By Bob Finan
With the mighty NASCAR Modifieds lined-up in the pit are and ready to do battle in their 40-lap feature event at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night light rain arrived over the historic quarter mile oval forcing the race to be postponed until Saturday night September 23rd. The make up race will be run before qualifying takes place for the regularly scheduled race card that evening. In action that was completed veteran “Jumping” Jack Orlando of Calverton won his second Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate race of 2017 in a 25-lap affair.
Rookie talent Kurt Kreiger broke to the early lead of the Modified Crate race with Jack Orlando in tow early before his brother-in-law Dave Brigati made his way by setting his sights on leader Kreiger. As the duo entered the first turn on lap 5 Brigati got into the back of Kreiger slightly sending both drivers up the race track allowing third place Orlando to shoot the gap under the two leaders for the race lead. Also taking advantage of the opening would be two time winner Michael Rutkoski who made his way to second under Kreiger and Brigati. With Rutkoski staying right in his tire tracks Jack Orlando in his Prototype Race Fabrication Chevy would hit his marks for the remainder of the race taking home win number two in just his fifth start of the year. Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck was runner-up in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet entry while championship leader Dave Brigati of Calverton was third across the line in the Quest Machining & Fabricating Chevy.
It takes a special kind of driver to compete in the Figure Eight class of Riverhead Raceway and Saturday night their courage was really put to the test as they raced in a light rain with Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach scoring his second with of the season in a race that was halted on lap 10 of the schedules 15-lap distance. Tom Kraft Jr. showed the way early on with impressive rookie Greg Harris sitting second for the first two laps. Lap three would find Fritz who started the race from 8th making his way to the front quickly as he passed Harris for second. One lap later Fritz in the Northeastern Office Equipment ’57 Chevy would work his way by Kraft for the race lead. Both Tom Ferrara and Tom Rogers Jr. also made their way to the front of the field after starting 9th & 10th respectfully both taking turns running second to Fritz. A lap 10 caution flag for a minor spin would see track officials deem the race official as the rain picked up intensity leaving Gary fritz Jr. the winner. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead was second in the Bays Bar & Grill Chevy Coupe while Tom Ferrara of Patchogue crossed the line third in his Extreme Auto Body Cadillac.
“Lightening” Tim Mulqueen of Levittown finally rid himself of a black cloud that had been riding with him during the 2017 Blunderbust season as he won their 20-lap feature event. Armed with a pole starting position Mulqueen took full advantage of the front row starting berth racing out front at the throw of the green. Bill Wegmann Sr. at 72-years young chased Mulqueen for the first three laps of the contest before he was overtaken by Eriz Zeh to the inside off the fourth turn to start the 4th lap. Zeh filled the leader’s mirror for the rest of the race but Tim Mulqueen was not going to be denied this race win in his Hy Grade Auto Body machine. Eric Zeh of Selden was second in his Westhampton Auto Salvage Cadillac with Bill Wegmann Sr. posting a third place tally in his Crackerjack Auto Stores Olds Cutlass.
Another veteran driver ridding himself of the bad racing luck that hounded him this season would be “The King of Queens” Mike Albasini of Flushing who won his first race of 2017, 11th overall in his career. Armed with the pole for the 20-lap race that would go green to checker without a caution flag Mike Albasini in his Merkel Race Engines powered Chevy took the early lead and never looked back in route to the popular win. Teenage talent Owen Grennan of Glen Cove gave chase to Albasini during the race but would have to settle for runner-up money in his Evergreen Fencing & Estate Screening Chevy while veteran Lou Maestri of Deer Park completed the podium with a third place finish in his Hunter Business Schools Chevy. Maestri, who has been stuck on 29 career wins since May of 2015 is hoping to hit the milestone 30 win mark before the season concludes.