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2013-07-10 / Columnists

Hot Laps

by Michael

The Whelen Modified Tour made its annual appearance at Riverhead Raceway on Sat., June 29, 2013, bringing with it the usual drama and excitement, as well as some unexpected twists of fate.

Ron Silk out of Connecticut appears to make the Route 58 oval his home track every time he races here in the #6 modified owned by Long Islanders Ed and Connie Partridge. Silk provided early drama when he allowed the entire field to qualify before placing his mount on the Pole during the final qualifying laps of the afternoon with a time just over 11 seconds! Silk appeared dominant once again in the early stages of the Hoosier Tire 200 until a fellow competitor lost steering control and suddenly veered into the Silky smooth vehicle, forcing the #6 to the pit area.

Another piece of masterful driving was turned in by Connecticut resident and eventual winner Ryan Preece. Preece also has familiarity with Riverhead Raceway, and when not fulfilling commitments in his #16 Tour car, he pilots the #20 mod. for owners Bill and Barbara Park. Preece was paid the ultimate compliment by track announcer Bob Finan, who likened the performance on this night to those turned in by the late Charlie Jarzombek.

Although a victory was not in the cards, a number of Riverhead Raceway regulars turned in strong performances, as is usual when out-of-town invaders descend on the Route 58 oval.

The normally intense Legend Division was even more so this night as the winner pocketed a cool $1000. Scoring a popular victory, the first of his career, was #25, Richie Davidowitz. As the visibly emotional victor accepted congratulations all around, he kept repeating, “I can’t believe this…..I can’t believe this.”

Finally, the Blunderbust Division also had a larger-than-usual winners purse on this night. For two weeks in a row, 17-year-old Jack Handley, Jr. waged a war with Bill Wegman, Sr. until “The Racin’ Grandpa” blew an engine. However, on this night, an apparent victory after an intense battle with Tommy Walkowiak and a bid for two-in-a-row ended during post-race tech inspection. “Win some, lose some,” said Handly, Jr. afterwards.

FROM THE PITS: Two bizarre happenings occurred with modifieds on the track. Doug Coby was the apparent victim of a stuck throttle, which saw his racer go nose-first into the wall during Time Trials….. Ted Christopher has an increasingly abrasive reputation among competitors. On this night, he would add Officials to his list, as he “took out” the Riverhead Raceway Pace Car during a caution period. Luckily, no one was hurt in either incident.

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