Justin Brown Prevails At Riverhead Raceway For Second Modified Win Of 2023 Season

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

Justin Brown (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

When one of the most hotly contested NASCAR Modified events at Riverhead Raceway concluded Saturday night, Justin Brown of Manorville, who moved to the lead with seven laps left in the 50-lap event took home the victory in the Optimum Presents a Salute to First Responders feature event. Brown came out on top of a torrid three car tussle to claim his second win of 2023, third of his career.

Michael Rutkoski led the first lap at the drop of the green from the outside pole, but pole sitter JR Bertuccio moved out front on the second lap. Things got wild early as Rutkoski, still trying to crossover Bertuccio for the lead and third place Chris Young got together triggering the “big one” off turn four. Rutkoski, championship contender Dylan Slepian, Tom Rogers Jr., Roger Turbush, Owen Grennan and Chris Rogers were among those involved. After the incident was cleaned up Bertuccio remained out front with Chris Young, who escaped damage in the turn four jingle who go side by side for the race lead. Young hung his car alongside Bertuccio lap after lap in an attempt to take the lead. On lap 14 veteran Dave Brigati burst upon the scene and would be a factor for a spell.

Fast forward to lap 30 with Justin Brown throwing his helmet into the ring, passing Brigati for third and quickly loving in on Bertuccio and Young. Brown quickly went to work on Young for second as they raced inches off the rear bumper of leader Bertuccio. With 10 laps to go Young started peeking to the outside of leader Bertuccio, while Brown started looking downstairs. Racing off turn four to start the 43rd circuit, Brown was able to gain a run on Bertuccio entering the first corner, grabbing the lead and moving Bertuccio to second. Young, who lifted for a moment off turn two as to not go three wide with Brown and Bertuccio was now in the clutches of Roger Turbush in a battle for third. That battle would draw the final caution as the two touched off turn four on lap 45, Young bicycled the front stretch fence, but pitted and was able to return, Turbush was done for the night. 

A five-lap shootout was in the offering and when the green reappeared Justin Brown was able to keep his Kennedy Long Island Realty Chevy out front over the remaining laps of the race claiming his second victory in a month. “What a race” proclaimed Brown post race, “I got into JR a bit there going into one, didn’t mean to, heck we were at the casino during the week, but his car was going away, and Chris was hanging his on the outside, so I had to go”. 

“The Real Deal” Mark Stewart of Riverhead turned in a career best runner-up finish working his way to second during the final restart in the Good JuJu’s BBQ & Seafood Shack Chevy while early leader JR Bertuccio of Centereach, a championship contender settled for third in the Gershow Recycling entry. Championship leader John Beatty Jr of Merrick was fourth while Jack Handley Jr. of Medford was fifth.

The story of the 2023 Late Model season has been the Jeremy & Artie show with Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches claiming his third win of the season over four-time winner Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead. Only Chris McGuire of Miller Place has been able to break into the winner’s circle in the eight races contested. It would be McGuire leading early in the 25-lap main event Saturday chased over the first five circuits by Brandon Turbush. One week removed from mechanical woes, Pedersen made his way under Turbush for second entering the third turn on lap 5, Artie quickly zeroed in on leader McGuire and ducked under for the race lead exiting the fourth turn to start lap 8. On lap 10 Turbush came back to life moving by McGuire for second. On lap 21 a late race yellow waved for a minor spin and on the ensuing restart Jeremy McDermott was able to move by Turbush for second. Left with just three laps to work would prove not enough for McDermott as Artie Pedersen III brought the NY Bernedoodles Chevy home for the win. Jeremy McDermott was second in the Eastport Feed machine while Brandon Turbush of Manorville was third in the Lolly’s Hut entry.

The third and final leg of the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series was on tap for the Eagle Chevrolet Crate Modifieds and when the 40-lap events was in the record books Chase Grennan of Glen Cove nailed down his fourth win of 2023 and the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series championship. The race boiled down to a three-car, race long duel between Chase, brother Owen and Michael Berner. Berner led the first 6 laps of the event before Chase Grennan got by for the lead with Berner now second and Owen Grennan third. Owen, the defending champion made his way by Berner on lap 8 for second. The trio ran in tight quarters the entire distance of the race, but it would be three double file restarts that proved most interesting. For the first two restarts on lap 17 & lap 20, Owen chose to take the inside behind Chase, moving Berner to the outside. Both times Michael tried to break up the brothers but fell to third. Then the third and final caution waved on lap 38 for a minor spin, this time Owen decided to go to the outside for the green, white checker finish. Berner was licking his chops at the chance to have the inside of row two and when the race resumed with good reason. Chase Grennan steering the Black Forest Auto Chevy collected his 6th career win. Michael Berner of Patchogue was able to wrestle second away on that final restart in his Pro Diesel Chevy, while Owen Grennan had to be content with third in the Eastport Feeds Chevy.

A few INEX Legend Race Cars events ago, “Blankets” Joey Braun of Manorville posted his 13th career win breaking a tie for 5th with Timmy Solomito of Islip on the all-time win list. Saturday night Solomito came back for a rare Legends appearance and promptly won the 20-lap feature event moving him and Braun back into a tie for 5th all-time. At the throw of the green Richie Davidowitz back in his family car broke to the early race lead with championship rival Jeff Farruggia Jr. second, but not for long. Timmy Solomito, who started third in the 860 Northeast entry of Stan & Jen Morabito moved to second down the back stretch. After chasing leader Davidowitz for a spell Solomito decided on lap 10 it was time to make his bid for the lead, which he successfully completed to the inside exiting the fourth corner. Once Solomito, a 23-time NASCAR Modified winner at Riverhead was out front he’d lead until the checker flag waved. Jeff Faruggia Jr, of Riverhead was second in his KMK Contracting machine while Joey Braun completed the podium in his Papa Carmine’s Hot Peppers racer.

Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge padded his lead on the Mini Stock all-time win list when he topped their 20-lap feature event for his 11th career victory. It was Joe’s third win of 2023. Steering his “TK” Tom Kraft tribute Cavalier, Warren started the race from the pole and led every lap of the race. Chris Olivari ran second for the first 19-laps of the tilt but a left front flat on the white flag ruined his evening. Most recent winner Paul Wojcik of Patchogue claimed second in the RFG Electrical Contracting mount while Olivari of Selden limped home third in the Middle Country Automotive racer.

In the 30-lap First Responders race many might say a “ringer” took home the win when Woot Lawrence of Southampton took the victory. However, Woot is a longtime and valued member of the North Sea Fire Department, driving their antique fire truck at many local parades during the spring and summer as an active member of the NSFD. Following Lawrence was Fred Grover, a retired NYPD Deputy Chief from Huntington with David Olivari of Coram third. 

In the National Stock Demolition Derby Championship Sean Adler of Lindenhurst in his “Ugly Mugly” car took home the title after flipping his car in the very first moments of the contest! Adler’s car did a slow roll by the first and second turn portion of the infield. After exiting the car, Sean realized it was still drivable and pleaded with the infield crew wo flip it back onto all fours. They did, and the rest is history. 

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Justin Brown 2. Mark Stewart 3. JR Bertuccio 4. John Beatty Jr. 5. Jack Handley Jr. 6. Chris Young 7. Dave Brigati 8. Timmy Solomito 9. Roger Turbush 10. Matt Brode 11. Dylan Slepian 12. Allan Pedersen 13. Michael Rutkoski 14. Tom Rogers Jr. 15. Chris Rogers 16. Owen Grennan 17. Kyle Ellwood

Late Models: 1. Artie Pedersen III 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Brandon Turbush 4. Ray Minieri 5. Chris McGuire 6. Gerard Giordano 7. Brian Doyle 8. Keith Rotzi 9. Frank Dumicich Jr. 10. Ed Cheslak 11. Jesse St. Clair 12. Jenn Krpata 13. Alysa Paprocky 14. Kevin Metzger 15. Paul Cummings 16. Shawn Patrick 

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

Legend Race Cars: 1. Timmy Solomito 2. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 3. Joey Braun 4. Riely O’Keefe 5. Richie Davidowitz 6. Jason Castaldo 7. Ryan Lutz 8. Jim Sylvester 9. Charles Hodge 10. Chris Sinatro 11. Eric Hersey 12. Mike Van Houten Jr. 13. Christopher Coleman 14. Pat Moore 15. Michael Metcalf 16. Jayden Glennerster 17. Kim Daniel 18. Nock Kocis 19. Ed Stadtlander 20. Marc Godnick 21. Rich Braun 22. Alex Johnson 23. Steve Harding 24. Billy King 25. Donald Doran DNS- Nick Morabito

Mini Stocks: 1. Joe Warren Jr. 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Chris Olivari 4. Joe Cooke Jr. 5. John Harley 6. Jake Innes 7. Eoughan Heyward 8. Jamie Curtis 9. Andrew Farnham DNS-Charles Astacio

First Responders Enduro (top five) 1. Woot Lawrence 2. Fred Grover 3. David Olivari 4. Mark Duerwald 5. Zach Tyler

National Stock Demo: Winner- Sean Adler

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