Riverhead, NY Oct. 24th
By Bob Finan
Last season NASCAR Modified talent CJ Lehmann of Lake Grove went on a late season hot streak at Riverhead Raceway winning two of the final four NASCAR Modified feature events at the track. History just might have a way of repeating itself as on Saturday night CJ won the second to last 50-lap main event of 2020. It was Lehmann’s first win of the delayed season third overall of his career.
When the feature line-up was posted for the NASCAR Modified tilt CJ Lehmann and Chris Young were assigned to the front row with Lehmann selecting the outside pole to start the race moving Young inside the front row. When the green light winked on Young by the slightest of margins would lead the first lap but it would be Lehmann who rode the outside lane to take the lead on lap 2 while Young fell into the clutches of tested tough veteran Dave Brigati. On lap 4 Brigati was able to duck under young to wrestle second away as the tandem exited the fourth turn to start the 5th cycle.
Once to second Briagti was able to keep Lehmann in his sights but was hoping for a caution flag to wave to take a shot at the young race leader. Unfortunately Brigati would get a caution but at the expense of his son in law Roger Turbush who contacted the fourth turn wall hard after riding over a competitors rear rub rail. Now Brigati had the chance he was seeking and when the Cone Night pink come for Breast Cancer Awareness Month came out Lehmann stayed with the outside moving Brigati to the inside. However when the race resumed it would be Lehmann picking up where he left off as the race leader and again started to open up a slight advantage.
When the checkers waved CJ Lehmann in the Shore Mechanical Chevy enjoyed his third driving win but his first as his own car owner, “well I know the owner is pretty happy” CJ quipped afterwards. In 2018 and 2019 Lehmann drove a car fielded for him buy WMT driver Ken Heagy before buying the car outright over the off season. “I just can’t say enough about Chris Busick and all the guys on the team my Dad especially and of course the wives and girl friends it’s truly a team effort” Lehmann offered. As for the race itself “we were really good on top all night, I always race good with Chris and Dave is a gentleman to race with and it all came together” Lehmann noted.
Dave Brigati of Calverton was runner-up in the JDL Environmental LFR while championship contender Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills was third in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. Rookie Justin Brown of Manorville and Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead completed the top five. With that top five Rogers is now one step closer to clinching his 5th career NASCAR Modified championship which would tie him with “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek, Don Howe and Wayne Anderson for the all time track lead.
Another driver getting hot in the final stages of the 2020 campaign is Late Model veteran Jarrod Hayes of Calverton who won his second straight feature event in a 40-lap contest. In qualifying Hayes set the standard in his Beach Auto Collision Chevy with a time of 12.618 with “Radiant” Ray Minieri second quick at 12.794. Hayes and Minieri brought the field down for the green flag and it was Hayes getting the jump on Minieri to take the race lead, a lead he’d never surrender. Minieri gave chase to “J-Rod” over the first eleven laps before being passed by Jeremy McDermott, a 4-time winner in 2020. However all McDermott could do is watch as Jarrod Hayes drove off to a milestone 20th career win over the final 29 laps. The night was still a successful one for Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead who with his second place finish in the Eastport Feeds Pontiac cliched a division leading 5th career LM championship. He and Peter “Buzzy” Eriksen came into 2020 tied for the most titles at 4 each. For Jeremy’s car owner Rob Pelis it is his fourth straight LM championship having won the crown in 2017 & ’18 with Kyle Soper. Dylan Slepian was third in the RP Fabricating Chevy.
Rookie Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified driver Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place realized the dream of a lifetime when he won their 25-lap main event for his first career victory. Veteran Mike Albasini paced the race over the first 3 laps with Charles Macwhinnie in tow before the challenger became the leader on lap 4 with an outside pass of Albasini off turn two. Macwhinnie had a strong car once out front leading Albasini until lap 8 when Gerard Lawrence who started 4th came along and took second. Once to second Lawrence quickly closed in on leader Macwhinnie and on lap 11 executed an inside pass off the fourth turn to take over the race lead. Two laps later Macwhinnie was passed for second by two-time winner Michael Berner who quickly closed in on leader Lawrence. On lap 20 Macwhinnie’s fine night ended in a thud as hit hit the fourth turn wall hard, he was okay. That set up a double file restart and gave Berber a chance at wrestling the lead away from Lawrence. However Gerard Lawrence steering the Lafo’s Performance Glass Chevy was having none of it and remained out front over the final 5-laps for the win. Owen Grennan of Glen Cove was able to slip under Berner one lap after the restart on the 21st circuit to claim runner-up money in the Dillner Precast Chevy with Michael Berner of Patchogue third in the M3 Technology entry. Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches will take a comfortable point lead over Grennan heading into the point finale Saturday.
Sophomore Figure Eight chauffeur Joe “Bam Bam” Warren of Ridge took one step closer to the 2020 track championship when he won his second race of the season in a 15-lap affair. Rookie Chris Elliott broke to the early race lead with Brian Hansen second for the first lap. on lap 2 NASCAR Modified winner CJ Lehmann moved to second and was in position to challenge Elliot for the lead. Suddenly and on his own volition Elliot spun from the lead drawing a yellow flag on lap 4. That placed Lehmann as the new race leader with Joe Warren Jr. now second after starting 8th for the restart. When the race resumed Warren was able to get the measure of Lehmann to take the race lead in his Sayville South Bay Auto Repair entry. Warren was soon joined at the front by the two drivers who came into the race tied for second eight points behind him in the championship standing, Tom Ferrara and Scott Pedersen. The race took a mild controversial turn late when Bob Dalke stalled at the crossover and warren hit the brakes and spun not to hit the disabled car. Officials deemed the caution was for Dalke’s stall only and Joe Warren was returned to the race lead, a lead he’d keep until the conclusion. Tom Ferrara of Patchogue was runner-up in the Beach Auto Collision Cadillac while Scott Pedersen of Shirley was third in the Benny Vecchio owned Chevy. Warren will enjoy a 10-point lead over Ferrara and 12 over Pedersen for the championship going into the final race this Saturday.
It may have taken Eric Hersey nine years to win his first INEX Legend Race Car event but the Commack resident wasted little time in making his way back to the winner’s circle as he won their 20-lap feature event. After Patrick Moore led the first lap of the race Shawn Wanat made his way by Moore for the race lead on lap 2 with the early leader Moore running second until lap 4 when he was passed by Jim Sylvetser. Wanat and Sylvester began dicing for the lead and just as the race reached the midway point on lap 10 disaster struck as the duo got together drawing a yellow flag. For the restart Eric Hersey and Ray Fitzgerald who were running third and fourth suddenly found themselves racing for the lead with Hersey breaking out front. Fitzgerald ran second until lap 13 when he was passed by fellow championship contender Kevin Nowak. Over the final 6 laps Nowak threw all he could at Hersey to get by but when the checkers fell it was the Long Island Luau machine of Eric Hersey for the win over the JTEC Electric racer of Kevin Nowak of Medford. Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville was third in the Benimax Trucking mount. Going into the points finale next Saturday night Kevin Nowak, George Tomko Jr. and Ray Fitzgerald all have a shot at winning their first ever track championship at Riverhead Raceway.
Tom Puccia of Shirley got a late start to his 2020 race season but made the best out of it Saturday when he won the 20-lap Mini Stock main event for his first win of the year and sixth career triumph. Joe Cooke Jr. looked strong early as the race leader setting the pace for the first three laps before spinning in fluid on the raceway that may have come for the car right behind Cooke, Tony Collingsworth. After a yellow to clean the fluid that stretched all the way around the track Tom Puccia who ran in the top three since the start was the new race leader with former Figure Eight champion Mike Mujsce in tow. One lap later Andrew Farnham seeking his second win of the season came to second on the 5th lap and ran there until a 15th lap restart where he was passed by most recent winner Justin Squires. After watching Squires run second for two laps Farnham reclaimed the position on lap 17. With all the jockeying for second going on behind him Tom Puccia in his Ferradino & Son Inc. Contracting racer was able to pull away to victory. Andrew Farnham of Baldwin in his self funded car was second while Justin Squires of Flanders was third in the Roadworks Construction Honda.
Former U.S Marine Joe Boccia of Northport made the 8-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro competition stand at attention when he won his first career race in a 50-lap tilt. After a see-saw battle with Sean Fitzpatrick that saw the duo trade the lead four times Boccia put his East Coast Capital entry out front at the halfway mark of the race to score the win. Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon was second in the Tire Express Chevy while mark Wolf of Shirley completed the podium in his Shirley Feed Chevy.
Riverhead Raceway Race Recap 10/24/2020
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. CJ Lehmann 2. Dave Brigati 3. Dylan Slepian 4. Justin Brown 5. Tom Rogers Jr. 6. Chris Young 7. Michael Rutkoski 8. John Fortin Sr. 9. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 10. Kyle Soper 11. Howie Brode 12. Jeremy McDermott 13. Jack Handley Jr. 14. Glen Steger 15. Vinny Delaney 16. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 17. John Baker 18. Wes Gilbert 19. Roger Turbush
Late Models: 1. Jarrod Hayes 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Dylan Slepian 4. Ray Minieri 5. Kevin Metzger 6. Shawn Patrick 7. Chris Turbush 8. Chris Lescenski 9. Ed Cheslak
Crate Modifieds: 1. Gerard Lawrence 2. Owen Grennan 3. Michael Berner 4. Sean Glennon 5. Chris Rogers 6. Matt Brode 7. Lou Maestri 8. Richie Davidowitz 9. Eric Hersey 10. Terry Stiles 11. Mike Albasini 12. AJ DeSantis 13. Alex Colasanto 14. Jason Hansen 15. Eddie Schutze 16. Kenny Southard 17. Charles Macwhinnie 18. Stephen Coleman 19. Brian Brown 20. Steve Ratti
Figure Eights: 1. Joe Warren Jr. 2. Tom Ferrara 3. Scott Pedersen 4. Gary Fritz Jr. 5. Bryan Quilliam 6. Brian Hansen 7. CJ Lehmann 8. Rick Swanson 9. Bob Dalke 10. Allan Pedersen 11. Chris Elliott 12. Paul Cummings
INEX Legends: 1. Eric hersey 2. Kevin Nowak 3. Ray Fitzgerald 4. Allan Pedersen 5. Richie Davidowitz 6. Shawn Wanat 7. Scott Cheslak 8. Mike Benton 9. George Tomko Jr. 10. Anthony Marsh 11. Mike Van Houten Jr. 12. Nick Morabito 13. Charlie Hodge 14. Jim Sylvetser 15. Jake Curran 16. Darren McCabe 17. Patrick Moore 18. Robert Henninger III 19. Chase Grennan 20. Sean McElearney 21. Jason Castaldo 22. Eugene Drew 23. Jeff Otto Jr. 24. Chris Sinatro 25. Joey Braun 25. David Strohmeyer
Mini Stocks: 1. Tom Puccia 2. Andrew Farnham 3. Justin Squires 4. CJ Zukowski 5. Paul Wojcik 6. Mike Mujsce Sr. 7. Jesse St. Clair 8. Chris Elixson 9. James O’Connell 10. Scott Phillips 11. Martin O’Connell 12. Johnny Cricchio 13. Joe Cooke Jr. 14. Tony Collingsworth 15. Mike Mujsce Jr. 16. Tom Cocozza
8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Joseph Boccia 2. Sean Fitzpatrick 3. Mark Wolf 4. Michael Asdahl 5. Jared Halsey 6. Brian Halsey 7. Kevin Coyle 8. Pat Collins 9. Greg Haris 10. David Verbeeck 11. James Muench 12. Carmine Ragusa 13. Eric Germuth 14. Kevin Feeney 15. Preston Prydatko 16. James Heym 17. Jodi Fickiessen 18. Robert Eggers 19. Ally Turbush 20. Kal Buckley 21. Ricky Carman 22. Roger Tramm 23. Blake Drinkwater 24. Christian Kalbfleish 25. Dennis Jones 26. Vinny Poharski 27. John O’Rourke 28. Michael Biancos 29. Steve Jones 30. Stacy Halsey 31. Robert Blackmore 32. Jennifer Hohwiesner