JOHN FORTIN SR. & TOM ROGERS JR. TO DECIDE TITLE IN 2017 FINALE SATURDAY NIGHT
Riverhead, NY Sept. 23rd.
A busy night of NASCAR Whelen All American Series racing including two 40-lap NASCAR Modified events were presented at Riverhead Raceway Saturday with John Baker of Brookhaven and David Schneider of Northport splitting the two races. Baker’s triumph came in the first race which was held over from September while Schneider’s came in the regularly schedules race. It was the second career win for both drivers. The 2017 NASCAR Modified championship will be decided between two former three time track champions this Saturday with John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville taking a slim 4 point lead over Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue into the final night of racing.
On Sunday September 17th prior to an Enduro program at the track John Baker and his Moe’s Southwest Grill team came out and logged numerous laps of practice with their car and that effort paid dividends Saturday afternoon when he took down the first 40-lap NASCAR Modified race. Prior to the win Baker’s season had been one racked with some good runs but also one with some tough results along the way. Needless to say the victory was a much needed one for the Baker team and family. John Fortin Sr. in his John’s Fuel Oil Chevy was runner-up while Eddie Brunnhoelzl III was third in the East End Builders Chevy. Championship leader Tom Rogers Jr. and Dave Brigati of Calverton completed the top five.
In the nightcap after leading early and then surrendering the lead David Schneider rebounded to capture the 40-lap main event. Schneider and his ESM Motorsports team prior to the 2017 season made the decision to call Riverhead Raceway their home track instead of venturing out on the road as they had done in prior seasons. Aside from his two NASCAR Modified wins in ’17 Schneider also had a stellar third place showing in the Islip 300 back in May and the choice to stay on L.I for their 2017 racing has panned out nicely for the Ray Grennan led team. Howie Brode of East Islip was second in his Petro Home Services Chevy while Kyle Soper of Manorville was third in the East Port Feeds entry. John Fortin Sr. and 2017 INEX Legend Race Car champion John Beatty Jr. of Merrick rounded out the top five.
With Tom Rogers Jr. suffering from an axle failure in the second race dropping him to a 12th place finish coupled with John Fortin Sr. coming home 4th Fortin will lead Rogers 690-686 heading into Saturday nights finale. Howie Brode has clinched third in the 2017 championship standings.
After chasing CJ Lehmann for a good part of the race defending Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate champion Dave Brigati drove to victory in the 30-lap main event. In qualifying Dave Brigati came within 1/1000th of a second of the track record when he toured the quarter mile in 12.616 missing out on his own track mark set earlier this year of 12.615, After hounding CJ Lehmann for the lead for a good portion of the race Brigati broke out front with just over five laps remaining in the race to score his 9th career win in the Quest Machining & Fabricating Chevy. CJ Lehmann of Center Moriches seeking his first win of the year was second in his IGA Food Markets entry while recent first time winner Justin Brown of Manorville was third in the KMS Kustoms Chevy. With the win and a 6th place finish by Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills for the second year in a row Dave Brigati clinches Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate championship. The win was Dave’s 6th of 2017.
Simply stated Tom Rogers Jr. has owned the Figure Eight division at Riverhead Raceway in 2017 as he notched his 8th win of the year and in the process clinches the championship. Right out of the gate Tom Rogers Jr. and his Bays Bar & Grill team have been the team to beat with crew chief “Gizmo” at the top of his game on the Chevrolet Coupe. Rookie talent Greg Harris of Riverhead drove the SGS Stone Works Chevy of car owner Ken Hyde Jr. to a runner-up finish while Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach came across the line third in his Northeastern Office Equipment ’57 Chevy. The win was the 34th of Tom Rogers Jr. Figure Eight career.
After having won some races after other drivers had post race issues in technical inspection the foot was literally on the other foot Saturday after the Blunderbust 20-lap feature event was completed. “The Wildchild” Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge appeared to have recovered from a recent blown engine to record his 64th career win in the class but in post race tech his car was moved to last place for “unapproved engine seals”. That turn of event moved Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead into victory lane for the third time this season in his Poolsmith Inc. Caprice. 73-year old Bill Wegmann Sr. of North Bellmore was runner-up in his Crackerjack Auto Stores Olds with Tim Mulqueen of Levittown third in the Hy-Grade Auto Body Cadillac. For Laird the win was the fourth of his career. Despite a 9th place finish “Slick Pick” Tom Pickerell of Huntington as clinched the 2017 Blunderbust title going into the final night of racing.
In what many veteran race fans are terming one of the best races in the 67-year history of the track Mike Albasini of Flushing outlasted teenage sensation Mark Stewart of Riverhead to win the ultra competitive 20-lap Super Pro Truck main event. The duo swapped the lead numerous times to the delight of all watching on with outside passes, inside passes and crossover moves the norm. In the end “The King of Queens” Mike Albasini steering his Hollis Court Collision Chevy topped “The Real Deal” Mark Stewart in his East End Builders machine. When he rolled into the winners circle after the hard fought win Albasini was both physically and mentally spent after the torrid battle for the win. Sophomore driver Sean Glennon of Northport watched on from third where he’d finish in the Rob’s Deli Chevy. The win was Albasini’s 12th of his career tying him with Stewart and Dave Brigati for 6th on the all-time win list.
The 2017 Super Pro Truck championship will come down to this Saturday night’s final 20-lape feature with Dave Brigati leading Owen Grennan of Glen Cove by 7 points, 622 to 615 with Jack Handley Jr. of Medford third at 605. The trio will decide the title.
Brad Van Houten of Wading River made his first visit to victory lane in 2017 when he won the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car main event. During the off season Van Houten had an all new car built for 2017 but early in the season the veteran driver and his team were scratching their heads with the machine. After a trip to noted fabricator “Bootsie” Van Houten had what it took to win Saturday night in his Riverhead Building Supply machine. Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead gave Van Houten a run for his money before settling for second in the Robin & Elaine Vollmoeller owned car while Jeff Otto Jr. of Deer Park placed third in the Designs For Vision machine.
Mike Mujsce Jr. of Hampton Bays officially clinched the 2017 Mini Stock championship when he won their feature event Saturday night in his Premier Pest Control Toyota. Paul Wojcik of Centereach was second in his VDR Graphics racer with Bryan Kelly of Aquebogue in his final start before relocating to Florida third in the John’s Tree Removal mount.
Second generation driver Jamie “Kilzone” Kilkenny of Howard Beach collected his second career National Demolition Derby Championship when he topped a hard hitting field of competitors for the $1,000 victory in his Monsters Recycling entry. Jason Savoy of Lake Panamoka was named Judge’s Choice while Tom Kilkenny of Babyon was voted the Fan’s Choice.
NASCAR Modifieds (9-2-17 holdover) 1. John Baker 2. John Fortin Sr. 3. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. Dave Brigati 6. Kyle Soper 7. Howie Brode 8. Dillon Steuer 9. Roger Turbush 10. Chris Young 11. CJ Lehmann DNS- Ken Darch
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. David Schneider 2. Howie Brode 3. Kyle Soper 4. John Fortin Sr. 5. John Beatty Jr. 6. John Baker 7. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 8. Brad Van Houten 9. Dillon Steuer 10. Dylan Slepian 11. Chris Young 12. Tom Rogers Jr. 13. Dave Brigati 14. Roger Turbush 15. CJ Lehmann
Modified Crates: 1. Dave Brigati 2. CJ Lehmann 3. Justin Brown 4. Dennis Krupski 5. Michael Rutkoski 6. Dylan Slepian 7. Kevin Orlando 7. Peter Bertuccio 8. Michael Rommeney 9. AJ DeSantis 10. Scott Pedersen 11. Jay Hansen 12. Kurt Kreiger
Figure Eight: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Greg Harris 3. Gary Fritz Jr. 4. Scott Pedersen 5. Tom Kraft Jr. 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Eric Zeh 8. Bob Dalke 9. Tom Ferrara 10. Charles Macwhinnie 11. Brian Hansen 12. Dan Lynch Jr.
Blunderbusts: 1. Jim Laird Jr. 2. Bill Wegmann Sr. 3. Tim Mulqueen 4. Derek Wegmann 5. Joshua Creel 6. Tom Sullivan 7. Cody Triola 8. Wayne Meyer 9. Tom Pickerell 10. Tom Puccia 11. Alyssa Paprocky 12. Eric Zeh 13. Tommy Walkowiak DNS- Bill Wegmann Jr.
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Mike Albasini 2. Mark Stewart 3. Sean Glennon 4. Owen Grennan 5. Dave Brigati 6. Jimmy Rennick 7. Eddie Schutze 8. Jack Handley Jr. 9. Lou Maestri DNS- Dennis Cunningham
Legend Race Cars: 1. Brad Van Houten 2. Kyle Ellwood 3. Jeff Otto Jr. 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Vinny Delaney 6. Artie Pedersen III 7. Jim Sylvester 8. Mike Van Houten Jr. 9. Jerry Curran 10. Tony Colandro 11. Jonathan Parsons 12. Mike Benton 13. Eric Hersey 14. Silas Hiscock Sr. 15. Riely O’Keefe 16. Steve Woytysiak 17. Joey Villatoro 18. George Tomko Jr. 19. Stephen Coleman 20. Ed Cheslak 21. Matt Brode 22. Dennis Kurras 23. Mike Mortimer
Mini Stock: 1. Mike Mujsce Jr. 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Bryan Kelly 4. Brandon Esposito 5. Steve Fuller 6. Joe Warren Jr. 7. Robert Dugre 8. Tony Collingsworth 9. Russ Jansen 10. Ryan Warren 11. Joe Cooke 12. Chris Elixson
National Championship Demolition Derby: Winner- Jamie Killkenny Judge’s Choice- Jason Savoy Fan’s Choice- Tom Kilkenny