Late Pit Strategy Lifts John Beatty Jr. To Oval Speed Unlimited Bubba 150 Win At Riverhead

(Press Release from Riverhead Raceway)

As the laps clicked off Saturday in the 5th annual Oval Speed Unlimited 150 NASCAR Modified event at Riverhead Raceway, John Beatty wondered if he and his team’s strategy to pit late in the race would leave them the only car not to pit for a change tire. Those fears were quelled when a caution flag flew with 28-laps left allowing Beatty of Merrick to pit for his new right rear tire. That, with some well-placed late cautions put John Beatty in position to win his second race in three weeksat Riverhead Raceway, earning $9.455 including lap money. 

In Righteous Window Cleaning pole qualifying defending Bubba 150 race winner Timmy Solomito of Islip won the $200 bonus with a time of 11.520, barley edging out the 11.524 posted by John Beatty Jr. JB Fortin was third turning in a lap of 11.577. When quizzed by track announcer Stephen Halpin if he would except the HighMark Building Efficiency Challenge of $5,000 to drop to the rear of the field (19th) and win, Timmy, to the surprise of many replied, “I am going to try and win my 26th career feature from the rear.” Everyone on hand and watching on Flo Racing now knew they were about to see a show. 

The race, run in memory of Bob “Bubba” Patanjo, long time Bill Park team member got underway, John Beatty raced out front from the pole with JB Fortin in tow.  Fortin was passed for second on lap 11 by WMT invader Craig Lutz. The race would settle in for a long green flag run which was just fine with leader Beatty who was pocketing $10 per lap led, while Lutz collected $6 per circuit in second. On lap 87 Tom Rogers Jr. drew a caution flag with a solo spin and pit strategy started to play out with teams pitting on the infield for all to see. Lutz, Justin Brown, Solomito and Fortin were among those in and around the top five to duck into the pits while Beatty stayed on track, as did Chris Young, but Young pitted on the first caution of the race for his change tire.

When the race resumed it took Young armed with a fresher right rear than Beatty 10-laps to work his way by to take the race lead after the lap 88 restart. Beatty would soon fade from second on lap 106 as Craig Lutz worked his way to second behind Young, while Beatty started to fade further into the lower half of the top ten. On lap 122 the caution that Beatty so needed flew for a Roger Turbush solo spin. The yellow not only allowed Beatty to pit, but the ensuing restart would change the complexion of the race as well. When the field came back to green Young and Lutz raced side by side for a lap dicing for the lead. One lap after returning to green Young and Lutz made contact off turn four with Lutz’s night ending with right front damage having to pit for repairs.

That left Timmy Solomito the new race leader with Justin Brown alongside for the restart, Timmy just 27-laps away from a potential $10,000 plus payday. When the race resumed on lap 124 Solomito led Brown, but right behind them was a very fast JB Fortin sitting third. Fortin, looking for a second straight win worked his way past Brown on lap 126 for second, quickly setting sail for leader Solomito. The car on the move however was that of John Beatty Jr. who quickly caught and passed Fortin for second on lap 140. With just ten laps to go, question became could Beatty catch leader Solomito in time. As the laps moved along Beatty was right on Solomito’s rear bumper when the yellow flew for a JR Bertuccio spin on lap 144. 

With the field lined up for a six-lap shootout business was about to pick up in a hurry. After the green waved Chris Rogers who made his way to third saw an opening and took it briefly passing both Solomito and Beatty with a bold three wide maneuver. Before Rogers could lead a lap, Beatty was able to duck under both he and Solomito exiting the second turn to take the lead with just four laps left. Solomito was the odd man out losing several spots in the jingle while Rogers moved to second.

With the dueling checker flags waving in the air, a victory that seemed to be get away from him late in the race with his worn right rear, came back to John Beatty Jr. in the MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy. “It’s truly an honor to win Bubba’s race, I know how much he meant to Dennis Freese of Oval Speed and Team Park” Beatty offered post-race, “I was really wondering if we gave one away with our pit strategy, but it all worked out in the end.” As to the wild ending he added, “Timmy is one of the best here, things got wild for a second and we put ourselves in a position to win, would have been fun to battle him. I am especially happy for my owner Mark Mina and my team and family who sacrifice so much so that we can do this”. 

In victory lane Beatty was presented the $5,000 Race Winner bonus from the family of Bob “Bubba” Patanjo. Then Rich Gerbe of HighMark Building announced since his challenge was not won by Solomito, he would take the $5,000 and award $1,000 to each of the top five teams because as he put it, “the best Modified drivers race right here at Riverhead Raceway. what a race” Gerbe proclaimed. Additional bonus money earned by the Elite Sound Studio driver included $1,105 in lap money, Natural Designs Most Laps Led, $250, Ryan Preece Racing Halfway Leader $200, Ryan Preece Racing Lap 40 & 41 Lap Leader $100

Chris Rogers of Patchogue turned more than a few heads with his runner-up showing in the Coors Light Chevy, earning the $200 Steve Park Hard Charger Award. Chris also won the Luck of the Draw $200 bonus from Dennis Freese & Wayne Anderson. Mark Stewart of Riverhead was in the mix all race long before placing third in the Cromer’s Market entry. CJ Lehmann of Lake Grove impressed with a fourth-place effort after a two-year layoff, Owen Grennan of Glen Cove has a solid outing in fifth. 

Michael Berner of Patchogue found a unique gift for his sister Madison’s birthday, a victory in the Eagle Chevrolet Crate Modified 25-lap feature. When the line-up was drawn for the event after qualifying heats, Berner was slated to start on the pole. As is his option he chose to start on the outside of the front row alongside Stephen Coleman. When the green flag dropped to start Berner, a six-time winner in the class broke to the early race lead with Vinny Delaney passing Coelman for second on lap two. From that point forward Berber, nephew of Tom Rogers Jr. hit his marks over the remainder of the race securing his 7th career win, first of 2024 in the Planet Earth Recycling & Recovery machine. Joey Braun of Manorville worked his way to second on lap 6 where he’d finish in the Goodfellas Auto Chevy, while Vinny Delaney of Islip Terrace came home third in the Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm racer.

One week prior, Cody Triola of Bay Shore and Jim Laird Jr. of Islip Terrace were at each other’s throats, on and off the track. This week after warnings from track officials and a pre-race chat the duo had on their own, the two raced hard for the 20-lap Blunderbust victory. Laird broke from the outside pole to lead the first 9 circuits of the tilt with Joe Densieski chasing. On lap 8 Cody Triola passed Densieski for second. Quickly the moment of truth arrived as Triola pulled alongside Laird to challenge for the lead. After a short, but spirited fight for the lead Cody Triola had the Cesspool Pros entry out front where he would keep it for his second win of 2024, 12th of his career. Jim Laird Jr. in the Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Caprice was runner-up, Joe Densieski of Riverhead third in the Hydro Action Chevy.

Couple of weeks back Ben Morabito at 13 years old became the youngest INEX Legend Race Cars winner ever at Riverhead Raceway. Saturday in the 20-lap feature event 12-year-old Rodney Dowless Jr. of Dix Hills replaced Morabito with an impressive victory. Early on veteran drivers Jason Castaldo, Richie Davidowitz, Kyle Ellwood and Kevin Nowak all tussled up front prior to halfway. Circumstances would befall those drivers eventually, leaving Castaldo the leader over Jayden Glennerster. However, that running order didn’t last either as Rodney Dowless took the lead on lap 11 with Ray Fitzgerald and Castaldo in hot pursuit. If the pre-teen driver was going to win, he’d have to fend off two of the best in Fitzgerald and Castaldo to do so. Poised beyond his years behind the wheel Rodney Dowless Jr. in the Island Thrift entry scored a very popular victory. Castaldo of Shirley in the M3 Technology machine moved by Fitzgerald of Manorville in the EP Milling & Sweeping mount late for second. Ray was third.   

The Eddie Partridge Vintage All Stars had a rough outing, with five cautions dotting their 15-lap race. When the dust settled Sal Accardi Jr. of Deer Park in his Tom Baldwin tribute A-Plus Auto Salvage Cavalier scored his second career win. Don Howe of Water Mill was second in the Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier, Tom Pickerell of Huntington third in the Kevin Bacik owned Tony Hirschman tribute car. 

NASCAR Modified Bubba 150: 1. John Beatty Jr. 2. Chris Rogers 3. Mark Stewart 4. CJ Lehmann 5. Owen Grennan 6. Jack Handley Jr. 7. JB Fortin 8. Timmy Solomito 9. JR Bertuccio 10. Chris Young 11. Roger Turbush 12. Justin Brown 13. Dylan Slepian 14. Michael Rutkoski 15. Dave Brigati 16. Craig Lutz 17. Tom Rogers Jr. 18. Matt Brode 19, Lou Strohl

Crate Modifieds: 1. Michael Berner 2. Joey Braun 3. Vinny Delaney 4. AJ DeSantis 5. Chase Grennan 6. Stephen Coleman 7. Max Handley 8. Mike Albasini 9. Andrew Farnham 10. Kyle Ellwood 11. Tom Sekulski 12. Eric Hersey

Blunderbusts: 1. Cody Triola 2. Jim Laird Jr. 3. Joe Densieski 4. Tom Pickerell 5. Tom Sullivan 6. Brad Bess 7. Emily Hubbard 8. Joe Boccia 9. Liam Macwhinnie 10. Steven Fried 11. Mike Fragola 12. Eddie Diaz 13. Bill Wegmann Sr. DNS-Matt Triola

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

Vintage All Stars: 1. Sal Accardi Jr. 2. Don Howe 3. Tom Pickerell 4. John Jasinski 5. Frank Saladino 6. Billy Auer 7. Bill Murray 8. Vinny Sireco 9. Mike Siraco 10. Don Conradis 11. Mark Miller 12. Jimmy Reed Jr. 

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