Riverhead, NY – Defending NASCAR Modified champion Shawn Solomito of Center Moriches executed a textbook pass Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway to score his second straight NASCAR Modified victory in the Mullet Madness 50. The victory was the 17th of Solomito’s impressive career.
Dillon Steuer laid down the quickest lap in qualifying with as the 15-year old lead foot turned went 11.849 in time trails but in the redraw picked third behind the front row of Vinny Biondolillo and Kyle Soper. At the drop of the green flag Biondolillo and Soper went toe to toe for the race lead early on while Shawn Solomito made his way from fifth to third in the early going. As Biondolillo and Soper jostled for the lead Shawn Solomito sat back and waited for the right time to make his bid for second or perhaps event the top spot in the race. As the field started the 9th circuit Solomito at the urging of his spotter, Monster Energy Cup talent Freddie Kraft who drove in from Pocono Raceway found an opening underneath both emerging young driving stars entering the first turn and he’d pass Biondolillo and Soper and in one clean sweep for the race lead.
Once out front the Eastport Feeds driver would hit his marks the rest of the way and drive off to victory on his son Landon’s 2nd Birthday. “Of all my wins here this one is very special” the race winner noted afterwards, “It’s my son’s birthday and with time trial qualifying working in our favor it’s pretty cool to win, especially tonight”. Solomito who nearly gave the lead up in an aborted restart when his car got stuck in high gear admitted afterwards, “with the early season bad luck we’ve suffered through on the Whelen Modified Tour and even here at Riverhead it was about time we got a break in our favor”. When quizzed about his winning pass of both the first and second place cars Shawn pointed out “that was all Freddie, he kept telling me to be patient and wait for an opening and when that opening came he keyed the mic and off we went”. Freddie Kraft is a spotter for Landon Cassill on the Monster Energy Cup series of NASCAR who along with his wife Megan drove in from Pocono to his native L.I. for a quick visit with family and friends.
Kyle Soper of Manorville making his first start of 2017 would come home second in the Dr. Martha Baker DDS Chevy while veteran John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville took over the championship points lead on the strength of his third place tally in the John’s Tree Removal Chevy. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regulars Brendon Bock of Franklin Square and Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville completed the top five.
After going winless in 2016 Late Model veteran Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters found his way back to victory lane as he topped the 25-lap feature event. Starting from the outside pole Patrick quickly raced his way out front getting the measure of pole sitter “Radiant” Ray Minieri when the race went green. Minieri using his back-up car after a stuck throttle totaled his primary car one week earlier had more misfortune on lap 8 when he was involved in a heavy first turn crash with both Scott Kulesa and Chris Turbush. With Minieri out of the picture Ken Matlach would now sit second behind Patrick but when the race resumed it would be all Shawn Patrick in his Steve Mehner Race Engines Chevy driving off to victory while Matlach fought with the likes of Jeremy McDermott and Kyle Soper in the closing laps. McDermott of Riverhead would claim runner-up money in the JDP Mechanical entry while Soper of Manorville assumed the points lead with his third place finish in the RP Landscaping Pontiac.
Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills notched his 4th career Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate victory when he toped their 25-lap main event after starting the race from the 7th spot. Early on freshman drivers Kurt Kreiger and Justin Brown tussled for the race lead with Kreiger showing the way. A lap 4 caution would bunch the field up and when the race got back underway Kreiger would remain out front while Brown was passed to the inside by Dylan Slepian. Once to second it took Slepian every bit of 7 laps to size up and eventually pass Kreiger for the race lead which he did exiting the fourth turn to start the 13th lap. Once out front it was all Dylan Slepian in his self funded Chevy as he’d lead the rest of the way for the win. Kurt Kreiger of Miller Place was an impressive runner-up in just his third start in the Crate Modifieds behind the wheel of his Cassidy, Romano & Love Attorney’s At Law Chevy. Dennis Krupksi of Calverton placed third in his Dynamic Automotive entry.
For Figure Eight winner Tom Ferrara of Patchogue his 11th career triumph in the 15-lap main event saw his emotions ran the gamete of high and low as he pulled into the winners circle with a blown motor in his Americar Auto Painting Cadillac. Johnny Vullo set the early pace leading the first third of the race before Tom Rogers Jr. on lap 6. Rogers, a 27 time career winner in the class was quickly under attack from Tom Ferrara who started the race from the 6th spot. Working the left handed turn in the first and second corner Ferrara was able to slip by Rogers for the race lead on the 8th lap. Once to the top spot Ferrara was able to stay there but with two laps to go his machine started to billow heavy smoke as the eventual race winner nursed the machine home for the win. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead was second in the United Exhaust Shop Plymouth Coupe. Rookie talent Greg Harris of Riverhead was in the mix late for the win before settling for second in the SGS Stone Works machine.
Tom Pickerell of Huntington scored a milestone 20th career Blunderbust victory when he won his second race of 2017 in a 20-lap affair. Popular Tom Sullivan led the way early in the contest before he was passed to the outside on a lap 2 double file restart by Wayne Meyer off the fourth turn. Meyer seeking his first career win would pace the race until the 12th lap when he was overtaken by Tom Pickerell to the inside entering the first turn. Once Pickerell steering the Makely Enterprises Chevy was out front there was no looking back as he’d race off to victory lane. Jim Laird of Riverhead made a late race pass for second in his Poolsmith Inc. Caprice while Meyer of Flanders crossed the line third in the Farm-Rite of Calverton machine.
Defending Super Pro Truck champion Roger Turbush of Riverhead earned his 28th career win in the class when he won their 30-lap main event. Dave Brigati set quick time in qualifying with a lap of 13.488 but he’d pick the third starting spot in the redraw while Turbush drew the pole and Mike Albasini the outside pole. When the green light winked on Roger Turbush took full advantage of the pole starting berth as he moved out front with Albasini in tow, Lap 4 saw Albasini’s team truck driven by Jack Handley Jr. move to second but that would be as good as it got for the 2016 Blunderbust champion who could only watch as Roger Turbush in the Steven’s Heating & AC Chevy drove off to victory. Handley of Medford was runner-up in the Hollis Court Collision Chevy while Owen Grennan of Glen Cove finished third in the Merkenti Construction GMC.
“Blackjack” Bryan Kelly of Aquebogue notched his 4th win in 6 starts for the Mini Stocks when he won their 30-lap main event. Jeremy Clint paced the race early on before he was passed by Chris Elixson on lap 4. Elixson’s stay out front was short lived as Bryan Kelly, who started the race from 9th made his way by for the race lead on lap 5. Once to the lead Kelly steering the Wine Country Tent Rentals machine was pressured at first by Mike Mujsce Jr. but as the race wore on the eventual winner was able to build a comfortable lead. Mujsce of Hampton Bays was runner-up in the Blue Collar Bar VW while Steve Fuller of Manorville was third in the Getawaycarz.com racer.
Demolition Derby rookie John Palmeri of Lindenhurst was the last man standing when the 4-Cylinder Demolition Derby was concluded besting a field that included his father “Jumping” Joey Palmeri and brother Joey Jr. Brian Moore was named Judge’s Choice while Ryan Zurkowski won Fan’s Choice.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Shawn Solomito 2. Kyle Soper 3. John Fortin Sr. 4. Brendon Bock 5. Justin Bonsignore 6. Chris Young 7. Howie Brode 8. David Schneider 9. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 10. Ryan Preece 11. Dave Brigati 12. John Baker 13. Jarrod Hayes 14. Ken Darch 15. Vinny Biondolillo 16. Dillon Steuer 17. John Fortin Jr. 18. Tom Rogers Jr.
Late Models: 1. Shawn Patrick 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Kyle Soper 4. Ken Matlach 5. Eric Zeh 6. Scott Kulesa 7. Kevin Metzger 8. Brandon Turbush 9. Ray Minieri 10. Roger Oxee 11. Steve Mastro Jr. 12. Chris Turbush
Modified Crates: 1. Dylan Slepian 2. Kurt Kreiger 3. Dennis Krupski 4. CJ Lehmann 5. Michael Rutkoski 6. Justin Brown 7. Jason Hansen 8. AJ DeSantis 9. Anthony Vecchio 10. Dave Brigati 11. Michael Rommeney 12. Peter Bertuccio
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Ferrara 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. Greg Harris 4. Scott Pedersen 5. Gary Fritz Jr. 6. Charlie Macwhinnie 7. Johnny Vullo 8. Bob Dalke 9. Brian Hansen 10. George Brown
Blunderbusts: 1. Tom Pickerell 2. Jim Laird 3. Wayne Meyer 4. Tim Mulqueen 5. Derek Wegmann 6. Eric Zeh 7. Tommy Walkowiak 8. Tom Sullivan 9. Tom Puccia 10. Joshua Creel 11. Bill Wegmann Sr. 12. Gary Caldwell 13. Alyssa Paprocky 14. Kenny King
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Roger Turbush 2. Jack Handley Jr. 3. Owen Grennan 4. Dave Brigati 5. Sean Glennon 6. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 7. Lou Maestri 8. Frank Dumicich Jr. 9. Mike Albasini 10, Frank Dumicich Sr. DNS- Dennis Cunningham
Mini Stocks: 1. Bryan Kelly 2. Mike Mujsce Jr. 3. Steve Fuller 4. Chris Elixson 5. Paul Wojcik 6. Preston Prydatko 7. Joe Warren 8. Jeremy Clint 9. Brandon Esposito 10. Robert Dugre 11. Ryan Warren
Riverhead Raceway Press Release. Photo Credit: Butch Christoffer