Auto Racing: Fortin, raceway outlast Mother Nature



A pair of one-hour rain delays did not stop the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program on Saturday, or three-time NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin Sr. The Holtsville driver made a triumphant return to victory lane, sweeping the headlining Twin 30 NASCAR Modified features at Riverhead Raceway. 

As the first race passed the halfway mark, Fortin pulled out front by a few car lengths and drove off to victory. Timmy Solomito of Islip was the runner-up. Third place went to Ron Silk of Norwalk, Conn. Eric Goodale and Tom Rogers Jr., both of Riverhead, rounded out the top five.

In the second feature, Fortin was followed to the finish line by Silk, who dipped under Solomito for second. Two Riverhead drivers, Eric Goodale and Dave Sapienza, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

“It’s great to be back here at Riverhead,” Fortin said. “We’re staying here and going for the championship.”

The wins were the 28th and 29th of Fortin’s career at Riverhead Raceway.

Goodale is the early season points leader over Sapienza, 53-49.

Regardless of the size of the field, it is not often that Late Model standout Peter Eriksen of Baldwin finds himself in the pole position for a feature event. It helped him collect his 47th career win. Mike Bologna of Melville was second. Roger Oxee of Peconic, the all-time leading Late Model winner (64), was third.

Defending Charger champion Eric Zeh of Selden topped a 20-lap feature event, leading from wire to wire. Cory Midgett of East Hampton came in second. Chris Turbush of Riverhead recovered from a backstretch tangle to claim third.

The Blunderbusts clicked off a non-stop, 20-lap feature event as the opening-night winner, Jack Handley Jr., made a return to victory lane. Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge made a Lap 16 pass on Tom Puccia for second. Jimmy White Jr. raced in third.

Another non-stop performance was turned in by the Super Pro Trucks. Former champion Lou Maestri of Deer Park claimed his 24th career win, which is tops in the class. Second place went to Erin Solomito of Hampton Bays. Roger Turbush of Riverhead, the opening-night winner, had to be content with third.

In what may have been the closest finish in the 60-plus-year history of Riverhead Raceway, the winner not determined until over two hours after the race when Timmy Solomito of Islip was declared the winner of the 20-lap Legend Race Car race. It all came to a boiling point on the white flag lap when Brendon Bock of Franklin Square got by Brad Van Houten of Wading River to the inside. Bock’s forward momentum sent him racing side by side with Solomito. At the finish line it appeared to be a dead heat. At first Bock was declared the winner. Then, after further review, that decision was overturned. Van Houten was third.

The only casualty on the night was the Figure Eights. The course on the infield of the track never dried to the point where it was considered safe.