Tag Archives: Riverhead Raceway

KYLE SOPER SCORES ONE FOR THE HOME TEAM WITH BUZZ CHEW CHEVROLET 200 WMT RIVERHEAD RACEWAY VICTORY

Riverhead, NY June 25th
By Bob Finan

Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

Every time the popular NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it is usually noted along the way the last time a track regular won a WMT event was back in 1995. Saturday night Kyle Soper of Manorville, the reigning champion at the quarter mile bullring scored one for the home team winning the Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200 after reclaiming the lead from defending WMT kingpin Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville with 10-lap remaining. Soper’s win comes 27 years and day after Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. won back on June 24th of 1995.

Kyle Soper #15 makes the winning pass on leader Justin Bonsignore #51 Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

Current WMT championship leader Ron Silk won the Mayhew Tools Pole Award with a lap of 11.586 edging out Timmy Solomito who toured the track in 11.637. As the 26-car grid took the green Solomito was able to get the early race advantage over Silk. Early on Solomito showed the way in his family-owned car which he has run part time to date in 2022. As the race developed joining race leader Solomito up front were Kyle Soper and Justin Bonsignore who started the race together from the third row. Other drivers flexing their muscles near the front prior to halfway included Tommy Catalano, Craig Lutz and Doug Coby, winner of the May 14th WMT stop at Riverhead.

After racing his way to second Soper drew closer to leader Solomito and was ready to make a bid for the lead. On lap 114 Soper was able to get around Solomito, who after being overtaken for the lead now had to try and fend off challengers for second as the handle went away on his car. Once to the lead Soper led 27-laps before Justin Bonsignore came calling making an inside pass for the lead on lap 143. With Bonsignore now out front seeking his 9th career Riverhead WMT triumph and just 57 laps left to click off many thought Bonsignore was in the cat bird seat.

After falling off Bonsignore after Justin took the lead Kyle Soper came back to life as the laps wound down and before he knew it he was on the rear bumper challenging for his first career WMT win. Entering the first and second turn Soper set Bonsignore up for a pass and by the time they started the 190th lap Soper was the new race leader. Bonsignore tried to cross Soper back over on lap 191 off the fourth corner but Soper was able to thwart that effort.

With the Riverhead Raceway faithful howling with approval Kyle Soper took the checker flag for car owners Wayne & Joette Anderson and the Eastport Feeds team and the celebration was on. Afterwards the 26-year old Soper was asked about his solid effort in qualifying playing a role in the win he responded, “yeah sure did, I was texting back and forth with Jimmy Blewett last night and he gave us some set up tips that got us close and further up front in qualifying”. As to his strategy after surrendering the lead to Bonsignore with 57-to go Soper shared, “after Justin got me on that restart I was just riding and see if I could reel him back in. Once I saw him getting loose on entry and exit I started licking my lips and timed it up pretty good”. In a lighter moment during victory lane festivities Kyle reflected, “I wasn’t even born yet when Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. won his WMT race, feels pretty good to get one though”.

Racing for a second straight NASCAR WMT win, Justin Bonsignore had to settle for second in the Phoenix Communications Chevy and looked back afterwards, “been a longtime since Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr’s win here and it’s cool to see a Riverhead team win, just a shame he beat us to do it. Congratulations to Kyle, Wayne, Tom Soper and that team, it was only a matter of time, think I’ll make Wayne buy the ice cream”. As to the duel for the lead Justin recalled, “late in the race I saw Kyle getting back to me, I was hoping to use some lapped cars to get lost in but his car was better than ours at that point. Onto to Wall Stadium”.
Ron Silk of Norwalk, Ct. came home third in the Future Homes entry leaving him to wonder what he has to do to beat drivers who grew up racing at Riverhead, “the local guys who grew up here like Soper, Bonsignore and Solomito are just so tough here”. Silk was making his 21st career WMT start at Riverhead still in search of his first win.
Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Ma and Riverhead regular Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills were fourth and fifth. Completing the top ten were, Kyle Bonsignore of Bay Shore, John Beatty Jr. of Merrick Timmy Solomito of Islip, Austin Beers of Northampton, Pa and Doug Coby of Milford, Ct.  

Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Justin Bonsignore 3. Ron Silk 4. Jon McKennedy 5. Dylan Slepian 6. Kyle Bonsignore 7. John Beatty Jr. 8. Timmy Solomito 9. Austin Beers 10. Doug Coby 11. Eric Goodale 12. Tyler Rypkema 13. Matt Brode 14. Tommy Catalano 15. Craig Lutz 16. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 17. Chris Young 18. Dave Sapienza 19. Roger Turbush 20. James Pritchard Jr. 21. Donny Lia 22. Walter Sutcliffe Jr. 23. Chris Turbush 24. Ken Heagy 25. JB Fortin 26. Melissa Fifeld

MAX HANDLEY, EDDIE DIAZ, JASON CASTALDO & KYLE CURTIS SCORE BUZZ CHEW CHEVROLET 200 PRELIM WINS SATURDAY AT RIVERHEAD RACEWAY

Riverhead, NY June 25th.
By Bob Finan

Prior to the exciting Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200 Saturday at Riverhead Raceway, four Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series events were presented with two of the four race winners earning their first career wins. “Mad” Max Handley of Medford crossed the line first in a rough and tumble 25-lap Crate Modified feature for his career first while third generation driver Kyle Curtis of Hampton Bays topped a non-stop Street Stock 20-lapper earning his first win.

Eddie Schutze moved to the Crate Modified lead at the start from the pole, but a quick yellow on lap on would prove to be a sign of things to come. On the restart Max Handley, who started from the outside pole moved to the race lead when the green reappeared with Alex Colasanto moving to second behind Handle. Caution waved again on lap 8 for a Mark Wolf spin in turn four and when the field reset and went back racing Handley held serve with Charles Macwhinnie getting by Colasanto for second. Only three green flag laps were run before the hardest crash of the night slowed the race on the 11th lap when Lou Maestri and Rich Gerbe made hard impact with the wall just before the starters stand. Both drivers were okay. After a clean-up the race continued with Handley remaining on top with Colasanto reclaiming second from Macwhinnie on the restart. Meantime Owen Grennan who started 18th was on the march raced his way to third and was about to make his presence known. Lap 14 saw Grennan dive to the inside of Colasanto to move to second setting his sights on leader Handley. The final yellow waved on lap 21 when AJ DeSantis and Sean Glennon got together off turn four, something leader Handley did not want to see, a restart with four laps remaining with Grennan the all time leader winner in the class alongside.

When the green waved again Max Handley was able to ward off the challenge and drive his Hydro Action Chevy to the race win with Owen Grennan of Glen Cove hot on his tail for second in the Dillner Precast Chevy. Alex Colasanto of Selden ended a string of hard racing luck with a third-place tally in the Vanguard Fire Protection Corvette.

Blunderbust winner Eddie Diaz Riverhead Raceway June 25th 2022 Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

The Blunderbusts ran their first leg of the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series going to post in a 30-lap feature event and they so often do clicked off a non-stop race with Eddie Diaz of Centereach scoring a clean sweep. In qualifying Diaz toured the track in 14.461 earning the pole. At the throw of the green Diaz quickly moved out front in search of his second career win with 2021 champion Cody Triola in hot pursuit. Early on Triola kept pace with the pace set by Diaz, but as the laps clicked off the race leader started to get away building a comfortable cushion. It became evident that Triola was going to have a shot at wrestling the lead away he’d need restart to do so but with the cautions waving it was Eddie Diaz taking home the gold in the Notorious Tattoo entry. Cody Triola of Bay Shore was runner-up in the Cesspool Pros machine while opening night winner “Hubcap” Brandon Hubbard of Mastic was third in the United Exhaust Shop racer.

INEX Legends winner Jason Castaldo Riverhead Raceway June 25th 2022 Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

Like the Crate Mods, the INEX Legend Race Cars had a rough 20-lap main event but when the dust settled it was Jason Castaldo of Shirley earning his second win of the year. Mike Benton led the first four circuits taking the lead from the pole. Former champion Jim Sylvester who started 5th on the grid, passed Jerry Curran for second on lap 2 and two laps later made an inside pass of leader Benton exiting the second turn for the lead. Benton chased Sylvester until the 8th lap when he was overtaken by Jason Castaldo who started the race from 9th. The wildest crash of the night unfolded at the start of the 9th lap when several cars further back in the field got together with Ray Stulz flipping wildly down the front stretch through the winner circle. Stulz quickly exited the car uninjured. After the red flag period the race resumed with Sylvester still leading Castaldo and the duo would duel for the race lead over the following 8 laps. Just after completing the 17th lap Castaldo set up an inside pass of leader Sylvester exiting the second turn and over the final two laps remained out front in his M3 Technology mount for the win. Jim Sylvester of Massapequa was second in the Joe Ryan Race Cars coupe while defending champion George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue raced to a third place finish in his Montauk Distilling entry after starting 15th.

Street Stock winner Kyle Curtis Riverhead Raceway June 25th 2022

Kyle Curtis, grandson of popular 60’s and 70’s driver Frank “Mississippi” Curtis designed his Street Stock with the AOK number on the side of his car, paying tribute to his racing lineage. Saturday the AOK sat in victory lane once again after 20-laps of racing. When the race, which turned out to be a caution free affair got underway Curtis jumped to the race lead from the outside pole with Alyssa Paprocky giving chase for the first three laps. On the 4th lap Gerard Lawrence moved by Paprocky for second and set his sights on leader Curtis. As the race moved along Curtis had to execute some defensive driving as the handle on his car went away. Lawrence looked high and low for a lane around the leader but every time he did Kyle played defense. In the end, despite smoke billowing from his car Kyle Curtis drove to his first career Street Stock win in the Wilson Distributors Chevy. Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place was second in the Lafo’s Glass Monte Carlo with Alyssa Paprocky of Rocky Point turning in a solid performance for third in the Robert’s Asphalt Chevy.

Crate Modifieds (Unofficial) 1. Max Handley 2. Owen Grennan 3. Alex Colasanto 4. Mike Albasini 5. Terry Stiles 6. Eric Hersey 7. Charles Macwhinnie 8. Michael Berner 9. Mark Wolf 10. Eddie Schutze 11. Sean Glennon 12. Dennis Krupski 13. Kyle Ellwood 14. Patrick Glennon 15. Chase Grennan 16. Chris Rogers 17. AJ DeSantis 18. Lou Maestri 19. Rich Gerbe 20. Vinny Delaney 21. Stephen Coleman

Blunderbusts: 1. Eddie Diaz 2. Cody Triola 3. Brandon Hubbard 4. Jim Laird Jr. 5. Tom Puccia 6. Bill Wegmann Sr. 7. AJ DeSantis 8. Bill Wegmann Jr. 9. Joshua Creel 10. Steve Neenan

Legend Race Cars: 1. Jason Castaldo 2. Jim Sylvester 3. George Tomko Jr. 4. Richie Davidowitz 5. Ray Fitzgerald 6. Nick Morabito 7. Collin Hoeffner 8. Eric Hersey 9. Jerry Curran 10. Anthony Marsh 11. Joey Braun 12. Luke Baldwin 13. Pat Moore 14. Chris Sinatro 15. Peter Fallon 16. Colin Volpe 17. Mike Benton 18. Christopher Coleman 19. Charlie Hodge 20. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 21. Chase Van Houten 22. Jake Curran 23. Ray Stulz 24. Mike Van Houten Jr. 25. Ryan Lutz 26. Donald Doran

Street Stocks: 1. Kyle Curtis 2. Gerard Lawrence 3. Alyssa Paprocky 4. Chris Lescenski 5. Dave Antos 6. Greg Harris 7. Jarrod Hayes 8. Brian McCormack 9. Danny Pizzo 10. Rhett Fogg 11. Jamie Curtis 12. Kyle Halpin 13. Ed Fontana 14. William Kennedy 15. Jay Henschel DNS- Greg Zaleski

LOCALS VERSUS INVADERS – IT’S WHAT MAKES THE NWMT AT RIVERHEAD SPECIAL

By KEVIN RICE

    RIVERHEAD, NY- Saturday night will be race number 69 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Riverhead Raceway, when an expected field of 28 drivers takes the green flag for the “Buzz Chew 200”. While things are always changing to a degree over time, since the first NWMT event at Riverhead in 1985 was won by Jimmy Spencer, the clash between tour regulars from other parts of the country, versus the Long Island drivers remains.

    It is what makes this event special. No other tour race can compare in that respect, with half the field made up of local drivers. The success of Long Island racers through the years is well documented. From 2015-19, tour events were won by Island racers. However, the past four races have been won by invaders, as Doug Coby and Patrick Emerling have learned to love the quarter-mile bullring.

    Emerling says that he used to dread seeing the George Washington Bridge, but now Riverhead might just be his best track. For Coby, Riverhead was the site of one of his worst crashes, when a stuck throttle sent him full bore into the turn one wall in 2013. After some years with top five finishes, he has now won three of the last four events.

    Three Long Island drivers are ready to give their hopes of victory on Saturday their best efforts. All three finished in the top ten when the tour last visited on May 14.

    “There’s always stuff that you can take away from the last race that you ran,” said fifth place finisher Timmy Solomito, who led laps and raced among the top three for most of that event. “My dad always says you’re only as good as the last couple of laps that you raced. Definitely learned a lot. I think we’re in a better spot for this race.

    “We showed up there, put it on the pole and led laps. We had the car to beat. Hopefully we’ve got the car back to where it needs to be and go out there and do it again. With the higher temperatures the track will probably be a little bit more greasy.

    “They’ve been putting some traction compound down on it lately, so we’ll see what the temperatures bring, and what the setup does. I typically don’t change too much from week-to-week there, so hopefully we’ll be good and can hit the pre-race adjustments really good and be up front.”

    Speaking of hot temperatures, the forecasted hot sunny afternoon, leading into a warm night for racing, seems to result in tempers flaring much easier than on cooler or wetter nights, like we have had way too often in recent years. Will that happen again? Very likely that there are plenty of race fans, which will fill Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night, who wouldn’t mind that one bit.

    “I don’t think it matters what the temperature is outside,” Riverhead native Eric Goodale countered. “All it takes is for something to happen on the track to rub you the wrong way. It could be 20 degrees at the Icebreaker or 100 degrees at Riverhead. I don’t think the temperature matters.”

    For Goodale, this is another opportunity to return to victory lane at his home track, as he did in 2014, and with a season that has him second in the season standings, with five top ten finishes in six races, he too has hopes of returning to victory lane on Saturday.

    “I double-dipped on that one,” Goodale said of his Riverhead tour win. “To win at my home track, and for it to be my first tour win was pretty meaningful. We’re having a pretty good season so far. To tag one on at the home track would be pretty sweet. I look forward to racing here. Makes traveling very much easier, but just being home and having my wife and kids there certainly helps that feeling.”

    It seems that for outsiders to win at Riverhead they first have to take their lumps and stick with it. Drivers like Coby and Emerling are just two who have conquered Riverhead from the outside. Ryan Preece, Jimmy Blewett and Ted Christopher are a few others that have done the same. Newcomers like Austin Beers, Tommy Catalano and Ronnie Williams are on the list of outsiders who have the potential to one day conquer Riverhead.

    For the Long Island drivers, it is a bit easier, because they get to hone their craft in weekly Modified events, and the highest finishing driver from Long Island in May was Dylan Slepian, a relative newcomer to Modified racing. 

Two Long Islanders, WMT regular Dave Sapienza #36 and Riverhead Raceway regular Dylan Slepian #10 Riverhead Raceway May 14th, 2022. Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

    In four NWMT Riverhead starts, the 27-year-old from Dix Hills, NY has not finished worse than 11th, and his most recent fourth place run gives him a different feel coming into Saturday.

    “One hundred percent,” he said when asked if this event feels different than coming into the May event. “When you get some positive momentum behind you it’s huge. We learned a lot of stuff in Florida and we’re just building a bigger playbook for these tour events. We carry our heads just a little bit higher this time, and we have that much more data for big events like this.

    We are really excited coming into Saturday. We have high hopes. At the same time, there are a lot of variables in a Riverhead tour race. I sat and talked with my crew chief Brian Magee and car owner Rob Pelis. Last time was so good, because you have to have a perfect day on the tour to finish well. That is what we are focused on this time.

    “A lot of it is unloading a really fast car, and being fast right off the bat in the first couple minutes of practice. That kind of sets the tone for the whole day. You get a good qualifying draw and can have good confidence all day long. Confidence is really one of the biggest variables of all.”

    Slepian’s accomplishment in May was with a home-built car. Having success in this fashion is a rarity in today’s Modified racing. His team can ask others for advice, but does it do them any good, or are they on an Island in more ways than one this Saturday?

    “Some of the most fun that I have had in racing is working on this deal because you just have to think about everything,” he explained. “A Modified is a Modified in a lot of respects. They react similar to the store bought cars, but when you ask for help from somebody that is used to working on an LFR or Fury car, they’re going to give you notes and numbers that are only relevant to that type of car.

    “Even with things like control arm links, and camber spacers, and really nitty gritty stuff. You just have to really take a step back and look at it from kind of a 10-foot view. It is really refreshing, and it makes everything that we accomplish a lot more exciting.”

    Saturday night it will all play out once again. The locals versus the traveling teams. Will Coby win again? Or maybe Ron Silk breaks through for a first Riverhead win after seven previous top five finishes? Will Ronnie Williams, Tommy Catalano or Jon McKennedy finally conquer Riverhead?

    Will Justin Bonsignore ride the Monadnock wave to another hometown victory, or maybe top local drivers from the May race in Slepian, Solomito, John Barker, Kyle Soper, Goodale or John Beatty Jr. reach glory at their local track?

    When the sun sets on Saturday, with track temperatures some 30 degrees cooler than when cars were on the track for practice, we will find out who hits the right setup and drives that perfect race to take the 69th NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour checkered in the long history of an ultimate challenge. A challenge created because of the locals versus traveling teams setting that is Riverhead Racewa