Auto Racing: Fortin makes his return to victory lane


After spending a year racing off Long Island, John Fortin of Holtsville returned to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Riverhead Raceway, a track where he is a three-time NASCAR Modified champion. After a challenging start to this season, Fortin made a long-awaited triumphant return to victory lane Saturday when won a 35-lap race, the 28th of his career in Riverhead.

When Fortin crossed the finish line first, it set off a jubilant victory lane celebration.

“I’m happy to be back here,” he said. “I just get this place.”

The defending champion, Howie Brode of East Islip, settled for second place, but he made great strides in pursuit of his second straight title as he left the track with a 31-point lead over Tom Rogers Jr. with three point races left. Dave Sapienza of Riverhead crossed the line third, Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, Conn., was fourth and Amber Fortin of Holtsville fifth.

In other races:

The defending Late Model champion, Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead, drove to his second win of the season in a 25-lap race that featured a scary crash just before the halfway mark.

On Lap 10, Kevin Metzger got squeezed into the wall and his car rode the wall as if it were driving on it, nearly flipping over. A catch fence kept Metzger from going any further off the track. After his car came to rest, Metzger emerged from his destroyed car, dazed but otherwise O.K.

After the race resumed, McDermott went on to post the win, topping the runner-up, Mike Bologna of Melville. Bologna, in his quest for a third career title, enjoys a healthy 32-point lead over McDermott in the standings with only two races to go. Roger Oxee of Peconic was third.

Mark Stewart of Riverhead scored his fourth win of the season in a 20-lap Super Pro Truck event. Erin Solomito of Hampton Bays held on for second place while Lou Maestri of Deer Park motored in third. With two races remaining, Solomito leads Stewart by 8 points in the standings, with Maestri 10 points behind the leader.

Everyone in the Legend Race Car division knew it was just a matter of time before Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches would break into victory lane. That time came Saturday in a 20-lap race. It was his first career Riverhead Raceway win. Kyle Soper of Manorville was second, and Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches took third. With just two races to go, Soper enjoys a 26-point lead over Brad Van Houten of Wading River at the top of the standings.

Robert Fowler of Wantagh emerged the winner of a four-cylinder Demolition Derby. With just the Miller Lite National Demolition Derby Championship remaining on Saturday, Jimmy White Jr. of Southampton holds a 40-point lead over George Astacio.

TEACHER EARNS PASSING GRADE Just days before reporting back to work as a school teacher, Greg Zaleski of Jamesport won a 50-lap Grand Enduro win Sunday evening at Riverhead Raceway. The defending four/six-cylinder Truck Enduro champion, Greg Harris of Riverhead, won a 40-lap race. The show was halted two-thirds of the way through the program by a heavy thundershower which eventually passed, allowing the two remaining races to be completed.

In the Grand Enduro, James Charrier of Shirley was second and David Antos of Lindenhurst placed third.

The Truck Enduro saw Don Nelson of Rocky Point finish second and Hank Hallock of Riverhead come in third.

Anthony Pizzo drove to victory in an entertaining first eight-cylinder Enduro. Ed Brown Jr. of Mastic Beach was second, with Michael Sorrentino of Lindenhurst third.

Just as the four/six-cylinder cars were lined up some 55 strong for a 100-lap race, the heavens opened up with monsoon-type rain and lightening and thunder. Track officials waited it out with some loyal race fans who took shelter wherever they could.

After the rain stopped, the race was started on a wet, slick track. It didn’t seem to bother Mike Mujsce Jr., who took the win. Scott Setek of Ridge was second and the defending champion, Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge, came in third.

The long night concluded with a 40-lap, eight-cylinder Enduro that was won by Brown. Jarred Halsey of Southampton posted a career-best second-place finish while veteran Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon was third.