Sophomore driver Dillon Steuer of Bohemia stood the Tour Type Modified world on it’s collective ear Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway when he scored an upset victory in the $32,650 Islip 300. Steuer took the lead from Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead with 37 laps remaining in the race and drove off to an extremely popular win worth $7,000.
Qualifying found Ryan Preece of Berlin, Ct. setting fast time and winning the pole for the 300 with a lap of 11.845 in his East West Marine Chevy with Steuer second quick at 11.960 earning the outside pole. As the 20 car field came to the green Preece would move out front with Steuer giving chase for the first lap before he was passed to the inside off turn four on lap 2 by Dave Brigati. It was evident early on that Preece and his team’s game plan were to run as hard as they could early on with the hopes of putting the rest of the field a lap down. While Preece was on a tear at the front of the field Brigati would battle for second with Shawn Solomito who took the spot on lap 53 with an inside pass entering the first turn. With some extended green flag laps being clicked off Preece’s plan was working out just fine. A third of the way through the race Preece had lapped all but the second place car of Solomito.
Things would start to change however as some caution flags would wave prior to and just past the halfway mark with most contending drivers heading to the pits to utilize the two change tires teams were allowed for the 300 which changed the complexion of the race. By lap 200 most everyone pitted for tires with the exception of Preece and Howie Brode. Shawn Solomito with two fresh tires made his way Preece for the lead with an inside pass up the backstretch to take the race lead on lap 146 with Preece sitting second on the tires he started the race on. On a lap 192 restart John Fortin Sr. would make his way to second behind Solomito and would chase the leader until lap 209 when he made he way by Solomito with an inside pass heading into the third turn. Preece in the meantime hanging on with his old tires but soon found himself fighting to stay on the lead lap but to no avail. By the time Ryan pitted for tires he’d be a lap down.
Fortin, a 30 time career winner at Riverhead would lead the way until lap 212 when he was overtaken by Tom Rogers Jr. to the inside entering the third turn. Drivers also making their way into contention after pitting for fresh tires included Dave Schneider and Dillon Steuer with Steuer making his way to second after he passed Fortin on lap 246. Once to second Dillon quickly reeled in 44-time career winner Rogers but catching the leader would be one thing, passing him would be quite another story. Steuer attempted the crossover maneuver several time on Rogers exiting the second corner but to no avail as Roger slowed his car from the center off trying to break the challengers momentum.
Steuer’s big break would come on lap 262 as he and Rogers were working lapped traffic through the third and fourth turn. Exiting the turn Rogers went to the outside while Steuer chose to go to the inside of the lapped car and by the time they hit the first turn Dillon Steuer would be the new race leader. At first Rogers tried to make a crossover move of his own but as the laps clicked off Steuer was able to motor away. In fact in the final few laps Rogers would have a mirror full of third place driver Dave Schneider who was turning in a career performance of his own in the 300.
With the checker flag waving off turn four and the large crowd on their feet Dillon Steuer drove off turn four to score what will be the first of many Tour Type Modified victories as the crowd roared with approval. Dillon then proceeded to do several burnouts for the fans and by the time he arrived in victory lane his left rear tire was cooked right off the car. After track owners Eddie & Connie Partridge & Tom Gatz present Dillon with a five foot tall Islip 300 trophy Dillon was asked if he ever imagined his first career Modified win would come in such a big race the soft spoken Steuer admitted, “no not really but my team had a great game plan tonight. We pitted right around where we wanted to and the car was just perfect”. Steuer who’ll return to classes at Connetquot High School Tuesday morning added, “I can’t thank my owner Grant Williams and my Dad enough for all they do for me along with Northeastern Office Equipment, Sayville South Bay Auto Repair, Coram Materials, KAMO Motorsports and TJ’S Heros.”
Tom Rogers Jr would settle for runner-up money in his SGS Stone Works Chevy and afterwards pointed to his right rear tire noting, “my right rear is gone but hey good for Dillon and his family”. Dave Schneider of Northport was in the mix all race long and would come home third in his Schneider Racing entry, “this is pretty cool to run among the leaders and come away with a podium finish” Dave commented. Ryan Preece and Shawn Solomito of Center Moriches would complete the top five. By the time Preece did eventually get his lap back by passing Steuer it was too little, too late.
Defending Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate champion Dave Brigati of Calverton is now two for two in 2017 as he won their 25-lap feature. Jay Hansen jumped to the early race lead with Dylan Slepian in tow. After Slepian spent the first three laps chasing Hansen he made an outside pass off the fourth turn to take the lead on lap 4. Soon after being passed for the lead Hansen’s race would go south after he spun off the second turn and came back up the track collection Justin Brown in the process, When the race resumed Slepian remained out front with Dave Brigati now sitting second. Brigati, know as the “Fancy farmer” would make his bid for the lead payoff on lap 10 when he passed Slepian to the inside exiting turn four. Once out front it was all Dave Brigati in the Quest Machining & Fabricating Chevy as he collected his 5th career Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate win. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills crossed the line second but was disqualified in post race teach after coming up light (2lbs) at the scales. CJ Lehmann of Shirley would then collect runner-up money in the IGA Food markets Chevy with veteran Peter Bertuccio of Bohemia claiming third in the Gershow Recycling Chevy.
Tim Mulqueen of Levittown topped the 20-lap Blunderbust main event for his first win of 2017. Derek Wegmann from his outside pole starting berth jumped to the early race lead and led early on before he was passed by “The Wildchild” Tommy Walkowiak on lap 4. Normally when Walkowiak takes the lead of a Blunderbust race it means lights out for the rest of the field but not in this race. After racing his way to second Mulqueen was able to erase Walkowiak’s lead and with just five laps remaining got to the leaders back bumper. On lap 16 racing into the first turn Mulqueen muscled his way under Walkowiak and by the time the tandem exited the second turn there would be a new race leader. Once in front Tim Mulqueen would lead the rest of the way in his Saybrook Farms entry to notch the win. Tom Pickerell of Huntington made a late race pass on Walkowiak of his own to claim runner-up honors in his Makely Enterprises Chevy with Walkowiak of Ridge having to be content with third in his Langdon’s Auto Motive Caprice.
The Long Island Vintage Auto Racing Series debuted with a 15-lap feature which was won by former five time NASCAR Modified champion Don Howe of Watermill. Jimmy Reed led the way for the first two circuits of the race before he was passed by Don Howe to the outside on lap 3. Once out front Howe would remain there while Reed, Frank Saladino and Jim Kelly would all take turns in second. At the finish the Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier of Don Howe was the winner with Jim Kelly of East Moriches second in his East End RV Pontiac. Mark Miller of Lindenhurst placed third after a solid showing all race long.
Islip 300: 1. Dillon Steuer 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. Dave Schneider 4. Ryan Preece 5. Shawn Solomito 6. John Fortin Sr. 7. Ronnie Williams 8. Howie Brode 9. John Fortin Jr. 10. Eric Goodale 11. Cory Midgett 12. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 13. Ken Darch 14. Sal Accardi Jr. 15. Dave Brigati 16. Max Zachem 17. John Baker 18. Jerry Solomito Jr. 19. Justin Bonsignore 20. Vinny Biondolillo
Modified Crates: 1. Dave Brigati 2. CJ Lehmann 3. Peter Bertuccio 4. Dennis Krupski 5. Anthony Vecchio 6. Michael Rommeney 7. Kurt Krieger 8. Jay Hansen 9. Justin Brown 10. Terry Stiles DQ- Dylan Slepian DQ Michael Rutkoski DNS AJ DeSantis
Blunderbusts: 1. Tim Mulqueen 2. Tom Pickerell 3. Tommy Walkowiak 4. Derek Wegmann 5. Tom Puccia 6. Wayne Meyer 7. Jim Laird 8. Joshua Creel 9. Eric Zeh 10. Bill Wegmann Sr. 11. Tom Sullivan 12. Alyssa Paprocky 13. Kenny King
LIVARS Vintage Cars: 1. Don Howe 2. Jim Kelly 3. Mark Miller 4. Jimmy Reed 5. Ken Southard 6. Frank Saladino 7. Eddie Mayfield 8. Bob Krollage
Source: Bob Finan/RR PR