A surprise start led to a masterful restart and victory.
Timmy Solomito of Islip made a surprise visit to his old stomping grounds Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. Then he 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. That tied 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 Raceway who called the shots as his crew chief.
A yellow flag on Lap 46 set up a four-lap and double-file restart, pitting Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead against Solomito. As the field hit the throttle off a turn, Rogers’ car broke ever so slightly loose off the corner, allowing Solomito to ride the outside lane to the lead on the start of the 47th lap. Solomito hit his marks on the final three laps to drive off to the 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,” Solomito, who won his first Riverhead NASCAR Modified race back in June of 2009, said after exiting the car. “To win makes [it] even sweeter.”
Rogers, with his runner-up finish, moved into the championship lead as he seeks his fifth career title. He is chasing his 50th career win. Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass., was third, Chris Young of Calverton fourth and John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville fifth.
In other races:
Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck rebounded from a tough week to score his fourth Crate Modified 25-lap win. Justin Brown of Manorville was second, and veteran Dennis Krupski of Calverton took third.
Tom Rogers Jr. continued his dominance in Figure Eights, winning his sixth race in seven starts in the class. It was his 41st career victory. Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach was second and Ken Hyde Jr. of Mastic Beach claimed third.
In a 20-lap Blunderbust feature, Cody Triola of Bay Shore seemingly won his first career feature event, having taken the lead on Lap 15 from tested veteran Tim Mulqueen of Levittown. However, Triola’s car failed postrace inspection for unapproved carburetor spacers. That handed the win over to Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead, his second win of 2018. Laird raced his way to second with two laps to go, and that pass turned out to be the winning move of the race. Jack Handley Jr. of Medford was second while defending champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington was third.
After transmission woes caused Mike Albasini of Bayside to miss his first Super Pro truck feature in 18 years a week prior, the driver known as “The King of Queens” rebounded nicely Saturday night, winning a 20-lap main event for his first win of the season and 13th of his career. Jimmy Rennick of Howard Beach grabbed second before the championship leader, Mark Stewart of Riverhead, came in third.
Jim Kelly of East Moriches took home his second vintage race car win of the year. Don Howe of Water Mill was second, with Mark Miller of Hauppauge third.
Undeterred by a 34th-place starting position in a 40-lap Enduro, veteran Christian Conklin of Riverhead prevailed, turning in an entertaining performance as he weaved his way to the front for his third win of the season. Dege Russell of Rocky Point was the runner-up. Joey Palmeri of Lindenhurst drove from a 25th starting spot to finish third.
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. Upon exiting his bus, Fox dedicated his most recent win to his late uncle, Don Fox.