterred by a 34th place starting position in the 40-lap Gut & Go Enduro veteran Christian Conklin of Riverehad would prevail turning in an entertaining performance as he weaved his way to the front. CJ Zurkowski led the early going of the race with Dege Russell running second. However as the race moved along Conklin would make his way to the lead in his Let It Shine Detailing Hyundai and w\once he got there he never looked back for his third win of the year. Dege Russell of Rocky Point was runner-up in the Kelly Russell realty entry while Joey Palmeri of Lindenhurst drove from a 25th starting spot to finish third in the J&J Towing machine.
Paul Fox of Riverhead topped the School Bus Demolition Derby and remains undefeated in the buses in 2018. Fox had already won the two Figure Eight races in the class. As always upon exiting his Rapid Recovery Towing bus Fox dedicated his most recent win to his late uncle Don “Don Don” Fox.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Timmy Solomito 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. Jon McKennedy 4. Chris Young 5. John Fortin Jr. 6. David Schneider 7. Roger Turbush 8. Dave Brigati 9. CJ Lehmann 10. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 11. John Fortin Sr. 12. Lou Strohl 13. Sal Accardi Jr. 14. Kyle Soper 15. John Beatty Jr. 16. Cory Midgett 17. Brad Van Houten 18. Tim Lento
Crate Modifieds: 1. Michael Rutkoski 2. Justin Brown 3. Dennis Krupski 4. George Tomko Jr. 5. Scott Pedersen 6. Chris Rogers 7. Owen Grennan 8. Peter Bertuccio 9. Artie Pedersen III 10. Jason Hansen 11. AJ DeSantis DNS- Kurt Kreiger
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Gary Fritz Jr. 3. Ken Hyde Jr. 4. Eric Zeh 5. Scott Pedersen 6. Bob Dalke 7. Rick Swanson 8. Brandon Esposito 9. Vinny Delaney 10. Tom Ferrara
Blunderbusts: 1. Jim Laird Jr. 2. Jack Handley Jr. 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Alyssa Paprocky 5. Rob McCormick 6. Tommy Walkowiak 7. Rob McCormick 8. Bill Wegmann Sr. 9. Brandon Hubbard 10. Jarrett Campbell 11. Tim Mulqueen 12., Max Handley 13. Cody Triola
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Mike Albasini 2. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 3. Mark Stewart 4. Lou Maestri 5. Eddie Schutze 6. Frank Dumicich Jr. 7. Frank Dumicich Sr. 8. Darren McCabe 9. Dave Brigati 10. Tom Sullivan
Vintage Cars (top three) 1. Jim Kelly 2. Don Howe 3. Mark Miller
Gut & Go Enduro: 1. Christian Conklin 2. Dege Russell 3. Joey Palmeri 4. Justin Squires 5. Kevin Coyle 6. Tom Pickerell 7. Dan Dimougno 8. Mike Farrell 9. Brad Bess 10. John Palmeri 11. Matt Schaeffer 12. James O’Connell 13. Scott Phillips 14. Bryan Moore 15. Marty O’Connell 16. Dan Augustine 17. Michael Asdahl 18. Robert Savoy 19. Kim Daniel 20. CJ Zurkowski 21. Kevin Augustine 22. Chrisina Kyro 23. Charles Astacio 24. Vanessa Martino 25. Shawn Adler 26. Kris Dane 27. Sevnd Jensen 28. Fred Grover 29. Steve Raynor 30. Dimi Pickerell 31. Tony Collingsworth
32. Kalin Botts 33. Joe Warren 34. Woot Lawrence 35. Doug Tittle 36. Tyler Bilere 37. Jim Deleonardis 38. Meg Kennedy 39. Steve Elliston
School Bus Demolition Derby winner- Paul Fox
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release. Photo Credit: Timmy Solomito Facebook Page