John Beatty Jr. Tops JR Bertuccio In NASCAR Modified Showdown At Riverhead

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

It may have been just the third 50-lap Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series NASCAR Modified event of 2024 Saturday at Riverhead Raceway, but John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and JR Bertuccio of Centereach were in mid-season form waging a war for the victory. When the dust settled defending champion John Beatty, who went winless during his championship run last year scored his first win since June 4th, 2022, the 11th of his career.

Tom Rogers Jr. started the race from the pole breaking out front at the start with Owen Grennan in tow. JR Bertuccio passed Grennan for second on lap 2, quickly moving in on Rogers for the lead. Both Rogers & Bertuccio are “take no prisoners” style drivers with the challenger all over the race leader. On lap 5 Kyle Ellwood drew the first caution of 2024 with a spin off turn four. On the restart Rogers and Bertuccio held serve up front with Chris Young charging his way to third on during the restart. The lead trio ran under a blanket but on lap 9 things got too close as Rogers spun from the lead, Young was penalized to the rear of the field for the restart for his role. 

Suddenly Bertuccio, a 29-time winner at Riverhead was the race leader with John Beatty Jr. second. When the race resumed to start the 10th lap, things were pretty quiet up front for the following 20-laps, but it would be with 20-lap remaining were the heat was turned up, way up. Over the first two races of the year, Beatty has had a good long run car, such was the case Saturday as he was all over Bertuccio with the laps winding down. Bertuccio, a former track champion in his own right was able to protect his lead, protecting the low line. Beatty was having none of it, getting into JR trying to nudge him up a groove. On lap 46 Beatty got Bertuccio out of shape just enough entering the third turn to slide under for the race lead with three laps remaining. Beatty would lead the rest of the way as Bertuccio lost too much track position to attempt a run back at the eventual winner.

“First, I have to apologize to JR, I roughed him up a bit there, he’s one of the best here and has accomplished a lot” Beatty admitted post-race when he exited the MSM Elite Motorsports Fury.  When quizzed about the long run prowess his car has shown to date this season Beatty revealed, “team owner Mark Mina has given us the best, a new Fury with input from Ryan Stone & Steven Kopcik, who have told me, don’t question the set-up just drive it. I can’t give you the secrets, those cost a lot of money”. At that point emotion took over the post-race jubilation, as Beatty choked back tears dedicating the race win to the late Glenn Dixon, “Glenn was instrumental during the formative years of MSM Elite Motorsports, and with me longer than that. Just a great, fun loving, smart guy who we will all sorely miss. I will especially miss his Saturday night calls to see how we finished”.   

JR Bertuccio was runner-up in the Gershow Recycling Chevy while Jack Handley Jr. of Medford was third in the Hydro Action entry. Handley was indeed in position to pounce if the fight for the lead got further out of shape. Opening night winner Justin Brown of Manorville was fourth while Owen Grennan of Glen Cove completed the top five. 

Defending Late Model champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead didn’t let any grass grown under his throttle foot when he found himself on the pole for the 40-lap Late Model feature. The race, the first of the 2024 Miller Lite Triple Crown Series saw McDermott, the ’23 MLTCS champ bolt to the lead at the throw of the green. Gerard Giordano raced to second and was able to keep McDermott in sight during the event. However, at the conclusion Jeremy McDermott steering the Eastport Feeds Chevy had earned his 31st career win, good for sole possession of 4th on the all-time Late Model win list. Giordano of Freeport was runner-up in the K1 Logistics machine, Ray Minieri of Bay Shore completed the podium in his 1683 Sports Bar & Grill Chevy. 

Another driver rarely starting a feature from the pole is Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead, who like McDermott didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth winning the 25-lap Eagle Chevrolet Crate Modified event. However, Kyle’s 6th career victory wasn’t without pressure. After Ellwood busted out front at the start, outside pole sitter AJ DeSantis tucked right in behind the leader and parked himself there for the entire race. Try as he might to get some breathing room, Ellwood felt constant heat for challenger DeSantis. In the end though it was the Kelco Construction machine of Kyle Ellwood sitting the winner’s circle. DeSantis of Yaphank was second in the All Service All Pro Interiors Chevy while Max Handley of Medford crossed the line third in the Handley’s Lawn Care mount. 

Jack Handley Jr. of Medford, defending Super Pro Truck champion earned his 21st career victory topping a 20-lap feature event. Early on Frank Dumicich Jr. paced Lou Maestri for the lead with Handley eventually making his way to third. On lap 4 Jack slid under Lou for second and set his sights on the lead. try as he might to fend off Handley, Dumicich would surrender the race lead just past the halfway mark on lap 11. Once Jack Handley had the East Side Building Toyota out front there was no stopping him from another trip to victory lane. Dumicich of East Quogue brought the entry home for runner-up money. Erin Solomito of Hampton Bays made a late race pass of Lou Maestri to complete the podium in The Hydrant Dodge. 

It was a double down kind of night for Ben Morabito of Miller Place, scoring his first career 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car victory literally minutes after winning the 15-lap INEX Bandolero Outlaw event. Morabito and Anthony Marsh brought the 26-car grid to the green with the more seasoned Marsh gaining the advantage early. Undaunted, Morabito kept the pressure on Marsh for the lead and with an inside pass exiting the second turn on lap 3 moved the Benimax Racing entry out front. Nerves never became an issue for Ben, as he not only led the rest of the race, but at times was pulling away from the field. Not even a late race restart could deter Ben Morabito from his first INEX Legend Race Car win. Marsh of Riverhead was second in the Riverhead Trailer machine, while Joey Braun of Manorville made a late race pass during the final restart to claim third in the HighMark Building Efficiency entry. 

Giavanna Agugliaro took the early race lead in the Bock Auto 15-lap INEX Bandolero Outlaw feature, but the story of the race would be defending champion Ben Morabito, who despite starting deep in the field raced by Agugliaro for the lead on lap 3 with an inside pass off turn two. For the rest of the distance Morabito would show the way in the 860 Motorsports racer with Will Sipala of Manorville giving chase in the Riteway Automotive Center Bando. Sipala settled for second while Thomas Grattan of Southold making his first ever start impressed with a third-place tally in the Reeve Farm Stand Outlaw. The win was the 9th of Ben Morabito’s Bandi career, tying him with Darren Krantz Jr for the all-time lead.

Emmett Grattan of Southold enjoyed the thrill of a first career win when he topped the 15-lap Bock Auto INEX Bandolero Bandit feature event. Defending champion Reid Halpin paced the race over the first none circuits a sudden, non-contact spin off turn four ended his bid for victory. Emmett Grattan, who showed much improvement in 2023 assumed the lead when the race resumed and led the rest of the way in his Southold IGA Bandit. The driver who perhaps turned the most heads was the runner-up of the tilt, Brooke Meyer of Riverhead in the WES Trailer Sales & Service machine, third fell to Mason Goodale of Riverhead in the Riverhead Building Supply Bandit.

With a heavy influx of first year drivers, the Bock Auto INEX Bandolero Beginners class debuted Saturday and when the dust settled 7-year-old Daxx Halpin of Wading River made history as the first ever winner of the new class. The race featured four lead changes over 15-laps before “The Daxx Attack” Daxx Halpin took the lead for good on lap 10 in the Baldwin Automotive/Florida Connection machine. Grace Cheslak of Sound Beach survived an early race spin to come home second in her sponsor wanted entry, Wyatt Goodale of Riverhead was third in the GAF Roofing mount.  

Phil LaManna of Smithtown topped the Truck Enduro that concluded the night of wall-to-wall racing. LaManna started from the pole and led all the way in his EP Milling & Sweeping S-10. Mariah Lawrence of Southampton in a self-funded General Lee truck was second while Brandon LaManna of Smithtown was third in his EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy.

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. John Beatty Jr. 2. JR Bertuccio 3. Jack Handley Jr. 4. Justin Brown 5. Owen Grennan 6. Dylan Slepian 7. Michael Rutkoski 8. Dave Brigati 9. CJ Lehmann 10. Tom Rogers Jr. 11. Mark Stewart 12. JB Fortin 13. Chris Young 14. Chris Rogers 15. Kyle Ellwood

Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Gerard Giordano 3. Ray Minieri 4. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 5. Brandon Turbush 6. Brian Doyle 7. Chris McGuire 8. Keith Rotzi 9. Ed Cheslak 10. Kevin Metzger 11. Scott Cheslak 12. Allan Pedersen

Crate Modifieds: Kyle Ellwood 2. AJ DeSantis 3. Max Handley 4. Joey Braun 5. Chase Grennan 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Stephen Coleman 8. Mike Albasini 9. Eric Hersey 10. Andrew Farnham 11. Michael Berner 12. Charles Macwhinnie 13. Chevy Rommeney 14. Tom Sekulski 

Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Frank Dumicich Jr. 3. Erin Solomito 4. Lou Maestri 5, Jimmy Rennick Jr. 6. Dave Koenig 7. Tony Naglieri 8. Rob Corwin 9. Rich Bruce 10. Phil LaManna 11. Matt Triola 12. Frank Dumicich Sr. 13. Liam Patrick 14. Cillian Tennant 15. Brandon Hubbard 16. Dan Turbush

Legend Race Cars: 1. Ben Morabito 2. Anthony Marsh 3. Joey Braun 4. Riely O’Keefe 5. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 6. Kyle Ellwood 7. Kevin Nowak 8. Richie Davidowitz 9. Jack Handley Jr. 10. Jim Sylvester 11. Jayden Glennerster 12. Mike Van Houten Jr. 13. Charles Hodge 14. Chris Sinatro 15. Ryan Barbieri 16. Pat Moore 17. Alex Halinar 18. Ray Fitzgerald 19. Chevy Rommeney 20. Will Sipala 21. Rodney Dowless Jr. 22. Phillip Alaimo 23. Steve Woytysiak 24. Kevin Ohrnberger  25. Ed Stadtlander 26. Ray Stulz

Bandolero Outlaws: 1. Ben Morabito 2. Will Sipala 3. Thomas Grattan 4. Tucker Bock 5. Kix Bock 6. Madison Tomaszewski 7. Ayden Alvarado 8. Giavanna Agugliaro 9. Michael Berry 10. Jordan Ryan 11. Madsion White

Bandolero Bandit: 1. Emmett Grattan 2. Brooke Meyer 3. Mason Goodale 4. Tyler Oxee 5. Reid Halpin 6. Antonio D’Alonzo 7. Layla Quilliam 8. Blake Grattan 9. Aria Ligon 10. John Alaimo 11. Christian Ryan 

Bandolero Beginner: 1. Daxx Halpin 2. Grace Cheslak 3. Wyatt Goodale 4. Mackenzie Ulmet 5. Emily Gatz

Truck Enduro: 1. Phil LaManna 2. Mariah Lawrence 3. Brandon LaManna 4. Bobby Pease Jr. 5. Bobby Pease Sr. 6. Don Nelson 7. Gary Voight 8. William Kennedy 9. Kevin Feeney 10. Whitney Williams 11. Chris Grover 12. Chloe Phillips 13. Jackie Germuth 14. Mike Fragola 15. Jim Kelley 16. Brandon Anderson 17. James Kelly

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