Riverhead, NY Aug. 17th.
By Bob Finan
In weekly NASCAR Modified racing on a bullring track sometimes being in the right place at the right time is as important as any other ingredient for success and such was the case for former multi-time champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. Rogers pounced on a late race opening to race his Denise & Ken Darch owned machine from third to first notching his third win of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen All American Series.
Early in the 50-lap contest Dylan Slepian broke to the race lead chased over the first five laps by John Baker. On lap 6 veteran Dave BrIgati wheeled his way under Baker for second and over the next four laps he’d chase leader Slepian. However on lap 10 a third turn jingle between Chris Young and John Beatty Jr. slowed the race with both drivers able to continue after pitting. On the ensuing restart Tom Rogers Jr. raced his way under Brigati for second and for a brief two laps would actually take the lead away from Slepian for the 13th & 14th circuits. Slepian a former INEX Legend Race Car champion raced his way back out front using the outside groove to pass Rogers back for the lead on lap 15. One lap later Slepian’s good friend and defending track champion Kyle Soper race his way to second and once again the close pals found themselves racing for the race win.
Slepian a 6-time Legend Race Car and four time Crate Modified winner was seeking his first career NASCAR Modified win but if he were to accomplish that fete he’d have to ward off Soper, a 16-time career winner who has authored 7 wins this season alone. Soper kept taking a look to the inside of Slepian as the race wore on but each and every time even if by a matter of inches the leader maintained his advantage riding the preferred outside line. The final caution of the race waved on lap 44 after CJ Lehmann and Jason Agugliaro got together on the front stretch. Moments after the final restart of the race Slepian and Soper went up the hill in turn two racing for the lead and that would open the door for Tom Rogers Jr. to pounce as he made a hard left bringing his machine from third to the race lead, while Slepian dropped to second and Soper to third.
As the checker flag waved Tom Rogers Jr. moved to within 8 wins of the all time track lead held by the late legend “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek at 63 tallies. “I was in the right place at the right time” Rogers noted after exiting his Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevy. “I can’t say enough about Denise & Ken who let me drive this piece” Tom noted, “Sean Corsetti and my guys found something in the car this week and believe it or not with another tweak or two we’ll be even better down the stretch run”.
Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills knocking on the door for that elusive first career NASCAR Modified win would have to be content with runner-up money in the My Guy Auto Supply NAPA Auto Parts Chevy while championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville crossed the line third in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. Heading into the final month of racing Soper enjoys a 74-point margin over Rogers. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville and Dave Brigati of Calverton completed the top five.
In modern day racing youth dominates victory lane at tracks across America but such was not the case when the 20-lap Blunderbust main event concluded Saturday as 74-year young Bill Wegmann Sr. of North Bellmore won his first race of 2019. Steering a Oldsmobile Cutlass that he built 30-years ago in 1989 Wegmann raced his way to the race lead at the throw of the green chased over the first 11 laps by 2018 Rookie if the Year Russ Jansen. On lap 12 25-time career winner and former multi time champion Tom Pickerell raced his way under Jansen for second exiting the fourth corner. Many thought with “Slick Pick” now second that it would be a mater of time before he’d overhaul the ageless Wegmann for the lead and win. However despite staying within striking distance of Wegmann that would be as good as it would get for Pickerell as “The Racing Great Grandfather” would drive his Crackerjack Auto Supply Olds to victory lane just weeks shy of his 75th birthday. Pickerell of Huntington was runner-up in the Pickerell Clam Chevy while rising talent Cody Triola of Bay Shore was third in his Drexler Construction entry.
When you are hot you are hot as is former multi-time Super Pro Truck winner Lou Maestri of Deer Park who won his third race of 2019 and 33rd of his career. The win was Lou’s second victory in the past month. Frank Dumicich Jr. paced the race for the first laps before Sean Glennon raced by with an outside pass off turn four with Dumicich now second and Mark Stewart third. As the two challengers raced for second Glennon was able to get away some but a caution would wave on lap 8 as Dumicich spun after contact from Stewart who was also sent to the rear for his role in the spin. Glennon would go the opposite way other leaders have this year when he chose the inside lane for the restart with now second place runner Lou Maestri left to take the outside. When the race went back to green Maestri rim rode the outside to take the race lead and eventual win in his Line-X Truck Bed Liners of L.I. Chevy. With just two laps to go in the race Mark Stewart f Riverhead made a late race pass for second after his penalty where he’d finish in the 84 Lumber entry. Sean Glennon of Northport would settle for third in his LTE Drainage Chevy.
It was a milestone 25th career INEX Legend Race Car win for championship leader Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches who executed a late race pass to secure his 5th win of 2019. Rookie lead foot Joseph Braun jumped to the early race lead over Jerry Curran but a quick caution flew just after the first lap was completed. On the restart Braun maintained his race lead with Allan Pedersen moving by Curran for second. Pedersen held second until lap 6 where he was passed by Kevin Nowak in turn four. Braun was able at first to keep Nowak at bay but a lap 8 yellow for a Jonathan Parson incident in turn four set-up another restart. When the race resumed Nowak, a 12-time career winner made his way by early leader Braun with Richie Davidowitz making his way by Braun for second as well. With 36 wins between them going into the race the Nowak-Davidowitz duel was indeed a good one with “Big Money” making an inside power move to take the lead from Nowak as the field took the 2 to go signal. Over the final half mile Richie Davidowitz in the Natural Design & Concepts machine would remain out front for the win. Kevin Nowak of Medford was runner-up in the JTEC Electric mount while “Blankets” Joseph Braun of Manorville was third in the A Cut Above All Hair Salon racer.
Brian Brown of Riverhead notched his second Street Stock win of the year when he topped their 20-lap main event in a final tune up for the Wednesday August 28th Laura Zegel Memorial 55. Former Charger top runner Jay Henschel led the first 7 laps of the tilt chased at first by Chris Lescenski before he was passed by Brian Brown to the inside entering the third turn. Once to second Brown pursued Henschel over the next five laps before an Anthony Pizzo spin slowed the race on lap 7 setting up a double file restart. When the race resumed Brown made his way by Henschel for the race lead with Jay tucking into second. As Brown led Henschel soon found himself under attack from Eric Zeh for second with Zeh taking the spot on lap 14 with an inside pass off the second corner. Over the final six laps of the contest Brian Brown in his Staria Automotive Chevy would race his way to his 4th career win giving him sole possession of second on the all time win list. Eric Zeh of Selden who leads that win list with 8 was runner-up in the Wilson Distributors Chevy while defending champion David Antos of Lindenhurst was third in his GR Performance Chevy.
Phil LaManna of Smithtown is enjoying a breakout year winning his 4th Truck Enduro of 2019 winning the 40-lap feature. LaManna broke to the race lead on the very first lap and never looked back from his EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy as he dominated the race lapping all but the runner-up Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point in his Abner Tree Experts S-10. Making his first start Richie Carman of Miller Place was third in his United Exhaust Shops entry.
In a thoroughly entertaining all female School Bus Figure 8 race third generation driver “KB1” Keri Brunnhoelzl of Levittown took the 15-lap victory. The race started off with a bang as “Momster Cheese” Cindy Rommeney of Bohemia rolled her bus in turn one the victim of a flat right rear outside tire. Cindy was okay and the bus was righted and removed from the track. During the yellow “Keratin” Kim Hyde whose bus did not start forcing her to miss the first lap borrowed the track Teachers Federal Credit Union ride bus and joined the field one lap down. While Brunnhoelzl remained out front in her brother-in-law Kevin’s bus Hyde was putting on a show un-lapping herself and actually coming within a bus length of passing Keri for the race win as the checker flag waved. Alyssa “Pop Rocks” Paprocky of Coram was third while Crystal “Blue” Kelly of Shirley and Cindy Rommeney rounded out the field. In keeping with the spirit of the race Erin Kraft announced the event with an assist from her cousins Jessica & Erin Larsen.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Dylan Slepian 3. Kyle Soper 4. John Fortin Sr. 5. Dave Brigati 6. John Baker 7. Chris Young 8. Dave Sapienza 9. Dave Kruk Sr. 10. John Beatty Jr. 11. Jason Agugliaro 12. CJ Lehmann DNS- Craig Lutz
Blunderbusts: 1. Bill Wegmann Sr. 2. Tom Pickerell 3. Cody Triola 4. Bill Wegmann Jr. 5. Russ Jansen 6. Max Handley 7. Eddie Diaz 8. Jarrett Campbell 9. Alyssa Paprocky 10. Kyle Halpin
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Lou Maestri 2. Mark Stewart 3. Sean Glennon 4. Frank Dumicich Jr. 5. Eddie Schutze 6. Jack Handley Jr. 7. Joe Cerabino 8. Ethan Brown
INEX Legend Race Cars: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. Kevin Nowak 3. Joseph Braun 4. Eric Hersey 5. Allan Pedersen 6. Riely O’Keefe 7. Jerry Curran 8, Dylan Slepian 9. Daniel Carter 10. Stephen Coleman 11. Jim Sylvester 12. Collin Hoeffner 13. Mike Benton 14. Scott Cheslak 15. Patrick Moore 16. Joseph Costello 17. Mike Van Houten Jr. 18. Ed Cheslak 19. Jeff Castaldo 20. David Strohmeyer 21. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 22. Anthony Calandro 23. Jonathan Parsons 24. Alex Halinar 25. Jeff Otto Jr. DQ-George Tomko Jr.
Street Stocks: 1. Brian Brown 2. Eric Zeh 3. David Antos 4. Jay Henschel 5. Brian McCormack 6. Anthony Pizzo 7. Wesley Sammon 8. David White 9. James Pape Jr. 10. John Dipietro 11. Johnny Cricchio 12. Chris Lescenski
Truck Enduro: 1. Phil LaManna 2. Don Nelson Jr. 3. Richie Carman 4. Kerry Botts 5. Gary Voight 6. Mariah Lawrence 7. Justin McGrady 8. Dustin Cole 9. Doug Tittle 10. Bobby Pease Jr. 11. Kenny King 12. Danielle Cohen 13. Joe Brodman 14. Emily Hubbard 15. Bobby Pease Sr. 16. John Schultz 17. Kim Daniel 18. Woot Lawrence
School Bus Figure 8: 1. Keri Brunnhoelzl 2. Kim Hyde 3. Alyssa Paprocky 4. Crystal Kelly 5. Cindy Rommeney