First off we want to congratulate all of the 2016 opening night winners at Riverhead Raceway. Shawn Solomito, Dave Brigati, Chris Turbush, Kenny Hyde , Richie Davidowitz, Jack Handley and Michael Albasini.
All of the racing was good tonight, 7 divisions of cars and trucks ran 14 heats and 7 features in about 5 hours time including the heats.
Full results are listed n another story on Myracenews.com.
For the first time in many years the track ran heats in all divisions. I heard comments at the drivers meeting that some drivers had never even run heats before. Many any fans had been asking for time trials to be eliminated in favor of the heats and this week they got their wish. After week one I think the change was welcomed by both fans and drivers. All the heats were real races and the drivers did not ride around like it was another practice.
In tonight’s drivers meeting run by John Elwood and Race Director Scott Tapley the tone was set. Scott outlined how it will be at Riverhead this year He set the rules on how it will be on the track and in the pits. Drivers are expected to be professionals., acting accordingly. One driver learned early in the day that the new group of officials will take no BS and was set down before practice was even over.
Scott told the drivers that he does not like to talk and that his actions will be how he speaks.
Drivers seem to have taken notice as there were few car that spun that sat on the track, cars dropped into line quickly and the pace of the show seemed brisk.
The Good: Heats, all classes ran heats for the first time in many years. The figure 8’s ran their 2 heats on the figure 8 course.
Side by side racing, Roger Oxee in his #39 Late Model on the outside ran outside of #10 Scott Kulesa for many laps until they got together in turn 4. Roger showed all attending last night races he will be in contention for a couple of wins this year.
In the modified feature after dropping back from his pole position start early, Shawn Solomito in the #15 Wayne Anderson modified passed last years champion #0 Tom Rogers Jr. for the win and never looked back. Chris Turbush in a beautiful new #81 Late Model came through the field to take his first Late Model race in his first race in the division.
Car counts: They were good in most divisions, modifieds lost a few cars due to opening night being pushed back a week and the WMT race at Waterford. But other classes especially the Legends with 29 and the largest Late Model count in years at 20 bode well for good counts through out the year. Figure 8’s look to rebound a bit this year brought 13 cars for opening night.
Weather, it held out all night when it rained all around long Island.
The track: All of the improvements to the facility, clean new bathrooms, better concessions, cool new pace cars and trucks, the band in turn 3 who sang a great Star Spangled Banner and my personal favorite the new lighting system,
The Bad: No many.
Car trouble for the #74 team. The first night did not go ff without hitches,. The #74 Visconti racing Crate Modified driven by CJ Lehman had motor issues after the first practice. They changed anything they could think of bt the issues could not be solved, eventually they had to swap motors. It took the team about 1 1/2 hours between the heats and the feature to get the car ready to run. CJ started last and finished 3rd in the initial Crate Mod feature.
In the same feature Terry Stiles did some pretty heavy damage to the #41 as he hit the front stretch wall a ton and sheared off the right front. We hope Terry can get the car back together for their next race in 2 weeks.
Weather: As it was lucky it didn’t rain, the threat of rain kept the opening night crowd down even with fireworks on the card.
The potential bad weather also virtually eliminated on track victory lane for the drivers who were more than understanding. Only the Super Pro Truck winner Mike Albasini got to exit his truck for an interview and photos on track.
Old and new faces racing on opening night. #11 Chuck Steuer was back in a brand new LFR chassis. Chuck was joined by son #6 Dillion in the Crate mod division. Dillion’s car was dad’s old modified. Chuck struggled a bit to finish 11th and son Dillion after a couple of spins finished 4th in he Crate race. Once both father and son figure their new cars out they will be a threat to win each week.
Michael Albasini could not have been happier to win his first truck race in about 3 years.
Kenny Hyde took his first Figure 8 win in about 2 years with a third to first pass on a a late restart.
Richie Davidowitz won his second INEX legends race in 2 weeks after taking the win at last at Wall Stadium.
John Beatty Jr drove his beautiful #8 Legends car to a fine second place finish.
In the Blunderbust feature #41 Thomas Puccia had one his strongest runs in a long time to a runner up spot.
Week one is finally in the books and hopefully weekend weather gets better and warmer. Week 2 will feature a Figure 8 School bus race. The track has acquired many more buses than they had in the past so this should be a great show.
See you next week.