Riverhead, NY Sept. 19th.
By Bob Finan
Photo Michael Jaworecki Myracenews
Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead played both the role of a riverboat gambler and conservative race car driver perfectly and parlayed it into his 60th career NASCAR Modified victory in The Bubba 150 NASCAR Modified event presented by Oval Speed Unlimited. After smashing his own track record in qualifying with a lap of 11.272 Rogers and his Denise & Ken Darch team made the decision to accept the Tom Baldwin Challenge dropping to the rear of the field and going after the $750 posted by Baldwin Automotive. The challenge was open to any qualifier in the top five who fell to the rear and could win the 150. Rogers and team cleaned up with $5,910 in winnings including $1,950 in Hard Charger award monies including the Tom Baldwin Challenge.
With Rogers taking his $500 Pole Award bonus money and falling to the rear of the field it moved second quick qualifier Roger Turbush to the pole with John Beatty Jr. to the outside pole. At the throw of the green Turbush and Beatty went right to work racing each other for the lead with many but not all of the laps paying varying amounts in lap leader bonus awards. Over the first 10 laps the see-saw battle saw Beatty leading Turbush as they diced side by side. To start the 11th lap Turbush moved into sole possession of the race lead while Beatty tucked in behind him in second. Meanwhile fast qualifier Tom Rogers Jr was content merely driving around outside the top ten saving his equipment for later in the race. The 150 lap race featured green flag laps only meaning teams would not lose laps under caution in the pits and were allotted two change tires bringing pit strategy into the mix for the race as well.
During a double file restart on lap 22 John Beatty Jr. reclaimed the lead from Roger Turbush who now settled into second. Over the next 73 laps Beatty would rack up most of the lap leader bonus money on laps it was available but with most of that money front loaded by lap sponsor preference over the first 100-laps of the race. It was during that 73-lap stint out front that Beatty would pocket $3,458 of his total of $3,868 in lap leader bonus money and that he’d clinch the $250 bonus posted from most laps led. Turbush chased Beatty until lap 70 when on a double file restart defending NASCAR modified champion Kyle Soper worked his way by for second. Soper who pitted during an earlier caution then set sail for Beatty and and lap 95 he moved under the race leader entering the first turn to take the lead.
Lap 100 saw early leader Roger Turbush spin drawing a caution and with just 50-laps to go the feeding frenzy was on in the pits with Turbush, Beatty, Dave Brigati, Chris Young, CJ Lehmann and Ken Heagy all making pit stops. Soper who pitted earlier with the likes of Dave Sapienza, Dylan Slepian John Fortin Sr. and Tom Rogers Jr. were now left to do battle at the front. Soper led until lap 102 when he was passed by Sapienza for the race lead. Dave’s stay out front was short lived as Dylan Slepian made his way by on lap 104 with Sapienza holding down second until lap 106 before being overtaken by Tom Rogers Jr.
Once Rogers arrived to second he went right to work at first reeling in and then pressuring Slepian who was seeking his second win in a row for the race lead. Methodically Rogers worked on the race leader and just after the 120-lap mark made his way to the race lead getting by Slepian. Once out front in his License To Chill Chevy there was no stopping Tom Rogers Jr. from nailing down his third win of the season. After doing a burn out in turn one Rogers arrived in victory lane but quickly took race sponsor Dennis Freese of Oval Speed and race Grand Marshall Bill Park along with Bob “Bubba’ Patanjo’s family to turn one. “Bubba was a special guy around here” Rogers reflected, “we all go back to the Medford Speedway go kart track, man we had some fun back then”.
As to why he accepted the Tom Baldwin Challenge Rogers admitted the decision was twofold, “first off with all that Hard Charger and Baldwin Challenge money on the line it’s appealing but on the business side the way they score you in the New York State Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series championship it really works out to your benefit”. Looking back at his early race joyride Rogers quipped, “I challenged my inner Matt Hirschman, just paced myself saving our stuff for when it counted”.
Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills was runner-up in his Eastport Feeds Chevy while John Beatty of Merrick made a late race charge from his lap 100 pit stop to finish third in the TigerLyfe Energy Chevy. Beatty and his MSM Elite Motorsports team were the big winners in the bonus money category earning an estimated $4,500 aside from the posted purse. Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck and Roger Turbush of Riverhead completed the top five.
Taking advantage of a late race restart Chris Rogers of Patchogue scored his first Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified win of 2020 in a 25-lap event. Gerard Lawrence and former Charger champion Steve Ratti brought the field to green with Ratti getting the advantage to take the early race lead. Lawrence chased Ratti over the first 14 circuits of the tilt before opening night winner AJ DeSantis came to second on lap 16, AJ’s run in the challengers role last four laps as on lap 20 he was overtaken by Chris Rogers. Wasting no time making a challenge for the race lead and win Rogers starting looking to the inside of race leader Ratti and on lap 22 that duel got too close. Entering the third turn on lap 22 Rogers got under Ratti but the leader attempted to close the door and the two made contact shooting Ratti up the hill to a stop in turn four. NASCAR officials deemed the contact was not the fault of Rogers who when the race resumed was the new race leader with DeSantis again back to second. Over the final two laps of the race Rogers remained out front to notch his 4th career win in the Peconic Gold Oysters Chevy. DeSantis of Yaphank was runner-up in his Strong Oil Chevy while Owen Grennan of Glen Cove rounded out the podium in third with his Dillner Precast Chevy.
“Mad” Max Handley of Medford won the 20-lap Blunderbust main event for his first win of the season and second overall in his young career. Gary Caldwell broke to the early race lead at the throw of the green with Eddie Diaz in tow. On lap 3 Diaz worked his way by Caldwell for the lead but one lap later Gary reclaimed the top spot. However seasoned veteran Tom Sullivan was on the march and soon moved his way to the race lead working by both Caldwell and Diaz. For awhile it looked as though Sullivan was on his way to the winners circle but things started to change on lap 8 when Max Handley came to second. Over the next four laps Sullivan and Handley diced for the lead with Handley diving under Sullivan on lap 12 exiting the second corner to take the race lead to start the 13th circuit. Once out front Handley in his Licciardi Builders Caprice would lead the remainder of the way for the win. Sullivan of Massapequa was second in his Action Auto Wreckers Chevy while defending champion “Slick Pick” Tom Pickerell of Huntington was third in the Encore Rentals Chevy.
Kevin Nowak of Medford won the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature his first win of 2020 this after having won six times in 2019. When the race got underway Scott Cheslak moved to the race lead and would lead the first three laps of the contest before being overtaken on a double file restart to start the 4th lap by Tony Colandro Jr. After leading for eight laps and opening up a comfortable lead Colandro was outdone by a lap 12 caution flag which put Kevin Nowak who started the race 9th and came to second on lap 10 alongside. When the green light winked back on Colandro spun his wheels for a second allowing Nowak to motor out front with Allan Pedersen also getting by for second. Pedersen’s stay in second came to an abrupt end on lap 18 when he was involved in an incident off turn four that included early leader Colandro. With a green, white & checker finish in the offering Kevin Nowak was able to hold serve in his JTEC Electric coupe while Eric Hersey of Commack was second in the Long Island Luau entry. George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue was third in the D&D Auto Body machine.
After mechanical woes took him out of the most recent Street Stock event Chris Lescenski of Riverhead rebounded in a big was Saturday winning his first 20-lap race of 2020 in a non-stop affair. With lescenski moving to the race lead at the start Rhett Fogg ran second to Chris over the first 14-laps of the race. However armed with a new car Brian Brown was on the move and he was able to slip by Fogg to start the 15th lap for the second spot. Once to second Brown peppered Lescenski for the race lead and win over the final five laps looking first to the inside and then trying the outside lane. Mattered not to Chris Lescenski who drove his L.I Poultry Chevy to his second career win. Brown of Riverhead was runner-up in the former Wesley Sammon car while Fogg of Westhampton was third in the Accu-Rhett Chevy.
In a very competitive 50-lap 8-Cylinder Enduro former Figure Eight champion Ken Hyde Jr. of Yaphank scored his first ever win in the class after a spirited battle with early race leader Brian Halsey of Southampton. “Hot Rod” Halsey broke to the race lead at the outset leading the first 23 laps of the race. Before long Hyde was up to second and challenging leader Halsey as they diced through lapped traffic. Finally after laps of chasing the leader Hyde was able to slip under Halsey up the backstretch to take the lead on lap 24. Over the final 26 laps Halsey stayed in Hyde’s tire tracks for the remainder of the race but in the end Ken Hyde in the Erick Zegel Motorsports Chevy would take the win. Halsey in his PC Truck Repair Chevy was second while his son and defending champion Jared Halsey of Southampton placed third in the Sabrosa Mexican Grill entry.
NASCAR Modifieds Bubba 150: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Dylan Slepian 3. John Beatty Jr. 4. Michael Rutkoski 5. Roger Turbush 6. Kyle Soper 7. Dave Brigati 8. Ken Heagy 9. Howie Brode 10. CJ Lehmann 11. Chris Young 12. Dave Sapienza 13. Artie Pedersen III 14. John Fortin Sr. DNS- John Baker, Cory Midgett & Jimmy Rennick Jr.
Crate Modifieds: 1. Chris Rogers 2. AJ DeSantis 3. Owen Grennan 4. Gerard Lawrence 5. Matthew Brode 6. Sean Glennon 7. Justin Brown 8. Lou Maestri 9. Richie Davidowitz 10. Stephen Coleman 11. Kenny Southard 12. Steve Ratti 13. Eddie Schutze 14. Charlie Macwhinnie 15. Eric Hersey 16. Michael Berner 17. Terry Stiles 18. Dennis Krupski
Blunderbusts: 1. Max Handley 2. Tom Sullivan 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Eddie Diaz 5. Cody Triola 6. Jarrett Campbell 7. Bill Wegmann Sr. 8. Alyssa Paprocky 9. Jason Wegmann 10. Gary Caldwell 11. Kyle Halpin 12. Brian Brown 13. Jim Laird Jr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. Kevin Nowak 2. Eric Hersey 3. George Tomko Jr. 4. Brad Van Houten 5. Joey Braun 6. Jason Castaldo 7. Scott Cheslak 8. Ray Fitzgerald 9. Chris Sinatro 10. Patrick Moore 11. Mike Benton 12. Jerry Curran 13. Charlie Hodge 14. AJ Vasseur 15. Dave Strohmeyer 16. Chase Grennan 17. Mike Van Houten Jr. 18. Jonathan Parsons 19. Allan Pedersen 20. Anthony Colandro 21. Colin Volpe 22. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 23. Jim Sylvester 24. Robert Henninger III 25. Frank Hodge 26. Shawn Wanat
Street Stocks: 1. Chris Lescenski 2. Brian Brown 3. Rhett Fogg 4. Jay Henschel 5. Brian McCormack 6. Dave Antos 7. Gerard Lawrence 8. Anthony Pizzo 9. David White 10. Justin Ferreri 11. James Pape 12. James Dipietro 13. Danny Pizzo 14. Chris Mancz
8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Ken Hyde Jr. 2. Brian Halsey 3. Jared Halsey 4. Eric Germuth 5. Carmine Ragusa 6. Dennis Jones 7. Roger Tramm 8. Preston Prydatko 9. Christian Kalbfleish 10. Al DeCesare 11. Stacy Halsey 12. Kevin Coyle 13. Steve Jones 14. Michael Biancos 15. Joseph Boccia 16. Will Ebert 17. Ricky Carman 18. Blake Drinkwater 19. Pat Collins 20. James Muench 21. James Heym 22. David Verbeeck 23. Jennifer Hohwiesner 24. Sean Fitzpatrick 25. Michael Asdahl 26. Dwayne Sipila 27. Kal Buckley