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Riverhead Raceway: Right place at right time for Fortin

Was it a competitive race?

Ah, yes. The Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 for NASCAR Modifieds at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night saw 10 changes for position among the top two positions. In the end, three-time NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin of Holtsville was in the right place at the right time to lay claim to the victory, the 30th of his career.

On Lap 74, some side-by-side racing got too close for Howie Brode, who made hard contact with a wall, ending his bid for a fourth win in the annual event. Brode’s car was heavily damaged but Howie was OK, the raceway said. Race director Scott Tapley moved Eric Goodale to the rear of the field for his part in the incident.

Fortin led the final three laps to wrap up the victory.

“By far this is the best car I’ve had here this year,” Fortin said in victory lane. “We probably were looking at the third-place run, which I was happy with, and then the leaders get together and here we are.”

The victory was as satisfying on a personal note as it was professional for Fortin. “My wife Nicole has to have some more major surgery in the city Wednesday plus it was my crew chief Kenny Lechner’s birthday yesterday,” he said. “I’m glad we got this one for them.”

Dave Brigati of Calverton, sporting some damage from an earlier tangle, drove home for second place. Ron Silk of Norwalk, Connecticut, crossed the line third. John Fortin Jr. was fourth and rookie Cory Midgett of East Hampton was fifth.

Jack Orlando of Calverton had to endure a painful offseason, breaking his leg in a work-related accident. But he showed no ill effects from the injury as he triumphed in a 25-lap Late Model main event. It was his seventh win in the class to go along with his 24 wins in the Charger class.

Defending Late Model champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead claimed second. The points leader, David Roys of Coram, took third.

Tom Ferrara of Patchogue, on the strength of a late-race restart, topped the 15-lap Figure Eight field. Scott Pedersen of Shirley moved out front at the throw of the green flag and led for all but the final two laps of the race. A yellow flag waved on Lap 13. On the ensuing restart, Ferrara broke out front and later sheepishly admitted, “I might have gone a bit early.” But the restart stood and Ferrara had the victory. Pedersen was a disappointed runner-up. Mike Mujsce Sr. of Quogue was third.

It’s not often defending champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington gets a front-row starting spot for a 20-lap Blunderbust event, but that was the case Saturday and he took full advantage for the win. Jim Laird of Islip was second, with championship leader Jack Handley Jr. of Medford third.

Multi-time Super Pro Truck champion Roger Turbush of Riverhead won a 30-lap main event in that class, driving to his 23rd career victory. Brian McElearney of North Babylon was second and Dave Briagti of Calverton third.