Preece Captures Hall Of Fame 100 Honors At Riverhead Raceway

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Ryan Preece of Berlin, Connecticut, won another signature event at Riverhead Raceway as he topped the Evans NASCAR Hall of Fame 100 Saturday night for his fifth career win at the quarter-mile oval. Among Ryan’s wins in the past are two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours including last year’s race as well as the 2012 Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 Memorial last July in Bill & Barbara Park’s NASCAR Modified.

Shawn Solomito set fast time with a lap of 11.855 taking home $100 from Brigandi Brothers Automotive, but that would be as good as the evening got for the defending champion as a broken rocker arm found him dropping out of the race early. Timmy Solomito drew the pole for the 100-lapper with Preece outside and over the first five laps of the race the two young lions went side by side for a five-lap battle for the lead before an early caution waved for a Kevin Orlando spin. On the ensuing double-file restart, Preece again found himself outside of Solomito with Justin Bonsignore trying to tuck under Ryan for second. The top three eventually singled out with Solomito finding himself under heavy attack from Preece who was plotting his move.

On lap 18 Preece found an opening underneath Solomito, who was looking to make it two in a row and raced his way by on the inside to the lead with Solomito now second and under pressure from third place Bonsignore. The top three settled into their positions over the next 50 laps, giving Preece some breathing room as Bonsignore was starting to turn up the heat on Solomito for second. Racing into the third turn on lap 74 Bonsignore, the 2011 Riverhead champ, got under Solomito and was able to take over second with still a quarter of the race remaining. A series of late-race caution flags put Bonsignore on the rear bumper of leader Preece but each and every time the green light winked back on, Preece was able to motor away in his East-West Marine Chevy as he drove off to victory. Bonsignore’s late-race pursuit of Preece was tamed somewhat by Ron Silk who moved to third when Bonsignore slipped under Solomito for second. Silk then stayed on Bonsignore’s tail for the remainder of the race.

“What a great car Bill and Dave gave me tonight,” Preece noted after Barbara and Jim Cromarty presented him with the Evans NASCAR HoF hardware. As for the side by side early race fight for the lead with Solomito, the winner reflected, “We had quite a race going there, good and clean, I really enjoy racing here.”

Preece, the grandson of former car owner Bob Judkins, didn’t forget the historical importance of the race. “It’s really an honor to win the Evans NASCAR Hall of Fame race, anytime Riche’s name is attached to something it makes really special,” he said.

Bonsignore of Holtsville was runner-up in the M3 Technologies Chevy while Ron Silk of Norwalk, Connecticut, placed third in the TS Haulers Chevy. The top three drivers, all WMT regulars, now all look forward to the Hoosier Tire 200 WMT race June 29 at Riverhead Raceway. Completing the top five in the 100 were Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue and Howie Brode of East Islip, who rallied from a 25th lap spin. Brode and Preece are knotted for the points lead with 136 but Preece has commitments over the next two weeks that will take him away from Long Island. Solomito is third with 112.

ChargersEric Zeh of Selden won his second Charger race of the season the old fashioned way, with a late-race outside pass of John Baker with just two laps remaining in the race. Baker bolted into the early race lead in a contest that would actually go flag to flag without a caution flag with Cory Midgett in tow for the first lap before CJ Lehmann made an inside move for second. Lehmann and Zeh then would battle for second while Baker continued to lead and Zeh, after having to work Lehmann over for a few laps, made his way to second. First on Zeh’s agenda was catching Baker and once that task was taken care of it was time to try and find a way by. With three laps to go, Zeh who had been looking to make an inside pass exiting the turns changed his game plan, jumping to the outside. As the duo raced into the third turn, Zeh threw his car hard into the corner in a make-or-break move which stuck, making Zeh the new race leader as the field got the two-to-go signal. From that point on, Zeh drove to victory in his Randy’s Performance Chevy with Baker of Brookhaven runner-up in the Sunrise Medical Labs Chevy.

Newcomer Chad Churilla of Hauppauge made a late-race move to finish third in the Angela’s House Pontiac, his second consecutive third place tally.

LegendsThe 30-lap Legend Race Car feature event carried lap money and “The Natural” Timmy Solomito of Islip made sure he would cash in as he led all the way to score the victory. Solomito’s teammate Justin Strumpf set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 14.060 and drawing first in the redraw, he’d pull the pole with Solomito to start second alongside. Just like in the 100-lap Modified race, Solomito found himself in a torrid early race fight for the lead with Strumpf, leaving Vinny Delaney watching from third. Delaney would come to second early in the race but soon thereafter was overtaken by Johnnie Gloor for second on lap 7. Once to second, Gloor wasted no time in going to work on Solomito with some double-file restarts before the halfway mark aided Gloor’s efforts. However Solomito was equal to the task each and every time and he never gave up the race lead as he drove the Monster’s Recycling entry to victory lane. Aside from racking-up nearly $500 in lap money, Solomito’s car was voted Best Appearing by Freshie Trinca as part of the race’s special awards. Johnnie Gloor IV of Flanders was runner-up in the One Stop Market machine with Brendon Bock of Franklin Square third in the A&S Bagels racer.

EndurosJames Charrier of Shirley notched his first Grand Enduro win of 2013 in dominating fashion in their 50-lap main event. Brian McCormack and Charrier drew the front row as they entered the pit area and it would be McCormack taking the early race lead for the first three laps. On lap 4, Charrier made his move to pass McCormack for the lead with an inside pass and once out front, Charrier then turned up the wick. Before all was said and done, Charrier not only won in the Clear Beer Draft Chevy but lapped all but the top four cars in the race. Brian McCormack of Holbrook was runner-up in his sponsor-wanted Chevy, while Jimmy “The Kid” White of Southampton crossed the line third in the Busy Bee Pest Control Chevy.

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