Tag Archives: Modifieds

Burt Myers Comes North To Riverhead Raceway for the Buzz Chew Auto Group 200

Burt Myers and car owner Ed Harvey at Myrtle Beach Speedway March 25th 2018 Michael Jaworecki Myracenews

Few short track drivers have attained the level of notoriety as short track racer Burt Myers. Burt has won 8 Bowman Gray Stadium Modified  Championships, 2 NASCAR Southern  Modified championships and many feature wins all across the south. Burt has also been a television personality on the show  Madhouse depicting the behind the scenes and on track racing at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem North Carolina

This season Ed Harvey and his southern based Modified team have been one of the few teams from below the Mason Dixon line to travel north and run with the NASCAR WMT. Ed’s main driver  this season has been Burt in Ed’s beautifully prepared Modifieds. Ed has committed to running the entire season except this months NHMS race.

I had a chance to speak both Ed and Burt about coming north to enter the NASCAR WMT Buzz Chew Auto Group 200 at Riverhead Raceway.

Ed is no stranger to Riverhead, John Blewett Jr. raced for his dad and together won they 1986 Riverhead Modified championship. I asked Ed about racing the tour this year and I asked him if he was having as much fun as it looked. Ed told me “I am enjoying this year, we are not points racing we are just looking to have fun. Burt is my main guy and will be in the car as many races as his schedule allows.”  Ed will bring a team to both Riverhead races this year and is really looking forward to these race.

Burt has an off week at his home track Bowman Gray so the opportunity arose to race at Riverhead a track he has never seen before..  According to Burt Riverhead has always been on his bucket list so having the Buzz Chew Auto Group 200 fall on his week off worked out perfectly.

Burt Myers #1 racing with Rob Summers #64 at Thompson International Speedway April 8th 2018 Michael Jaworecki Myracenews

After the Icebreaker Thompson  International Speedway Ed and Burt talked about Riverhead and decided to put the 2 races on the schedule. Burt who  had run the SMRS  Modified Tout had a race scheduled down south this weekend but  this year decided not to follow the circuit and venture north to follow the Whelen Tour with car owner Ed Harvey.

This year will be a year of several new tracks for Burt, Riverhead Oswego and possibly Stafford if he can work around the filming of the new Madhouse series are on his schedule. Discovery has been filing the revived  series all season and it will be broadcast  either this late fall or winter, Burt says they have not yet decided when it will air. NASCAR has given their blessing top the production of the show and with that should bring added exposure to make Madhouse 2 even bigger than the original.

I asked Burt about coming to Riverhead for the first time. ” I am very excited to be coming to Long Island.  Riverhead has been on my bucket list for a while and when the race coincided with my off week we decided we had to go”

Burt is looking to be competitive and Riverhead is his kind of track a tight 1/4 bull ring althopugh a bit more banking  than the flat oval around the football field at Bowman Gray..

Several drivers have spoken to Burt about Riverhead including Ryan Preece who gave him tips on getting around and local driver Dave Brigati has offered advice. Dave also offered the use of his shop just down the road from the track if the need arises. Dave even went as far as chipping in for tires as he is not entered in this race.

The star of Madhouse and multi time Bowman Gray champion is coming North this weekend to Riverhead Raceway and from the fan reaction  Burt Myers will have a lot of northern fans  looking to meet him at the autograph session and after the race in the pits.

Sapienza & Lutz Among Favorites Looking For First Tour Win at Riverhead

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Visits Long Island Bullring

 Few tracks on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour circuit provide the prime opportunity for a driver to utilize their home track advantage.

But, Riverhead Raceway, a quarter-mile on Long Island in New York, gives some of the local experience a chance to shine. The track runs their own weekly modified class as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series — and it is a division that has produced plenty of successful modified competitors in the past.

Saturday, the Whelen Modified Tour hits the bullring for the Buzz Chew Auto Group 200.

PIT BOX: Trip To Long Island On Deck For Whelen Modifieds

In the midst of the 200-lap fight for the checkered flag, the race for the championship will heat up as the series closes in on the halfway point. With three wins in the first six races, Justin Bonsignore holds a 23-point advantage over Chase Dowling, and has put himself in prime position as the early-season favorite to become champion. Bonsignore has deep racing roots from Long Island, and will look for his fifth career victory at the quarter-mile. In his last six starts, the Holtsville, New York, driver has all top five finishes, including three victories.

Hot on his tail, Islip, New York, native Timmy Solomito is looking to steer this No. 16 Starrett Tools Ford back into the winner’s circle, and enters the race as one of the odds-on favorites. Solomito is also a former Riverhead regular, and he swept both Whelen Modified Tour races last year. In his last four Riverhead efforts, he has three wins and a second-place finish.

But, like Bonsignore and Solomito, there are plenty of other drivers in the field who have racing roots that started right at the quarter-mile. In fact, since the start of the 2016 season, only four drivers have been to Victory Lane on the Whelen Modified Tour if their racing roots don’t come from Long Island or Connecticut.

Drivers with racing background from New York (specifically Riverhead) have been to Victory Lane 18 times in that span, while Connecticut natives follow closely, winning 15 times. Much like New York, Connecticut puts on some modified racing weekly, specifically at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in the SK Modified divisions. The four drivers to be victorious in that time that are not from those two states include Jimmy Blewett (New Jersey), Bobby Santos (Massachusetts) and Jon McKennedy (Massachusetts).

Sapienza Primed To Seal The Deal

Dave Sapienza, a native of Riverhead, heads to the race looking to capture his first career Whelen Modified Tour win. And if past history means anything, Sapienza could be among the favorites to win the seventh race of the Whelen Modified Tour season.

He has plenty of Riverhead experience under his belt in their NASCAR Modified class, and his statistics in Whelen Modified Tour action show he is going to be a threat. Even though he only has two top five finishes in six starts, last year, in the July race at Riverhead, Sapienza started 11th, and climbed through the field to finish second.

“Last year we had a good run, but unexpectedly, we had a new car there, and it was the debut with it,” Sapienza said. “Tommy (Grasso, crew chief) was a little bit familiar with it, but when we went to Riverhead, I was there at the end of the race, going for the win. I didn’t expect to be running second. I was almost in a fog.”

RACING-REFERENCE: Dave Sapienza’s Career Starts at Riverhead

Since that race, Sapienza seems to be starting to find his mojo on the track. He finished last season with a total of seven top 10 finishes, and he has been showing strong speed out of the gate in 2018 — scoring a best finish of fifth so far in the Thompson 125 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in June.

“Sometimes you strive forward, but then you have a setback, but as long as it isn’t my fault, I just can’t control it,” Sapienza said. “Like when there was oil on the race track (at Langley) and we got caught up in it, we had a good car for the distance of that race, but things happen.”

He is one of the drivers with the luxury of having a lot of laps around Riverhead in his past.

“But it’s a tough place,” Sapienza said. “I’m going into there with a full head of steam. I have the advantage because I have some laps there, but the track has changed some, and we are running on a little bit different tire than I did with the weekly division — I have some confidence because I really know how to get around the place.”

“You’re not really trying to win the race on the first 50, or even 100 laps, you just want to get some good track position and you hope that you have good luck. You want to try and start up towards the front,” Sapienza said of the 200-lap distance. “When we started 11th last year, I always thought about what would have happened if I started in the front. Sometimes I need that rabbit that I need to chase though. Sometimes being on the pole can get you nervous. I like to have to work my way to the front.”

RACING-REFERENCE: Previous Whelen Modified Tour races at Riverhead | Whelen Modified Tour drivers’ career stats at Riverhead

Time For Lutz To Make His Move

Craig Lutz at Seekonk Speedway June 2nd 2018 Michael Jaworecki Myracenews

The first six races of the season have also shown plenty of promise for Craig Lutz and his Goodie Motorsports team. He is fourth in the championship standings, and has finished inside the top 10 in every race except last time on track at Langley, where the motor expired while he was running inside the top five.

“It’s been an awesome start for us, we did a total 180 on the program from what we started with last year to what we have right now and everything is going in the right direction,” Lutz said. “We have to just keep plugging away, and hopefully end up in Victory Lane.”


Craig Lutz has finished a best of second, which came in the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in April. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)

“We have struggled a lit bit on the short run speed, and it makes it tough starting the race, because we are a little bit further back than we want to be. We have been putting a really good car together for the race, and in the end, that is all that really matters.”

His Riverhead experience includes competition in the NASCAR Modified class, but only on a limited basis. As he heads back to Long Island looking to score his first career Whelen Modified Tour win, Lutz finds himself headed to a short-track, one of the places he enjoys going to the most.

“I’ve run probably six to eight races there total in a modified, but I ran go-karts there when I was young, and I did that for years and years,” Lutz said. “I like most all of the tracks that we go to, but the short-tracks put it in the drivers hands, and makes you have a good setup for the long run. With no pit stops, it makes it more challenging to make sure that the car is going to be there at the end (of the race).”

Lutz mentions that there will be no pit stops on Saturday, and even though drivers will technically have the opportunity to visit pit lane for adjustments, they will likely lose at least one lap doing it. Pit road at Riverhead is not in the middle of the track like most others, which forces you to exit the racing asphalt, and it makes it nearly impossible to stay on the lead lap.

RACING-REFERENCE: Craig Lutz Career Starts | DRIVER PAGE: Craig Lutz

“I know that my crew chief is going to prepare a good car, we will roll off the trailer pretty close, and just work on the car for the long run. It’s a tough deal to be able to make the car be right, and you have to make an educated guess on what you might need for the feature,” Lutz said. “Riverhead is like nothing else. If you can get the car going good, you just hope it can be there at the end of it.”

Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200: Entry List | Race Center | Point Standings

Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes:

Time To Turnaround: Five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby is off to another tough start this season, and if he hopes to capture a fifth straight championship, he must look to turn things around quickly. The Milford, Connecticut, driver is more than 70 points from the top of the standings, and although he put an impressive summer stretch together last season to crawl back in the title chase, his 2018 uphill climb begins at a track he hasn’t seen any winning success. In 15 career starts at the quarter-mile Riverhead bullring, Coby has just five top fives and has yet to visit Victory Lane. However, he has finished on the podium and led 41 total laps in his last two starts at the New York oval.

Riverhead Regulars Storm In: In eight career starts at Riverhead, Tom Rogers, Jr., has just one top five, but has put together plenty of strong qualifying efforts. He has been the polesitter three times, and has qualified inside the top 10 in all of his starts. Saturday, Rogers will drive the No. 82 Horton Avenue Materials Chevrolet for Danny Watts. He currently sits second in the track’s modified point standings, and the only man in front of Rogers — Kyle Soper — has also entered for the 200-lap feature. In two starts in Whelen Modified Tour competition at the quarter-mile, Soper has a best finish of third that came last September. Both drivers finished 1-2 in the most recent weekly race, with Soper winning, followed by Rogers.

Pleasant Surprise: There are two young drivers on the entry list for Saturday’s Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200 at Riverhead that are certainly worth watching. Kyle Ellwood, who is in the field, qualified sixth and finished eighth in September. Blake Barney, an 18-year-old from Jackson, New Jersey, scored his first top 10 finish at Langley, and his heading to a bullring with plenty of confidence on his side.

Whelen All-American Series: The Whelen Modified Tour is just one of multiple divisions scheduled to compete on Saturday night. The Crate Modifieds, Blunderbusts and Street Stocks will all compete in feature action as part of the Whelen All-American Series night of racing.

Up Next: The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will move from New York to New Hampshire for the eighth race of the season, which will mark the halfway point. The Eastern Propane & Oil 100 on Saturday, July 21, will be preceded by the Whelen Engineering All-Star Shootout on Friday, July 20, a non-points special.

Justin Bonsignore Leads the Long Island Gang Home to Riverhead and the Buzz Chew Auto Group 200

By Michael Jaworecki Myracenews

The NASCAR Whelen Modified tour makes its way to Long Island for the first of two  2018  trips to Riverhead Raceway. Last weekend there were fireworks in the sky this weekend there will be fireworks on the tight 1/4 mile oval with a solid 31 car entry list for this weekends Buzz Chew Auto Group 200.

With 6 races in the books Justin Bonsignore in the Phoenix

Point leader Justin Bonsignore after his Seekonk Speedway win June 2nd 2018 Michael Jaworecki Myracenews

Communications  Ken Massa owned #51 from Holtsville NY leads the Long Island gang home and leads the point standings with 3 wins and  a very solid 23 point lead over young Chase Dowling.

Justin told me that he always looks forward to going home to Riverhead. He believes half the battle is going into these races with a positive outlook. He also believes that his new crew chief Ryan Stone will bring him another great car with a shot at a 4th win this year.

I asked Justin if it brings him satisfaction that he is a favorite each race. Justin humbly replied that he doesn’t feel that way yet but is confident he will be in contention each race. Justin says the WMT is still a very tough division.

Chase Dowling at Seekonk Speedway June 2nd 2018 Michael Jaworecki Myracenews.

Chase Dowling comes to Riverhead in second place in the point standing and has opened some eyes with 5 top 10 finishes. Last year Chase only ran partial schedule. this year in the Rob Fuller #15 he will complete the entire schedule. Chase  is a full time LFR employee has only been to Riverhead 4 times finishing as high as 3rd in a family owned car.   Chase said “With as well as this year is going he has expectations to not only be competitive but have a chance to win every week.” Chase is an up and coming short track racer that races weekly at Stafford Speedway in addition to running  full time on the NASCAR WMT. He believes that having Justin in an LFR car helps both teams and with Justin and Chase currently first and second in points he could be correct. Chase told me ” I love short track racing and tracks like Riverhead.”

Timmy Solomito is another top WMT  runner from Long Island and looks

Third place in points Timmy Solomito . Michael Jaworeckli Myracenews

to visit to his home track to pick up  his first win of the season. A win needed to help close the point gap between he and Justin. While not the start to the 2018 season that he had in 2017 I asked Timmy about this weekends race. ” Last year we had about a  20 point lead around this time. I know I have to go out there and give it all I have and let the chips fall where they may. Justin is good at Riverhead being he grew up there as well. Chase has been strong pretty much every race too and will be tough. A lot of good cars and teams will be there and it should be exciting.”

NASCAR Xfinty and Whelen WMT driver Ryan Preece Michael Jaworecki Myracenews.

Ryan Preece will make an appearance at Riverhead after his Xfinity Coca-Cola  Firecracker 250 start Friday July 7th at Daytona International Speedway. Ryan will be at one of the largest tracks on the  NASCAR Xfinity Series circuit Friday  and the smallest NASCAR WMT track  on Saturday. Ryan  will have a great shot at winning both races showcasing his racing talent. Ryan picked up a big $7,000 check several weeks ago at Riverhead in the Islip 300 so he will have to be considered one of the favorites at Riverhead.

The rest of the NASCAR field will have a real Long Island feel to it with over half the field being based on Long Island, current or  former Riverhead Raceway regulars.

Eric Goodale lives only a few miles from the track and has won at Riverhead before, you can never could Eric out. Craig Lutz looks like he has taken the next step with 4 top 10’s this year and 4th place in the standings. Craig looks to rebound from the last place finish at Thompson in the previous race. Dave Sapienza has turned many laps at Riverhead and can not be counted out.

With many of the Riverhead regulars running the Islip 300 last month they will not be at as big a disadvantage in a 200 lap feature as in previous years. We could return the first Riverhead regular to win a tour race in decades. 2017 track champion  Tom Rogers Jr will be running the event in the Danny Watts #82 normally driven by Woody Pitkat. The father son team of John Fortin and John G Fortin have entered and with this being John’s last season it would be a very satisfying win.

The field will also have several teams who  have not visited many times or making their first visit to Riverhead Raceway.  Burt Myers the current Modified point leader at Bowman Gray  Stadium, 8 time Bowman Gray Champion, 2 time Southern NASCAR WMT champion and star of the TV show Madhouse will be making his first trip to Riverhead  Burt will be in the Ed Harvey owned  Citrusafe / Dunleavy Truck & Trailer sponsored  #1 Modified.

Pits open at noon, gates open at 3;00, practice runs from 3:15-430, time trials at 6:00 and the 200 lap Buzz Chew Auto Group 200 goes green after the local divisions complete  their features.  Approximately 8:00/8:30.

Riverhead Raceway: 1797 Old Country Rd, Riverhead, NY 11901

Entry list for this race:
Nbr Driver Owner Car Crew Chief Sponsor
1 01   Melissa Fifield   Kenneth Fifield Chevrolet   Chad Dow   Crowells Towing
2 1   Burt Myers   Eddie Harvey Chevrolet   Eddie Harvey   Citrusafe / Dunleavy Truck & Trailer
3 2   Doug Coby   Mike Smeriglio III Chevrolet   Phil Moran   Mayhew Tools
4 3   Rowan Pennink   Jan Boehler Chevrolet   Greg Fournier   Cape Cod Copper / USNE Inc.
5 04   TBA   Brian Midgett Sr. Chevrolet   TBA   TBA
6 5   TBA   Mark Mina Chevrolet   TBA   MSM / Elite Motorsports
7 6   Ryan Preece   Ed Partridge Chevrolet   Jeff Preece   TS Hauler
8 14   Blake Barney   Richard Barney Chevrolet   Robert Barney   Atlantic Sprinkler
9 15   Chase Dowling   Rob Fuller Chevrolet   Steven Kopuk   15-40 Connection
10 16   Timmy Solomito   Eric Sanderson Ford   Stanley Szaban   Starrett
11 17   Kyle Ellwood   John Ellwood Chevrolet   TBA   LWood Landscaping
12 18   Ken Heagy   Robert Pollifrone Chevrolet   Desmond Gorman   Buoy One Seafood
13 21   Ronnie Williams   Joseph Bertuccio Chevrolet   Michael Bologna   Empower Financial Advisory
14 23   Joe DeGracia   Paul Degracia Chevrolet   Jimmy Zacharias   PJ DeGracia Contracting
15 25   Calvin Carroll   Joe Carroll Chevrolet   Stash Butova   Power With Prestige / Cruising With Betty
16 26   Gary McDonald   Sean McDonald Chevrolet   Chad McDonald   Lakeland Landscaping Supply / TRC Electric
17 33   Wade Cole   Wade Cole Chevrolet   Richard Rodenbaugh   Performance Engines / Kendal Oil
18 34   J.B. Fortin   Nicole Fortin Chevrolet   TBA   Suffolk Cycling / Golden Jalepenos
19 36   Dave Sapienza   Judy Thilberg Chevrolet   Tommy Grasso   Sapienza Enterprises
20 38   TBA   Linda Rodebaugh Chevrolet   TBA   Performance Engines / Kendal Oil
21 46   Craig Lutz   Russell Goodale Chevrolet   Douglas Ogiejko   Riverhead Building Supply
22 51   Justin Bonsignore   Kenneth Massa Chevrolet   Ryan Stone   Phoenix Communications Inc.
23 54   Tommy Catalano   Amy Catalano Chevrolet   Dave Catalano   Catalano Motorsports
24 58   Eric Goodale   Edgar Goodale Chevrolet   Jason Shephard   GAF Roofing
25 64   Rob Summers   Mike Murphy Chevrolet   Steve Lemay   Hoosier Tire East / FastTrack Electrical
26 75   Chris Pasteryak   Charles Pasteryak Chevrolet   Cam McDermott   Dawley’s Auto
27 78   Walter Sutcliffe, Jr.   Steven Sutcliffe Chevrolet   Kevin Anderson   Close Enuff Racing
28 82   Tom Rogers, Jr.   Pamla Hulse Chevrolet   Jarod Zeltmann   Horton Ave. Materials LLC
29 84   John Fortin   Nicole Fortin Chevrolet   TBA   John’s Tree Removal / John’s Fuel Oil
30 88   Roger Turbush   Pat Kennedy Chevrolet   Raymond Bouchard   Kennedy LI Realty
31 95   Kyle Soper   Wayne Anderson Chevrolet   Tom Soper   Eastport Feeds
Vehicles withdrawn from the event are highlighted in green.