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.
Riverhead, NY July 11th.
The first Wednesday night show at Riverhead Raceway in 26 years was met with plenty of enthusiasm as a large crowd turned out for the NASCAR Whelen All American Series program that saw former three time NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville survive multiple restarts to score the 40-lap victory. The win was the 32nd in John’s successful career which ties him for 5th on the all time win list with track legends Wayne Anderson and Bill Park. Not even a 25 minute rain delay just after opening ceremonies could dampen the spirits of those on hand.
Dillon Steuer of Bohemia making his first asphalt start of 2018 set
fast time in qualifying with a lap of 11.823 and in the redraw the teenage driver would pick the pole. When the 17-car field took the green Steuer inched out in front of John Fortin Sr. for the first two laps before a quick caution waved for Sal Accardi Jr. who spun between turns one and two. On the ensuing restart cagey veteran Fortin was able to get a run on Steuer to the outside for the race lead. Dillon in his quest to race back to the lead made a bold move under Fortin with the duo making contact. Steuer looped his car while Fortin was able to gather up his unruly racer to remain out front while the caution waved for Steuer’s spin. When the race resumed Fortin remained out front with rookie driver CJ Lehmann making his way to second.
The remainder of the race would be a classic case of teacher vs. student as Fortin and Lehmann lined up side by side for several restarts along w\the way. Earlier in the season when CJ’s ride was not ready Fortin loaned him his back-up car, ironically the car John was wheeling for the mid week special. During each double file restart Lehmann would see if he could find a way around the outside of the race leader but when it became apparent he couldn’t he’d quickly tuck in behind Fortin by the time the duo reached the first and second turn. Meanwhile just behind the leader a torrid duel for third was underway between Kyle Soper and John Beatty Jr. as the diced side by side for several laps.
In the end John Fortin Sr. and his Long island Truck Parts team would prevail taking down their first win of 2018, “we broke out old reliable for tonight and the old guy behind the wheel was able to bring her home for the win” Fortin quipped afterwards. Not lost on the race winner was the importance of the win as far as track history is concerned, “to be in tied with Wayne Anderson and Bill Park with 32 wins is pretty special” Fortin offered.
CJ Lehmann of Shirley turned his best performance of the year with a solid runner-up tally in the Sypher Industries Chevy keeping the pressure on the eventual race winner until the conclusion of the race. Championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville would come out on top in the race for third in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown completed the top five.
Just days after having what appeared to be his first Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified win stripped from him in post race tech due to a fuel miscalculation, Owen Grennan of Glen Cove came back with a vengeance setting a new track record for the class in qualifying and going wire to wire to indeed capture his first ever win. Grennan would set the new standard with a lap of 12.580 eclipsing Dave Brigati’s track record of 12.615 set almost a year prior to the day on July 15th, 2017. Owen’s good fortune continued in the redraw and the driver of the All Island Concrete Pumping Chevy took full advantage of his front row starting berth racing out to the lead at the throw of the green. Former Late Model champion Peter Berutccio had a solid car all race long as he chased Grennan for nearly the entire event. However championship leader and three time winner Michael Rutkoski got to Bertuccio later in the race and the duo would tussle for second which was just fine with leader Grennan. As the two to go signal was displayed Rutkoski wrestled his way Bertuccio for seocnd but by that time it was too little, too late as Owen Grennan took home his first win. Rutkoski of Mattituck was runner-up in his Elbow East Chevy with Justin Brown of Manorville third in the SEDHI Inc. entry. Bertuccio faded to fourth at the finish.
Mark Stewart of Riverhead notched the 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature event win the 16th of his budding driving career. Dave Brigati the defending champion of the class set fast time in qualifying with a circuit of 13.435 and the veteran talent played a major role in the outcome of the race. Starting on the outside pole after the top 5 redrew Brigati took a slim lead over pole sitter Jimmy Rennick when the race started. However Rennick was not going to go away and over the first 13 laps of the race the duo ran side by side with minimal contact. That would change on lap 13 as the tandem made contact going into turn three with the end result finding Brigati coming to a halt in turn four. Dave feeling as though he had a tire down pitted during the caution while Rennick assumed the race lead. The double file restart that followed found Mark Stewart pitted to the outside of Rennick and when the race got back underway the driver known as “The Real Deal” rode the outside groove by Rennick for the race lead. Over the final 7 laps of the contest Stewart would drive off to the victory in his East Side Builders Chevy. Rennick of Howard Beach crossed the line second in the Sonny’s Collision Center machine while former multi time champion Lou Maestri of Deer Park was third in the Hunter Business School Chevy.
For the fourth time this year “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches topped the INEX Legend Race Car main event notching his 18th career win. Ray Fitzgerald turned heads in qualifying when he laid down the fast time with a lap of 13.888 in his Blue Point Auto Body mount. Unfortunately for Ray he redrew 5th for the 20-lap main event. Richie Davidowitz armed with the outside pole for the race zipped quickly into the lead with George Tomko Jr. in tow for the first two laps. Tomko’s race would go south in a hurry as the field started the third lap as he spun off turn two collecting Eric Hersey and Jim Sylvester in the process. Damage was minimal and all three continued. The restart that followed saw Allan Pedersen make his way to second and he’d chase Davidowitz for the next 14 laps. Pedersen soon was distracted by a challenge from third place Brad Van Houten who pressured the young lion for second before making his way by for the spot on lap 18. However it mattered not who ran second in the race as Richie Davidowitz marched off to another win moving him just one back of the all time win record in the class which is held by both Danny McNamara and Kyle Ellwood. Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches was moved to second in the final finish in his TJ Hero’s entry after Brad Van Houten’s car failed post race tech. Vinny Delaney of Holtsville was third in the Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm racer.
Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon scored his first 8-Cylinder Enduro win of 2018 as he went wire to wire in their 40-lap feature. Sean burst right into the lead at the start of the race chased over the first 10 laps by most recent winner Kevin Coyle. Defending champion Dominic Ranieri made his way by Coyle for second on lap 11 but even though the race was only a quarter old Fitzpatrick in his Lakewood Used Auto Parts Chevy had already built up an insurmountable lead which he kept until the checkers flew. Ranieri of Northport was second in his Spare Parts Racing machine while Jared Halsey of Southampton was third in the Sabrosa Mexican Grill Chevy.
Paul Fox of Riverhead is now two for two in School Bus Figure Eight
action this year as he dominated the 15-lap event. Popular Michael “Cheesebox” Rommeney chased Fox early on putting on the pressure before Fx was able to pull away and drive to a comfortable victory.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. John Fortin Sr. 2. CJ Lehmann 3. Kyle Soper 4. John Beatty Jr. 5. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 6. Howie Brode 7. Dave Brigati 8. John Fortin Jr. 9. David Schneider 10. Tom Rogers Jr. 11. Dillon Steuer 12. Brad Van Houten 13. Chris Young 14. Tim Lento 15. Dylan Slepian 16. Sal Accardi Jr. 17. Roger Turbush
Crate Modifieds: 1. Owen Grennan 2. Michael Rutkoski 3. Justin Brown 4. Peter Bertuccio 5. Dennis Krupski 6. Artie Pedersen III 7. Scott Pedersen 8. AJ DeSantis 9. Jason Hansen 10. Chris Rogers
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Mark Stewart 2. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 3. Lou Maestri 4. Eddie Schutze 5. Michael Albasini 6. Dave Brigati 7. Frank Dumicich Jr. 8. Sean Glennon 9. Frank Dumicich Sr. 10. Darren McCabe 11. Tom Sullivan
Legend Race Cars: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. Allan Pedersen 3. Vinny Delaney 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Jerry Curran 6. George Tomko Jr. 7. Ed Cheslak 8. Jim Sylvester 9. Eric Hersey 10. Jeff Otto Jr. 11. Jonathan Parsons 12. Mike Benton 13. Riely O’Keefe 14. Matt Brode 15. Stephan Coleman 16. Pat Moore 17. Mike Van Houten Jr. 18. Steve Woytysiak 19. Scott Cheslak 20. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 21. Steve Hersey 22. Bard Van Houten
8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Sean Fitzpatrick 2. Dominic Ranieri 3. Jared Halsey 4. Brian Halsey 5. Pat Collins 6. Christian Kalbfleisch 7. Stacey Halsey 8. Dennis Jones 9. Eric Germuth 10. Dillon Vanston 12. Tom Talbot 13. Drew Scalfani 14. CJ Zukowski 15. John O’Rourke 16. Amber Weiss 17. Will Ebert 18. Mark Wolf 19. David Verbeeck 20. Bill Quinn 21. Steve Jones 22. Richie Hubbard
School Bus Figure Eight: Winner- Paul Fox