Riverhead, NY July 6thBy Bob Finan
Prior to the Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac 200 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway four exciting feature events were contested under threatening skies. Despite some intermittent drops of moisture from time to time Justin Brown of Manorville took down his 4th Crate Modified win of 2019 while Tom Pickerell of Huntington scored his third Blunderbust win of the season. Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville won his long awaited first career INEX Legend Race Car main event while Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow collected his first Street Stock victory of the campaign. Fortunately the Legends and Street Stocks cooperated and ran non stop 20-lappers.
After having won the first three of five Crate Modified races this season Justin Brown wanted to put a halt to the two race win streak of Chris Rogers of Patchogue in the 25-lap main event. Rookie drivers Matt Brode and Charles Macwhinnie brought the field to green with Brode taking the advantage leading lap 1. On the second circuit seasoned veteran Dennis Krupski made an outside pass of Macwhinnie for second and hoped to set sail after the leader Brode. However Krupski soon had his mirror full of third place Sean Glennon. The fight for second got too close off turn two on lap 7 when Krupski and Glennon got together ending their tussle for second. On the ensuing restart Brode would lead Justin Brown who started the race from 7th for the 8th lap but another quick yellow waved for a Jason Hansen spin. This time when Brode and Brown lined up side by side brown would race his way to the race lead with Chris Rogers gluing himself to Brown’s rear spoiler to come from fourth to second with former two time champion Dave Brigati making his way to third. While the trio diced for position over the final dozen laps they’d not change positions as Justin Brown in his SoBol of Manorville Chevy roared to his 7th career win over Chris Rogers of Patchogue in the Middleton Environmental Chevy and Dave Brigati of Calverton in his Quest Machining & Fabricating entry.
It was both a clean sweep and milestone kind of night for former multi-time Blunderbust champion Tom Pickerell who first set a new track record in qualifying with a lap of 14.539 and then went out and won his 25th career main event in a 30-lap contest. Starting from the pole Pickerell wasted little time making his way to the race lead at the throw of the green flag with Jim Laird Jr. in tow. After chasing Pickerell over the first five circuits Laird soon found himself racing side by side with a strong Cody Triola for second. The duo raced door handle to door handle from laps 6 through 11 before Triola ducked under Laird exiting the second turn for the spot. Triola was able to get close to Pickerell but getting to him and then getting around him would be a different story. Indeed Tom Pickerell in his Encore Rentals Chevy would prevail notching his third win of the 2019 campaign over Cody Triola of Bay Shore who gave it his all before settling for second in the Cesspool Pros racer. Despite struggling with his car earlier in the day and race Russ Jansen of Medford turned in a solid third place showing in the Six Juice Caprice.
During his successful Enduro career Ray Fitzgerald won 15 races but since moving to the INEX Legend Race Car class had yet to break through to victory lane, that is until Saturday night. Early on impressive rookie Joseph Braun showed the way over Fitzgerald. Right out of the box on the pre-season practice day Braun has showed promise and for the first 9 laps he’d lead the veteran Fitzgerald. On lap 10 entering the third turn the challenger actually ducked under Joseph for the lead but the young lion would cross Ray back over exiting turn 4 four to maintain the lead. However two laps later Fitzgerald in the Benimax Trucking machine would work his way by Braun for the lead. Once in the lead this time Ray Fitzgerald never looked back and afterwards dedicated the race win to his long time friend and sponsor the late Dan Jones of Blue Point Auto Body. Joseph Braun of Manorville nearly held onto to second but as the field raced to the checker flag in the uninterrupted race “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches made his way by for second place money in the Hampton Fleet Service mount. Braun in his Stewart’s Construction racer settled for third.
In the other non-stop race the 20-lap Street Stock race found Brian Brown breaking to the early advantage over the returning Jay Henschel who tested Brown earlier. Henschel, a former Charger driver ran second for the first four laps of the tilt before he was passed by Wesley Sammon with an inside pass off the second corner. However as the race moved along Brown was able to scamper away from the field never looking back in route to a long awaited first career win in the Staria Automotive Chevy. Sammon of Southampton in the Frank Curtis Motorsports Chevy was runner-up while Jay Henschel of Levittown was third in the Firstline Locksmith Chevy.
Crate Modifieds: 1. Justin Brown 2. Chris Rogers 3. Dave Brigati 4. Sean Glennon 5. Mike Albasini 6. Dennis Krupski 7. Matthew Brode 8. Terry Stiles 9. AJ DeSantis 10. Peter Bertuccio 11. Jason Hansen 12. Carey Rogers 13. Charles Macwhinnie
Blunderbusts: 1. Tom Pickerell 2. Cody Triola 3. Russ Jansen 4. Jim laird Jr. 5. Cassandra Denis 6. Eddie Diaz 7. Joe Warren Jr. 8. Tom Puccia 9. Gary Caldwell 10. Alyssa Paprocky 11. Bill Wegmann Jr. 12. Jarrett Campbell DNS- Bill Wegmann Sr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. Ray Fitzgerald 2. Richie Davidowitz 3. Joseph Braun 4. Eric Hersey 5. Mike Alcaro 6. Allan Pedersen 7. Vinny Delaney 8. Kevin Nowak 9. Riely O’Keefe 10. Jim Sylvester 11. Ed Cheslak 12. Mike Benton 13. Mike Van Houten Jr. 14. Stephen Coleman 15. Derek Debbis 16. Jason Castaldo 17. Anthony Calandro Jr. 18 Colin Hoeffner 19. Jonathan Parsons 20. Patrick Moore 21. Jeff Otto Jr. 22. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 23. Scott Cheslak 24. Steven Woytysiak 25. Joseph Costello 26. Jerry Curran
Street Stocks: 1. Brian Brown 2. Wesley Sammon 3. Jay Henschel 4. Anthony Pizzo 5. Rhett Fogg 6. Eric Zeh 7. Brian McCormack 8. Chris Lescenski 9. Gerard Lawrence 10. Dave Antos 11. Sal Sinatro 12. David White 13. James Dipietro DNS- Ed Fontana