Third Career NASCAR Title At Long Island Bullring
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Tom Rogers Jr. had a performance for the ages as he took home the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship at Riverhead Raceway in 2015.
The Patchogue, New York, native rolled to nine wins – one shy of tying the historic Long Island bullring’s all-time single-season record – en route to his third career crown in the competitive NASCAR Modified division.
Despite the significance of his success, Rogers took more satisfaction in his accomplishment for what it meant to his car owner, who he first joined forces with in 2011.
“Any championship is special,” Rogers said. “It was nice to win it for Joe Ambrose because it was his first.”
Rogers’ nine checkered flags and 17 top fives in 19 starts behind the wheel of the No. 0 Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevrolet were good enough for third in the New York state standings, and ranked him 22nd nationally in Whelen All-American Series Division I. He defeated Kyle Soper 398-349 in Riverhead points to add 2015 to his previous track titles earned at the quarter-mile bullring in 2004 and 2010.
As to the significance of winning nearly half of the season’s races, Rogers boiled it down quite simply.
“I’m there to win. That’s what we’re all there to do,” Rogers said. “If we didn’t think we could win then we probably wouldn’t be doing it.”
Rogers counts his win in the Baldwin, Jarzombek, Evans Memorial 77 as the most memorable moment of the season, not only for how he got it, but for the occasion it marked.
“After getting the lead, I got passed by Ryan (Preece), and I was able to get it back again a few laps later,” Rogers said. “To win that race was special because I used to work on Tom Baldwin’s car, the year he passed away.”
Although he had clinched the modified title the week before, Rogers recorded his 40th career feature win in the finale to put an exclamation on the season. That same night he also won the figure eight feature and claimed his third career crown in that division as well.
The dual crowns made him the first driver since 1959 to capture two different division titles in the same season at Riverhead.
“All of my life I’ve raced two divisions, I just haven’t always raced two full-time. This year I was able to do both.” Rogers said. “In both the figure eights and the modifieds, I was able to get the car owners their first championships, so that was more important to me than anything else.”
An employee of the Town of Riverhead Highway Department by day, Rogers went to work for his No. 0 team with crew help from Michael Berner, Helmut Loesching and Sean Corsetti. Jessup Landscaping and Royal Fence provided associate sponsorship support.
While his plans for a title defense in 2016 at Riverhead are currently unsettled, Rogers has noticed the changes that have been taking place at his home track this offseason. Ed and Connie Partridge purchased the grounds last fall, and not only will they keep it operating as a race track, they have embarked on a renovation project that will make an immediate difference in the appearance of the facility.
“I live in town here and I see all of the improvements they are doing there, which is awesome,” Rogers said. “I really wish them the best of luck and I’m really happy they were able to keep it a race track.”
Rogers noted the progress to date, with a tinge of excitement.
“They put up new bathrooms, concession stands and ticket booths,” Rogers said. “They’re really sprucing the place up. I hope that he keeps going. I think he wants it to be a first class facility, and it’s heading in that direction.”
The progress is something that means a lot to Rogers, as it will to many others who’ve had longtime ties to the famed bullring.
“It’s the place I grew up at since I was two weeks old,” Rogers said. “I’ve made a lot of friends there through the years. It’s kind of my home.”
Riverhead will open up the 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season on May 7. For more information, please click HERE.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 57 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participated in 2015.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars are among the many showcases for Whelen products.