Raceway Roundup: Preece wins thriller in Riverhead

Riverhead Raceway, Route 58, Riverhead Toyota

Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., won his third consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified tour race Saturday night with a victory in the Hoosier Tire 200 at Riverhead Raceway. Preece won a thrilling race in come-from-behind fashion.

Preece drove into first in Lap 43, passing Ron Silk of Norwalk, Conn. Preece remained the race leader after feeling some heat from Donny Lia, who rode up the left body panel of Preece’s car. Lia’s car spun out and Preece sustained some body damage to his car’s left rear, but continued on.

In Lap 93, Preece’s front right tire went flat, creating havoc on the outside lane. When the field reset, John Beatty Jr, a Riverhead Raceway regular, took the lead with Timmy and Shawn Solomito behind him. Timmy’s night came to an end shortly after when his car overheated.

Ted Christopher rode into second and wasted little time closing ground on Beatty. After several laps side-by-side, Christopher snagged the lead on Lap 136. Meanwhile, Preece came roaring through the pack with a new tire. He closed to third late in the race but still faced a significant distance to reach the leaders.

Christopher and Todd Szegedy were battling for first when Szegedy pushed against the wall exiting a turn as he tried to make an outside pass. The ensuing caution allowed Preece an opportunity to make up ground.

On the Lap 193 restart, Christopher spun his wheels, sending him into a spin and striking the caution car. Preece capitalized by grabbing first place.

Eric Goodale of Riverhead was the runner-up while Beatty placed third in what was a career race for him. Defending Riverhead Raceway champion Shawn Solomito finished fourth and Mike Stefanik of Coventry, R.I., was fifth.

The win was worth about $7,700 to Preece.

“What a roll we’re on right now,” Preece said after the race.

Preece also won the Riverhead 200 last September.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make its second and final stop at Riverhead Raceway Sept. 14 for the Green Earth Technologies 200.

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