Jack Handley Jr. Holds Off Kyle Soper To Get First Modified Victory In Cecil Palm Tree 160 At Riverhead

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

It was a night to pause and reflect Saturday at Riverhead Raceway as the track remembered it’s late leader Eddie Partridge on the 1st Anniversary of his passing and also paid tribute to local first responders on the eve of 9/11. When the attention turned to the headlining Cecil Palm Tree 160 NASCAR Modified event the gloves came off and a wild race ensued. When the dust cleared Jack Handley Jr. of Medford fended off defending champion Kyle Soper of Manorville in a late race six lap dash to conclude the race earning his first career win in the process. Earlier Handley notched his 15th career Super Pro Truck win.

Chris Young of Calverton was quickest in qualifying touring the track in 11.595 with Kyle Soper second quick at 11.610 setting the front row. When the 160 took the green flag Soper was scored the leader of lap 1 but Young would have none of that moving out front on lap 2 moving Soper back to second. The top duo ran in that order until lap 39 when JB Fortin, who marched his way from an 8th starting berth made his way by Soper for second but his stay behind Young was short lived as Justin Brown worked his way by Fortin on lap 42. Brown quickly reeled in Young and a heated battle for the lead developed. On lap 54 entering the third turn Brown shot the gap under Young and unfortunately contact was made with Young suffering a flat tire during the skirmish forcing him to pit under the yellow flag.

Teams were allotted a change tire for the 160 with some teams ducking in early for the extra tire while others waited. When the race resumed Kyle Soper, who was able to duck under the Young/Brown tussle for the lead showed the way with Brown once again second suffering no ill effects in the skirmish. However JB Fortin was back in the mix and after one lap of green flag racing he passed Brown for second. Soper would lead Fortin until caution waved on lap 80 for another incident. Fortin during the yellow decided it was time to get his change tire on the right rear. That turn of events moved John Beatty to second behind Soper with neither driver taking their change tire at this point. On lap 96 Soper, very uncharacteristically bobbled off turn four  allowing both Beatty and Fortin to get by for first and second. After chasing Beatty for nine laps Fortin, who was faster with his new right rear got by Beatty for the lead on lap 106.

On lap 128 yet another yellow flag waved and it was during this caution period that Beatty running second and Soper running third ducked into the hot pit for their new right rear tire. When the race resumed Fortin remained the race leader with Justin Bonsignore driving a team car to Dylan Slepian now second. On lap 132 Slepian, sporting bent sheet metal from an earlier jingle moved by teammate Bonsignore on lap 133 but Justin roared right back a lap later. With the laps starting to wind down Jack Handely Jr. who started the race 12th, survived a wild spin in turn three and pitted for his change tire moved into second passing Bonsignore on lap 140. On lap 143 a single car spin saw yet another yellow wave setting up a late race double file restart. 

When the race resumed Fortin moved up the hill in turn four to start the 144th lap and in doing so opened up the inside lane with Handley gladly shooting under for the race lead. Fortin now had Kyle Soper, new right rear and all on his heels with Soper getting by for second on lap 147. Lap after lap Soper closed the gap on leader Handley having the fresher right rear tire but there was still a gap between the two. The last thing Handley wanted to see was another yellow which unfortunately for him waved on lap 154 for a single car spin. That turn of events set-up a six lap dash for the cash and oh what a six laps were to follow. When the green waved for the final time Soper, a 28-time winner at the track was side by side with Handely who was seeking his first ever win. On the final lap the duo were side by side going through three and four and were side by side coming to the checker flag with Jack Handley Jr. by 0.056, or by a quarter of a car scoring the victory in the East End Excavating Chevy.

“I can’t believe it” Handley exulted after receiving the Cecil Palm Tree 160 trophy from Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz. “I am in such shock I can’t event tell you what happened in the race right now” Handley quipped. “I can’t say enough about my car owner Joe Densieski and Hydro Action, he gives us what we need to run up front. I also have to stop and thank my first car owner Joe Ambrose, he gave me my first shot and still checks in on us” the happy winner noted. 

Kyle Soper threw the kitchen sink at Handey but settled for runner-up money in the Eastport Feeds Chevy, while John Beatty Jr. of Merrick made a late race pass for third place money in the MSM Elite Motorsports entry. JB Fortin of Holtsville was fourth and Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills fifth.

For the second time this season defending Figure Eight champion Scott Pedersen of Shirley won the 15-lap feature event. Bryan Quilliam broke to the early lead with Cody Triola in tow. Triola moved to the race lead on lap 3 with Scott Pedersen who started 6th coming to second. Triola would set the pace until the 5th lap when Scott Pedersen moved the Land, Air & Water Environmental Chevy to the lead. Once out front in the Benny Vecchio owned machine Scott Pedersen never looked back scoring the win and making up some ground in the chase for the 2022 championship with two race remaining. Cody Triola of Bay Shore was runner-up in the North Fork Welding Supply Firebird while championship leader Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge third in the Island Thrift Stores Chevy.

In the 20-lap Super Pro Truck event Jack Handley Jr. notched his third win of the season after executing a last lap pass for the win. Joe Cerabino led the first circuit before Matt Triola moved out front on lap 2. Lou Maestri who started 4th moved to second behind Triola on lap 3 and set sail in search of his 38th career win and second in a row. Triola refused to yield the lead at first but just after the halfway mark Maestri ducked under Triola exiting the fourth turn and was the new leader to start the 11th lap. Meanwhile Jack Handley Jr., who started 10th was on the move making his way to second on lap 14. Once to second Handley quickly made his way to Maestri and the race was on. Just after taking the white flag the two trucks went side by side down the backstretch and through the third and fourth corner. Coming to the line Handley was bale to gain the advantage in the Blackhawk Mechanical Chevy taking the win by 0.241. Lou Maestri of Deer Park was runner-up in the Monetary Recovery Company Chevy with Matt Triola of Bay Shore third in the Cesspool Pros entry.

Joe Cooke Jr. of Shirley scored his first Mini Stock triumph of 2022 when he topped their 20-lap feature event. Chris Olivari broke to the early race lead chased by Cooke. Olivari was seeking his second win of the season but Cooke had other plans passing Chris to the inside exiting the fourth turn to start the 6th lap. Once out front Cooke soon saw Andrew Farnham move to second on lap 7 setting his sights on the lead. However gremlins stuck Farnham while chasing Cooke on lap 14 as he suddenly pulled to the infield seemingly out of power. That moved defending champion Paul Wojcik to second but with just five laps to go Joe Cooke Jr. was in position to score the win in his Island Technology Honda. Paul Wojcik of Patchogue was second in the RFG Electrical Contracting machine with early leader Chris Olivari of Coram third in his sponsor wanted mount.

Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead drove the Eddie & Connie Partridge owned Wilsberg Racing #5 Cavalier to victory in the 15-lap Eddie Partridge Vintage All Star finale for 2022. Tom Pickerell, fresh off a Vintage car win at the Waterford Speedbowl took the lead at the throw of the green with mark Miller in pursuit. On lap 3 Tony Ferrante Jr., a two time winner this year moved to second but the car on the march was the Wilsberg #5 with Kyle Ellwood at the keyboards. On lap 11 in one clean sweep Ellwood passed both Ferrante and Pickerell for the lead with an outside pass on lap 10. Over the final five cycles Kyle Ellwood showed the way for the win and was joined in the winners circle by Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz. Tony Ferrante Jr. of New Hyde Park was second with Don Howe of Water Mill third.
In the annual First Responders 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go event U.S Air Force veteran Jeremy Rand of North Sea dominated the action lead all 30-laps winning handily in his Hyundai. Zach Tyler of Cutchogue was second and Pat Collins Jr. of Southampton third.

Cecil Palm Tree 160: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Kyle Soper 3. John Beatty Jr. 4. JB Fortin 5. Dylan Slepian 6. Justin Bonsignore 7. Artie Pedersen III 8. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 9. Matt Brode 10. Dillon Steuer 11. Jeff Goodale 12. Chris Turbush 13. Dave Brigati 14. Dave Sapienza 15. Chris Young 16. Kyle Ellwood 17. Roger Turbush 18. Jason Agugliaro 19. Justin Brown 20. Ken Heagy 21. Michael Rutkoski 22. Chris Rogers

Figure Eights: 1. Scott Pedersen 2. Cody Triola 3. Joe Warren Jr. 4. Ryan Warren 5. Allan Pedersen 6. Bryan Quilliam 7. Kim Hyde 8. Paulo Miguel 9. Gary Fritz Jr. 10. Brandon Turbush 11. Vinny Delaney

Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Lou Maestri 3. Matt Triola 4. Mark Stewart 5. Sean Glennon 6. Joe Cerabino 7. Mike Albasini 8. Frank Dumicich Sr. 9. Pat Brown 10. Liam Patrick DNS- Rob Corwin
Mini Stocks: 1. Joe Cooke Jr. 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Chris Olivari 4. Jesse St. Clair 5. CJ Zukowski 6. Ryan T Warren 7. Scott Phillips 8. Andrew Farnham 9. Charles Astacio 10. Nick Johnson 11. Justin Squires

Eddie Partridge Vintage All Stars: 1. Kyle Ellwood 2. Tony Ferrante Jr. 3. Don Howe 4. Tom Pickerell 5. Mike Siraco 6. Boots Jasinsky 7. Mark Stewart 8. Jimmy Reed 9. Dan Dombal 10. Mark Miller

First Responders race: 1. Jeremy Rand 2. Zach Tyler 3. Pat Collins Jr. 4. Brandon Esposito 5. Fred Grover 6. Steve Elliston 7. Steve Phillips Sr. 8. Mike Mujsce III 9. Cutter Gera 10. David Olivari 11. Kyle Wright 12. John Lennon 13. James Padalato 14. Ray Adams 15. Jesse St. Clair 16. John Zoccali 17. Michael Sheridan 18. Alex Zeruto 19. Mark Raynor 


  1. Can Riverhead do remembrance or what? Seemed over the top but maybe that’s what plays in Long Island.
    After heats and qualifying the show starts with the parading of first responder vehicles. Then a lot of remembrance of Cecil Palm Tree, aka Eddie Partridge. Remembrance of those that sacrificed and died in the 9/11 attacks then more parading of vehicles this time including vintage military vehicles. A lot of remembrance, acapella national anthem and Amazing Grace was nice then the vintage mods so roughly an hour of non competitive stuff before a sparse crowd. Mashing up Partridge and 9/11 seemed over the top. Then again there seems to be an undercurrent of anxiety that if they don’t constantly mention Partridge and show gratitude for the continuance of racing at the track, wife and partner Connie may somehow pull the plug. Now onto the NWMT Eddie Partridge 256 for yet another round of remembrance.
    Oh man what a great tour mod feature. Over twenty cars with Sapienza and J. Bonsignor in attendance. Sapienza really should consider returning to Riverhead as his focus. Instead of traveling all over the east coast to have bad runs be a Riverhead regular where he’s very competitive. Bonsignor was irrelevant for most of the race not even getting a mention then makes a run at the end. That was Slepian’s car wasn’t it? The one Mike Christopher also drove to a 6th place finish after being irrelevant for most of the race.
    Handley wins. Yet another first time winner this year and out dueling Soper of all people at the end. Man those Riverhead regulars are just loaded with talent. Even the guys we know as the stars down there don’t always dominate.
    School bus demo, enduro’s, first responder/vintage military parade and even acapella. Nice work with the diversity always mixing things up. Riverhead is never humdrum.

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