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For Howie Brode, another title would be special

The intense juggling act of being a husband and father of two and operating a tow truck business can cut into one's recreation time a bit. Naturally, not every Saturday can be spent at Riverhead Raceway.

Well, unless you're second in the points standings for the NASCAR modified division. Howie Brode, in most seasons, said he would pick his spots to compete, but his immense success this year has kept the East Islip native coming back -- for all 17 races thus far -- despite his hectic schedule. "It's pretty tiresome," the 48-year-old said, "but we do it."

He enters Saturday's race, the last of the season, 12 points behind Shawn Solomito. Brode, who won the modified title in 1998, would need to finish at least seven positions ahead of Solomito to take the crown.

Brode, who drives the No. 96 Chevy Troyer, has finished third and second in his last two races, "so hopefully, first place is next for me," he said. "I'm just gonna do my thing and race hard."

Brode is in a peculiar situation in that he could take first, but a top-six finish from Solomito would override that. "That's fine," he said. "I wouldn't be upset about finishing second to Shawn. That's how it goes in racing."

Regardless of the finishes, Brode said his Sundays this season have been spent boating with his family in Fire Island or back at Riverhead for his 7-year-old son Matthew's go-kart races.

But for someone whose father, Howie Sr., was a race car owner, and who has been working on cars since childhood, who raced motorcycles as a youth, and who has competed at Riverhead for more than 20 years . . . "It would be really cool to win another title," Brode said. "Man, it would be special."

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