The sun was shining, spirits were high and the pit area was overflowing Saturday afternoon at Riverhead Raceway as Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz hosted the first of two practice days leading up to the 2021 opening weekend Saturday May 1st and Sunday May 2nd.
A stout NASCAR Modified turnout of over 20 helped swell the paddock are with over 25 INEX Legend race Cars in attendance as well.
By Bob Finan
When the four NASCAR Modified practice sessions were completed veteran driver John Beatty Jr. of Merrick would not only be the fastest on the day in the MSM/Elite Motorsports Chevy he’d wind up sweeping the top spot in all four. Beatty’s best time of the day came in the fourth and final session where he logged a 11.487 backing up his three previous times of 11.641, 11,581 and 11.510. Beatty and car owner Mark S. Mina have indicated they will call Riverhead Raceway home in 2021 and in Mina’s words “run for the championship and have some fun”.
Perennial Late Model champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead waited until the 4th session to log in the fastest time in class on the day when he went a 12.949, Chris McGuire, Kevin Metzger and Ray Minieri all topped the prior three LM practices. Four-time Crate Modified winner in 2020 Owen Grennan of Glen Cove served notice he will be tough to beat in 2021 as he set the bar with a quick time of the day in the third session with a lap of 12.557. Owen also topped the second set of laps while Michael Berner and Steve Ratti topped the other two.
Other drivers setting the quickest practice times in class during the day were Tom Ferrara of Patchogue (Figure-8), 17.236, Max Handley of Medford (Blunderbusts), 14.356, Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach (Super Pro Trucks), 13.321, Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville (Legends), 13.527, Dave Antos of Lindenhurst (Street Stocks), 14.353 and Mike Mujsce Jr. of Hampton Bays (Mini Stocks), 14.387. Prior to the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series divisions hitting the track at 12 noon the new Bandolero class debuted with Darren Krantz Jr. of Huntington quickest among the seven teams. The Vintage All Stars were on track also but no times were registered as they are not required to have transponders as was the case for the three Enduro divisions who practiced later in the afternoon.
This Saturday April 24th the second practice day leading up the the 2021 race season will be presented with the same time schedule in place. Registration windows will open at 8:30 am, haulers will enter at 9:30 am. The Bandolero teams will again have a half hour practice session starting at 11:30 am until 12 noon when the NASCAR stock cars take over until 4:00 pm. From 4:00-5:00 pm the three Enduro divisions will take to the track for warm-ups.
With such a successful practice day in the book’s anticipation for the 2021 Riverhead Raceway opening weekend is ramping up. Saturday May 1st the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series will open up with a seven-division program as the NASCAR Modifieds, Late Models, Crate Modifieds, Figure Eights, Blunderbusts, Super Pro Trucks and INEX Legend Cars all kick off the new season. The following afternoon the weekend continues with the May Meltdown program headlining the card with the three Enduro classes, Trucks, 8-Cylinder and 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go in action during the matinee.
The complete 2021 schedule of events can be found at http://www.riverheadraceway.com, e-mails reach us at email@example.com while our phone number remains 631-842-RACE
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