Riverhead, NY Aug. 26th.
By Bob Finan
With a standing room only crowd looking on Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead double dipped once again as the hard charging driver topped the 40-lap NASCAR Modified feature as well the 15-lap Figure Eight event and in the process padded his championship lead in both divisions. Rogers 4th NASCAR Modified win of the year gives him a 35-point bulge over John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville while his 7th Figure Eight triumph of ’17 leaves him with a 22-point cushion over Tom Ferrara of Patchogue as the season enters it’s final month of competition.
When the green flag waved over the NASCAR Modifieds David Schneider and Eddie Brunnhoelzl III tussled for the early race lead with Schneider being scored the leader for the first lap while Brunnhoelzl riding the outside groove led lap 2. The third lap found Brunnhoelzl getting loose in the first turn sending him up the track taking Schneider up the banking with him. That allowed both Dave Brigati and Vinny Biondolillo to race under the duo for first and second. Just one lap later former three time champion Howie Brode raced his way by Biondolillo for second setting his sight then on race leader Brigati. Just as they had back in the early ’90’s in the old Charger class Brigati and Brode would dice for the NASCAR Modified lead in front of the large crowd on hand even testing each other on a double file restart along the way. However on lap 15 Tom Rogers Jr. who started the race from the 7th starting position came along and ruined the Charger reunion when he worked his way by Brode for second.
A Roger Turbush spin on lap 20 would set up a double file restart between leader Brigati and challenger Rogers and when the green light came back on Rogers hung his car to the outside of the race leader. Brigati gave Tom plenty of room on the high side and after three laps going side by side Rogers would take the race lead on lap 23 with Brigati tucking into second. Another driver on the move from deep in the field would be Kyle Soper who after starting the race from 10th worked his way into the top five prior to the halfway mark of the race and raced to third shortly after the midway point of the race. With Soper applying pressure to Brigati for second that allowed Tom Rogers Jr. in his License To Chill Chevrolet to race off to his 47th career NASCAR Modified victory leaving him just 3 back of Jim Malone Sr. for second on the all time win list.
“Got to thank Dave (Brigati) for running me really clean, he’s a great racer and I felt comfortable outside of him, I knew I wouldn’t end up in the wall” Rogers reflected on the race for the lead and win. Then Rogers gave the rest of his NASCAR Modified competition some further bad news, ” we’re making this car better, a few more adjustments and we’ll have where we want it. I have to thank my crew and of course my sponsors Licensed To Chill, SGS Stone Works, Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm and CAC Industries”
Dave Brigati of Calverton was runner-up in his JDL Environmental Chevy while Kyle Soper of Manorville completed the podium in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. Dillon Steuer of Bohemia and Howie Brode of East Islip completed the top five.
Another driver making strides towards a 2017 track championship would be Kyle Soper who won his 5th Late Model race of the year padding his points lead to 23 over defending champion Jeremy McDermott. Kyle Ellwood making his first LM start of 2017 oddly enough in the car that McDermott owns and had been driving would take the early race lead at the throw of the green. McDermott made his first start in the Daryl Baker owned entry and tabbed Ellwood to pilot his car and early on things were looking good for the new combination as Kyle led Chris Turbush early on. Turbush had a solid run going but on lap 19 it went south on him in a hurry when he spun from second. That turn of events moved Kyle Soper, who started the race from 8th into second and after chasing Ellwood for three laps Soper would make an inside pass of the race leader in the third and fourth turn to start the 23rd lap of the 25-lap contest. Soper would lead the final two laps of the race in his Eastport Feeds Pontiac while Ellwood and Soper’s teammate Scott Kulesa diced for second in the closing laps. As Kyle Soper took the checker flag it would be Ellwood in the JDP Mechanical Chevy taking runner-up honors but after the race he was moved to last in the running order to to a left side weight infraction in post race tech inspection. Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Ma. would now claim runner-up honors in the RP Landscaping Pontiac while Eric Zeh of Selden racing for Angela’s House was third in the final rundown.
For the 7th time in 9 Figure Eight races run in 2017 Tom Rogers Jr. would take home the winners trophy after the 15-lap main event. The win moves Rogers into sole possession of third on the all-time win list with 33 career victories and also pads his championship lead to 22 over Tom Ferrara. 2016 INEX Legend Race Car champion Vinny Delaney broke to the early lead with Scott Pedersen in tow for the first two laps. Lap 3 found Pedersen, a former champion in the class taking over the top spot with Tom Ferrara moving to second as he also passed Delaney. As the field started the 4th lap Pedersen’s night would go wrong in a hurry when he spun from the lead. Tom Rogers Jr. who started the race from 7th made a bold move when Pedersen spun making his way from third to the race lead as he snuck by Ferrara when the leader spun. Laps later Ferrara’s night would take a turn for the worse when he got tangled with another car drawing a yellow. That turn of events moved Fritz Motorsports teammates Gary Fritz Jr. and Vinny Delaney to second and third behind Rogers. With car owner Keith Repp on the disabled list in the hospital Tom Rogers Jr. was determined to take the Bays Bar & Grill Chevy Coupe to victory lane for the 7th time this season. Gary Fri Jr. of Mastic Beach and Vinny Delaney of Holtsville were second and third in the Northeastern Office Equipment team cars.
The Super Pro Trucks ran a tidy non stop 20 lap main event with Mark Stewart of Riverhead taking home his 12th career win in his first start of the season. The win moves the teenage driver to 6th on the all time SPT win list. Taking advantage of the pole starting position mark Stewart wasted little time taking command of the race with Mike Albasini, a 10 time winner the class giving chase from second. Dave Brigati who started the race from 5th made his way to third and after spending several laps tracking Albasini the current championship leader moved to second passing Albasini to the inside entering the first turn. While Dave Brigati was able to reel Stewart in some he’d never actually get to the tailgate of the East End Building Chevy that Mark Stewart steers with the young talent taking a popular win. Brigati in his Quest Machining & Fabricating Chevy was second while Owen Grennan of Glen Cove placed third in the Excellence East Automotive Chevy. The chase for the 2017 SPT title tight one with Brigati leading Jack Handley Jr. of Medford by a slim 8 points entering the final month of the season.
Tapped to drive the Buzz Chew Chevrolet INEX Legend Race Car for the 30-lap time trial event Saturday Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead took full advantage of the opportunity scoring the victory in the extra distance event. Qualifying found Richie Davidowitz setting fast time with a lap of 13.828. When the top four redrew for the start of the race championship leader John Beatty Jr. drew the pole while Ellwood drew the outside pole and Davidowitz picked third. When the race got underway Beatty moved out front with Ellwood in tow for the first three laps. Beatty would lose the lead to Ellwood on lap 3 when his momentum was slowed by a lapped car, Ellwood took full advantage of the situation to move to the race lead with Richie Davidowitz also making his way by Beatty for second while the early leader settled into third. A Jonathan Parson spin on lap 8 set up a double file restart and when the race resumed Ellwood remained t front but Beatty was bale to sneak under Davidowitz for second. For the remainder of the race Kyle Ellwood would show the way driving off to his 18th career INEX Legend Race Car win at Riverhead now sits one win behind all time leading winner Danny McNamara of Water Mill. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick padded his championship lead to a very healthy 101 markers over defending champion Vinny Delaney with his runner-up finish in the Giella Electric entry. Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches was third in the Tony Power racer.
To say Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow was a driver on a mission in the 30-lap Street Stock race would indeed be an understatement as he drove to his first career victory in the class. In the last event earlier in the month Brown was stripped of a podium finish after failing past race tech and in fact discouraged by that turn of events was not going to return to race. Enter his girlfriend Jamie Curtis who told him to get back out on the track. Brown who started 10th ironically enough would wrestle the lead away from Jamie’s brother Kyle Curtis on lap 10 when he passed the early race leader to the outside exiting the fourth turn. Once Brown was out front in his Tischler Engines powered Staria Automotive Chevy there was no looking back as he looked to atone for his August 13th tech issues. Championship leader and most recent winner Greg Harris of Riverhead made his way from 12th to second and would stay in the tire tracks of the race leader but there would be no catching nor passing Brian Brown in this race. Harris would settle for second in his SGS Stone Works Chevy while Kyle Curtis of Hampton bays was third in the L.I. Poultry entry, his best finish of 2017.
Michael “Cheesebox” Rommeney of Bohemia outlasted John Denniston of Westbury to claim the win in the popular School Bus Demolition Derby making it a Rommeney family sweep of the School Bus Demo events in 2017 as Kevin Rommeney won the July event. Rommeney and Denniston went toe to toe after the due eliminated all other competitors. Early in the contest Jake Ruland’s bus went over on it’s side drawing a red flag, Jake emerged from the bus uninjured. Prior to winning the School Bus Demo, the popular “Cheesebox” was among the drivers giving fans a free ride through the Riverhead pit area on a School Bus.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Dave Brigati 3. Kyle Soper 4. Dillon Steuer 5. Howie Brode 6. Chris Young 7 John Fortin Sr. 8. John Fortin Jr. 9. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 10. Roger Turbush 11. Joe Hartmann 12. Cory Midgett 13. Vinny Biondolillo 14. David Schneider DNS-John Baker
Late Models: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Scott Kulesa 3. Eric Zeh 4. Ray Minieri 5. Shawn Patrick 6. Jeremy McDermott 7. Chris Turbush 8. Kevin Metzger 9. Steve Mastro 10. Darren McCabe 11. Brandon Turbush 12. Ken Matlach 13. Daryn Miller 14. Kyle Ellwood
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Gary Fritz Jr. 3. Vinny Delaney 4. Tom Ferrara 5. Brian Hansen 6. Charlie Macwhinne 7. Greg Harris 8. Dan Lynch Jr. 9. Scott Pedersen
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Mark Stewart 2. Dave Briagti 3. Owen Grennan 4. Jack Handley Jr. 5. Sean Glennon 6. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 7. Eddie Schutze 8. Lou Maestri 9. Mike Albasini DNS- Dennis Cunningham
INEX Legend Race Cars: 1. Kyle Ellwood 2. John Beatty Jr. 3. Richie Davidowitz 4. Brad Van Houten 5. George Tomko Jr. 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Eric Hersey 8. Ray Fitzgerald 9. Paul Dodorico 10. Jerry Curran 11. Ed Cheslak 12. Jonathon Parsons 13. Mike Mortimer 14. Dennis Kurras 15. Steve Boland 16. Jeff Ottos Jr. 17. Mike Benton 18. Matt Brode 19. Mike Van Houten Jr. 20. Silas Hiscock Sr. 21. Riley O’Keefe 22. Joey Villatoro DNS Jeffrey Farruggia
Street Stocks: 1. Brian Brown 2. Greg Harris 3. Kyle Curtis 4. Rhett Fogg 5. Greg Zaleski 6. Glenn Simonin 7. Chris Lescenski 8. Brian McCormack 9. Dale Doherty 10. Sal Sinatro 11. Joe Boccia 12. Ed Fontana 13. Gerard Lawrence
School Bus Demolition Derby: Winner- Michael Rommeney