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Patience Pays Off For Soper At Riverhead Raceway

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — It was a night of high emotion, nostalgia and some good old school NASCAR Modified racing on Saturday at Riverhead Raceway.

When the dust settled on the second annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77, Kyle Soper sat in the winners circle.

Soper used a perfect balance of patience and aggression to take the lead with just five laps left to pocket his fourth win of the season and the 28th of his career.

During opening ceremonies, John Cozza and Rusty Turbush were enshrined on the Cromarty Wall of Champions during a trackside ceremony prior to feature racing. Then fans were then asked to turn their attention to the top of the pit grandstands between turns three and four where the 2020 Islip 300 winning NASCAR Modified owned by the late Eddie Partridge was unveiled.

The car, driven by Ryan Preece, sits atop a large pole and will serve as an everlasting tribute to Eddie Partridge — a larger than life personality in short track racing. Eddie’s widow Connie and his nephew Tom Gatz were part of the unveiling.

Twenty-four NASCAR Modifieds signed in for the 77.

At the throw of the green, Timmy Solomito broke to the front as JB Fortin seemed content tucking into second with Dillon Steuer starting third. On lap 14, JB Fortin got loose going into turn one right in front of the field and a multi car pileup ensued.

Many cars were able to either continue or pit for repairs, but the cars of Chris Turbush and Eric Zeh were damaged beyond repair to continue.

When the race resumed, Solomito held strong at the front of the field with Steuer now tucked into second. Meanwhile, Soper was on the march from his ninth place starting berth and would soon would make his presence known.

On lap 27, Soper was able to work his way around Steuer for second and set sail for Solomito. As the laps wore down, Soper then started to back off some, saving his car for a late race bid for the lead. With 10 laps to go, Soper turned up the wick and closed to the rear bumper of Solomito as the duo danced through lapped traffic.

With five laps remaining, Soper caught Solomito off turn two as the leader lapped a back marker. With just enough room to squeeze his Eastport Feeds Chevy between the lapped car and the leader, Soper was able to sneak through to take the lead and eventual win.

“This win is just another testament to my team,” Kyle Soper said afterwards, “the hours my father Tom puts in this car and my guys who work tirelessly on it. I could never thank them and Wayne and Joette enough for this great ride we have been enjoying.

“I saw Timmy’s car getting loose and when we got to that lapped car going into three, I knew that was my chance and here we are.”

The win moved Soper into a three-way tie with Don Howe and JR Bertuccio for 11th on the all time win list.

Solomito crossed the line second in the RG Hahn & Son Fuel Oil Chevy just five seconds shy of his 21st career win. Dylan Slepian was third in his Eastport Feeds Chevy while John Beatty Jr. and Matt Brode were fourth and fifth.

Rounding out the top ten were Mike Christopher Jr., Michael Rutkoski, JB Fortin, Jack Handley Jr. and Dave Brigati.

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