Auto Racing: Fortin puts his restart prowess to good use

05/16/2011 1:58 PM |

John Fortin of Holtsville used an 11th-lap, double-file restart to his advantage Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway to score a victory in the 35-lap NASCAR Modified feature event for the Whelen All-American Series. It was the 24th career visit to victory lane for the former three-time track champion.

“We were able to get the lead on that double-file restart from Bill [Park] because of our Performance Technology motor,” Fortin said. “I feel we have the best engine program here and it showed tonight.”

Park of Manorville was able to thwart the advances of Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville to claim runner-up money. Bonsignore crossed the line third. Timmy Solomito of Islip and Howie Brode of East Islip completed the top five in the 23-car field.

In other races:

Arne Pedersen of Mastic Beach claimed his second consecutive Cromarty Cup when he won the special race for the Figure Eight class in a 20-lap contest. Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach shadowed Pedersen over the entire distance before he posted a second-place finish. The surprise of the night came when Bonsignore, the 2010 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rookie of the year, was announced as the driver of the Ralph Tasso-owned Chevy, which he promptly drove to a third-place finish. Bonsignore subbed for the opening-night winner, Tom Rogers Jr., who was at a family wedding.

For the second straight week, Chris McGuire of Shirley drove to victory in the 20-lap Charger feature event. McGuire reached the wire first, with Ray Minieri of Bay Shore second and Erin Dumicich of East Quogue was third.

Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge is on a three-race win streak in the Blunderbusts, with his second win of the year on Saturday. Over his 45-win career, Walkowiak has mastered a crossover move, faking a pass to the outside before diving to the inside while either entering or exiting a turn. On Lap 8 he used that maneuver on Tom Sullivan to take the lead and the eventual win. Tom Pickerell of Huntington was second and Rob Bader of Holtsville placed third.

At first it seemed as though the defending Super Pro Truck champion, Roger Turbush of Riverhead, had swept to victory in a double-point main event. He led all 20 laps of the race, but a postrace technical inspection found an unapproved clutch assembly and Turbush was disqualified. Dave Koenig of Freeport was awarded the win, the seventh of his career. Dumicich, who is off to her best start in both the Super Pro Trucks and Chargers, was second. Her brother, Frank Dumicich of East Quogue, was third.

Chris Young of Calverton grew up in the shadows of Riverhead Raceway, spending his entire life watching his father Chris slug it out in the high speed NASCAR Modifieds, hoping like his father had done on 32 occasions, that he, too, would visit the checkerboard victory lane. On Saturday night, the honor student did just that, winning his first career Legend Race Car feature at his home track. Johnnie Gloor IV of Flanders came in second. Late in the race, Kevin Nowak fell to the infield with a mechanical issue, propelling Tom Sherman of Farmingdale into third place.

Despite starting deep in the 20-car Grand Enduro field, Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville scored yet another convincing win in a 50-lap main event. Fitzgerald worked his way methodically through the pack to take the race lead away from David Antos, who was seeking his first career win. Once out in front, Fitzgerald never looked back, building a three-quarter lap cushion over second-place Don Carasiti of St. James.