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Riverhead Raceway: After last-minute switch, Preece races to victory

Thanks to Mother Nature, Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., landed his 16th career victory at Riverhead Raceway in Saturday night’s Modified race.

Preece had planned to race at Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire, but a rain-out altered his plans. He instead headed south to Riverhead and the former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion raced to victory in the 67-lap main event.

The early part of the race saw Shawn Solomito of Center Moriches, Dave Brigati and Dillon Steuer taking turns in the lead. Solomito made a bid for the lead on Lap 12, but made brief contact with Steuer that allowed former three-time champion Howie Brode of East Islip to race his way past the top two cars for the lead. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville, who’s also a former three-time champion, moved into second but was quickly chased down by Preece.

On Lap 16, Preece moved into second and set his sights on Brode, who had pulled away from the pack. Over the next 18 laps, the pair went back-and-forth, until Preece seized the opportunity on Lap 34 and grabbed the lead on the third turn.

He never let go of that lead for the remainder of the race.

Afterward, Preece said he got a call from Eddie and Connie Partridge, the Riverhead Raceway owners, to see if he would race that night once the New Hampshire race was washed out.

“I looked at my wife, Heather, and she gave me the nod of approval and here we are,” he said.

Brode finished second while Solomito took third. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead was fourth and Fortin rounded out the top five.

Fortin currently leads the modified point standings with 227. Brode is second with 219 and Solomito is third with 211.

In the 25-lap Modified Crates race, Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills picked up his second victory of the season. Rookie Michael Rutkowski of Mattituck earned his second straight runner-up finish after he passed fellow rookie Kurt Kreiger on Lap 19.

Former Figure Eight champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead collected his 28th career win with a victory in the 15-lap Figure Eight race thanks to a late surge. It was his second win of the season.

Roger Turbush of Riverhead won his second Super Pro Truck event of the year with a victory in the 20-lap event that tied him with Lou Maestri of Deer Park for the all-time win lead at 29.

Street Stock newcomer Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place scored an upset victory in the 30-lap race. Greg Harris of Riverhead, who started the race 10th, was the runner-up while Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow was third.

In the Gut & Go Enduro, Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge quickly made his way from a 14th starting spot to a win in the 40-lap feature event.

Finally, in the 8-Cylinder Demolition Derby, George Astacio of Shirley picked up his first career victory. Scott Philips was awarded Judge’s Choice and Danny Zasowski was awarded the Fans’ Choice.

The racing continues this Saturday with another full slate at Riverhead Raceway on Wall of Fame night.