Riverhead, NY June 8th.By Bob Finan
The road to Roger Turbush’s first career NASCAR Modified victory at Riverhead Raceway may have been a bumpy one but the Riverhead native rode it out over numerous double file restarts and a late race challenge from former three time track champion John Fortin of Holtsville to finally reach NASCAR Modified nirvana. The rough and tumble 50-lap affair was the final tune up before the 3rd annual Islip 300 this Saturday June 15th with many teams facing a long week of work in the race shop prior to the $7,000 to win race.
Two drivers seeking their first NASCAR Modified triumph brought the field to green with Roger Turbush and Eric Zeh making up the front row and the duo diced side by side for the lead over the first two circuits before Turbush took sole possession of the top spot on lap 3. Zeh tucked into second and seemed to be having a career night going for him but that all came to a grinding halt when he received contact from behind turning him into the third turn exit gate ending his night. Tom Rogers Jr. was sent to the rear of the field
by NASCAR officials for contact. When the race resumed after the Zeh clean-up Turbush was now joined on the front row by and equally as hungry driver who also was seeking his first win, Chris Young. Turbush, a third generation wheel man and Young a second generation talent went at it heavy and hard for the race lead trading paint and clanging nerf bars along the way with either driver more guilty or innocent than the other. Their fight for the lead was so intense that during another yellow flag period officials spoke with both drivers and warned them of elimination from the race if they continued to race each other too hard.
With Turbush trying to keep the hard pressing Young and bay the due slowed the pace of the race allowing John Baker to reel them in and join the battle. Baker jumped to the outside of the dueling duo and on lap 26 was scored second just before yet another caution flag waved setting up a race changing restart. While Turbush and Baker made up the front row of the restart Young sat third behind Turbush and John Fortin Sr. who started the race 15th now sat fourth. When the race went back green Young appeared to shove Turbush into the first corner moving the leader up the hill some and into second place Baker who slapped the first turn wall ending his race with heavy damage. It was during the Baker clean-up that NASCAR officials based on their earlier warning excused Chris Young from the remainder of the race.
When the race resumed once again Turbush broke out front of Fortin who now sat second and a fast closing Kyle Soper who was making his way back through the field after he was caught up in the Zeh incident on lap 18. Veteran race fans sat and wondered how long it would be before Fortin, a 32-time career winner would make his bid for the lead and win on Turbush while the leader as is his right protected his lead with a vengeance. Aiding Turbush late in the race was Soper‘s challenges of Fortin for second allowing the 30-time Super Pro Truck winner a brief respite.
As the laps clicked off late it became apparent that Roger Turbush was going to realize the dream of a lifetime which he indeed did crossing under the checker flag first after the rough race. “I always imagined what this moment would feel like and now here it is” Roger shared in victory lane. “I can’t say enough about Kennedy Long Island Realty for having the faith in me to wheel this car and my loving wife and son Stephanie & Gavin who sacrifice time with me to allow me to chase my dreams” the happy winner added. As for the earlier racing for the lead Turbush claimed, “we were both racing hard for our first win but Chris kept driving into my door but we made it through”.
John Fortin of Holtsville was runner-up in his John’s Fuel Oil Chevy and lamented of what could have been afterwards, “I didn’t get enough heat in the right front on one of the restarts and the car took off and just touched the wall. Hats off to Roger and his team he did a great job”. Despite his front bumper leaning on the radiator of his Eastport feeds Chevy Kyle Soper of Manorville was third at the conclusion. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead and Dave Brigati of Calverton completed the top five.
The Tom Rogers Jr. Figure Eight express rolled on in the 20-lap Figure Eight main event as the defending champion won his third race in four starts this season. In the early going Vinny Delaney paced the race at the start chased for the first lap by Bryan Quilliam. A lap 2 restart saw Quilliam replaced in second by Gary Fritz Jr. but his time in the challengers position would be short lived as Tom Rogers Jr. who started 9th in the race made his way by on lap 4 to now challenge leader Delaney. Try as he might to ward off his challenger Delaney would yield the lead on lap 5 to Rogers and the news got worse for Vinny as Tom’s teammate Eric Zeh followed in the new leaders tire tracks to come to second. As has been the case so many times before once the two Keith Repp Chevy Coupes are out front they very rarely if at all relinquish their advantage and such was the case with Rogers taking career win #46. Zeh of Selden was second in the United Exhaust Shop Chevy while early leader Vinny Delaney of Holtsville was third in the Northeastern Office Equipment entry.
The Super Pro Trucks competed in a 30-lap event with time trials setting the field with Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach setting fast time with a lap of 13.338 earning him the pole. Rennick broke to the lead at the throw of the green with Jack Handley Jr in tow for the first lap before he was overtaken on lap 2 by Mark Stewart who ducked under Handley exiting the second turn. Laps two through eight found Rennick leading Stewart, Handley and fourth place Lou Maestri as the quartet ran in nose to tail. The race would go green to checker without a caution flag with the action picking up as the race was nearly a third of the way complete. On the 8th lap entering the third turn Handley jumped to the outside of Rennick successfully taking over the lead. Once to the front Handleywas able to scamper away as Rennick and Stewart raced for second with Mark grabbing the spot on lap 12 with a pass in turn four. Over the final 18 laps there would be no catching Jack Handley in the Mike Albasini owned Hollis Court Collision Chevy as he drove off to his 5th career SPT win, second of ’19. Defending champion Mark Stewart of Riverhead was runner-up in the East End Building Chevy while Lou Maestri
The INEX Legend Race Cars went 20-laps and for the second week in a row their race featured a case of yellow fever but while under green the contest was a spirited and competitive affair with RichieDavidowitz of East Moriches winning his third race of 2019. Scott Cheslak, 2018 Rookie of the Year broke to the early race lead chased for the first two laps by young lion Stephen Coleman. Veteran driver Kevin Nowak made his way into the tussle for the race lead and on lap 3 passed Coleman for seocnd. Riding the wave of momentum Nowak seeking his 10th career win made an inside pass of Cheslak for the lead on the front stretch to take control of the race. Two laps later Cheslak would yield second to impressive rookie Jason Castaldo on lap 6 but another tested tough veteran was on the march as RichieDavidowitz worked his way by Castaldo for second on lap 7 with an inside pass in the third and fourth turn. From that point the race for the lead and win would boil down to Nowak and Davidowitz who in the past have shared Kevin’s enclosed trailer for trips off L.I. with “Big Money” Davidowitz jumping to the outside of Nowak as they barreled down the back stretch for the race lead. Once in the lead RichieDavidowitz led the remainder of the race in his Hampton Fleet Service coupe to collect his 23rd career win. Kevin Nowak of Medford was second in his JTEC Electric sedan while reining champion Jim Sylvester of Massapequa was third in his Oval Speed coupe.
In Street Stock action Eric Zeh won his third race of the season when he topped their 30-lap main event. Defending champion David Antos blistered the track in qualifying setting a new track record with a lap of 14.146 but in the redraw picked starting berth 6. Wesley Sammon broke to the early race lead at the start of the race with RhettFogg in pursuit. Fogg ran second until lap 3 when he was overhauled by Eric Zeh who executed on outside pass on Rhett. Once to second it was a battle of cousins for the race lead as Sammon paced Zeh, both in Frank Curtis MotorsportsChevys. Lap 5 saw Zeh duck to the inside of Sammon as they raced down the backstretch putting his Best Built Construction Monte Carlo into the lead. Once out front there was no reeling in Zeh who drove off to his division leading 7th career win. Wesley Sammon of Southampton was runner-up in his sponsor wanted machine with RhettFogg of Westhampton third in the McBetts Racing Engines Chevy.
Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge put on a driving clinic when he won the 20-lap Mini Stock feature event with a daring pass for the lead thrown in for good measure. Newcomer James O’Connell paced the race from the outset and was chased by another new driver Matt Stawecki who ran second for the first 3 circuits.
Paul Wojcik seeking his third win in a row made his way to second on lap 4 but one lap later the move of the race would be forthcoming courtesy of Joe warren Jr. In one clean sweep Warren entering the third turn passed Wojcik and then with O’Connell going wide around a lapped car Joe pounced and threaded the needle between O’Connell and the lapped car to take the lead a quarter way through the race, this after starting last. From that point forward it was all Joe Warren Jr in his self funded racer taking his first career Mini Stock win. Wojcik of Centereach was second in his Energy Kinetics mount while Justin Squires of Flanders despite clipping the wall during the race came home third in his Roadworks Construction machine.
In the 40-lap Gut & Go 4/6-Cylinder event Christian Conklin of Riverhead was slated to start 9th but the driver who has totally dominated the class the past two years voluntarily dropped to the rear of the 33-car field self testing his skills as well as wanting to put on a show for the fans. Mission accomplished as Conklin in his Spit’s Speed Shop Hyundai charged his way through the field to take the race lead on lap 27 and then pull away for yet another win. Christian has won all but one race over the 2018 and current season.
Another wild and entertaining 15-lap School Bus Figure Eight race was contested with “Irish” Mike O’Keefe of Manorville coming out on top after a race long duel with
Kevin Rommeney of Maspeth. Rommeney is an actual New York City MTA bus driver with his route in Brooklyn as well a former Legend Race Car competitor. O’Keefe lost the lead more than one to Rommeney but roared back each time to claim the popular win.
NASCARModifieds: 1. Roger Turbush 2. John Fortin Sr. 3. Kyle Soper 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. Dave Brigati 6. John Beatty Jr. 7. David Schneider 8. Michael Rutkoski 9. CJLehmann 10. Dylan Slepian 11. John Baker 12. Artie Pedersen III 13. Jason Agugliaro 14. Eric ZehDQ– Chris Young DNS- Ken Heagy
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Eric Zeh 3. Vinny Delaney 4. Gary Fritz Jr. 5. Brian Hansen 6. Paul Cummings 7. Scott Pedersen 8. Bob Dalke 9. Joe Warren Jr. 10. Bryan Quilliam 11. CJLehmannDQ– Tom Ferrara, Ken Hyde Jr.
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jack handley Jr. 2. Mark Stewart 3. Lou Maestri 4. Eddie Schutze 5. Frank Dumicich Jr. 6. Joe Cerabino 7. Matt Triola 8. Sean Glennon 9. Frank Dumicich Sr. 10. Ethan Brown DQ– Jimmy Rennick Jr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. RichieDavidowitz 2. Kevin Nowak 3. Jim Sylvester 4. Jason Castaldo 5. Eric Hersey 6. Joseph Braun 7. Riely O’Keefe 8. Scott Cheslak 9. Ed Cheslak 10. Vinny Delaney 11. Dean Lambros 12. Jeff Otto Jr. 13. Allan Pedersen 14. Joseph Costello 15. William Lambros 16. Mike Benton 17. Alex Halinar 18. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 19. Steve Woytysiak 20. Pat Moore 21. Colin Volpe 22. David Strohmeyer 23. Tyler DeSantis 24. Stephen Colemen 25. George Tomko Jr. 26. Ken Massa Jr.
Street Stocks: 1. Eric Zeh 2. Wesley Sammon 3. RhettFogg 4. Anthony Pizzo 5. Gerard Lawrence 6. Dave Antos 7. Brian McCormack 8. Jay Henschel 9. Justin Ferreri 10. James Dipietro 11. Chris Lescenski 12. Brian Brown
Mini Stocks: 1. Joe Warren Jr. 2. Paul Wojcik 3. Justin Squires 4. Tom Puccia 5. Chris Elixson 6. Jamie Meyer 7. Matt Stawecki 8. James O’Connell 9. Martin O’Connell 10. Joe Cooke Jr.
4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro: Winner- Christian Conklin
School Bus Figure Eight race: Winner- Mike O’Keefe