Riverhead, NY Sept. 14th.
While the hot August nights have evolved into cooler September evenings Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead remains hot at Riverhead Raceway as he again scored double victories Saturday night winning the Whelen First Responder Night 100 NASCAR Modified event and just moments later the 15-lap Figure Eight feature. The 100-lap win was Rogers 4th of the season and 56th of his career while the Figure Eight triumph was his 9th of 2019 and 52nd of his career.
John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville making his final start of 2019 set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 11.725 as the final car out but the top six would be inverted for the 100 with Jason Agugliaro and John Baker making up the front row after timing in 6th and 5th quickest. Baker would get the measure of Agugliaro when the race went green as the duo ran 1-2 over the first three laps. The complexion of the race would totally change on lap 3 as Tom Rogers Jr. who started 3rd in the contest made one clean and swift pass of the lead tandem to take the lead of the race. Baker chased Rogers for a lap before he was passed for position by defending NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper on lap 5 as Soper dipped under Baker entering the third turn.
As Soper made his way to second many on hand were anticipating a fierce battle for the lead and the win between Rogers and Soper but that battle never did develop as Rogers in his Denise & Ken Darch owned machine was spot on for the entire 100- lap distance. Soper in the later stages of the race had his mirror fill up with former three time track champion John Fortin who peppered the current championship leader for the remainder of the race.
As the checkers flew it was Tom Rogers Jr. sitting in victory lane now just seven wins behind “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek for the all time lead in NASCAR Modified wins at the track, “what can I say about my car owners” Rogers offered after exiting the Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevy. “After our last race two weeks ago before the tour race Kenny stripped the car Sunday morning to a bare frame and took it to Meade’s Fabricating just to check it out. I mean we have three races left this year but that is a testament to how Denise & Kenny run their team, I’m just happy to drive for them.”
Kyle Soper of Manorville was runner-up in Wayne & Joette Anderson’s Chevy noting afterwards, “there was no sense in me pushing the envelope tonight I think we pretty much wrapped up out second championship in a row tonight”. Indeed with two races left Soper enjoys a 69-point bulge over Rogers with Tommy needing full 20 car fields to show up for the final two races of 2019 which is highly unlikely. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville was third in the John’s Fuel Oil Chevy while John Baker of Brookhaven and Chris Young of Calverton completed the top five.
Chris Turbush of Wading River has found his Late Model stride later in the 2019 campaign winning his second straight feature and fourth overall this season. Shawn Patrick paced the race over the first 3 circuits before eight time winner and championship leader Jeremy McDermott made his way by for the lead on lap 4. McDermott who dominated the first half of the LM season would find his hopes for victory dashed when the red hot Chris Turbush took over the top spot on lap 15 with an inside pass. Once out front Turbush put his B&N Moving Chevy on cruise control to notch his 17th career win in the class. Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters took advantage of a McDermott bobble in lapped traffic to claim runner-up money in the Steve Mehner Race Engines entry while Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead rallied back for a third place tally in the Eastport Feeds Pontiac.
Tom Rogers Jr. made a pass at the halfway mark of the 15-lap Figure Eight feature to win his 9th race in 12 starts with his 52nd career win moving him just one behind the late Joe Biondolillo Jr. for second on the all time win list. Bryan Quilliam as he has often this season took the early race lead proceeding to lead the first four laps of the contest. Ken Hyde Jr., the best man at Quilliam’s recent wedding took over the top spot on lap 5 after Bryan spun from the lead without contact. Hyde would lead until a lap 7 double file restart that saw Tom Rogers Jr. in his United Exhuast Shops Chevy bolt out to the race lead and eventual victory. Hyde of Yaphank was runner up in his Kings Park Contracting machine while Eric Zeh of Selden was third in the Keith Repp owned Chevy Coupe.
Jack Handley Jr. of Medford took home a division leading 4th Super Pro Truck victory of the season when he won their 20-lap main event the 7th of his career. The 20-lap affair would see not a caution flag wave with Frank Dumicich Jr. pacing the race over the first three laps with Handley in tow. Late in the third lap Handley ducked low on leader Dumicich entering the third turn to take control of the race starting the fourth lap. Dumicich chased Handley until lap 6 when he was passed for position by defending champion Mark Stewart. Try as he might Stewart was unable to reel in Jack Handley Jr. who drove to victory lane in the Hollis Court Collision Chevy. Stewart of Riverhead was runner-up in the East End Building Chevy while Dumicich of East Quogue placed third in his Sea Level Construction Chevy.
Early in the 2019 season
former Charger driver Jay Henschel of Levittown took a liking to the new Street Stock class at Riverhead Raceway and on Saturday his return to racing came full circle when he won their 20-lap feature event in a non stop race. Henschel wasted little time taking the lead from his front row starting berth and led Brian Brown of Riverhead for the first dozen laps of the tilt. On lap 13 Eric Zeh of Selden moved by Brown for second and many felt it was just a matter of laps before Zeh who has dominated the class with 5 wins in 8 start going into Saturday would pass Henschel for the lead. However the driver of the Firstline Locksmiths Chevy had other ideas and Jay Henschel drove to his first career Street Stock win. Zeh was runner up in the Best Built Construction Chevy while defending champion David Antos of Lindenhurst came home third in the EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy.
Tom Puccia of Shirley avenged a DQ from the previous Mini Stock race the only way he knew how. Go out and win the non stop 25 lap main event. Making the night even sweeter for “Pooch” was the night would also be a clean sweep as he set fast time with a lap of 14.787. At the throw of the green Puccia broke to the early lead over Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge who has dominated the class in ’19. Warren had ideas about going after Puccia for the lead and win but those ideas were dashed thwarted when his teammate CJ Zurkowski of Riverhead started to challenge Warren for second. That was music to the ears of race leader and eventual winner Tom Puccia who drove his On Site Cleaning Service machine to the winners circle. Zurkowski would grab second while Warren settled for third.
In the fun filled First Responders race New York City Police officer Fred Grover of Huntington scored the 30-lap win. Grover is assigned to the training academy of the NYPD which is located in College Point, Queens.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Kyle Soper 3. John Fortin Sr. 4. John Baker 5. Chris Young 6. Michael Rutkoski 7. Dave Sapienza 8. Roger Turbush 9. Dylan Slepian 10. CJ Lehmann 11. Dave Brigati 13. Artie Pedersen III 14. Eric Zeh 15. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 16. Vinny Delaney 17. John Beatty Jr. DQ-Jason Agugliaro DNS- Chase Dowling
Late Models: 1. Chris Turbush 2. Shawn Patrick 3. Jeremy McDermott 4. Jarrod Hayes 5. Darren McCabe 6. Kevin Metzger 7. Johnny Vullo Jr. 8. Dylan Slepian 9. Roger Oxee 10. Daryn Miller 11. Ryan Zurkowski 12. Ray Minieri
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Ken Hyde Jr. 3. Eric Zeh 4. Gary Fritz Jr. 5. Scott Pedersen 6. CJ Lehmann 7. Bryan Quilliam 8. Joe Warren Jr. 9. Charles Macwhinnie 10. Tom Ferrara 11. Vinny Delaney
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Mark Stewart 3. Frank Dumicich Jr. 4. Matt Triola 5. Eddie Schutze 6, Lou Maestri 7. Ethan Brown 8. Frank Dumicich Sr. 9. Sean Glennon
Street Stocks: 1. Jay Henschel 2. Eric Zeh 3. David Antos 4. Brian Brown 5. Brian McCormack 6. Wesley Sammon 7. Chris Lescenski 8. Sal Sinatro 9. David White 10. Ed Fontana 11. Ken Hyde Jr. 12. James Pape Jr. 13. Bob Casagrande
Mini Stocks: 1. Tom Puccia 2. CJ Zurkowski
3. Joe Warren Jr. 4. Paul Wojcik 5. Justin Squires 6. Chris Elixson 7. Thomas Cocozza 8. James O’Connell 9. Joe Cooke Jr. 10. Jamie Meyer 11. Brad Bess 12. Martin O’Connell 13. Scott Phillips
First Responders Race: Winner- Fred Grover, NYPD