Four years is a long time, so John Baker decided it was about time.
The Brookhaven driver garnered his first victory since September of 2017 (and third of his career) Saturday night when he finished first in a 50-lap NASCAR Modifieds race at Riverhead Raceway.
Since that win in 2017, Baker has been plagued by flat tires, breakdowns, crashes and just plain falling short of victory, leaving he and his father, former racer Daryl Baker, scratching their heads.
After exiting his Chevy a relieved Baker was quick to salute those who stuck with him throughout, “my dad, this is all him, his money, his blood and sweat, be lost without him, and of course my mom, my girlfriend Arianna, Geno Orlando and all who spend copious amounts of time with this car. Baker noted “these races aren’t easy to win and not have won in so long makes it so very sweet.”
Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck crossed the finish line second. Kyle Soper of Manorville made a late-race charge for third. Chris Young and Dave Brigati, both of Calverton, were fourth and fifth.
A 25-lap Crate Modified race was filled with last-lap dramatics and controversy. When the dust settled, Owen Grennan of Glen Cove earned his first win of 2021 and eighth of his career, tying him for third on the all-time win list with Justin Brown. Championship leader Sean Glennon of Northport was second and defending champion Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches third.
The inside lane was the place to be during a 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature event that saw Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach score his first win of 2021 and fifth of his career. Jack Handley Jr. of Medford was second and Lou Maestri of Deer Park placed third.
Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville is the hottest driver in the Legend Race Car ranks at Riverhead Raceway, having won his third race from five starts. In taking the 30-lapper for his eighth career win, Fitzgerald tied Jim Sylvester for seventh on the all-time win list. George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue was second, with Eric Hersey of Ronkonkoma third.
The new Bandolero class was split into two 15-lap races, with Gianni Esposito of Dacula, Ga., winning the first one and Darren Krantz Jr. of Huntington taking the other one.
The Mini Stocks competed in the first leg of its Triple Crown Series, a 30-lap race won by defending champion C.J. Zukowski of Riverhead.