Riverhead, NY Nov. 26th
By Bob Finan
Prior to the recent Islip 300 by East West Marine Supply Riverhead Raceway owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz honored their 7 champions from the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series along with the Street Stock & Mini Stock champions during a track side ceremony. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead led the 2020 “parade of champions” after earning a record tying fifth NASCAR Modified championship.
The 2020 track champions lined up by the winners circle for the pre-race festivities with Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz presenting all nine titlists with their championship plaque. Additionally the NASCAR Modified, Late Model, Crate Modified, Figure Eight, Blunderbust, Super Pro Truck and INEX Legend Race Car champions were all presented with the traditional championship ring as well their 2020 point fund check.
Tom Rogers Jr. when he clinched that fifth NASCAR Modified title on the final night of racing steering the Denise & Ken Darch owned entry stepped into impressive company tying the late “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek, Don Howe and Wayne Anderson as the only four drivers to capture five titles. Rogers who started his career in the Figure Eights at the urging of “Downtown” George Brown has earned an amazing 12 Riverhead Raceway championships along the way. Rogers is a six time Figure Eight kingpin and also has a Late Model title to his credit.
After getting out of the gate in Late Model competition with four straight wins Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead for the second year in a row won the track championship. For car owner Rob Pelis it was his fourth consecutive LM title having won the 2017 & 2018 championships with Kyle Soper of Manorville. McDermott entered the 2020 campaign as a four time Late Model champion tied with legendary Peter “Buzzy” Eriksen for the most LM crowns all time. Jeremy with his fifth LM championship now stands alone.
After winning the 2019 INEX Legend Race Car championship “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches stepped into the Stan Morabito owned Crate Modified for 2020 and success was instant for the soft spoken Davidowitz who despite a last race scare won the 2020 championship and Rookie of the Year honors. Richie edged out Owen Grennan of Glen Cove by a mere four points after early race incidents in the season finale wiped out a 20 plus point lead Davidowitz enjoyed going into the final race. The all time leading INEX Legend Race Car winner (25) soldered on to secure the 2020 title for he and the Morabito family.
Sophomore jinx, what sophomore jinx is what 2020 Figure Eight champion Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge might just be asking in the weeks after winning the championship one year removed from being named the 2019 Rookie of the Year. After having to borrow a car for the opening night race on August 1st due to engine failure in his primary car Warren driving for Kathy & Tom Kraft strung together a consistent string of top three finishes along the way to win the title. Warren had won the 2019 Mini Stock championship.
Tom Pickerell of Huntington became a 7-time Blunderbust champion when he won the the final race of the season. Pickerell the 2019 champion of the class entered the final main event of the season just one point back of Cody Triola of Bay Shore in his Dimi Pickerell owned Chevy. Tom knew the only way to win the 2020 title and not worry about Triiola was to go out and win the final race which is exactly what the seasoned veteran did.
Early in the off season between the 2019 & 2020 seasons former multi time Blunderbust champion Jack Handley Jr. was tabbed to drive the Andre & Amy Vega Super Pro Truck that was driven to two consecutive titles by Mark Stewart of Riverhead in 2018 & 2019. With Stewart signing with the US Air Force during the off season Handley was tabbed to steer the championship track. Jack was able to thwart a late season change by eventual runner-up Sean Glennon of Northport to secure the third straight SPT championship for the Vega family.
With just a two INEX Legend Race Cars races remaining for the championship Kevin Nowak of Medford thought his hopes for a second career title were slim to none as he trailed point leader George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue by well over 20-markers. In the second to last race Tomko was the victim of a incident not of his own doing and low and behold going into the championship finale on Halloween night Nowak had renewed hope. As the duo hot the track for the final race Tomko had a slim 5-point lead over Nowak and like Pickerell in the Blunderbusts Kevin knew the sure way to cement the title with no worries was to win which he did. For Kevin and his girlfriend Jenn Vasell it is their first Riverhead championship since 2010.
For the second time in three years Dave Antos of Lindenhurst in his self owned Monte Carlo won the Street Stock championship. For Antos it is his fourth overall Riverhead Raceway title having won two Grand Enduro championships before that class morphed into the Street Stocks.
CJ Zukowski of Riverhead was the hired gun for Joe Warren Motorsports in Mini Stock competition in 2020 after Joe won the 2019 championship honors. Zukowski literally grew-up at Riverhead Raceway with his father Charlie the long time director of maintenance at the track before he took a position with the Riverhead School District.
As is customary Riverhead Raceway will also present the second through fifth place drivers plaques for their 2020 efforts with those plaques on hand at the track. Plans on how to safely distribute those plaques during a new recent surge of Covid-19 will be disclosed after the New Year rings in.
Through the efforts of Eric Germuth points were kept for three Enduro classes independent of the track with Jimmy & Angela Rennick of JCR Motorsports providing their championship trophies that were handed out at the final Enduro show Sunday November 1st.
Justin McGrady of Stony Brook was the model of consistency winning his first career Truck Enduro championship during the final race of 2020 after championship leader Woot Lawrence of Southampton had early race contact. McGrady was able to steer clear of trouble and earn the title.
Brian Halsey of Southampton for the second time in his career won the 8-Cylinder Enduro title just one year after his son Jared took home the honors.
Energetic newcomer Franky Abbatiello of East Islip would earn the 2020 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go championship that was aided by his first career win early in the year.
Rob Bader of Short Track Racers Razzle has presented the second through fifth place drivers in the three Enduro classes with handsome plaques.
With the delayed and at times strange 2020 race season now in the rear view mirror Riverhead Raceway is hopeful of returning to a normal format for the 2021 Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing & Enduro Series. Please stay tuned to www.riverheadraceway.com for our 2021 schedule or breaking news.