A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead Raceway. (July...

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

Waiting 15 years was well worth it for Howie Brode.

Brode, an East Islip resident, clinched the 2013 NASCAR Modified Championship at Riverhead Raceway last weekend. With three weeks left in the season, Brode's 453 points are 97 more than the current holder of second place.

Brode, 49, dominated this season with four wins. He won his only other championship in 1998, which was just his second year of competing in the modified division.

"We were just running really well at the start of this season and that continued, and we had a really good, dominating car all season," said Brode, who owns and operates Beavers Towing in Bay Shore. "I don't know what it is or what kind of magic happened but you could just tell it was going to be a good run this year."

Brode, whose father, Howie Brode Sr., raced at Riverhead in the 1970s, began competing at the track in the chargers division in 1992.

Brode said Dale Earnhardt Sr. was someone he admired growing up because of his aggressive style. Brode also credited "Tiger" Tom Baldwin and Bill Park as being mentors to him at Riverhead.

A consistent driver at Riverhead, Brode lost his bid for a championship last year by 10 points.

"It's pretty gratifying to have people come up to you and congratulate you because there are so many good drivers at Riverhead," said Brode, whose 8-year-old son, Matthew, participates in go-kart racing at Riverhead. "It's pretty much the same feeling as when I won in 1998, but a lot of time passed between them, that's all. I'm just excited about winning the championship because it's the crown jewel."

With the title already in his pocket, Brode will race in the Green Earth Technologies 200 Whelen Modified Tour race Saturday at Riverhead.

"It's a pretty cool feeling because . . . it's usually something that comes down to the very end," Brode said.

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