Riverhead, NY May 18th
By Bob Finan
Defending NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville survived a rough and tumble NASCAR Modified feature Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway to score his second win of the young season in Whelen All American Series action. Soper also had to rebound from brake issues during his heat race earlier in the day that saw him a drop to the infield just laps into the qualifier. The win was the 11th of Kyle’s career tying him with the late “Tiger” Tom Baldwin for 30th on the all time win list.
At the drop of the green Cory Midgett and Roger Turbush who started on the front row tussled for the early race lead. The two newcomers leaned on each other over the first two laps and that close racing got too close when the field started lap three. Roger’s car veered suddenly into the first turn wall ending what had already been a frustrating night for the sophomore driver. The contact was ruled incidental and Midgett remained out front with Turbush’s father-in-law Dave Brigati now second and lined up alongside Cory for the restart. When the field took the green Brigati in a power move raced his way into the the race lead with Midgett now sitting second. Midgett would run second until a lap 12 double file restart found Chris Young racing under the early leader for second. Young held second for three laps before the high flying Kyle Soper who started the race 13th came calling taking second on lap 16.
After a few laps chasing Brigati once to second Soper really turned up the pressure just after the halfway mark of the race. However at first Brigati was equal to all challenges that is until the 32nd lap of the contest when Kyle dipped under Dave as the tandem raced off the second turn. By the time they arrived at the third turn Soper was the new race leader. Brigati did try a crossover move on the new leader off turn four but soon he would find himself racing with Young for second. As the race for second intensified Soper in the Eastport Feeds Chevy was able to scamper away. With 15 laps remaining in the race Young was able to pass Brigati for second and started to chip away at Soper’s lead but he in turn was soon challenged and passed for second by John Baker on lap 43. Like the week prior Baker was able to make up ground on the race leader but time was running out as the closing laps clicked off quickly.
At the conclusion of the race, run under a full moon of course Kyle Soper nailed down the win and afterwards couldn’t say enough about his team, “I’m not really sure what happened with the brakes in the heat” Kyle explained, “but my guys went right to work and got her all fixed up” As to the rough nature of the race Soper reflected, “it’s bullring racing on a quarter mile every once in awhile you’ll get one of these, we were lucky to miss most of the carnage tonight”.
John Baker of Brookhaven for the second week in a row was runner-up in his Milano’s Burger Shack Chevy while Chris Young of Calverton completed the podium in third with his Riverhead Building Supply racer. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville and Dave Brigati of Calverton rounded out the top ten.
When it came time to qualify for the 40-lap Crate Modified event many wondered if Dave Brigati’s 2018 track record of 12.507 would fall and indeed no less than three drivers Michael Rutkoski, Chris Rogers and Justin Brown. However it would be the former two time champion Brigati who would get the last laugh when he toured the track at a blistering 12.211 eclipsing his old record by nearly 3/10th’s of a second. Starting from the pole Brigati raced his way out to the lead at the throw of the green with Justin Brown in tow from second. Brown who was seeking to back up his opening night win hounded Brigati over the first 26 circuits before making a successful bid for the lead on lap 27. Just one lap after Brown took the lead a yellow flag waved moving Brigati alongside Brown for the ensuing restart. When the race went back green Brown was able to maintain the lead while behind him Chris Rogers was able to slide under Brigati for second as they started the 28th lap. There would be no stopping Justin Brown on this night as he hit his marks and drove to his 5th career win in the Motorcycle Mike Attorney At Law Chevy. Chris Rogers of Patchogue scored a stellar runner-up finish in the Captain Ralph’s Seafood Safari entry while Dave Brigati settled for third in the Quest Machining Chevy.
For the second week in a row former multi time Late Model champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead won the 25-lap main event posting the 11th win of his career. Dylan Slepain and “Radiant” Ray Minieri occupied the top two spots when the race went green with McDermott passing Mineri for second to the outside on lap 2. After following his team car with Slepian aboard for a few laps Jeremy raced his way to the race lead with an inside pass of Dylan exiting turn four to start the 6th lap. One lap later Chris Turbush made his presence known as he passed Slepian for second on lap 7. Much like the previous week that would be as good as it got for Turbush as McDermott drove off to victory in the Eastport Feeds Pontiac. Chris Turbush of Wading River was second in the North Fork Sanitation Chevy while Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills crossed the line third in the RP Fabricating machine.
By far the wildest race of the night would come in the 30-lap Blunderbust main event which saw Tom Pickerell of Huntington score his 23rd career win in a race that he pretty much figured he was going to finish third in. In qualifying Jim Laird Jr. eclipsed his 2018 track record when he turned in a lap of 14.576 putting him on the pole. At the start of the race Laird raced his way to the race lead with Tom Pickerell in tow. As the laps clicked off defending champion Jack Handley Jr. who arrived at the track after time trials was marching through the field after starting last in the 14 car field. Once Handley got to Pickerell they would get to racing which was just fine with Laird the race leader. However on lap 27 Jarrett Campbell and Cassandra Denis got together drawing a yellow and setting up a double file restart that would change the outcome of the race. When the green reappeared Laird remained the leader but Handley was able to duck under Pickerell for second. Once to second Handley went right to work on Laird for the win and as the duo swapped paint off turn four on the final lap they made contact spinning both from contention. That opened the gates to victory lane up for third place Tom Pickerell who was first under the checkers in the wild finish with his Makely Enterprises Chevy. Russ Jansen of Medford was runner-up in the Six Juice Caprice while Bill Wegmann Jr. of Patchogue was third in the Crackerjack Auto Stores mount. Laird and Handley fell to 7th & 8th respectfully.
Eric Zeh of Selden lead wire to wire to win the 20-lap Street Stock event for his 5th career win. Early on Chris Lescenski chased Zeh before he was passed on lap 8 by Gerard Lawrence who in turn would chase Zeh for three laps before he was overtaken for second on lap 12 by defending champion Dave Antos who made an inside pass of Lawrence down the front stretch. Like Lescenski and Lawrence before him all Antos could do is watch as Eric Zeh drove the Best Built Construction Chevy to victory lane. Antos of Lindenhurst was runner-up in the EP Milling & Sweeping entry while Lawrence of Miller Place placed third in the Sunburst Tree Experts Chevy.
Defending Mini Stock champion Paul Wojcik of Centereach had to survive a late race challenge from Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge before he could claim the 20-lap main event trophy. Warren chased Wojciik the entire race but it was the closing laps when Joe would really turn up the wick getting into but never spinning Wojcik. Warren looked high and low, made contact at times but was never able to pass Paul Wojcik in his Energy Kinetics racer scoring his second career Mini Stock win. Warren of Ridge was second while Justin Squires of Ridge was third.
In the 15-lap Vintage All Stars race it was Don Howe of Water Mill and Tony Ferrante Jr. of New Hyde Park dicing for the race win before transmission failure dropped the X-3 of Ferrante to the infield. That turn of events paved the way for Howe, a former five time NASCAR Modified champion at the track to drive his Carl Zeh Auto Repair cavalier to victory.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. John Baker 3. Chris Young 4. John Fortin Sr. 5. Dave Brigati 6. John Beatty Jr. 7. CJ Lehmann 8. Dylan Slepian 9. Eric Zeh 10. Howie Brode 11. Tom Rogers Jr. 12. Cory Midgett 13. Roger Turbush
Crate Modifieds: 1. Justin Brown 2. Chris Rogers 3. Dave Brigati 4. Sean Glennon 5. Michael Rutkoski 6. Terry Stiles 7. Peter Bertuccio 8. AJ DeSantis 9. Mike Albasini 10. George Tomko Jr. 11. Scott Pedersen 12. Jason Hansen 13. Matt Brode 14. Cary Rogers
Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Chris Turbush 3. Dylan Slepian 4. Shawn Patrick 5. Ray Minieri 6. Jay Scalice
Blunderbusts: 1. Tom Pickerell 2. Russ Jansen 3. Bill Wegmann Jr. 4. Cody Triola 5. Joe Warren Jr. 6. Bill Wegmann Sr. 7. Jim Laird Jr. 8. Jack Handley Jr. 9. Jarret Campbell 10. Kyle Halpin 11. Cassandra Denis 12. Tim Mulqueen 13. Ed Ortiz 14. Alyssa Paprocky 15. Brian Midgett Jr. DNS- Brandon Hubbard
Street Stocks: 1. Eric Zeh 2. Dave Antos 3. Gerard Lawrence 4. Wesley Sammon 5. Brian McCormack 6. Anthony Pizzo 7. Chris Lescenski 8. Phil LaManna 9. Johnny Cricchio 10. Justin Ferreri 11. James DiPietro 12. Rhett Fogg
Mini Stocks: 1. Paul Wojcik 2. Joe Warren Jr. 3. Justin Squires 4. Jamie Meyer 5. Tom Puccia 6. Chris Elixson 7. Joe Cooke Jr. 8. Brad Bess 9. Martin O’Connell 10. Matt Stawecki 11. Tom Cocozza 12. James O’Connell DNS- Mike Mujsce Jr & Steve Catalano
Vintage All Stars: Winner- Don Howe
Photo: Kerri Larsen Myracenews