Riverhead, NY May7th
By Bob Finan Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews
A strong contingent of Riverhead Raceway drivers who compete weekly in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified ranks have indicated to track officials that they’ll take on the stars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Saturday in the Miller Lite 200. Leading the locals into action will be defending Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead.
It has been 26 years since a full time Riverhead Raceway regular visited victory lane at the conclusion of a WMT race with Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. turning the trick in the June 24th, 1995 Miller Genuine Draft 201. Brunnhoelzl held off series regulars Reggie Ruggiero and Tim Connolly for an extremely popular victory. While numerous Long Island based teams and drivers have won a WMT race at Riverhead since Brunnhoelzl’s triumph none have done so while racing weekly at the 71-year old facility.
Fast forward to 2021 and Saturday the Miller Lite 200 the first name that comes up to end the 26-year streak is that of five time Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified track champion Tom Rogers Jr. who’ll steer the Denise & Ken Darch owned License To Chill Chevy. Rogers enter the new race season is on the cusp of infamy at Riverhead having earned 60 career wins just three behind the all time leading winner and another five time track champion “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek. For Rogers, 42 adding a NASCAR WMT victory to his resume would surely be a highlight in his Hall of Fame career.
Former two-time track champion Kyle Soper of Manorville is also a driver to keep on eye on from the Riverhead roster as he steers the car owned by 1994 WMT champion Wayne Anderson, also a five time titlist at the quarter mile bullring. Soper, 25 will be seeking his 20th career Riverhead NASCAR Modified victory in the Eastport Feeds Chevy and his first on the WMT. Soper is also a former two-time Late Model champion at Riverhead having compiled nine LM wins along the way.
In June of 2019 John Beatty Jr. of Merrick came within feet of winning his first career WMT event in a wild last lap, last turn duel with eventual race winner Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville. The duo thrilled the fans with what many or calling the best finish of a WMT race at Riverhead in the 64 events contested. Beatty would love to win the one that got away two years ago and his Mark Mina owned MSM/Elite Motorsports team recently tuned-up for the Miller Lite 200 with an opening night victory at Riverhead on May 1st the 9th of John’s career.
Versatile racing veteran Dave Brigati of Calverton and desires on competing in the Miller Lite 200 and will do so if he and his Outlaw Inc./Coors Light team can get out of the May 8th Advanced Auto Parts Weekly Series 50-lapper unscathed. The 50-year old veteran through the years has won 51 races spread across five classes at Riverhead 11 of which came in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modifieds.
Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills and car owner Rob Pelis took a path not often traveled in NASCAR Modified racing when they debuted in 2020 a car the team designed and built themselves.The results were instant for Slepian, 26 who won three times while placing second to Rogers in the 2020 championship chase. Dylan could be among the dark horse candidates for the win in his RP Fabricating built racer.
John Baker, 29 of Brookhaven is ready to make a bid for an upset win of his own in the Miller Lite 200 Saturday in a car owned by his father Daryl a former racer himself. Baker has won twice since moving to the Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modifieds and he’ll be steering a new Staria Automotive Chevy in 2021 chasing the Riverhead Raceway title and seeking to add onto to his win total.
Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead will make his first start of 2021 on the NASCAR WMT or at Riverhead Raceway when he hits the track for the Miller Lite 200 in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet Camaro. After winning 19 INEX Legend Race Car at Riverhead Kyle, 26 made the move a few years back to the NASCAR Modifieds where he has competed on a part time basis in recent years. Ellwood has posted five Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series wins during that time. In 2019 Kyle teamed with the late Wade Cole on the WMT driving a back-up car out of Cole’s shops.
Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore will lead the troops into action carrying a personal 4-race WMT win streak into the Miller Lite 200 with current championship leader Eric Goodale of Riverhead looking to continue his early season hot streak in 2021.
WMT qualifying is set for 6 pm while the Miller Lite 200 is scheduled to take the green flag at 8:00 pm with a live stream of the race being available on NBC Sports Gold Track Pass. The Riverhead Raceway Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds, INEX Legend Race Cars, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks will join the Miller Lite 200 program.
For further information please visit www.riverheadraceway.com, our phone number remains 631-842-RACE.