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A bittersweet race for Ken Hyde Jr. at Riverhead

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead Raceway. (July 16, 2011) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Ken Hyde Jr. has been here before, but this time it’s different.

Hyde, 23, is one point behind Roger Maynor for the figure-eight racing championship at Riverhead Raceway. He beat out Maynor in 2013 for his first title, dedicating it to his father, Ken Hyde Sr., who had raced himself but never won. He later died in 2014.

“This is all in dedication to my dad. He was the one who brought me into racing,” Hyde Jr. said. “Now I feel like I’m back on top of the world even though he’s not here.”

Hyde, a Medford product who lives in Mastic Beach, has won three races this season including Saturday’s, pulling him to a 328-327 difference with Maynor. The event features a track shaped like an eight and a crossing where cars could collide. Hyde has won the race eight times in his career.

“It was the right spot at the right time,” Hyde said of the win. “The car was working good.”

Hyde said he’s aware of the significance of his placing each week, but once he’s on the track the focus is entirely on what’s in front of him. You can’t win if you don’t finish, he said.

“I’m not thinking about it at the racetrack,” Hyde said. “I know where I’m at with points. I know what needs to be done on the racetrack.”

Before the race starts, Hyde said he’s staying concentrated and making sure everything is where it needs to be inside the car and out.

“I’m prepared to go out and do what I need to do,” Hyde said. “We’re not arguing over anything. Just putting the car into the shop during the week.”

With another championship within reach and four races left to go, the parallels between 2013 and now are clear. After Hyde finds more success after two years of struggles, it’s easy to remember the last time everything went right in front of his father.

“His last year at the race track we got lucky and were very fortunate that we were able to capitalize and win the championship,” Hyde said. “To be part of a team with his son that makes it a little bit more special.”

And now, while thinking of his father who helped him achieve his goals, Hyde goes for it again.

Modified standings:

Shawn Solomito, Islip – 504

David H. Brigati, Calverton – 462

Kyle Soper, Manorville – 449

John Fortin, Holtsville – 443

Howie Brode, East Islip – 433

Saturday: Elvis Night 100, Spectator Drags. Sizzling Summer Series Enduro, Twin 50 NASCAR Modifieds (Time Trials), 30-lap Blunderbusts (Time Trials), Super Pro Trucks, Legend Race Cars, 4/6-Cylinder Truck Enduro

Sunday: Summer Smackdown. 50-lap Late Models (Time Trials), Grand Enduro, 4/6-Cylinder Truck Enduro, 8-Cylinder Enduro, 4/6-Cylinder Car Enduro, Gut & Go Enduro, Mini 8 Enduro

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