Late Race Pass Earns Justin Brown Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified Victory

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

The NASCAR Modifieds returned to Riverhead Raceway after a mid-summer vacation Saturday, and they did not disappoint with Justin Brown of Manorville perfectly executed a late race pass on Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck to win the 50-lap feature event. The win was made especially sweeter for Brown who had recently lost his ride on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Armed with a brand-new car, Michael Rutkoski broke to the early race lead at the throw of the green with Chris Young passing championship leader Dylan Slepian for second on the first lap. Over the first portion of the race Rutkoski would show the way while Young had the likes of Slepian Tom Rogers Jr., Justin Brown and others hot on his heels. With Young distracted behind him, Rutkoski was able to get away out front. However, on lap 33 the complexion of the race would change. Racing down the backstretch, Young and Slepian raced in tight quarters with slight contact made. That contact sent Slepian into the fourth turn gate hard, Dylan was okay, but his car done for the night. Young pitted for repairs.

When the race resumed Rutkoski held serve out front with Justin Brown now second. Over the final segment of the race Brown was able to stay right on Rutkoski but never made a challenge. Then with five laps to go, Brown seemed to find another gear now pressuring Rutkoski as the laps waned. As the tandem raced into the third and fourth corner on lap 47 Brown ducked under Rutkoski who was hoping momentum on the outside would keep him out front. By the time the lead tandem received the two to go signal Justin Brown had a slight advantage over Rutkoski, who now found himself the challenger. 

As the checker was waving it would be Justin Brown in the Motorcycle Mike Attorney at Law Chevy scoring the gratifying victory, the second of his career. “Can’t thank my family team enough, a lot of hard work to get here”, Brown offered post-race. Brown added, “I lost my ride with the 46 WMT team, basically because they said I couldn’t drive, think I showed everyone I can drive tonight.”

Michael Rutkoski, close to pocketing his second career win had to settle for runner-up money in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac entry, while John Beatty of Merrick after a spirited battle with JR Bertuccio of Centereach for third claimed the final podium spot in the MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy. Bertuccio was fourth with Matt Brode of East Islip fifth. 

When Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead starts from the front row of a Late Model event, odds are pretty good he’ll be holding a trophy at the end of 25-laps. That was exactly the case Saturday, as Jeremy nailed down his third win of 2023, the 28th of his career. Joined by former two-time champion Kevin Metzger in the front row, McDermott got the advantage at the start with Metzger settling into second. During a double file restart on lap 10 Metzger lost his grip on second when Artie Pedersen III was able to slip under for position. As has been the 2023 Late Model story line McDermott and Pedersen have run first & second to each other more often than not this season. This time it was the Eastport Feeds Chevy of Jeremy McDermott coming out on top. Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches was runner-up with the NY Bernedooles racer while Brian Doyle of Medford was third. Doyle, in the East Coast Eddie’s Auto Repair racer claimed third after starting further back in the field.

A few weeks back veteran Terry Stiles of Rocky Point was interviewed after finishing third in the Eagle Chevrolet Crate Modified feature, he took time to thank his sponsors noting, “I’m trying to get over there (victory lane), but I want to fit everyone in in case I don’t”. Well Saturday after a hard-fought 25-lap win Stiles was “over there” in victory lane for the first time in 2023. Right from the drop of the green flag the racing up front was intense as Stiles and Vinny Delaney raced side by side for the race lead, not just for a few, five or ten laps, but the first 15 circuits. Stiles led the first two laps, Delaney two laps before Stiles edged his way back out front on lap 5, Delaney would lead again on lap 13, all the while the duo racing nerf bar to nerf bar.  Over the final 10-lap segment of the race Terry Stiles in the Allison Transmissions/Van Buren Repair Chevy enjoyed sole possession of the lead, a lead he’d enjoy to his third career triumph. Defending champion Owen Grennan of Glen Cove chased Stiles late in the race but settled for second in the Dillner Precast Chevy, Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead competed the top three in third with the Rosemar Industries entry. Delaney got caught on the outside late and finished 6th.

Going into the 15-lap Figure Eight event everyone knew emotions would be high, it was after all the first race without “TK” Tommy Kraft watching from his spot on the fourth turn wall. But as Kraft himself would have liked to have been a part of, a clean and competitive race was contested with minimal mishaps. When the dust settled Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches scored his second win of 2023 in the Top Notch Performance Camaro. Allan, along with older brother Artie were able to break to the top two spots when the race started and that is where the remained the entire event. Artie Pedersen III in the CheckerWon Manufacturing Mustang was followed by third place finisher Ken Hyde Jr. of Medford in the Mike Smith backed Chevy.

Making just his second Super Pro Truck start of the season, 2022 champion Sean Glennon of Northport nailed down his 8th career win in a 20-lap affair. The Super Pro Trucks again provided a non-stop affair with Glennon taking full advantage of his pole starting berth. “The Bullet” Ethan Brown who started alongside Glennon tried to ride the outside lane over the first few laps hoping to grab some momentum and power out front. However, Glennon was able to gain a slight advantage and Brown tucked in behind. With the laps winding down, defending SPT champion Jack Handley closed in on Brown for second and was able to make a pass for the spot as the field took the white flag. At the finish it was Sean Glennon in the R&R Brothers Electric machine the winner with Jack Handley Jr. of Medford runner-up in the 84 Lumber Toyota. Ethan Brown of Floral Park, knocking on the door of his first career win was third in the NYPD Bravest Football Chevy.

Former two-time INEX Legend Face Car champion Kevin Nowak of Medford, winner on opening night of the year returned Saturday winning a 30-lap contest, second leg of the 2023 Miller Lite Triple Crown Series. Jason Castaldo, a multi-time winner in 2022 still seeking his first of this season broke out front at the throw of the green. Nowak chased for the first two cycles before he was passed by “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz. After chasing Castaldo for ten laps Davidowitz had his car break loose for just a second in turn two on lap 11 allowing Nowak to reclaim the spot. Once back in the challenger seat Nowak was not going to let this opportunity slip through his fingers. Exiting the fourth turn on lap 18 Nowak put the JTEC Electric mount our front. Castaldo chased the new leader for two laps before Riely O’Keefe came to second, but his stay was short-lived as a resurgent Davidowitz raced his was back to second on lap 26. All the jockeying for second was just fine with Kevin Nowak as it allowed him to capture his 21st career win, second all-time to Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches who was second in the Freddie & Megan Kraft backed racer. Nick Morabito of Miller Place ran a stellar race to complete the podium with his Benimax Trucking mount. 

For a while, Jarrett Campbell of Yaphank appeared to have won his third Truck Enduro in a row with a dominating run to the checker flag. Perhaps it was too dominating. In post race tech Campbell’s truck was found with an unapproved Torque Converter and was stripped of the win. That moved Phil LaManna of Smithtown into victory lane with his EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy S-10, Don Nelson Jr, of Rocky Point was second in the Jefferson Animal Hospital Chevy. Defending champion Woot Lawrence of Southampton was third in the Gregor Well Drilling truck. 

NASCAR Modifeds: 1. Justin Brown 2. Michael Rutkoski 3. John Beatty Jr. 4. JR Bertuccio 5. Matt Brode 6. Jack Handley Jr. 7. Chris Rogers 8. Tom Rogers Jr. 9. Allan Pedersen 10. Owen Grennan 11. Chris Young 12. Mark Stewart 13. Dylan Slepian DNS- Dave Brigati 

Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Artie Pedersen III 3. Brian Doyle 4. Chris McGuire 5. Ray Minieri 6. Jess St. Clair 7. Matt McGrath 8. Kevin Metzger 9. Gerard Giordano 10. Ed Cheslak 11. Jenn Krpata 12. Brandon Turbush 13. Keith Rotzi

Crate Modifieds: 1. Terry Stiles 2. Owen Grennan 3. Kyle Ellwood 4. AJ DeSantis 5. Michael Berner 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Rich Gerbe 8. Mike Albasini 9. Chase Grennan 10. Sean Glennon 11. Michael Rutkoski 12. Dennis Krupski 13. Eric Hersey 14. Charles Macwhinnie 15. Eddie Schutze 16. Max Handley 17. Tom Sekulski 

Figure Eights: 1. Allan Pedersen 2. Artie Pedersen III 3. Ken Hyde Jr. 4. Cody Triola 5. Gary Fritz Jr. 6. Scott Pedersen 7. Joe Warren Jr. 8. Bryan Quilliam 9. Ryan Warren 10. Bob Dalke 11. Tom Ferrara 12. Kim Hyde 13. Brian Ayala 

Super Pro Trucks: 1. Sean Glennon 2. Jack Handley Jr. 3. Ethan Brown 4. Lou Maestri 5. Matt Triola 6. Frank Dumicich Jr. 7. Joe Cerabino 8. Erin Solomito 9. Liam Patrick 10. Rob Corwin

Legend Race Cars: 1. Kevin Nowak 2. Richie Davidowitz 3. Nick Morabito 4. Timmy Solomito 5. Joey Braun 6. Eric Hersey 7. Joe Warren Jr. 8. Jim Sylvester 9. Jason Castaldo 10. Pat Moore 11. Alex Halinar 12. Colin Volpe 13. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 14. Michael Metcalf 15. Riely O’Keefe 16. Chase Van Houten 17. Tanner VanDoren 18. Mike Benton 19. Rodney Dowless Jr. 20. Ryan Lutz 21. Chris Sinatro 22. Brad Van Houten 23. Charkes Hodge 24. Mike Van Houten Jr. 25. Robert Henninger 26. Jayden Glennerster

Truck Enduro: 1. Phil LaManna 2. Don Nelson Jr. 3. Woot Lawrence 4. Bobby Pease Sr. 5. Bobby Pease Jr. 6. Mariah Lawrence 7. William Kennedy 8. Brandon LaManna 9. Gary Voight 10. Emily Hubbard 11. Eric Germuth 12. Steve Reisert 13. Chloe Phillips 14. Danielle Creegan 15. Whitney Williams 16. Hallie Campo 17. John Schultz 18. Justin McGrady 19. Kerry Botts


  1. If you’re a modified fan you see all the differences in the cars under the paint because you know enough to consider each team is unique. However to the casual fan the cars can be tedious. They’re all the same, no personality once you get past the initial ooh and ahh of the modified template.
    In the 50’s the cars were unwieldy and unsafe. In the 60’s top heavy and still unsophisticated. In the 1970’s that was the era the cars started to really evolve. Coupes very much on the way out but still the Pinto, Vega and Gremlin bodies provided some visual differentiation. You know nothing about racing but MeeMaw owns a Gremlin so you instantly root for the Gremlin. The cars starting to get safer if not completely safe and the components more sophisticated. What we saw was still the image of a stripped down car, raw power, certainly not sleek with most everything in front of the driver exposed with a minimalist hood made of sheet metal with a couple bends.
    Fast forward to now except for the paint scheme it’s all the same. Even the engines are wrapped up tightly in perfectly molded off the shelf plastic with only the headers, air cleaner and front bars exposed. Not a hint of the bristling, visual, raw power the cars used to emote.
    Graphics as well on cars got over done. Wraps make any scheme cost effective. They got so busy and complicated they too end up with zero personality and instant visual recognition. Even basics like the numbers they get so cleaver with integrating them in the graphics they’re unrecognizable form a distance. Sure the scheme looks outstanding up close but racing isn’t a car show. You shouldn’t have to squint to find you car on the back stretch.
    Throw back events in other sports are popular perhaps some cleaver promoter could consider a throw back event or events. Take all the plastic crap off the front. Two bends in a piece of sheet metal or aluminum in the brake and pop it on the shorter the better. Don’t hide the engine showcase it. Protect the radiator with some screen from Home Depot and expose as much as you can in the front. The cruder the better.
    SK Lights, Sportsman Modifieds whatever you want to call the starter modifieds would have been the perfect opportunity to try it. All that molded junk must cost a pretty penny when you wreck to replace. Get rid of it.
    No you’re not going to be doing that at the NHMS but for shorter tracks and especially under a third mile you’re losing neither safety nor expense. Riverhead would be the perfect place to try it since they highlight traditions so much as the track.
    I know you can’t go back and this can’t happen. But the sport has refined, graphics and sleeked it’s way into a mass of noisy clones. It’s boringly repetitive and is part of the reason racing struggles to attract new fans in my view.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing