Riverhead, NY May 11th
By Bob Finan
Heading into the second week of NASCAR Modified competition at Riverhead Raceway Saturday Tom Rogers Jr. and team were not sure what their repaired car had in store for them after a heavy opening night crash. The team made repairs trying to avoid installing a new front clip on the car but after the second round of practice Rogers and crew knew they needed a plan B. Enter Denise & Ken Darch who had their NASCAR Modified at the track minus driver Justin Bonsignore and the rest as they say is history. In the borrowed car Rogers broke the seven year old track qualifying record with a lap of 11.482 and scored his 53rd career win in the 75-lap main event.
With just one round of practice under his belt Tom Rogers Jr. qualified third from last among the 15 cars on hand and with his first lap set the new qualifying mark of 11.482 besting Ron Silk’s 11.529 set in July of 2012. After a redraw Rogers found himself starting the race from 4th spot. When the race got underway Dave Brigati outran John Baker to the first turn for the early race lead and led the first lap. However as the field contested the second lap Eddie Brunnhoelzl III spun off turn two collecting Dylan Slepian in the process. Roger Turbush and Chris Young suffered flat in the jingle as well. When the race resumed Brigati motored out front with Rogers making his way under Baker from third to file into second. After chasing Brigati for 14 laps Rogers knew that company was coming behind him in the form of Baker and John Fortin and that he’d have to make his move soon.
Sensing Brigati’s car was getting tight Rogers made his move to the inside of the leader on lap 16 as they raced in turn two with Tommy the new race leader. Brigati then found himself under attack from Fortin who made his way to third and the fight for second intensified consuming 17 laps which was just fine with leader Rogers who was able to build a comfortable lead. Fortin ducked under Brigati down the backstretch for second on lap 35, just a lap or two later Baker would also pass Brigati for third. The closing sequence of the race saw Fortin and Baker close in on Rogers but they also got to racing for second with Baker making a bold inside pass of Fortin racing into the first turn for the position with ten lap remaining in the race.
Once to second with the laps whittling down it was apparent John Baker was closing in on race leader Tom Rogers Jr. However there would be no spoiling this storybook night of racing for Rogers and especially his car owners for the night Denise & Ken Darch who had never won a NASCAR Modified race until Saturday night as Tommy took the checker flag. “I can’t say enough about Denise & Kenny” a happy Rogers commented, “fortunately I have helped Kenny over the years, he is meticulous and has good equipment so it wasn’t a big adjustment for me. I have been to his shop a number of times over the years”. Tom concluded, Big thanks to D&K Motorsports sponsors Precision Water Works , Bagel Lovers Cafe & Evolution Race Engines and of course to both our crews for pulling this off”.
Scoring his 53rd win Saturday puts Tommy just 10 win back of the late “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek (63) for the top spot on the all time Riverhead Raceway Modified win list. Add Tommy’s 44 Figure Eight wins and counting as well three Late Model tallies and one Legend Race Car win and Rogers sits at 101 feature event wins at the track.
John Baker of Brookhaven was runner-up in his Staria Automotive Chevy while John Fortin of Holtsville was third in the John’s Tree Removal entry. David Schneider of Huntington and John Beatty Jr. of Merrick completed the top five.
Just two weeks into the 2019 Late Model season and it has become apparent that Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead and Chris Turbush of Wading River are the two drivers to beat for the 2019 title. After Turbush won the topping night 25-lapper it would be McDermott taking the nod Saturday night. Pole sitter “Radiant” Ray Minieri led the first circuit of the race before he was overtaken by McDermott with an inside pass in the third and fourth turn which also opened the door for Turbush to race his way to second. From the moment he took the lead the race belonged to Jeremy McDermott in the Eastport Feeds Chevy and he was able to drive off to his 10th career win. Chris Turbush in the Carpet Express machine was second while McDermott’s RP Fabricating teammate Dylan Slepain of Dix Hill finished third.
After a few years of trying Sean Glennon of Northport finally grabbed the brass ring winning his first career Super Pro Truck feature event in convincing fashion passing defending class champion Mark Stewart of Riverhead to the outside with four laps left in the 20-lap tilt. Stewart with a rare front row starting berth led the race from the throw of the green chased for the first dozen laps by former multi-time champ Lou Maestri. On lap 13 Glennon who had been testing Maestri for second worked his way under Lou one lap after a double file restart to claim the position. Sean quickly caught Stewart and after taking a look towards the inside lane Glennon switched up his plan of attack made a run to the outside off turn two payoff as he put his LTE Drainage Chevy into the race lead. Stewart quickly tried to cross Sean back over but there would be no denying this first time winner as Glennon took the checker flag first. Stewart of Riverhead was runner-up in his 84 Lumber Chevy while Lou Maestri of Deer Park completed the podium in his Line-X Truck Bed Liner entry.
Reining INEX Legend Race Car champion Jim Sylvester of Massapequa won the 20-lap main event taking advantage of a lap 6 restart to power his way out front. George Tomko Jr. broke to the early race lead from the pole with Sylvester in tow before a caution flag slowed the race on lap 6. On the ensuing restart Tomko appeared to be slow to fire in the East West Marine Supply Go Zone which allowed Jim Sylvester to motor out front as the field started the 7th lap. Tomko ran second for two laps before he was passed on yet another restart by Allan Pedersen but undaunted Tomko roared back to reclaim second from Pedersen on lap 14. While the two young lions dueled for second the veteran Sylvester was able to remain out front until the conclusion of the race for his 4th career win in his 860 Motorsports mount. Tomko of Aquebogue was able to ward off a hard charging first time Riverhead visitor Daniel Carter of Cortland, NY to claim second in his PDR Race Engines machine. Carter, who won the week prior at Bethel Motor Speedway was third in an impressive first outing after starting 12th in his Carter Racing mount.
Defending Street Stock champion David Antos of Lindenhurst got his title defense off on the right foot literally as he led all 20-laps of their main event to post third career SS triumph. Gerard Lawrence chased Antos early but soon was under attack for second from veteran Rhett Fogg for second. While Lawrence and Fogg got to mixing it up Antos wheeling his EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy was able to get away from the pack. Fogg of Westhampton worked his way by Lawrence for second 4 laps into the contest but Lawrence would keep the heat on Fogg. In the final stage of the race Fogg was able to make a run towards Antos but in the end would settle for second in the McBetts Racing Engines racer. Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow was third with a late race charge in the Staria Automotive Chevy.
Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon took the lead early in the 40-lap 8-Cylinder Gut & Go race and despite a persistent flume of smoke was able to race off to victory in his Tire Express of Bay Shore/East Islip Chevy. Fitzpatrick pointed to perhaps a balky transmission line as the culprit for the smoke show. Defending champion Jared Halsey of Southampton was second in the Sabrosa Mexican Grill entry while Michael Asdahl of East Meadow was third.
In a wildly entertaining School Bus Figure Eight race Paul Fox of Riverhead topped the 10 bus field for the win. Fox along with Michael “Cheesebox” Rommeney and NASCAR Modified pilot Eddie Brunnhoelzl III made it a three bus race for the victory. Brunnhoelzl was the first to take some short cuts on the infield with Fox and Rommeney left with no choice but to join him as the crowd roared with delight. In the end Fox would prevail winning won for his famed uncle Donny “Don Don” Fox.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. John Baker 3. John Fortin 4. David Schneider 5. John Beatty Jr. 6. Kyle Soper 7. Howie Brode 8. Dylan Slepian 9. Dave Brigati 10. Eric Zeh 11. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 12. CJ Lehmann 13. Chris Young 14. Roger Turbush 15. Cory Midgett
Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Chris Turbush 3. Dylan Slepian 4. Ray Minieri 5. Kevin Metzger 6. Shawn Patrick 7. Jay Scalice DNS-Ryan Zurkowski
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Sean Glennon 2. Mark Stewart 3. Lou Maestri 4. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 5. Eddie Schutze 6. Frank Dumicich Jr. 7. Joe Cerabino 8. Matt Triola 9. Frank Dumicich Sr. 10. Ethan Brown
Legend Race Cars: 1. Jim Sylvester 2. George Tomko Jr. 3. Daniel Carter 4. Eric Hersey 5. Ed Cheslak 6. Allan Pedersen 7. Riely O’Keefe 8. Kevin Nowak 9. Richie Davidowitz 10. Joey Braun 11. Dean Lambros 12. William Lambros 13. Mike Van Houten Jr. 14. Stephen Coleman 15. Mike Benton 16. Ray Fitzgerald 17. Joe Costello 18. Jason Castaldo 19. Scott Cheslak 20. Joe Sedotto 21. Jeff Otto Jr. 22. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 23. Pat Moore 24. David Strohmeyer 25. Vinny Delaney 26. Rich Braun
Street Stocks: 1. David Antos 2. Rhett Fogg 3. Brian Brown 4. Gerard Lawrence 5. Brian McCormack 6. Eric Zeh 7. Chris Lescenski 8. Johnny Cricchio 9. Wesley Sammon 10. Justin Ferreri 11. James Dipietro
8-Cylinder Gut & Go: 1. Sean Fitzpatrick 2. Jared Halsey 3. Michael Asdahl 4. Dennis Jones 5. Eric Germuth 6. Stacy Halsey 7. Kyle Curtis 8. Carmine D’eredita 9. Mark Wolf 10. Kevin Coyle 11. Dwayne Sipila 12. Dale Doherty 13. Vinny Poharski 14. Christian Conklin 15. CJ Zurkowski 16. Steve Jones 17. Scott Phillips 18. Kim Hyde 19. Jimmy Muench 20. Brian Halsey 21. Pat Collins 22. Steve Fried 23. Eric Steltar 24. David Verbeeck 25. Steve Marchese 26. Chris Loughlin 27. Ricky Carman
School Bus Figure Eight: Winner- Paul Fox