Riverhead, NY Jan 6th
By Bob Finan
After a two year pause Riverhead Raceway was able to celebrate their 2022 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champions in style once again Friday evening at Giorgio’s Baiting Hollow with 350 revelers filling the banquet room. Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz hosted the gala event with track GM John Ellwood while Stephen Halpin served as master of ceremonies.
For the fourth time in five years Kyle Soper of Manorville was celebrated as the NASCAR Modified champion along with his car owners Wayne & Joette Anderson. On his way to the 2022 title Soper parked the Eastport Feeds Chevy in victory lane four times during the regular season. While a fourth championship on the wings of four wins was great for the veteran team, the highlight of their season came on June 25th when Kyle won the Miller Lite 200 NASCAR WMT becoming the first track regular to win a WMT race since 1995. While standing center stage Friday evening, Kyle Soper was presented with the 2022 NASCAR Modified championship plaque, his fourth championship ring and the Eddie Partridge Drivers Cup, a perpetual award reserved for the Modified champion.
After Soper was honored for his championship, Randy Murray and his Inspection staff of Riverhead Raceway introduced a new award with the Joe Hodge Humanitarian Award. Hodge, a former successful racer at Freeport Stadium was an integral part of the track inspection staff who voted on this award that will be presented annually. Popular NASCAR Official Mike Cappiello of Glen Cove was named the inaugural recipient of the Joe Hodge Humanitarian Award and was met with a standing ovation as he was joined by his wife Pat at the podium.
Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills, John Beatty Jr. of Merrick, Dave Brigati of Calverton and Jack Handley Jr. of Medford were second through fifth in the 2022 Modified rankings. Chris Rogers of Patchogue was named 2022 NASCAR Modified Rookie of the Year driving for Dave Brigati’s Outlaw Inc. after finish 8th in the standings.
Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters after 30-years of trying captured his first career Late Model championship in his Matlach Fabricating entry, Shawn was joined at the podium by his wife Pam who serves as the team owner. Shawn notched one victory on August 20th, a victory that turned out to be paramount to winning the championship. Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach, Brandon Turbush of Manorville, Ray Minieri of Bay Shore and Dave Brigati were second through fifth. Jimmy Rennick Jr. was tabbed 2022 Rookie of the Year. Additionally, Jimmy won the 2022 Miller Lite Triple Crown Series for the class along with his first career win on July 9th, making for an impressive freshman year.
Another first career champion was crowned in the Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds with Owen Grennan of Glen Cove on the strength of four wins taking the title with his Dillner Precast team. Owen’s car owner, younger brother Chase joined the champ center stage, he himself a two-time Crate Mod winner in ’22. The Grennan brothers won six of sixteen races contested. Chase was runner-up to big bother Owen in the final standings with AJ DeSantis of Yaphank, Michael Berner of Patchogue and Alex Colasanto of Selden third through fifth. Max Handley of Medford won the 2022 Rookie of the Year honors in the Mile Albasini owned car, Michael Berner won the 2022 Miller Lite Triple Crown Series.
For the second year in a row veteran dare devil Scott Pedersen of Shirley and car owner Benny Vecchio took home the Figure Eight track championship with their Land, Air & Water Environmental team. Scott won two races along the way barely giving him the title over his nephew Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches who won three times nearly upending his uncle on the final weekend. Allan won three races, including a final weekend sweep to finsih second in the standings with Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge, Gart Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach and Ryan Warren of Ridge third through fifth. Ryan Warren in the Kathy Kraft owned machine was named 2022 Rookie of the Year.
Cody Triola of Bay Shore also was a repeat champion in 2022 winning his second straight Blunderbust title in his Cesspool Pros racer that he owns himself. Cody parked in the winner’s circle twice allowing him to beat out Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead, Brandon Hubbard of Mastic, Eddie Diaz of Centereach and ageless Bill Wegmann Sr. of N. Bellmore who placed second through fifth in the final championship rankings. Steve Neenan of Mastic was 2022 Rookie of the Year.
Returning to his racing roots and having fun again paid dividends for 2022 Super Pro Truck champion Sean Glennon of Northport. Sean score three victories in route to his first career driving championship in his Glennon Racing, R&R Brothers electric Chevy. Jack Handley Jr. of Medford, Lou Maestri of Deer Park, Joe Cerabino of Bay Shore and Frank Dumicich Sr. of East Quogue were second through fifth. Rob Corwin of Greenport was named the 2022 Rookie of the Year.
Second generation wheelman Eric Hersey of Commack may not have won a race in 2022 but he pieced together what would turn out to be a championship INEX Legend Race Car season for he and car owner Al Bolland of Bolland Racing. Eric, driver of the Grillin’ Villian entry not only won the Legend Race Car championship but with his flashy sports coat and attire the best dressed of the affair. Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches, Anthony Marsh of Riverhead, Nick Morabito of Miller Place and Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville were second through fifth in the Legend Rankings. Third generation driver Chase Van Houten of Wading River won the 2022 Rookie of the Year honors, as well his first career race July 30th.
Dave Antos of Lindenhurst may be on a every other year program when it comes to winning the Street Stock title at Riverhead as he scored his third over championship in 2022. Dave, who owns his EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy also won the SS crown in 2018 & 2020 complementing his three Grand Enduro championships at the track. Dave was a three-time winner in ’22 and was chased by Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place, Kyle Curtis of Hampton Bays, Greg Harris of Riverhead and Chris Lescenski of Riverhead.
Soft spoken Andrew Farnham of Baldwin notched his first career Mini Stock championship steering a car owned by his father, Ralph. Together the father & son tandem won twice in 2022 good enough to best CJ Zukowski of Riverhead, Chris Olivari of Coram, Joe Cooke Jr of Shirley and Paul Wojcik of Patchogue.
Ben Morabito of Miller Place made a late season rally winning his three races of 2022 in the second half of the campaign to capture the 2022 INEX Bandolero Bandit title for his parents/car owners Stan & Jen Morabito of Benimax Trucking. Rodeny Dowless of Dix Hills, Giavanna Agugliaro of Islip, Kix Bock of East Hampton, Nick Hodge of Bellmore and Reid Halpin of Wading Riverhead were second through fifth. Agugliaro & Bock tied for third, Hodge and Halpin tied for fifth.
Chevy Rommeney of Bohemia made his last season in the INEX Bandolero Outlaws one to remember winning six events in the Hollis Court Collision machine owned by his parents Michael & Cindy. By INEX rules Chevy now ages out of the Bandolero class and is expected to make an announcement as to his future plans soon. Will Sipala of Manorville, Gavin Romano of Riverhead, Tucker Bock of East Hampton and Marrissa Stewart of Riverhead were second through fifth in the Outlaws.
Three Enduro champions were recognized during the dinner with Woot Lawrence of Southampton (Trucks), Pat Collins of Southampton (8-Cylinder) and John Palmeri of Lindenhurst (Gut & Go).
The 2nd annual Silas Hiscock Driver of the Year Award was presented with the 14 track champions eligible. Pat Collins was named the winner of the prestigious award. Collins, after eight years of trying won his first career race on May 22nd which spearheaded, him and his PC Truck & Equipment team to the 2022 championship, also a career first.
With emcee Stephen Halpin moving the program along nicely all awards and speeches were completed in rapid order and attendees enjoyed two and a half hours of dancing, dining and partying to put a bow on the 2022 season.
Focus now shifts to 2023m, the 73rd season of racing at Riverhead Raceway that will open Saturday May 6th with a seven division NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series program. Two practice days are scheduled to proceed the new season on Saturday afternoon April 22nd and again April 29th.