Riverhead Raceway has always been an outlier when it comes to NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour success.
The quarter-mile track on the tip of Long Island has been a staple of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour since the inaugural season in 1985.
Over the years, the likes of Richie Evane, Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggiero visited Victory Lane. But the tight confines – and the fact the tour-type Modifieds is the track’s top division in its NASCAR Weekly Racing Series – has also been the great equalizer for the local drivers.
Mike Ewanitsko is the driver who took the greatest advantage. The North Babylon, New York, driver collected 11 of his 28 tour wins at Riverhead. Long Islanders Dan Jivanelli, Steve Park, Wayne Anderson, Don Howe, Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr., and Tom Baldwin all conquered the tour race through the years.
Heading into the 2010 stop, it was Donny Lia of Jericho, New York, who had picked up the mantle with wins in 2003-05 and 2007.
Lia had vacated the No. 4 Mystic Missile Dodge and was concentrating on running the NASCAR Truck Series.
Bobby Santos III stepped into the seat for long-time car owner Bob Garbarino. The Franklin, Massachsetts, driver promptly won three of the first four seasons – starting with the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, and then the May race at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway and the combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Martinsville Speedway.
Ted Christopher, who had wins at Riverhead in 2002, 2005 and 2006, came into the Riverhead 200 following a win at Monadnock Speedway two weeks prior. That allowed Christopher to close the gap on Santos to 56 points.
Former champions Todd Szegedy and Mike Stefanik entered the event third and fourth in points, respectively, while fifth-place Ryan Preece was 186 points back of Santos. Preece was the defending race winner, holding off Riverhead regulars Dave Brigati, Howie Brode and Justin Bonsignore to win the 2009 event.
RACING-REFERENCE: 2010 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Schedule & Results