Defending Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified champion Shawn Solomito of Center Moriches took full advantage of a rare pole starting position to race his way out of an early season slump posting a wire to wire victory in the 40-lap NASCAR Modified feature Saturday night. In the NEMA Midget Allan Cantor Memorial presented by IGA Food Markets former NASCAR Modified champion Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville scored a popular first career NEMA victory in their 25-lap main event.
Prior to going to post for the NASCAR Modified race Saturday Shawn Solomito and car owner Wayne Anderson had endured a rough start to 2017 on both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour as well at their home track. Starting from the pole Shawn wasted no timer in breaking out front when the green flag waved with David Schneider in tow for the first lap. Lap 2 found Chris Young muscling his way under Schneider for second entering the third turn and Young was hopeful of making a run at Solomito for the race lead. On lap 13 the yellow flag would wave which played right into Young’s hands as it put him alongside Solomito for the ensuing double file restart. If Young was going to make a move for his first career win this would have been the time.
When the race resumed Young tried to make a bid to the outside of Solomito for the lead but now only did that attempt come up short but the inside line opened up for Howie Brode who snuck under Young for second exiting turn 2 on lap 14. Whether it was Brode or Young giving chase to the race leader it didn’t matter to Shawn Solomito in his Eastport Feeds Chevy as he drove off to a comfortable victory, his 16th career win at the demanding quarter mile speed plant.
“I can’t thank and say enough about Wayne & Joette Anderson” Shawn reflected in victory lane, “we have had a rough start to the season on the road as well right here and they along with the Corwin family of Eastport Feeds, Crescent Duck and the Blue Moon Deli have stuck by me. It feels really good to take this one for them”.
Howie Brode of East Islip came home second in the Petro Home Services Chevy while John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville crossed the line third in the John’s Tree Removal entry. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead and point leader Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville completed the top five.
After having an impressive run in the 2016 Allan Cantor Memorial NEMA Midget event come to an abrupt end with brake line failure and a trip into the wall Justin Bonsignore was indeed a man on a mission when the green flag waved to start the 2017 race. Starting in the back of the field for the 25-lap race Bonsignore had to methodically make his way towards the front of the lighting quick field. Seth Carlson set the pace early on with NEMA Lites winner Jim Chambers running second. Carlson early on was able to scamper away from Chambers opening up a hefty lead. Chambers meanwhile would soon be under attack for second from Justin Bonsignore. From the 9th through 12th circuits Chambers and Bonsignore exchanged crossover moves off the turns and on lap 13 Bonsignore took sole possession of second. Once to second Bonsignore now faced the challenge of trying to erase a large lead built up by leader Seth Carlson. That task was soon made easier when Carlson’s car suddenly balked off the corners and on lap 18 Bonsignore along with Chambers were able to pass Carlson who moments later fell out of the race.
Once out front there would be no stopping Justin Bonsignore in the Bertrand Motorsports K&N Filter Drinan Esslinger as he drove off to victory. Asked afterwards if he thought this race owed him one Justin was quick to point out, “in this game you are owed nothing” Bonsignore continued, “after last year I’m just glad the Bertrand’s invited me back to drive for them. It’s a great group and to win the Allan Cantor Memorial with them means so much to me”.
Jim Chambers of Atkinson, NH was second in the Michael Chambers Auctioneers Beast while 2016 race winner Randy Cabral of Kingston, ma was third in the K&N Filters Drinan. Avery Stoehr of Lakeville, Ma and John Zych of Mendon, Ma rounded out the top five.
In the companion 20 lap NEMA Lites feature Jim Chambers took the lead from early race leader Christopher Vose on lap 5 executing an inside pass entering the first turn to drive off to victory in his Mac’s Auto World Beast. Vose would run second until the halfway point of the race when he was passed by Chad Labastie who would hold the position until the 14th lap when he was overtaken by Dan Cugini. With just six laps remaining in the race when Cugini got to second all he could do is watch as Jim Chambers drove off to victory. Cugini of Marshfield, Ma was runner-up in his Worldwide Pre-owned Hawk while Chad Labastie of Uxbridge, Ma. held on for third in the RCL Trucking Hawk.
For the first time since 2001 the American Three Quarter Midget Racing Association some 17 invaded Riverhead Raceway competing in the 25-lap Pete Petraitis Memorial. A stellar field of 17 ATQMRA cars towed to Long Island for the race. Matt Roselli showed the way early on in the race chased first by Joey Bailey for the first three laps before Matt Janisch made his way to second on lap 4. Janisch who started the race from the 5th starting berth would take full advantage of a lap 6 double file restart as he raced his way to the race lead on the outside of Roselli at the start of the 7th lap. Once out front there would be no catching Matt Janisch of Nazareth, Pa as he went on to take the ATQMRA victory. Matt Roselli of Broadheadsville, Pa would finish the race second while Joey Bailey crossed the line third.
Late Model newcomer Kyle Soper of Manorville topped the 25-lap main event for his first career win in the class. Former champion Kevin Metzger broke to the early race lead at the throw of the green pacing the field until the 5th lap when he was passed by Jeremy McDermott during a double file restart. McDermott, the defending LM would now lead Metzger while Kyle Soper was making his way through the field to come to third. Lap 9 saw Soper duck under Metzger for second on a double file restart and just two laps later he made his way to the outside of leader McDermott passing him on the front stretch to take the race lead. Once out front Kyle Soper in the RP Landscaping Pontiac never looked back and laid claim to his first Late Model win. In 2016 Kyle was a 4 time winner in the NASCAR Modifieds. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was runner-up in the JDP Mechanical entry while Eric Zeh of Sedlen was third in the Corwith’s Auto Body Chevy.
To celebrate his 21st birthday 2016 Blunderbust champion Jack Handley Jr. of Medford made just his second start of 2017 in hopes of winning his 21st career feature event. Indeed Jack’s thought became reality when he scored a clean sweep in the night’s 30-lapper, setting fast time in qualifying with a lap of 14.872 before going out and winning for his birthday. After the redraw Tim Mulqueen would take the early race lead from the front row leading the first lap before he and Jim Laird had contact drawing a quick yellow flag. When the field lined up for the restart Jack Handley Jr. who started the race from third was the new race leader with all time leading Blunderbust winner Tommy Walkowiak now perched in second. At first Walkowiak was able to pressure Handley but as the laps clicked off Jack was able to pull away from Tommy. In fact Walkowiak soon found himself in a tussle for second with Jim Laird who raced his way back to the front after his first lap miscue. With two laps remaining Laird indeed got around Walkowiak but is was too late as Jack Handley Jr. in the Unique Golf Chevy notched another win. Jim Laird of Riverhead was runner-up in his My Country 96.1 FM entry while “Slick Pick” Tom Pickerell of Huntington placed third in the Sequel Group Chevy.
The outcome of the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car event would be determined in post race inspection where four cars were stripped of their finishing positions due to unapproved tires. Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead making his first start of 2017 indeed crossed the line first in the SGS Stone Works machine after taking the lead on lap 17 from Richie Davidowitz. However Kyle’s car was the first to be moved to the rear of the running order for the unapproved tires. Also flagged were 5th place Bryan Kelly, 7th place Eric Hersey and 8th place Jim Sylvester. All four drivers were moved to the 24th finishing position. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick who made his way to second in the Giella Electric racer on the 17th lap would be deemed the race winner, his second win of 2017. Brendon Bock of Franklin Square was runner-up in the Oval Speed Unlimited machine with Chris Rogers of Patchogue third in the Smith Point Bait & Tackle mount.
Don Howe of Watermill made it two in a row winning the Long Island Vintage Auto Racing Series 15-lap main event in his Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier. Howe made an outside pass of Mark Miller on lap 4 off the second corner to assume the race lead and eventual win. Jim Kelly of East Moriches made his way to second on lap 6 where he would finish in the East End RV
Pontiac. Mark Miller of Hauppauge was third in his Tony Hirschamnn tribute car.
Glenn Simonin of Holtsville scored his third Street Stock win of 2017 taking the lead of their 20-lap feature on lap 3 from early pacesetter Logan Fogg. Once out front Simonin’s toughest challenge would come late in the race from Brian McCormack of Holbrook who was gunning for his first career win. Try as he might McCormack could not get around Simonin and would have to settle for second in his M+Big Mack’s Towing Chevy. Newcomer Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place had a solid run to claim third in the Lafo’s Performance Glass entry.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Shawn Solomito 2. Howie Brode 3. John Fortin Sr. 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. Vinny Biondolillo 6. Chris Young 7. David Schneider 8. John Baker 9. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III
10. John Fortin Jr. 11. CJ Lehmann 12. Ken Darch 13. Jarrod Hayes 14. Dave Brigati DNS Dillon Steuer DNS Calvin Carrol
Late Models: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Eric Zeh 4. Chris Turbush 5. Kevin Metzger 6. Steve Mastro 7. Brian Doyle 8. Dylan Slepian 9. Ken Matlach DNS Shawn Patrick DNS Ray Minieri
NEMA Midgets: 1. Justin Bonsignore 2. Jim Chambers 3. Randy Cabral 4. Avery Stoehr 5. John Zych 6. Chris Diritis 7. Seth Carlson 8. Jim Santa Maria 9. Alan Chambers 10. Harry Weed 11. Paul Scally
NEMA Lites: 1. Jim Chambers 2. Dan Cugini 3. Chad Labastie 4. PJ Stergios 5. Ryan Locke 6. Christopher Vose 7. John Zych 8. Nikki Carrol 9. Jim Cataldo 10. Randy Cabral 11. Ben Mikitarain 12. Richie Ciy 13. Paul Scally 14. Ryan Bigelow 15. Dennis O’Brien
ATQMRA: 1. Matt Janisch 2. Matt Roselli 3. Joey Bailey 4. Ryan Tidman 5. Geoffrey Sutton 6. Jeff Kot 7. Mark Yoder 8. Dan Lane 9. Tim Proctor 10. Ronnie Mullen 11. Eric Corum 12. Dave Gorbatuck 13. Cole Mullen 14. Joey Payne III 15. Steve Bolland 16. Chris Hirt DNS Dave Williams
Blunderbusts: 1. Jack Hanldey Jr. 2. Jim laird 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Tom Puccia 5. Derek Wegmann 6. Wayne Meyer 7. Tom Sullivan 8. Eric Zeh 9. Bill Wegmann Sr. 10. Tommy Walkowiak 11. Alyssa Paprocky 12. Kenny King 13. Joshua Creel 14. Robert Ehrle 15. Tim Mulqueen
INEX Legend Race Cars: 1. John Beatty Jr. 2. Brendon Bock 3. Chris Rogers 4. Vinny Delaney 5. Kevin Nowak 6. Mike Van Houten Jr. 7. Jonathon Parsons 8. Steve Bolland 9. Jerry Curran 10. Dennis Kurras 11. Ed Cheslak 12. Mike Mortimer 13. Richie Davidowitz 14. Brad Van Houten 15. Ray Fitzgerald 16. Mike Benson 17. Jeff Otto Jr. 18. Silas Hiscock 19. Matt Brode 20. George Tomko Jr. 21. Kyle Ellwood 22. Bryan Kelly 23. Eric Hersey 24. Jim Sylvester
LIVARS Vintage Cars: 1. Don Howe 2. Jim Kelly 3. Mark Miller 4. Ken Southard 5. Frank Saladino 6. Jimmy Reed 7. Bob Krollage
Street Stocks: 1. Glenn Simonin 2. Brian McCormack 3. Gerard Lawrence 4. Rhett Fogg 5. Brian Brown 6. Greg Harris 7. Brandon Hubbard 8. Logan Fogg 9. Anthony Pizzo 10. David Antos
Riverhead Raceway Press Release. Photo Credit: Kerri Larsen