Riverhead, NY May 26th
By Bob Finan
Defending NASCAR Modified and Figure Eight champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead double dipped Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway when he won the 40-lap NASCAR Modified and 15-lap Figure Eight events during the NASCAR Whelen All American Series program. His NASCAR Modified triumph, 49th of his career leaves Rogers just one win shy of tying the late Jim Malone Sr. for second on the all time win list at the track.
Rookie Dylan Slepian and former three time track champion Howie Brode made up the front row for the 22-car feature with Brode edging out front from the outside pole at the throw of the green. Slepian chased Brode for the first early on in the race but pressure would be coming soon for the challenger in the form of Tom Rogers Jr. who weaved his way from eighth to third over the first dozen laps of the race. On lap 14 Rogers exiting the fourth turn ducked under Slepian to take over second as the field started the 15th lap of the race. Once to second Rogers effort to catch leader Brode would be further aided when the yellow flag waved on lap 16.
With Brode to the inside and Rogers to the outside for the restart both drivers knew getting a good restart could very well determine the outcome of the event. Kyle Soper the opening night winner raced his way from 14th to third and he was hoping to find a way under Brode for second when the race resumed. When the green waved again Rogers in his License To Chill Chevy rode the outside line down the front stretch to get an advantage on Brode as the duo entered the first turn for the race lead. Soper’s hopes of trailing Rogers under Brode went by the boards when his car broke loose at the hit of the throttle but Kyle was able to hold onto third. Late in the race Rogers and Brode would be pitted side by side on double file restarts but each gave the other plenty of racing room as they dueled for the win.
At the checker Tom Rogers Jr. was first over the line and after the race reflected, “I enjoy racing with Howie, we can go side by side without worrying about anything. We are trying some new set-up stuff this year and so far we’re happy with how it is working out”. When quizzed by Bob Finan in victory lane about his next win tying him for second on the all time win list Rogers with a wry grin shot back “you keep track of that stuff, I just come here to win races”.
Howie Brode of East Islip was runner-up in the Petro Home Services Chevy noting afterwards. “Tommy’s good, right now he’s the king of the Modifieds here”. Kyle Soper of Manorville crossed the line third in the Eastport Feeds entry with John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and Craig Lutz of Miller Place completing the top five.
Kyle Soper backed up his opening night Late Model win with another 25-lap victory in his RP Landscaping racer. Former two time champion Kevin Metzger raced his way to the early race lead from the pole when the tilt got underway with Chris Turbush making a bold early race move to come from third to second at the start. After tracking Metzger for the first 13-laps of the race Turbush off turn two tried to make his move for the race lead with Metzger having none of it. The two cars locked together off turn two for a moment with the end result finding Turbush spinning with a front flat tire while Metzger was able to remain the race leader. On the ensuing restart after the Turbush spin in turn three, Kyle Soper who started the race 8th and had come to second rode the high side around Metzger for the race lead when the green came back out. Once to the front Soper was bale to get away from Metzger due in part to the early race leader now under attack for second from Jeremy McDermott. After testing Kevin for a few laps Jeremy made a power move to the outside to loop around the early race leader for second off turn four. However there would be no catching Kyle Soper in this contest as he drove off to his 8th career win. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was second in the Staria Automotive Chevy while Kevin Metzger of Massapequa was third in his Complete Well & Pump entry.
Despite the fact Jack Orlando of Calverton is in some cases twice the age of his Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate competitors the veteran wheelman is showing the younger set how it’s done as he lead all 25-laps of their main event for the popular victory. Starting from the outside pole Jack wasted no time in getting his Prototype Fabricating Chevy to the race lead getting the jump on pole sitter Scott Pedersen when the green lights came on. Dennis Krupski who started the race 4th latched onto Orlando’s rear bumper to come to second and he’d spend the first half of the race looking at the back bumper of Orlando’s machine. Not even a mid-race caution for a minor spin could ruin the run that Jack Orlando was enjoying as he remained out front for the rest of the race to notch his third career win. Opening night winner Justin Brown of Manorville would finish second in his Irrigation Services of L.I. Chevy while Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches had a fine showing in third with his Vecchio Cesspool entry.
Just moments after his NASCAR Modified triumph Tom Rogers Jr. hopped aboard the Keith Repp owned Chevy Coupe to compete in the 15-lap Figure Eight main event. Gary Fritz Jr. paced the race over Johnny Vullo for the first three laps before Vullo was passed by Vinny Delaney for second on lap 4. Vinny, the 2016 INEX Legend Race Car champion at the track has been getting more comfortable with each Figure Eight start kept the pressure on leader Fritz until a 10th lap restart with 5 to go changed the complexion of the race. Rogers, who started the race from 9th made his way to third but when the green flag waved Tom made a bold move to the inside of both Fritz and Delaney as they entered the left hand turn. The calculated move by Rogers would payoff as he’d lead the final five laps of the race to post his 37th career win in the class. Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach was second over the line in his self funded ’57 Chevy while Tom Ferrara of Patchogue was third in his Northeastern Office Equipment Cadillac.
The Blunderbusts competed in a 30-lap feature event with Jack Handley of Medford scoring a clean sweep setting fast time, leading all 30-laps on his way to victory. The win was the 23rd of Jack’s young career which ties him with Fred Rodgers for second on the all time BB win list. Handley posted a qualifying time of 14.918 earning a $100 bonus from PCFI Carbs and Fuel Injection Service. Right from the throw of the green Jack Handley served notice he was the car to beat as he took the early lead with Jim Laird Jr. in tow. Just as the field took the crossed flags at the halfway point of the race Laird was overtaken for second by defending champion Tom Pickerell but he too could only watch as Handley drove off to victory in the Relle Electric Caprice. Pickerell of Huntington was runner-up in the Sequel Group Chevy while rookie talent Russ Jansen of Medford impressed with a solid third place tally in the Polar Bear Air racer.
Sophomore Super Pro Truck driver Eddie Schutze of Oyster Bay in just his 10th career start led wire to wire to win a non stop 20-lap race for his first career win. Frank Dumicich Jr. and Schutze made up the front row for the race and to the slight surprise of many Eddie, last year’s Rookie of the Year in the class got the jump on Dumicich for the race lead. On lap 2 Dumicich was overhauled for second by Mike Albasini but with the race going non stop and Schutze getting off to such a good lead early there would be no catching the Park Service of Sagamore Chevy as Eddie maintained a comfortable lead for the duration of the race all the while hoping for no caution flags. Albasini of Flushing in his Hollis Court Collision Chevy and Mark Stewart of Riverhead steering the Lucharito’s of Riverhead mount were second and third.
Steve Fuller of Manorville dominated the 20-lap Mini Stock race in his Getawaycarz.com entry taking the lead of the race at the outset. Ryan Warren gave chase for the first 18 laps of the contest but late race misfortune dropped Ryan to the infield moving Paul Wojcik of Centereach to second where he’d finish in the VDR Graphics machine. Brandon Esposito of Farmingville completed the podium finish in his Versa Construction backed racer.
Talented Joe Warren Jr. of Rocky Point decided during the off season he would race with the Truck Enduro class building a truck during the off season. Joe, a former champion in the 4/6-Cylinder class made the transition look easy as he dominated their 40-lap feature. Newcomer Cameron Sadowski started from the pole and led the first two laps of the race before Jarret Campbell got by on lap 3. Campbell would lead until the 6th lap when Joe Warren Jr. coming from the 9th starting spot made his way out front. Once in the lead Warren never looked back with defending champion Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point second in the Abner Tree Experts S-10 and Matt Triola of Bay Shore third in the PCFI racer.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Howie Brode 3. Kyle Soper 4. John Beatty Jr. 5., Craig Lutz 6. Dave Brigati 7. John Baker 8. Vinny Biondolillo 9. John Fortin Sr. 10. Chris Young 11. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 12. David Schneider 13. John Fortin Jr. 14. Eric Zeh 15. Sal Accardi Jr. 16. Brad Van Houten 17. Dylan Slepian 18. Roger Turbush 19. Eric Goodale 20. CJ Lehmann 21. Cory Midgett 22. Tim Lento
Late Models: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Kevin Metzger 4. Chris McGuire 5. Ray Minieri 6. Ed Cheslak 7. Darren McCabe 8. Chris Turbush DNS- Ryan Zurkowski, Charles Macwhinnie
Modified Crates: 1. Jack Orlando 2. Justin Brown 3. Artie Pedersen III 4. Peter Bertuccio 5. Michael Rutkoski 6. AJ DeSantis 7. Jason Hansen 8. Scott Pedersen 9. Dennis Krupski 10. Cary Rogers 11. Michael Rommeney 12. Terry Stiles 13. Chris Rogers
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Gary Fritz Jr. 3. Tom Ferrara 4. Eric Zeh 5. Scott Pedersen 6. Johnny Vullo 7. Vinny Delaney 8. Ken Hyde Jr. 9. Bob Dalke 10. Charles Macwhinnie 11. Brian Hansen
Blunderbusts: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Tom Pickerell 3. Russ Jansen 4. Cody Triola 5. Jim Laird Jr. 6. Bill Wegmann Sr. 7. Jarrett Campbell 8. Brandon Hubbard 9. Tommy Walkowiak 10. Alyssa Paprocky 11. Dennis Kurras 12. Brian MIdgett Jr. DQ- Tim Mulqueen
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Eddie Schutze 2. Mike Albasini 3. Mark Stewart 4. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 5. Dave Brigati 6. Lou Maestri 7. Tom Sullivan 8. Frank Dumicich Sr. 9. Frank Dumicich Jr.
Mini Stocks: 1. Steve Fuller 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Brandon Esposito 4. Ryan Warren 5. Andrew Farnham 6. Mitch Pattern 7. Russ Jansen 8. Tom Puccia 9. Joe Cook Jr. 10. Tony Collingsworth 11. Preston Prydatko 12. Heather Dugre
Truck Enduro: 1. Joe Warren Jr. 2. Don Nelson Jr. 3. Matt Triola 4. Gary Voight 5. Mariah Lawrence 6. Dustin Cole 7. Danielle Cohen 8. Mike Bneton 9. Emily Hubbard 10. Danielle Corwin 11. Cameron Sadowski 12. Doug Tittle 13. Jarrett Campbell 14. Justin McGrady 15. RJ Gage