Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., went back to basics Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway and did it ever pay off.
Preece won the second annual Islip 300. It was the 16th career win at the track for the two-time winner on the Xfinity Series of NASCAR.
Going back to an old Riverhead set-up clearly gave Preece the best car on the track.
After winning, Preece was quick to point out how he got to victory lane. “You see all these guys out here, they busted their butt for me and this win is for them,” he said of his crew. “We came here last week and I was embarrassed, but that was on me; I tried something and it didn’t work. Tonight we threw an old setup at the car and the thing was quick right off the truck.”
John Beatty Jr. of Merrick, the runner-up, said: “Hats off to Ryan and his team. They had a great car. So did we; his was just that much better.”
John Fortin Sr. was third, Kyle Soper of Manorville fourth and Dave Brigati of Calverton fifth.
Sophomore jinx, what sophomore jinx?
MIchael Rutkoski of Mattituck, the 2017 Rookie of the Year in Crate Modifieds, equaled his win total from his freshman season in just his fifth start of 2018. He won his second race of the year, a 25-lap event. Peter Bertuccio of Bohemia was second and Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches came in third.
Defending Blunderbust champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington knows that sometimes in racing you need to be as lucky as you are good. Saturday night Pickerell claimed his 21st career win in the class by being in the right spot at the right time. Pickerell posted his first win of the season. Jack Handley Jr. of Medford and Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead were the next two finishers.
In a 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature, Brad Van Houten of Wading River seemingly had his first win of the season after having led wire to wire. However, Van Houten’s winning car was found to have unapproved tires and he was sent to last in the 24-car finishing order. That brought Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches his third win of the year from as many starts. Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches was second, with Eric Hersey of Commack third.
Don Howe of Water Mill returned to his winning ways in the Vintage Car series, winning a 15-lap feature. It was his sixth career win. Howe had to fend off hard-pressing Tony Ferrante Jr. of New Hyde Park, who took second. Jimmy Reed of Central Islip finished third.