Riverhead, NY July 14th
By Bob Finan
When Kyle Soper of Manorville awoke Saturday morning he knew he’d be racing a Late Model later in the evening at Riverhead Raceway. When Jack Orlando of Calverton awoke Saturday morning he knew due to a high fever and double ear ache he could not compete in his Crate Modified. Contact between the two parties was made and the rest as they say is history. Kyle Soper went out and led all 30-lap of the Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified race worth a $1,000 when Ben Vecchio posted a $500 bonus for the win to celebrate the life of his late Dad Anthony. Later in the show Soper went out and won his third Late Model race of the year.
In qualifying Dave Brigati of Calverton two time & defending champion making his first start of the year smashed the track record when he turned a lap of 12.551 however the redraw was not kind the Dave as he redrew fifth. Justin Brown and Kyle Soper drew the first row and when the green flag dropped it would be Soper riding the outside groove to the race lead over Brown. Championship leader Michael Rutkoski who started third worked his way under Brown for second setting his sights on race leader Soper. Despite the $500 bonus for the win and lap money being paid out the Crate Modifieds clicked off the 30-lapper without incident or a caution flag. Only one lazy spin by Jay Hansen took place with Jason keeping his foot on the gas driving away. That was good new for leader Soper and perhaps not such good news for Rutkoski who surely would have loved a shot at the race lead on a double file restart. With no caution flags in sight Kyle Soper drove off in the Prototype Race Fabrication Chevy for the win. Over his young career Kyle has now won in the INEX Legend Race Cars, Late Models, Crate Modifieds and NASCAR Modifieds at the track. Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck was runner-up in his Buzz Chew Auto Group Chevy while track record holder Dave Brigati raced his way to third at the halfway mark of the race which is where he’d finish in the Quest Machining entry.
Rookie driver Ryan Zurkowski broke out to the early race lead in the 25-lap Late Model main event chased over the first lap by former two time champion Kevin Metzger. Lap 2 found Metzger yielding second to Jeremy McDermott a former three time champion who set his sights on the freshman race leader. McDermott made his move for the race lead on lap 3 ducking under Zurkowski exiting the fourth turn to start the fourth lap. Zurkowski in an impressive run would hold the second spot until the 8th lap when he was over hauled by defending champion Kyle Soper. Once Kyle dispatched of Zurkowski he quickly set his sights on leader McDermott. After chasing the leader for eight laps Soper was ready to make a bid for the race lead which he did successfully on lap 18 with an outside pass racing down the backstretch. Once in the lead the current championship leader raced off to his third win of the season in the Eastport Feeds Chevy, his 9th career victory. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was runner-up in the JDP Mechanical Chevy while the drive of the race would belong to Jarrod Hayes of Calverton who drove from a 13th starting berth to come home third in his Meadowbrook Collision machine.
Simply stated Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead is flat out dominating the Figure Eight class in 2018. For the fifth time in six race the defending champion Rogers sat in victory lane at the conclusion of the 15-lap main event. Tom’s teammate Eric Zeh broke to the early race lead chased at first by Scott Pedersen and then Vinny Delaney. However a 4th lap restart after a hard crash involving Tom Ferrara in turn four of the Figure Eight course slowed the race. Tom was uninjured after a very hard hit. When the race resumed Tom Rogers made his move for the race lead working his way by both Delaney and Zeh. Once out front in the United Exhaust Shop Chevy Coupe Rogers didn’t just pull away this time as both Zeh and Delaney stayed hot on his heels. In the end however Rogers would prevail for a milestone 40th career win in the division. Zeh of Selden was second in his Keith Repp owned mount while Delaney of Holtsville was third in the South Bay Sayville Auto Repair Chevy.
Jack Handley Jr. of Medford is also another driver enjoying a successful season as me made his fourth trip to victory lane on the year winning the 20-lpa Blunderbust event for his 25th career victory. Outside pole sitter Alyssa Paprocky made her way to the race lead at the throw of the green getting the measure of Brandon Hubbard who stated from the pole. Paprocky led the first lap but was soon pressured by Handley who started the race fourth in what was a short field of cars. With momentum gained on the outside Handley raced his way by Paprocky down the backstretch for the race lead. Paprocky remained second until the 5th lap when she was passed by Cody Triola for the position. Try as he might Triola could only watch as Jack Handley Jr. raced off to yet another win in his Liccardi Builders Chevy. Cody Triola of Bay Shore was second in the Cesspool Pros entry while defending champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington was third in the Makely Industries Chevy.
Veteran talent Jim Sylvester of Massapequa collected his first win of 2018 when he topped the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature. Newcomer Riely O’Keefe and Mike Benton brought the field to the green flag with O’Keefe taking control of the race early with Benton in tow. O’keefe impressed as the teenage driver led the first 9 laps of the contest before he was passed by Benton for the lead. tested tough Jim Sylvester who started the race 7th made his way towards the front of the field racing his way to third soon to become a player in the race for the lead. Benton would lead the 10th & 1th laps before he was passed by Sylvester on lap 12. Also on the march from the fourth row of the field would be Eric Hersey who started 8th. Once Sylvester took the lead with 8 laps remaining in the race Hersey soon found his way to second but it would turn out to be too little , too late. As the race concluded Jim Sylvester was one happy race winner exiting his Oval Speed Unlimited car in victory lane. Hersey of Commack was runner up in the Luau of Long island racer while Benton of East Hampton posted a career best third place finish in the Hampton Gas Tank Services machine.
Brandon Espositio of Famingville collected the 20-lap Mini Stock victory for his first win in the class this season. Mitch Pattern made his way out front at the start and was chased for the first three laps by Joe Cook Jr. Lap 4 saw Brandon Esposito work his way by Cook for second on a double file restart while Pattern remained the race leader. As the field started the 6th lap things went bad in a hurry for race leader Pattern whose car made a sudden right while racing off the second turn. Mitch who was okay afterwards revealed a steering failure was to blame for a hard hit into the wall. That turn of events left Brandon Esposito as the new race leader and when the race got back underway the driver of the Hilltop Cafe entry drove off to his 2nd career victory in the Mini Stocks. Paul Wojcik of Centereach who came to second when Esposito took the lead would finish there in his VDR Graphics racer while Russ Jansen of Medford placed third in the JJJ Rindos mount.
In a highly competitive 40-lap Gut & Go Enduro Christian Conklin of Riverhead made it two in a row as he won for the second time this year. Former 8-Cyliner and Grand Enduro driver Dege Russell of Rocky Point moved to the Gut & Go class and was impressive leading the race early on after starting 14th. Conklin who started the race from the 17th starting berth also made his way to the front quickly and soon a fierce fight for the lead ensued. Conklin steering the Let It Shine Detailing Hyundai took the lead from Russell but Dege in the Kelly Russell Realty entry fought right back staying glued to the back bumper of the leader as they darted through lapped traffic. In the end Conklin would prevail with Russell having to be content with second. Tom Pickerell of Huntington made the drive of the race as he finished third after started his Pickerell Clam & Lobster entry for the 34th spot.
Crate Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Michael Rutkoski 3. Dave Brigati 4. Justin Brown 5. Owen Grennan 6. Artie Pedersen III 7. Chris Rogers 8. Peter Bertuccio 9. Dennis Krupski 10. Scott Pedersen 11. AJ DeSantis 12. Jason Hansen
Late Models: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Jarrod Hayes 4. Dave Brigati 5. Kevin Metzger 6. Ken Matlach 7. Scott Kulesa 8. Ray Minieri 9. Chris Turbush 10. Chris McGuire 11. Ryan Zurkowski 12. Brian Doyle 13. Daryn Miller 14. Charles Macwhinnie
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Eric Zeh 3. Vinny Delaney 4. Ken Hyde Jr. 5. Scott Pedersen 6. Gary Fritz Jr. 7. Bob Dalke 8. Charles Macwhinnie 9. Brian Hansen 10. Rick Swanson 11. Tom Ferrara 12. Paul Cummings
Blunderbusts: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Cody Triola 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Jim laird Jr. 5. Alyssa Paprocky 6. Brandon Hubbard 7. Russ Jansen 8. Bill Wegmann Sr. 9. Jarrett Campbell DNS- Tim Mulqueen
Legend Race Cars: 1. Jim Sylvester 2. Eric Hersey 3. Mike Benton 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Richie Davidowitz 6. Riely O’Keefe 7. Jerry Curran 8. Vinny Delaney 9. George Tomko Jr. 10. Ed Cheslak 11. Allan Pedersen 12. Mike Van Houten Jr. 13. Silas Hiscock Sr. 14. Jeff Otto Jr. 15. Matt Brode 16. Stephen Coleman 17. Jonathan Parsons 18. Scott Cheslak 19. Steve Woytysiak 20. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 21. Rich Braun 22. Alex Halinar 23. Steve Hersey
Mini Stocks: 1. Brandon Esposito 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Russ Jansen 4. Andrew Farnham 5.Steve Fuller 6. Joe Cooke Jr. 7. Tony Collingsworth 8. Jamie Meyer 9. Steve Catalano 10.Ryan Warren 11. Mitch Pattern 12. Preston Prydatko 13. Chris Elixson
Gut & Go Enduro: 1. Christian Conklin 2. Dege Russell 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Woot Lawrence 5. Tony Collingsworth 6. Paul Rivera 7. Dan Augustine 8. Bryan Moore 9. Scott Phiilips 10. Fred Grover 11. John Palmeri 12. James O’Connell 13. Dimitra Pickerell 14. Robert Savoy 15. Doug Tittle 16. Marty O’Connell 17. Shawn Adler 18. Austin Elliston 19. Danielle Cohen 20. Drew Fohrkolb 21. Brad Bess 22. Charles Astacio 23. Joe Giamo 24. Eric Germuth 25. Tyler Bilere 26. Mike Lapedota 27. Mark Mahler 28. Steve Betcher 29. Dan Dimougno 30. Chris Perry 31. Steve Raynor 32. Don Laskey 33. Kayla Farrell 34. Kevin Augustine 35. Justin Squires 36. Joe Palmeri 37. Joe Warren Jr.