Riverhead, NY – A third of the way through the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 if you would have told former three time NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville he’d be sitting in victory lane at the conclusion of the race he probably would have questioned your sanity. However in the true spirit of the three NASCAR Modified legends this race is run in honor of, Fortin rebounded from two trips to the pits for flat tires to win his second straight race of the 2018 season and 33rd of his career tying him with the late Chris Young for 4th on the all time Riverhead Raceway win list.
Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead topped qualifying with a lap of 11.932 and would earn the pole for the 77 with John Beatty Jr. of Merrick clocking in second quick at 11.935. At the throw of the green flag Rogers seeking his 50th career win broke to the early race lead while Beatty tucked into second. Having not run a race since the first Wednesday night special back on July 11th the NASCAR Modified troops would be involved in a rough and tumble 77 lapper on a hot & humid summer’s night and the result was a contact filled race resulting in numerous caution flags waving and several drivers sent to the rear of the field for contact. Several other drivers had to pit for various repairs including Fortin for his two flats early on.
Rogers would set a fast pace when the race did have sustained green flag racing with Beatty trying as best he could to wrestle the lead away from Tommy on the numerous double file restarts. It would be a lap 52 restart that found championship leader Kyle Soper who started the race 8th slipping by Beatty for second and setting sail for leader Rogers. Just second after Soper got by Beatty the yellow waved setting up a double file restart between Rogers and Soper with Kyle racing his way out front on lap 54. Beatty would also get by Rogers two laps later for second and again John found himself trying to get by the race leader for his first win of the season.
Beatty was aided by a couple of double file restarts during which Soper chose the outside lane which allowed him to roll the top to stay out front. After some intense racing for some 10-laps for the lead Beatty drove into the first turn hard on lap 65 and contact was made with Soper sending both cars spinning and drawing the yellow flag. When the field was reset John Fortin Sr. who never said quit early on found himself as the new race leader with 30-time Super Pro Truck winner Roger Turbush having a career best night now second. Turbush gave chase to Fortin for four laps before John Fortin Jr. worked his way by for the position. The younger Fortin also rebounded from trips to the rear of the file one of which was at the request of track officials.
In the closing laps there would be no stopping John Fortin Sr. and his Long Island Truck Parts team who also won the most recent NASCAR Modified race some 17-days prior. “When I first made the step up to the Modifieds Tom Baldwin gave me plenty of advice, the what to do and not to do of the game so to speak” Fortin revealed, “it’s an honor to win his, Richie and Charlie’s race all three were icons of our game”. As to his early race struggles and his unlikely trip to victory lane John was very forthright. “we shouldn’t have won this race tonight, the rear is barely in the car after contact, we had two flats but my guys just kept digging and here we are. We caught a break when Kyle and John got together, hey we’ve lost a few that way too”.
John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville was runner-up in his Suffolk Pro Cycles Chevy and was on cloud nine afterwards, “Dad and I have always wanted to finish one-two, tonight we got the job done. It wasn’t pretty but we did it”. Roger Turbush of Riverhead was an impressive third at the finish in his Kennedy L.I. Realty of Bay Shore Chevy and admitted “this truely feels like a win, Aaron Clifford came on board this week and the finish speaks for itself”. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead faded to fourth in his License To Chill entry while Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Ma. wheeling the Tommy Baldwin Racing 7NY was fifth after running a majority of the race in or just outside the top three in the Accell Construction, Inc. Chevy.
The top three finishers were all subject to and passed a rigid inspection of their clutches post race.
Chris Turbush of wading River topped the 25-lap Late Model feature event for his first win of 2018 and the 9th of his career in the class. Hard luck Ken Matlach paced the race for the first 14 laps of the tilt leading Chris McGuire for the first 8 circuits. Chris Turbush and McGuire would later renew their old Charger rivalry when they raced for second with Turbush executed an inside pass of turn four on lap 9 to claim second. After a caution waved on lap 14 a double file restart was in order with Turbush getting the jump on Matlach for the race lead. Once out front there would be no stopping the third generation driver as Chris Turbush led the rest of the way in his B&N Moving & Storage Chevy. Matlach and defending champion Kyle Soper waged an intense battle for second after Turbush took the lead with Jeremy McDermott throwing his hat in the ring after starting 6th. McDermott of Riverhead would come to second late in the race but would have to settle for the runner-up money in the Staria Automotive Chevy after closing in on eventual winner Turbush. Ken Matlach of New Hyde Park survived late race contact to finish third in the Bobcat of New York entry.
There is another rising star in the Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds and his name is Owen Grennan of Glen Cove who won his second 25-lap race of 2018 in just his seventh start. Chris Rogers paced Scott Pedersen for the first two laps of the race before Grennan who started third made his way by Pedersen to the inside off turn two for second. Owen spent the next two laps sizing up leader Rogers for a pass which he accomplished with an inside pass off turn four as the tandem started the 6th lap. Once out front Grennan steering the Excellence Automotive East Chevy never looked back staying out in front and ahead what was one of the rougher races the class has ever contested. Chris Rogers of Patchogue had a stellar outing with a runner-up tally in the Ralph’s Seafood Safari Chevy while another young gun Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches was third in the East End RV machine.
Defending Super Pro Truck champion Dave Brigati of Calverton topped the 20-lap main event in the class. Third year driver Sean Glennon raced out front at the start of the race with Brigati quickly coming to second. A quick yellow on lap 2 set up a double file restart as well a student vs. teacher scenario on the front row. When the race resumed class was in session as Brigati took rode the outside lane in his Quest Machining & Fabrication Chevy for the race lead, a race lead he would not surrender as he drove off to victory lane. The triumph was the 14th of Dave’s SPT career. Multi time winner Mark Stewart of Riverhead made his way to second and would pressure Brigati for the race win before settling for second in his Flemington Furs Chevy. Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach had another podium finish with a third place effort in the Metropolitan Recycling Chevy.
For the second time in 2018 veteran chauffeur Jim Sylvetser of Massapequa won the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature and in the process took over the season long championship lead. Teenage lead foot Riely O’Keefe raced his way to the early race lead at the start with Jonathan Parsons in tow. A lap 2 yellow set-up a double file restart and when the race resumed George Tomko Jr. caught everyone napping as he raced his way from third to the race lead with O’Keefe tucking into second. Lap 5 found another restart shuffle the deck as O’Keefe surrendered second to Jim Sylvester who was on his way to the front after starting 11th in the 21-car field. Tomko and Sylvester ran one-two over the next dozen laps before a lap 17 caution waved for debris. The ensuing restart changed the complexion of the race as Sylvester in his 860 Racing machine raced his way to the race lead and eventual win. Brad Van Houten of Wading River who started 12th made his way by Tomko in the final three laps but would have to be content with runner-up money in the Van Houten Trucking entry. Tomko of Aquebogue in his sponsor wanted racer was third and left to wonder what could have been if not for that debris caution.
Steering a Richie Evans built chassis that took he and long time car owner Carl Zeh to many a victory Don Howe of Water Mill won his second LIVARS Vintage Car 15-lap feature of the season. After ken Southard paced the race for the first three laps opening race winner Jim Kelly took over the top spot on lap 4. Southard and Jimmy Reed gave chase to Kelly before Don Howe came calling making his way to second as the field started lap 6. On that 6th lap Frank Saladino suffered a flat tire drawing a caution lining up rivals Kelly and Howe in the front row. When the race resumed Howe put the Corwith’s Auto Body Chevy out front for good as Kelly would give chase before finishing second in his McBetts Racing Engines entry. Timmy Solomito of Islip steering the #1 Vega of the Jarzombek family finished third in the Kinney Chevrolet machine in a one and done start for car owner Ricky Jarzombek.
Andrew Farnham of Baldwin dominated the 20-lap Mini Stock race to score his first career win in the class. Gary Voight, Brandon Esposito and Paul Wojcik all ran second at one time or another and all they could collectively do is watch as Farnham raced off to victory. Wojcik of Centereach was second in the VDR Graphics mount while Steve Fuller of Manorville was third in the Getawaycarz.commachine.
Gene Burbol of Brookhaven in his daughter Madison’s truck won the 40-lap Truck Enduro. Gene raced from the outside pole to the race lead and would go wire to wire for the win in his Gene’s 112 Auto Repair entry. Matt Triola of bay Shore was runner-up in the Cesspool Pro Chevy while defending champion Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point was third in the Abner Tree Experts S-10.
Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77: 1. John Fortin Sr. 2. John Fortin Jr. 3. Roger Turbush 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. Jon McKennedy 6. Cory Midgett 7. Kyle Soper 8. CJ Lehmann 9. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 10. John Beatty Jr. 11. David Schneider 12. Dan Jivanelli 13. Brad Van Houten 14. Dylan Slepian 15. Dave Brigati 16. Howie Brode 17. Sal Accardi Jr. 18. Chris Young 19. Eric Zeh
Late Models: 1. Chris Turbush 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Ken Matlach 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. Ray Minieri 6. Kyle Soper 7. Kevin Metzger 8. Dylan Slepian 9. Jason Kreth 10. Chris McGuire 11. Ryan Zurkowski
Crate Modifieds: 1. Owen Grennan 2. Chris Rogers 3. Artie Pedersen III 4. Dennis Krupski 5. Jason Hansen 6. Justin Brown 7. Jack Orlando 8. Scott Pedersen 9. AJ DeSantis 10. Peter Bertuccio 11. Michael Rutkoski
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Dave Brigati 2. Mark Stewart 3. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 4. Sean Glennon 5. Frank Dumicich Jr. 6. Tom Sullivan 7. Frank Dumicich Sr. 8. Darren McCabe 9. Lou Maestri 10. Eddie Schutze DNS-Mike Albasini
Legend Race Cars: 1. Jim Sylvester 2. Brad Van Houten 3. George Tomko Jr. 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Riely O’Keefe 6. Jerry Curran 7. Eric Hersey 8. Jonathan Parsons 9. Matt Brode 10. Jeff Otto Jr. 11. Ed Cheslak 12. Mike Van Houten Jr. 13. Patrick Moore 14. Scott Cheslak 15. Vinny Delaney 16. Jeff Farruggia 17. Mike Benton 18. Stephen Coleman 19. Steve Hersey 20. Steve Woytysiak 21. Alex Halinar
LIVARS Vintage Cars (top five) 1. Don Howe 2. Jim Kelly 3. Timmy Solomito 4. Jimmy Reed 5. Mark Miller
Mini Stocks: 1. Andrew Farnham 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Steve Fuller 4. Russ Jansen 5. Jay Conrad 6. Tony Collingsworth 7. Brandon Esposito 8. Ryan Warren 9. Preston Prydatko 10. Steve Catalano 11. Joe Cooke Jr.
Truck Enduro: 1. Gene Burbol 2. Matt Triola 3. Don Nelson Jr. 4. Phil LaManna 5. Peter Rabaglia 6. Gary Voight 7. Dustin Cole 8. Mariah Lawrence 9. Justin McGrady 10. Mike Benton 11. Danielle Corwin 12. Doug Tittle 13. Emily Hubbard 14. Kieran Gallagher 15. Danielle Cohen
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release. Photo credit: Michael Jaworecki