Riverhead, NY June 22nd.
By Bob Finan
It is officially the summer of Kyle Soper at Riverhead Raceway as the defending NASCAR Modified champion won his fifth race in seven starts Saturday topping the 50-lap Whelen All Anmerican Series feature event. The Manorville resident is now halfway home to tying the single season win mark of 10 that was set twice by the late “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek (1976 & 77) and once by Gary Winters (1962). Twelve point paying NASCAR Modified races remain on the 2019 Riverhead schedule and with the early season roll Soper is on he may very well not only tie but break the record for wins in one season.
Early on in the 50-lap tilt up and coming young talents CJ Lehmann and John Baker raced side by side for the race lead over the first dozen laps of the race without ever touching in what was truly some of the best racing of the young season. However the two Charger graduates soon found themselves looking in their mirror at a hard charging Kyle Soper who made his way from an 8th starting berth to third. Lap 13 saw Soper jump to the outside of Lehmann who had tucked into second one lap prior behind Baker who had taken took sole possession of the lead. When it came time for Soper to make a bid for the lead he did so by reversing his choice of lanes as he cleared Baker for the lead with a inside pass exiting turn four on lap 22. Once the Eastport Feeds Chevy broke out front there would be no catching the “Soper Express” as he raced his way to his 14th career win moving him into a tie with Johnny Rambo for 28th on the all time win list.
“It is great to be on the roll we are on right now” Soper noted afterwards, “Doug & Mora Corwin of Eastport Feeds are just the best sponsors a team could ask for and for them along with my owners Wayne & Joette Anderson I am so happy we are having the kind of year we are having so far”. Aside from being the defending NASCAR Modified champion at Riverhead, Soper is also the reigning New York State NASCAR Whelen All American Series champion and leads both championship chases once again this year.
John Baker of Brookhaven had his best outing of the year with a runner-up finish in the Staria Aitomotive Chevy while veteran John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville was third in his John’s Tree removal Chevy. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead and Timmy Solomito of Islip rounded out the top five.
Believe it or not there is one driver who boasts a better winning percentage then that of Kyle Soper and he actually drives for the team with whom Soper won the 2018 Late Model title with. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead with his win in the 25-lap LM feature won his 5th race in 6 starts for car owner Rob Pelis and the team seems destined to eclipse the single season win mark of seven set by two former LM legends Robin Vollmoeller (1983) and Paul McElearney (1984). Pole sitter Shawn Patrick broke to the early lead at the drop of the green with Chris Turbush in tow over the first eight circuits. Lap 9 saw McDermott who started the race 4th made his way by Turbush for second setting dsail next for the race leader Patrick. Try as he might Patrick was unable to ward off McDermott who took the lead on lap 17 in his RP Fabricating Pontiac. Patrick ran second until the 22nd lap with McDermott’s teammate Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Ma. sneaking by for the position. The teammates then ran one-two over the final three laps to claim the top two positions in their Eastport Feeds backed racers. Early leader Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters in his Matlach Fabricating entry completed the podium.
Chris Rogers Of Patchogue enjoyed the thrill of victory for the first time on his career one week ago so much so that he went out and won his second straight Crate Modified race Saturday topping the 40-lap feature. Dave Brigati of Calverton a former two time champion of the class set fast time with a lap of 12.508. Terry Stiles moved out front at the throw of the green chased for the first lap by Chris Rogers. A quick yellow just after the first lap was completed was followed by a double file restart with Mike Albasini sneaking under Rogers for second when the race resumed. However three laps later Rogers roared by and got second back from Albasini on lap 4. Once to second it took Rogers quite sometime to get to leader Stiles which he finally did on lap 27. Once to Stiles Rogers made an outside pass of the early race leader to take control of the race as the field started the 28th cycle. One lap after Rogers moved out front Sean Glennon during a double file restart came to second but he too could only watch as the Bernie Bass Surf Casting Chevy of Chris Rogers drove off to his second career win and this time Chris’ parents were on hand to witness the victory. Glennon of Northport was runner-up in the R&R Brothers Electric entry while early leader Terry Stiles of Rocky Point was third in the T&S Auto Clinic Chevy.
As he did in route to the 2018 Figure Eight title Tom Rogers Jr. is again dominating the division in 2019 winning his fourth race in five starts. Bryan Quilliam showed the way early in the contest leading the first two laps of the tilt over Bob Dalke. Despite starting the race 10th Rogers made quick work of finding his way to third in just two laps. As is often the case Rogers made a two for one pass racing his way by Quilliam and Dalke to take the lead on lap 3. One lap later Ken Hyde Jr. came to second. Rogers, motivated in part by his car owner Keith Repp being in the hospital would once again drive away to net his 47th career win moving him just 6 wins behind the late Joe Biondolillo Jr. for second on the all time win list. Ken Hyde Jr. of Yaphank was runner-up in the Kings park Contracting entry while Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach third in the Northeastern Office Equipment ’57 Chevy.
Another driver fueled by off track motivation was Blunderbust winner Tom Pickerell of Huntington who won the 20-lap main event for his 24th career triumph. “Slick Pick” over recent years had grown close with former NASCAR Modified driver Tom Tillotson and his family and sadly Tom passed away suddenly on Father’s Day. The “Racing Great Grandfather” Bill Wegmann Sr. broke out front at the throw of the green leading the first six laps of the race. Pickerell who started from the 6th spot made his way to second on lap 6 and just moments later as the field roared down the back stretch he made an inside pass of Wegmann to take over the lead of the race. Once Tom was in the lead in the Encore rentals of NY Chevy he’d never look back taking down a win for Tommy “T”. “This one is for Tom, he was such a special man” Pickerell commented while chocking back tears in victory lane. Russ Jansen of Medford was runner-up in the Six Juice Caprice while early leader Bill Wegmann Sr. of N. Bellmore placed third in his Cracker Jack Auto Stores Olds Cutlass.
The 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature saw some last lap drama and when the dust settled Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach was celebrating his second win of the season. The non stop 20-lapper found Frank Dumicich Jr. pacing the race for the first two laps before he was passed by Eddie Schutze who’d then lead until the 9th lap where he’d be passed to the inside in turn two by Jimmy Rennick Jr. who started the race from 6th. As the race wore on things didn’t get any easier for race leader Rennick who was already battling a balky sore back as Jack Handley Jr. made his way from 10th to second on lap 15. The intensity would ramp up in the closing laps of the race with Handley all over leader Rennick for the win. At one point Jack muscled his way under Rennick with contact to take the top spot and would actually cross the line first but track officials called back that pass due to excess contact in their opinion. That gave Jimmy Rennick Jr. and his Mike’s Heavy Duty Towing team the victory while Handley of Medford was second in the Hollis Court Collision Chevy after the penalty. Defending champion Mark Stewart of Riverhead was third in the East End Building entry.
After coming close before to a milestone 10th career INEX Legend Race Car victory Kevin Nowak of Medford sealed the deal Saturday winning the 20-lap main event. Impressive rookie Jason Castaldo raced out to the early lead over Ed Cheslak with Nowak quickly making his way to third. A yellow flag waved on lap 3 setting up a double file restart allowing the cagey veteran Nowak to make his move for the race lead when the contest resumed as Kevin used the inside lane to pass both Castaldo and Cheslak. Castaldo would soon be passed for second by Ray Fitzgerald with an inside pass on lap 6. Ray was able to stay in Nowak’s tire tracks but there would be no stopping Kevin from finally grabbing that elusive 10th career win in his JTEC Electric machine. Fitzgerald of Manorville was second in the Benimax trucking racer while defending champion Jim Sylvester of Massapequa crossed the line third in his 860 Motorsports mount.
For the second time this season Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon won the 40-lap 8-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro moving out front of the race in his Tire Express Chevy prior to the halfway mark of the race. Early race leader Michael Asdahl of East meadow was second while former champion Brian Halsey of Southampton was third.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. John Baker 3. John Fortin Sr. 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. Timmy Solomito 6. John Beatty Jr. 7. CJ Lehmann 8. Dylan Slepian 9. Dave Brigati 10. Michael Rutkoski 11. Eric Zeh 12. Roger Turbush 13. Jason Agugliaro 14. Woody Pitkat 15. Chris Young
Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Scott Kulesa 3. Shawn Patrick 4. Chris Turbush 5. John Baker 6. Jerry Giordano 7. Daryn Miller 8. Jason Kreth 9. Kevin Metzger 10. Frank Dumicich Jr. 11. Ray Minieri 12. Jay Scalice
Crate Modifieds: 1. Chris Rogers 2. Sean Glennon 3. Terry Stiles 4. Dave Brigati 5. Dennis Krupski 6. Matt Brode 7. Peter Bertuccio 8. AJ DeSantis 9. Mike Albasini 10. Charlie Macwhinnie 11. Casey Rogers 12. Justin Brown 13. Jason Hansen
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Ken Hyde Jr. 3. Gary Fritz Jr. 4. Tom Ferrara 5. Vinny Delaney 6. Eric Zeh 7. Bryan Quilliam 8. CJ Lehmann 9. Scott Pedersen 10. Bob Dalke 11. Brian Hansen 12. Paul Cummings 13. Johnny Vullo
Blunderbusts: 1. Tom Pickerell 2. Russ Jansen 3. Bill Wegmann Sr. 4. Cody Triola 5. Cassandra Denis 6. Jarrett Campbell 7. Joey Warren 8. Eddie Diaz 9. Tom Sullivan 10. Jim Laird Jr. 11. Gary Caldwell 12. Kyle Halpin 13. Bill Wegmann Jr. 14. Alyssa Paprocky
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jimmy Rennick Jr 2. Jack Handley Jr. 3. Mark Stewart 4. Lou Maestri 5. Eddie Schutze 6. Sean Glennon 7. Joe Cerabino 8. Frank Dumicich Sr. 9. Ethan Brown 10. Frank Dumicich Jr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. Kevin Nowak 2. Ray Fitzgerald 3. Jim Sylvester 4. Allan Pedersen 5. Richie Davidowitz 6. Ed Cheslak 7. Vinny Delaney 8. Eric hersey 9. Riely O’Keefe 10. Jason Castaldo 11. Mike Benton 12. Scott Cheslak 13. Collin Hoeffner 14. Pat Moore 15. Jonathan Parsons 16. Tyler DeSantis 17. Jerry Curran 18. Stephen Coleman 19. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 20. Steven Woytysiak 21. Alex Halinar 22. Jeff Castaldo 23. David Strohmeyer 24. Jeff Otto Jr. 25. Chris Sinatro
8-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro (top ten) 1. Sean Fitzpatrick 2. Michael Asdahl 3. Brian Halsey 4, Jared Halsey 5. Stacey Halsey 6. Pat Collins 7. Kevin Coyle 8. David Verbeeck 9. Dennis Jones 10. Dale Doherty