A third of the way through the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77, if anyone had told former three-time NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville he would be sitting in victory lane at the conclusion of the race, he probably would have questioned that person’s sanity.
However, Fortin rebounded from two trips to the pits for flat tires Saturday to win his second straight race of the 2018 season and 33rd of his career. That ties him with the late Chris Young for fourth on the all-time Riverhead Raceway win list.
In the 77-lapper on a hot and humid night, the result was a contact-filled race resulting in numerous caution flags waving and several drivers sent to the rear of the field for contact. Several other drivers had to pit for various repairs, including Fortin for his two flats early on.
But there was no stopping Fortin, who also won the most recent NASCAR Modified race 17 days prior.
As to his early-race struggles and his unlikely trip to victory lane, Fortin was forthright. “We shouldn’t have won this race tonight,” he said. “The rear is barely in the car after contact; we had two flats but my guys just kept digging and here we are.”
Fortin followed by his son, John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville, who took second place.
“Dad and I have always wanted to finish one-two,” Fortin Jr. said. “Tonight we got the job done. It wasn’t pretty but we did it.”
Roger Turbush of Riverhead was third and admitted “this truly feels like a win.”
Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead faded to fourth and Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass., was fifth after running a majority of the race in or just outside the top three.
In other races:
Chris Turbush of Wading River topped the field in a 25-lap Late Model feature event for his first win of 2018 and the ninth of his career in the class. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was second. Ken Matlach of New Hyde Park survived late-race contact to finish third.
There is another rising star in the Crate Modifieds. His name is Owen Grennan of Glen Cove.
Grennan won his second 25-lap race of the year in just his seventh start. Chris Rogers of Patchogue had a stellar outing with a runner-up tally while another young driver, Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches, was third.
Defending Super Pro Truck champion Dave Brigati of Calverton won a 20-lap race. The triumph was the 14th of his career in the class. Multiple winner Mark Stewart of Riverhead made his way to second place. Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach had another podium finish with a third-place effort.
For the second time this year, veteran Jim Sylvester of Massapequa won a 20-lap Legend Race Car feature and in the process took over the championship lead. Brad Van Houten of Wading River, who started 12th, made his way past George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue over the final three laps for second. Tomko was third.
Don Howe of Water Mill won his second Vintage Car 15-lap feature of the season. Jim Kelly and Timmy Solomito were the next two finishers.
Andrew Farnham of Baldwin dominated a 20-lap Mini Stock race to score his first career win in the class. Paul Wojcik of Centereach was second, with Steve Fuller of Manorville third.
Gene Burbol of Brookhaven won a 40-lap Truck Enduro. The next two finishers were Matt Triola of Bay Shore and defending champion Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point.