Timmy Solomito Dominates Cecil Palm Tree 66 At Riverhead; John Beatty Jr. Earns First Modified Title

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

Timmy Solomito (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

Despite mother nature’s best efforts to halt Championship Night at Riverhead Raceway, track owners Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz finally found success Sunday afternoon with six track champions earning 2023 titles. The Cecil Palm Tree 66 NASCAR Modified event was dominated by Timmy Solomito of Islip who earned his fourth win in six weekly starts this season. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick would ride a third-place tally in the 66 to the 2023 NASCAR Modified championship, the first of his career.

Solomito bested the 17-cars that took time earlier in the day with a lap of 11.774, Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead clocked in second quick at 11.865. When the race, honoring late track owner Eddie Partridge took the green, Solomito quickly rolled his USNE Utility Service Chevy to the race lead with Rogers tucking into second. Rogers hoped to challenge Solomito for the lead but quickly found himself under attack for second from Kyle Ellwood. Ellwood ducked under Rogers for second on lap 12 and immediately went to work on trying to reel in Solomito, who had started to distance himself. A lap 40 caution for a Chris Rogers spin set-up a double file restart with just 26-curcuits left in the tilt.

When the race resumed Rogers, from the inside of the second row got under Ellwood for second on lap 41, however two laps later to start the 44th cycle Kyle moved back by for the position. However, as it would play out it mattered not who ran second as Timmy Solomito drove off to his 24th career win at the track. “With my business being so busy we had to adjust our racing this year, that’s not a bad thing” Solomito revealed in victory lane, “my goal this year was to move up the all-time win list and with my father Jerry and brother Shawn working hard at the shop we did just that”. Timmy’s 4th win of the season moved him from 19th to 15th on the win list. 

Current Crown Jewel Series championship leader Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead was runner-up in the Matlach Motorsports entry and hopes to secure the Ted Christopher Cup at the Islip 300 November 11th. Entering the Cecil Palm Tree 66 with a 16-point advantage over Dylan Slepian and 18-point bulge over JR Bertuccio, John Beatty Jr. had a game plan coming into the race. First was to have a good qualifying effort, which he did timing in 4th quick while his rivals as both qualified outside the top ten. During the 66 Beatty ran within the top five the entire distance while Slepian and Bertuccio struggled mightily and in fact pitted during caution flags.

As the checker flag waved John Beatty Jr realized the dream of a lifetime winning the 2023 NASCAR Modified title in the MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy with a third place tally. Afterwards, Beatty soft spoken by nature paused to thank those who got him to this pinnacle, “To my Dad, my family and friends watching, this one is for them” Looking back on the season John, who went without a win in route to the crown reflected, “Just can’t enough about our owner Mark Mina, the entire MSM Elite Motorsports team who work tirelessly to achieve this. We experimented with some new things this year, yeah, we didn’t win, but we sure were consistent race after race”     

When the 25-lap Late Model field assembled on track, Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead had already sewn-up his 7th career championship with car owner Rob Pelis. When the race took the green Brandon Turbush moved from the front row to the race lead, Turbush was out to avenge a race he felt as though he gave away in September. Brian Doyle tested Turbush over the first 18-laps of the contest, but a late race caution would shake things up. When the race resumed Turbush remained the race leader in his Spider Webb Racing machine with multi-time winner Artie Pedersen coming to second. Still feeling the sting of spinning in his own fuel while enjoying a huge lead last month, Brandon Turbush was not going to be denied his first win of 2023, second of his career. Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches was runner-up in the NY Bernedoodles Chevy while 2023 champion Jeremy McDermott completed the podium in the Eastport Feeds machine.

Just eight points sat between the Grennan brothers of Glen Cove for the 2023 Eagle Chevrolet Crate Modified championship. Older brother and defending champion Oen had the advantage over his 16-year-old sibling Chase to start the 25-lap feature. Max Handley and Kyle Ellwood made up the front row for the start and at the throw of the green Handley dipped his left side wheel into some oil dry that sat under the line in turn four causing him to spin his wheels allowing Ellwood to break to the lead. Once out front there was no stopping Kyle and the Kelco Construction team for pocketing their fourth win of the 2023 campaign. Max Handley of Medford had another shot at Ellwood on a restart but wasn’t able to get the measure of the eventual winner was second over the line in the Amish Electric entry. As to the championship tussle, early on Chase was doing what he needed but was the victim of a spin cause by contact from behind in essence ending his title dreams. That was the bad news, the god news was brother Owen in the Dillner Precast Chevy was third at the finish securing the 2023 championship.

Drama arose in fight for the 2023 Blunderbust championship during the qualifying heat races. In his heat, Jim Laird Jr, of Rocky Point who held an 8-point lead over Brandon Hubbard of Mastic Beach coming to competition had his car suddenly shut off exiting the second turn. Further review revealed a broken timing chain. What was Laird to do? Enter the Handley family and Joe Densieski who offered Laird their car for the feature. Meanwhile Hubbard, who came to Sunday with a very simple game plan, just win and let the points fall where they might all of a sudden held an advantage. When the 20-lap finale started “Hub Cap” Brandon Hubbard, sticking to his team’s game plan took the lead over defending champion Cody Triola. With a caution free race run off, Laird was unable to gain the positions he needed to at least tie Hubbard in points, knowing he held the tiebreaker in wins. With the checker flag waving in the breeze Brandon Hubbard, who came through the track Enduro ranks and is going Super Pro Truck Racing in 2024, scored his second win of 2023 lifting him to the track championship in the United Exhaust Shop racer.  Cody Triola of Bay Shore was second in the C&L Aluminum & Glass entry while Gary Caldwell of Sound Beach enjoyed a stellar run for third in the Flowrite Exhaust machine.   

Matt Triola of Bay Shore would prevail in the 20-lap Super Pro Truck finale earning his second win of the season. By just taking the green flag, Jack Handley Jr. of Medford wrapped up his third Super Pro Truck championship for owner Andre Vega, Jack is also a former two-time Blunderbust champ. Early on Joe Cerabino, seeking his first win of the season led Frank Dumicich Jr. for the first three laps before Matt Triola made his way by Frank for second on lap 4. After four laps of catching and sizing up Cerabino for the lead, Triola made the winning pass in the Cesspool Pros Chevy on lap 8. However, once our front things didn’t get easier for Matt as 2022 champion Sean Glennon raced his way to second at the halfway mark. Undaunted Triola hit his marks and drove his truck to victory lane, earning his crew chief John Burns Jr. the Joe DiGangi Award, $150 and a trophy from Lou & Tracy Maestri. Sean Glennon of Northport was runner-up in the Onward Publishing Chevy, while 2023 champion Jack Handley Jr. was third in the East End Builders Toyota.

“Blankets” Joey Braun of Manorville scored his 4th INEX Legend Race Car victory of the 2023 campaign topping their 20-lap main event, while Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches and Jeff Farruggia Jr. of Riverhead race for the title. Action was plentiful at the front as Davidowitz, Farruggia and Braun raced in close quarters at the front of the 26-car field. Davidowitz led he first four laps before Braun moved out front on lap 4. Right behind him, and at times alongside him Davidowitz and Farruggia diced for second, all the while trying to take the race lead.  When the dust settled Joey Braun in the Papa Carmine’s Hot Peppers mount earned his 14th career win, moving him to 5th all-time. For the second time in his career “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz in the Freddie and Megan Kraft backed racer was the INEX Legend Race Car champion, Richie last won the crown in 2019. Unfortunately for Farruggia last lap, last turn contact shuffled him out of the finish. Chase Van Houten of Wading River, who ran among the top five all race crossed the line third in the Terra Vite Vineyards machine.

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

Late Models: 1. Brandon Turbush 2. Artie Pedersen III 3. Jeremy McDermott 4. Brian Doyle 5. Richie Davidowitz 6. Gerard Giordano 7. Keith Rotzi 8. Ed Cheslak 9. Jesse St. Clair 10. Kevin Metzger 11. Jen Krpata 12. Alyssa Paprocky 13. Paul Cummings 14. Chris McGuire

Crate Modifieds: 1. Kyle Ellwood 2. Max Handley 3. Owen Grennan 4. Sean Glennon 5. Chase Grennan 6. Mike Albasini 7. Vinny Delaney 8. Joey Braun 9. Terry Stiles 10. Chevy Rommeney 11. Tom Sekulski 12. Eddie Schutze

Blunderbust: 1. Brandon Hubbard 2. Cody Triola 3. Gary Caldwell 4. Bill Wegmann JJr. 5. Bill Wegmann Sr. 6. Brad Bess 7. Jim Laird Jr. 8. Tom Sullivan 9. Emily Hubbard 10. Steven Fried DNS- Joe Densieski 

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

Legend Race Cars: 1. Joey Braun 2. Richie Davidowitz 3. Chase Van Hiouten 4. Riely O’Keefe 5. Ryan Lutz 6. Anthony Marsh 7. Kevin Nowak 8. Rodney Dowless Jr. 9. Pat Moore 10. Mike Van Houten Jr. 11. Charles Hodge 12. Chris Sinatro 13. Jayden Glennerster 14. Colin Volpe 15. Ray Stulz 16. Kim Daniell 17. Alex Johnson 18. Steve Woytysiak 19. Ed Stadtlander 20. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 21. Kendall Van Houten 22. Nick Kocis 23. Rich Braun 24. Michael Metcalf 25. Christopher Coleman 26. Marc Godnick


  1. David Fisher says

    Where were the fans? Looked like there could not have been a hundred people there. Is that typical for this time of year there?

  2. Riverhead historically hasn’t been allowed to race in october. covid was the only other time in recent history.

    This was a rained out race from 9/30 that was again rained out on Saturday and pushed to Sunday. Which again, their NASCAR stuff very rarely runs on a Sunday. It was also pretty chilly and very windy.

    About the worst possible situation to draw a crowd in. and they knew it. But they didn’t want to end the points season on 2 straight rain outs. I commend them for taking the hit for the racers.

  3. I had the same question about the fans? There wasn’t much of a crowd there and probably even smaller crowds at the last two SMART modified races in Virginia at South Boston and Motor Mile. By the way the Motor Mile race was won by the notorious criminal (at least according to many on this website forum) Sam Rameau. Yeah old helmet slinging “Dillinger” “strapped it on em” as we like to say here in the south. He even put a whuppin on Matt Hirschman and Burt Myers; the latter who has been in a few fights at race tracks (some even the helmet slinging kind I suppose). I watched the replay three times and I didn’t see ole Sam put the “Bessette Stuka” maneuver on either of the aforementioned. Anyway Sam is “banded” now , much to the giddy of many.
    The support divisions at the Virginia tracks were all single digit car counts or maybe 11 cars in a division somewhere , but with that low participation the promoter could not make up for the anemic grandstands on the back gate. One last thing on the Virginia car counts that I can’t figure out yet is at South Boston yesterday the same Crate Modified group that had 50 cars two weeks ago at N Wilkesboro had a whopping 8 cars?? Believe it or not they wrecked two of them pretty bad and sent one driver to the hospital “out of an abundance of caution”. In plain English that statement means the promoter had already lost his ass and was wanting to try and get ahead of social media mob clamoring for one thing or another like you know maybe a lawsuit that could put him and the track out of their misery.
    Maybe Riverhead did make it up at the back gate yesterday. I hope so. They did have way more race cars than the Virginia tracks especially when you consider what seemed like a million Legends.

  4. Riverhead was feast of famine all season. Enduro’s, demo’s and fireworks they’d get great crowds. For regular race shows including the NWMT they struggled. Sunday was for the teams. They work their butts off all year contributing to the shows and needed to have they finale.
    All the credit in the world to Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz. They put out a very diverse and aggressive schedule including three NWMT races and stuck to it. SMS only serves prime rib, a baked potato and asparagus all season long that’s some of the best around. Riverhead’s your local diner with a really big menu and changes their specials every week you never get bored. Nothing better then the meat loaf, mashed potatoes, gravy and canned peas you can get at your local diner.
    Wasn’t the entire 2023 race season a matter of feast or famine? A lot of sketchy car counts and crowds but a lot of overflow paddocks and great crowds as well. Wasn’t it about the event, the purse, the promotion and timing?
    Does streaming count too? The previous comment throwing darts at events on the East coast possible in part because of access to streaming. A really good fan using unprecedented access to take pot shots at the sport he loves. Both ironic and cynical don’t you think? Looks like a lot more commercials are playing does that bode well for the future?
    40 cars scheduled for the Speedbowl this weekend. The poor Speedbowl faithful, roaming around the racing wilderness thirsting for an event that can get them a little attention and respect will surely make a point to attend. The Speedbowl and Haunted Hundred are a promoter’s dream don’t you think? Perhaps “Creepy Bruce’s Haunted Hundred” in 2024.
    Last January Ben Dodge made the observation that the schedule for tour modifieds was too crowded or words to that affect. So what’s the verdict now that we’re nearing the finish line? Was the number of events self destructive or did they survive nicely encouraging the same level of events for 2024?

  5. Flo Racing is keeping fans away for sure- not sure if it helps or hurts the track s bottom line.

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