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Riverhead Raceway: Long shot Fortin takes his shot, wins Islip 300

If a gambling site was to list the odds for the fifth annual Islip 300 at Riverhead Raceway, J.B. Fortin’s name would not have been among the favorites to win.

Fortin bet on himself during a late restart Sunday, making an impressive move to wrestle the lead away from Ryan Preece and survive two more restarts for an upset victory. The race was run one day later than scheduled due to severe weather Saturday that included a tornado to the southwest of the track.

After the field was reset, Fortin led the field with just a handful of laps remaining. Kyle Bonsignore and Patrick Emerling both attempted to close in on Fortin, but over the closing laps the second-generation driver was able to keep his two nearest rivals at arms length. Fortin pulled off the biggest of his three career Riverhead Raceway wins to date.

“I knew we could do this, thanks to my guys led by Kenny Lechner Sr.,” Fortin said in the winners circle. “They gave me a car I could run the inside with. When I got to Ryan for the lead I knew I would have to make him uncomfortable.”

Not only did Fortin win the race, but he also clinched the Crown Jewel Series title and was presented with the Ted Christopher Cup. And then he took the opportunity to make an announcement: “Happy to let everyone know my wife Erin and I are going to have our first child, been pretty exciting.”

Bonsignore of Mooresville, N.C., was second and happy to finish the race. He said the “first 50 laps or so were pretty rough out there. My front bumper is junk.”

Emerling of Orchard Park, who was third, said “we were not that good early, but things fell our way we’ll take our third.”

Preece pf Berlin, Ct., was fourth and Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown came in fifth.

Earlier, in a 50-lap Crate Modified race, Owen Grennan of Glen Cove earned his 10th career victory, moving him just one behind all-time win leader Dave Brigati of Calverton. Michael Berner of Patchogue was second and Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead third.

Cam Bolin of Sharon, S.C., had never laid eyes on Riverhead Raceway before Sunday. By the time he left, he was holding a winners, having won a 40-lap Legend Race Car event. Joey Braun of Manorville was second and Anthony Marsh of Riverhead took third.