Riverhead, NY Sept. 22nd.
By Bob Finan
Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway had a little bit of everything unfold during the NASCAR Whelen All American Series H.O. Penn night of racing and when the dust settled Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck pocketed his 6th Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified win of the season. Invading INEX Legend Race Car talent Noah Korner of Canton, Ct. made a late race pass to win the 50-lap U.S. Legend Cars National Qualifier while 25-year Demolition Derby veteran “Fearless” Frank Phillips of Ozone Park won a hard hitting National Demolition Derby Championship event, the first of his career.
In the 25-lap Crate Modified tilt Owen Grennan of Glen Cove moved by Chris Rogers of Patchogue for the race lead on lap 2 and would lead the remainder of the race seemingly having won his fourth race of 2018. Rogers, “Jumping” Jack Orlando and Michael Rutkoski all took turns running second to Grennan during the race but would be unable to catch the teenage talent. However after taking the checker flag Grennan’s winning car was found to have unapproved fuel and was stripped of the win. Michael Rutkoski who came to the race in his Buzz Chew Chevrolet machine just a point up on Justin Brown of Manorville would be declared the winner of the race earning his 8th career win in the process. Jack Orlando of Calverton was runner-up in his second to last race at Riverhead in his Prototype Race Fabrications Chevy while Justin Brown placed third in his SEDHI Inc. Chevy. With one race meet remaining Rutkoski leads Brown by a mere three points for the 2018 championship.
Mike Alcaro of Newton, NJ showed the way in qualifying for the 50-lap U.S. legend Cars National Qualifier with a lap of 13.773. However early on in this hotly contested event it would be Richie Davidowitz and Kyle Ellwood dicing for the race lead. Both drivers along with Danny McNamara are tied for the all time lead in legend Race Car wins at 19. A lap 9 double file restart found Ellwood moving out front to lead lap 10 but just one lap later Davidowitz powered his way back to the race lead. On lap 18 another double file restart was in order and again Ellwood was able to motor out front and this time he would not let Davidowitz reclaim the race lead. In fact Davidowitz chased Ellwood up until the 39th circuit where he was passed for position by Noah Korner. Ellwood was enjoying a comfortable enough lead and appeared to be on his way to his 20th career victory when mechanical disaster struck the leader. Suddenly on lap 45 Ellwood ducked off the backstretch onto the infield the victim of rear end assembly failure.
That wild turn of event propelled Noah Korner into the race lead with just four laps remaining in the race. Davidowitz know as “Big Money” for his penchant for winning bigger races was all over Korner over the final mile of the race setting up for what would turn out to be a wild finish. Davidowitz was making a run to the outside of Korner off the final corner to what would be a yellow/checker finish with slight contact made sending the challenger into the wall under the starters stand while Noah Korner in his Mid State Site Developement entry enjoyed his first career Riverhead raceway win. Davidowitz of East Moriches was a disappointed runner-up in the Dr. Martha Baker DDS machine while Ray Fitgerald of Manorville who ran among the top five all race long was third in his Blue Point Auto Body racer. Jim Sylvester of Massapequa with his 5th place tally sewed up the 2018 Riverhead Raceway INEX Legend Race Car championship with one race remaining.
Chris Turbush of Wading River is on a late season roll in Late Model competition winning his second race in a row and fifth overall in 2018. Chris McGuire paced the 25-lap tilt early on before he was passed by Kyle Soper on a double file restart on lap 5. Dave Brigati who stormed his way from 8th to second chased Soper until lap 9 when he was overtaken by Chris Turbush. Meanwhile Soper’s night took a turn for the worse on lap 10 when his car during a caution flag period suddenly stalled sending the championship and race leader to the pits. Suddenly Chris Turbush found himself as the new race leader with 15-laps to go and the driver of the East Side Building Chevy drove off to his 12 career Late Model win tying him with “Mighty” Mike Mortimer for 10th on the all time win list. Dave Brigati of Calverton was second in the Bekiesz Garage Doors Pontiac while Jarrod Hayes of Calverton was third in the MSM Elite Motorsports entry. With one race meet remaining Kyle Soper leads Chris Turbush by 11 points for the 2018 LM title, Jeremy McDermott is third 29 back of the lead.
Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead had to withstand late race contact with Tom Ferrara of Patchogue before he could claim his track leading 8th win of 2018 in the 15-lap Figure Eight feature. Ferrara seeking his second win of the year took the early race lead besting Scott Petersen on the start. A lap 1 caution bought a double file restart with Ken Hyde Jr. moving to second behind Ferrara on lap 2. Lap 4 found Tom Rogers Jr. making his way through the field to pass Hyde for second and the race for the win with Ferrara was on with Rogers moving out front on lap 6. On the 10th lap Ferrara and Rogers racing hard for the lead made side to side contact with neither driver lifting. The end results was Ferrara going around drawing a caution while Rogers was able to race on keeping his lead. When the race resumed Rogers was now being chased by teammate Eric Zeh of Selden. Zeh late in the race was passed by Ken Hyde Jr. but it didn’t matter as Tom Rogers Jr. scored his 43rd career win, sewing up the 2018 Figure Eight championship for he and car owner Keith Repp. The title is Rogers 5th of his storied driving career. Hyde of Mastic Beach was second in his SGS Stone Works entry while Zeh was third in the United Exhaust Shops Coupe.
It’s not often 63-time Blunderbust winner “The Wildchild” Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge gets passed late in a race for the win but that is exactly what Jack Handley Jr. of Medford did to take home his 7th win of the season. Walkowiak who announced on social media the last race of 2018 would be the last of his career took the early race lead over Alyssa Paprocky when the race got underway. Alyssa ran second until lap 3 when she was passed by a high flying Jack Handley Jr. Getting to second behind Walkowiak would be one story, passing him for the lead would be another in what turned out to be a non stop 20-lapper. After repeated attempts Handley with the laps winding finally moved his way by Walkowiak for the lead and eventual race win in his Liccardi Builders Chevy. The win also wraps up the 2018 Blunderbust title for Handley who at the start of the season has no intentions of chasing points. Tom Pickerell of Huntington also with a late race pass claimed second in his Pickerell Clam Chevy while Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge was third in the Blaze Fuel Oil entry.
The career season for Mark Stewart of Riverehad rolls on as he won the 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature event, his 6th win of the season and 19th of the 20-year olds career. Sophomore driver Eddie Schutze led the first 14 laps of the contest and seemed destined to win his second career race. However Frank Dumicich Jr. made contact with the third turn wall drawing a yellow flag on lap 14 setting up what would turn out to be the deciding moment of the race. When the field was reset the front row was made up by Schutze and 30-time winner Lou Maestri but the winning move would come from the second row when the race resumed as Mark Stewart charged his was from third to the race lead when the race got back underway. Once out front there was no stopping the fourth generation driver as Mark Stewart drove to victory in his Flemington Furs Chevy. Lou & Tracy Maestri once again presented a $100 bonus to the winning crew chief which happened to be Mark’s uncle and LM winner Chris Turbush. The award is in the name of the late Joe DeGangi, longtime crew cheif for Maestri of Deer Park who was second in his Hunter Business School Chevy. Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach was third in the Metropolitan Recycling Chevy.
Former Blunderbust talent Tom Puccia of Shirley took advantage of a late race restart to claim his first career Mini Stock win in a 20-lap event. Ryan Warren moved to the race lead at the throw of the green and led the first 14-laps of the race, pressured for a spell by Puccia who is a good friend of Warren’s off the track. The caution waved on lap 14 when Tom Cocozza got crossed up on the homestretch just passed the start/finish line. On the enduing restart Puccia was able to motor out front in his Ferradino & Sons Contracting racer and would have to withstand heavy late race pressure from Andrew Farnham and Paul Wojcik before he could claim the popular win. Wojcik of Centereach with a late race pass was second while Farnham of Baldwin rebounding from a heavy Labor Day weekend crash was third.
“Fearless” Frank Phillips outlasted a star studded 8-Cylinder Demolition Derby field to win the $1,000 National Demolition Derby title. Phillips has to outfox former multi time event winner “Deathwish” Jason Savoy of Lake Panamoka to score the win in his Tire Express of Bay Shore machine. John Palmeri of Lindenhurst was voted Judge’s Choice while Savoy and Danny Zasowski of Holbrook split Fan’s Choice honors.
Crate Modifieds: 1. Michael Rutkoski 2. Jack Orlando 3. Justin Brown 4. Chris Rogers 5. Dennis Krupski 6. Artie Pedersen III 7. AJ DeSantis 8. Peter Bertuccio 9. Glenn Simonin 10. Scott Pedersen DQ- Owen Grennan
Late Models: 1. Chris Turbush 2. Dave Brigati 3. Jarrod Hayes 4. Jeremy McDermott 5. Kevin Metzger 6. Chris McGuire 7. Kyle Soper 8. Scott Kulesa
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Ken Hyde Jr. 3. Eric Zeh 4. Scott Pedersen 5. Vinny Delaney 6. Tom Ferrara 7. Gary Fritz Jr. 8. Joe Warren Jr. 9. Bob Dalke 10. Mike Mujsce Jr. 11. Brian Hansen 12. Mike Mujsce Sr. 13. Charles Macwhinnie
Blunderbusts: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Tom Pickerell 3. Tommy Walkowiak 4. Alyssa Paprocky 5. Russ Jansen 6. Jim Laird Jr. 7. Bill Wegmann Sr. 8. Cody Triola 9. Jarrett Campbell 10. Eddie Diaz
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Mark Stewart 2. Lou Maestri 3. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 4. Dave Brigati 5. Eddie Schutze 6. Frank Dumicich Sr. 7. Darren McCabe 8. Frank Dumicich Jr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. Noah Kroner 2. Richie Davidowitz 3. Ray Fitzgerald 4. Brad Van Houten 5. Jim Sylvester 6. Will Lambros 7. Derek Debbis 8. Glenn Korner 9. Dean Lambros 10. Mike Van Houten 11. Jonathan Parsons 12. Stephen Coleman 13. Jeff Otto Jr. 14. Matt Brode 15. Mike Benton 16. Scott Cheslak 17. Alex Halinar 18. Kyle Ellwood 19. Ed Cheslak 20. Steve Woytysiak 21. Riely O’Keefe 23. Allan Pedersen 24. Jerry Curran 25. Eric Hersey 26. Pat Moore 27. George Tomko Jr. 28. Vinny Delaney DNQ- Jeff Farruggia Jr, Silas Hiscock
Mini Stocks: 1. Tom Puccia 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Andrew Farnham 4. Russ Jansen 5. Steve Fuller 6. Ryan Warren 7. Mitch Pattern 8. Jamie Meyer 9. Joe Cooke Jr. 10. Brandon Esposito 11. Heather Dugre 12. Tom Cacozza
National Demolition Derby Championship: Winner- Frank Phillips