Riverhead, NY June 1stBy Bob Finan
With some 35 or so laps left in what would turn out to be a non-stop 75 lap NASCAR Modified feature at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night veteran driver John Beatty Jr. of Merrick was perhaps thinking to himself second place is as good as it going to get tonight. However with 29 laps remaining in the race David Schneider of Huntington who led the contest since the second lap went wide around some lapped cars opening the door for Beatty who pounced on the opportunity to score his first win of 2019. It was John’s 6th career NASCAR Modified triumph.
Second generation talent Chris Young set fast time in qualifying turning in a lap of 11.599 however in the redraw Young drew 6th while John Fortin Sr. and David Schneider made up the front row and for the first lap of the race Fortin led by a nose as he and Schneider went side by side. Lap 2 found Schneider taking the lead to the outside of Fortin and once out front David would not only show the way but also get away from the field. Soon Fortin found himself racing with John Beatty Jr. for second. with Beatty who started the race 4th making an inside pass of Fortin entering the third turn for the position. Once to second Beatty was able to take a chunk out of Schneider’s lead with Fortin now third under attack from the likes of Dave Brigati, Kyle Soper and Tom Rogers Jr. for the final podium spot in what would become the best battle for position during the fast moving race.
As the field raced the 45th lap entering the third turn Schneider by his own admission afterwards took the car too wide and got up into the marbles allowing John Beatty to sneak by Schneider as well the lapped car threading the needle to come away with the race lead. Once the MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy was out front Beatty the 2017 INEX Legend Race Car champion at the track never looked back taking the checker flag first. “As we raced into the third turn I saw David go up the hill and I just sent it in and we came away with the lead and win” Beatty reflected in victory lane, “David is a talented driver with many more wins left in him and he’s a gentleman to race with” Not lost on Beatty was his win coming just two weeks before the $7,000 to win Islip 300, “this is a good tune-up for the 300, that is the race we all want to win for sure”.
David Schneider would have to be content with runner-up money in his ESM Racing entry while Dave Brigati of Calverton won the battle for third in his Waddell Communications Chevy. Kyle Soper of Manorville and Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead completed the top five
Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead made it four in a row winning the 25-lap Late Model main event making him 4 for 5 on the 2019 campaign. The win is the 13th of Jeremy’s career moving him into a tie for 9th on the all time win list with Kevin Metzger and Chris Turbush, both of whom are still active. Ray Minieri paced Kevin Metzger for the first lap before Kevin was passed by Chris Turbush. After chasing Minieri for four laps Turbush the opening night winner ducked under Ray for the lead exiting the fourth turn. Usually once Chris is out front you can book him for another visit to victory lane however a late race restart shuffled the deck. When the green light winked on for what would be a dash for the cash McDermott rode the outside lane to the race lead and win in his Eastport Feeds Pontiac. Meanwhile in the closing laps Turbush faded after late race contact allowing Minieri of Bay Shore to make his way to a second place finish in his Meadowbrook Collision entry. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills was third in the RP Fabricating machine.
After finishing second in the Crate Modified points in 2018 Justin Brown of Manorville has served notice the 2019 title goes through him winning his third straight race of the early race season. Jason Hansen and rookie Matt Brode brought the field to green with Hansen’s car faltering with a balky transmission as the field took the green. Brode was able to race his way around the ailing Hansen to claim the early race lead. Matt, son of former 3-time NASCAR Modified champion Howie Brode led until the 4th laps when another freshman driver Sean Glennon made an inside pass entering the first turn for the lead. Glennon who recently won his first career Super Pro trucks race showed the way until a lap 10 caution slowed the race and set up a double file restart. Lining up alongside Glennon for the resumption of the race was Justin Brown who made his way to second on lap 5 and when the race went back green Brown was able to move out front over Glennon. Once out front Brown steering the Busy Bee Pest Control Chevy never looked back nailing down his 6th career win. Chris Rogers of Patchogue made his way to second on lap 13 and was runner-up in his S&P Carting Chevy while Terry Stiles of Rocky Point completed the podium in third with his T&S Auto Clinic racer.
Tom Rogers Jr. scored his second Figure Eight win of the young season when he topped the 14-car field for his 45th career triumph. Bryan Quilliam led the first circuit of the race before being passed by Tom Ferrara on lap 2. Ferrara would soon be side by side with Gary Fritz Jr. who came calling for the race lead. Entering the the first turn Tom cut the corner too close hitting the tire that is put on the course to stop cars from cutting the corner. That turn of events handed the lead to Fritz while Eric Zeh moved to second. However on lap 5 in one clean swoop Tom Rogers came from third to take the race lead with Vinny Delaney marching from 4th to second in Rogers tracks. Delaney chased Rogers until the final lap where he’d be passed by Ken Hyde Jr.. In the end Rogers in the United Exhaust Shop Chevy Coupe would sit in victory lane at the end of the race. Ken Hyde Jr of Yaphank was second in his Northeastern Office Equipment Chevy while Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach placed third in his self funded ’57 Chevy.
He might only be running a part time Blunderbust slate in 2019 but the races he will compete in Jack Handley Jr. of Medford will make the most of as he won his second race in three starts this season. “The Racing Great Grandfather” Bill Wegmann Sr who is in his mid 70’s broke to the early race lead before he was quickly overtaken on lap 2 by Tom Pickerell. Meanwhile Handley who started 8th in the field was making his way towards the front in rapid fashion and soon tucked right up behind Pickerell in second. Racing for the lead is nothing new for Pickerell and Handley and when they do it makes for an entertaining race. With five laps to go Handley jumped to the outside groove to pass Pickerell for the race lead and eventual win in the Licciardi Builders Caprice. Tom Pickerell of Huntington would have to be happy with second in his Sequel Group Chevy which he’d have to fight for in the final few laps with third place finisher Cody Triola of Bay Shore in his Drexler Blacktop entry.
One week after a disappointing end to his INEX Legend Race Car feature “Big Money” Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches rebounded in a big was with his second win of 2019. The race originally set for 20-laps was cut to 16 due to taking nearly and hour to click off. George Tomko Jr. showed the way for the first four laps of the tilt before Richie Davidowitz came calling on lap 4. Executing a inside pass in the fourth turn Richie raced his way to the lead to start the 5th lap. With a track leading 21 wins under his belt once Davidowitz takes the lead it usually translates into victory and such was the case in this race as the Natural Design Concepts & Apparel machine was not going to be caught allowing Richie to claim his 22nd career victory. Teenage driver Riely O’Keefe of Manorville turned heads with a stellar runner-up finish in his Mil-Aero Solutions mount. O’Keefe came to second on lap 8 and chased Davidowitz in the final eight laps. Vinny Delaney of Holtsville completed the top three in his Wise Choice Fuel Oil entry.
After waiting years to win his first truck Enduro Gary Voight of Medford went out and won his second race in six days when he topped their 20-lap main event. Phil LaManna paced the race for the first9 circuits before he made a miscue in lapped traffic that allowed Voight in his A. Voight Towing 4X4 to take the lead and drive off to victory. LaManna of Smithtown was unofficially second in his EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy.
There is a new younger generation of Demolition Derby drivers competing these days at Riverhead Raceway and in a hard hitting affair Joey Palmeri of Lindenhurst and CJ Zurkowski of Riverhead were declared co-winners when they made the final hit on each other at the same time. Both drivers who are in their early 20’s could not restart their cars and would split the first and second place prize money down the line.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. John Beatty Jr. 2. David Schneider 3. Dave Brigati 4. Kyle Soper 5. Tom Rogers Jr. 6. Chris Young 7. John Fortin Sr. 8. Michael Rutkoski 9. John Baker 10. Dylan Slepian 11. Roger Turbush 12. CJ Lehmann 13. Eric Zeh DNS- Brad Van Houten, Artie Pedersen III
Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Ray Minieri 3. Dylan Slepian 4. Chris Turbush 5. Shawn Patrick 6. Jason Kreth 7. Kevin Metzger DNS- Daryn Miller
Crate Modifieds: 1. Justin brown 2. Chris Rogers 3. Terry Stiles 4. Dave Brigati 5. Sean Glennon 6. AJ DeSantis 7. Peter Bertuccio 8. Matt Brode 9. Dennis Krupski 10. Mike Albasini 11. Carey Rogers 12. Scott Pedersen 13. Charles Macwhinnie 14. Jason Hansen
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Ken Hyde Jr. 3. Gary Fritz Jr. 4. Tom Ferrara 5. Eric Zeh 6. Bryan Quilliam 7. CJ Lehmann 8. Johnny Vullo 9. Bob Dalke 10. Brian Hansen 11. Scott Pedersen 12. Joe Warren Jr. 13. Paul Cummings 14. Vinny Delaney
Blunderbusts: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Tom Pickerell 3. Cody Triola 4. Jim Laird Jr. 5. Bill Wegmann Sr. 6. Cassandra Denis 7. Tim Mulqueen 8. Brian Brown 9. Eddie Diaz 10. Russ Jansen 11. Kyle Halpin 12. Brian Midgett Jr. 13. Alyssa Paprocky
Legend Race Cars: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. Riely O’Keefe 3. Vinny Delaney 4. Jim Sylvester 5. Dean Lambros 6. George Tomko Jr. 7. Jerry Curran 8. Jeff Otto Jr. 9. Scott Cheslak 10. Mike Benton 11. Ed Cheslak 12. Pat Moore 13. Joe Sedotto 14. Eric Hersey 15. Jonathan Parsons 16. Joseph Braun 17. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 18. Richie Braun 19. Alex Halinar 20. David Strohmeyer 21. Chris Sinatro 22. Kevin Nowak 23. Allan Pedersen 24. Tyler DeSantis 25. Jason Castaldo 26. William Lambros
Demo Derby: Co-winners- Joey Palmeri Jr. & CJ Zurkowski
Truck Enduro: Winner- Gary Voight
Noah Watts Photo