He might only be 17 years old but Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville turned a lifelong dream into reality when he won the 35 lap NASCAR Modified feature event holding off a former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and the current Riverhead Raceway championship leader in the process. Vinny is the nephew of the late Joe Biondolillo Jr., one of the all time greats in Figure Eight racing at Riverhead.
As has become commonplace in qualifying Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead topped the charts with a lap of 12.000 but once again got stung in the redraw pulling 8th while Vinny Biondolillo and Jason Agugliaro drew the front row. At the drop of the green Agugliaro nearly got the jump off turn four on Biondolillo for the race lead but the pole sitter would draw even entering the first corner and lead the first lap with Jason running second. On lap 3 John Fortin Jr. spun in turn two with Jerry Solomito Jr. and Ed Brunnhoelzl III having to stop to avoid heavy contact and the caution flag would wave. On the ensuing double file restart Biondolillo was ready for Agugliaro as he was able to take the lead as the race went back green. Ron Silk restarted third and he quickly raced his way under Agugliaro for second bringing Tom Rogers Jr. to third as well.
With the race barely five laps old the question became could Biondolillo who graduated High School a month ago hold off Silk, a former NASCAR WMT champion and Rogers the current championship leader and winner of four NASCAR Modified events in 2015 at Riverhead. Two key ingredients came into play for Vinny, first the race hit an extended green flag run and then Silk and Rogers got involved for a short time racing each other for second. That allowed Biondolillo to hit his marks over the remainder of the race and stay out front with the only late race obstacle coming in the form of lapped traffic which he’d also overcome in the closing laps of the contest.
When the checker flag was displayed it fell first over the hood of the Premier Utility Service Chevy of Vinny Biondolillo in what would become a very popular victory. In victory lane Vinny was not only greeted by family, friends and crew members but also a gathering of Eastern Long Island Racing go karts racers with whom Vinny raced with just a few short years ago. “I can’t thank my parents (Andrew & Michelle) enough, they have sacrificed so much to get me here” the happy winner stated. “We had a really good car all day long and I’m just so happy to get this first win, a big thanks to all those who made it possible”
Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT was runner-up in the East West marine Chevy while championship leader Tom Rogers Jr. increased his points advantage with a third place tally in the Relay Communications Chevy. Jason Agugliaro of Islip and John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville in the Triangle Pub Chevy completed the top five.
Charger driver John Baker of Brookhaven was already enjoying a career year in the class having won three feature events coming into the nights 20-lap feature event but on Saturday he truly had a career night not only winning the Charger feature but also the 25-lap Late Model main event just minutes later. After being swept away from Charger victory lane Baker strapped into the Staria Automotive Chevy Late Model to start on the pole for their feature event. At the throw of the green Baker quickly moved out front over Chris McGuire who tried to run the outside lane to keep pace with Baker. Emily LaSpisa spun on lap 3 in turn one drawing a yellow flag and setting up a double file restart. When the race resumed Baker stayed out front with Shawn Patrick sliding under McGuire for second. While the race leader was pulling away from the pack the battle in this race would be for second as Kevin Metzger would overtake Patrick for the position on lap 13 and just 4 circuits later Metzger would in turn be passed by Scott Kulesa. All that position swapping behind him was just fine with John Baker who drove off to a convincing first career Late Model victory. Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Ma. was runner-up in the Eastport Feeds Pontiac with Kevin Metzger of Massapequa third in the Complete Well & Pump Chevy.
In the Charger event John Baker would not lead all the way as he would in the Late Model race and in fact was running third with two laps to go in the race before he made a spirited charge to the front riding the outside groove. Chris Turbush who has struggled mightily in 2015 despite winning two early season races took the early race lead from the pole with Owen Grennan filing into second. Early on Turbush, a 41 time career winner in the class seemed to have things in hand but as the race wore on Grennan seeking his first career win was all over the back bumper of the leader. Over the final five laps Turbush’s car was getting very loose off the corners all by itself and Grennan was looking to the inside to make what he hoped would be the winning pass. In the meantime third place John Baker got word from his spotter Andy Orlando to go to the outside as he thought that was the way to go. As the field got the two laps to go signal Baker started his march to the lead on the outside as Turbush fought his loose car and Grennan did all he could not to hit the leader. As the trio raced off turn four to the checker John Baker in the Clean Burn Energy Systems Camaro riding the outside lane would win by 3/100ths of a second in a photo finish, closest in the history of the Charger class. Chris Turbush of Wading River was second in the Carpet Express Chevy while Owen Grennan of Glen Cove was third in the Evergreen Fences entry.
The scheduled 20-lap Blunderbust main event was cut to 11-laps due to a sloppy race that featured blown engines, transmissions, oil spills and a couple of crashes, very untypical for the class. When the race was timed out “The Wildchild” Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge earned his 56th career win. Joe Warren Jr. paced the race early on leading the first three laps of the tilt before he was passed to the inside by Walkowiak on lap 4 in turn one. Warren would later fall from the race with his car smoking heavily. On lap 6 Walkowiak’s old buddy Scott Maliszewski moved to second but a few laps later wound up in the wall while trying to hold onto second perhaps a victim of fluid on the track. That turn of events moved Jim Laird Jr. to second on lap 9 but before he could make a run at the race leader another yellow waved on lap 11 and NASCAR Officials called for the checker flag once the field was reset. For Tommy Walkowiak and his Langdon’s Automotive team it was their second win in as many weeks. Jim Laird Jr. of Islip Terrace was second in the L.I. Poultry entry while Jimmy “The Kid” White Jr. of Southampton was third in the Busy Bee Pest Control Cadillac.
“Dynamite” Dan Turbush of Riverhead notched his third Super Pro Truck win of the season as he topped their 20-lap event. Mike Albasini moved to the early race lead when the race went green with Turbush quickly coming to second. On lap 4 entering the first turn Turbush dove low on Albasini and by the time the tandem raced off turn two Dan was the new race leader in the NY Auto Giant Chevy. A couple of lap later Albasini was passed on lap 6 by Dave Brigati for second with Dave hoping to make it two wins in a row. However with the race leader pulling away Brigati lost second on lap 14 to Mark Stewart and by the time the race leaders grandson got to second there was not catching the 64-year old eventual race winner Dan Turbush. Mark Stewart of Riverhead would finish second in the Nelson’s Auto Salvage Chevy while Dave Brigati of Calverton claimed third in the JDL Environmental Dodge.
Jimmy “The Kid” White Jr. won the 50-lap Grand Enduro with that race being the third event he competed in during the program. Outside pole sitter Dave Antos took the early race lead over Ed Brown Jr. who ran second for the first two laps of the race before being overtaken by Jimmy White on lap 3. After spending 9 laps running second to leader Antos it was time for White to make his move for the lead which he did successfully on lap 13. With White now leading and Antos second they were soon joined by Greg Zaleski and for the remainder of the race the top three ran nose to tail all the while darting through lapped traffic. In the end Jimmy White Jr. in the Busy Bee Pest Control Chevy scored his first win of the year breaking the stranglehold of Antos and Zaleski held over the class in 2015. Dave Antos of Lindenhurst was runner-up in the CR Customs Chevy while Greg Zaleski of Jamesport was third in the Peconic Sign Company racer.
1. Vinny Biondolillo 2. Ron Silk 3. Tom Rogers Jr. 4. Jason Agugliaro 5. John Fortin Sr. 6. Kyle Soper 7. John Fortin Jr. 8. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 9. Howie Brode 10. Jerry Solomito Jr. 11. Danny Watts 12. Ken Darch 13. Kyle Ellwood 14. Amber Fortin 15. Rob McCormick
1. John Baker 2. Scott Kulesa 3. Kevin Metzger 4. Mike Bologna 5. Peter Eriksen Jr. 6. Roger Oxee 7. Shawn Patrick 8. Chris McGuire 9. Chris Lescenski 10. Kaitlyn Schober 11. Emily LaSpisa 12. Kyle Harvell 13. Jeremy McDermott 14. Jack Orlando 15. Chris LaSpisa
1. John Baker 2. Chris Turbush 3. Owen Grennan 4. Ray Minieri 5. CJ Lehmann 6. David Roys 7. Rich Wilson 8. Eric Zeh 9. Jarrod Hayes 10. Brian Midgett 11. Steve Mastro 12. Dennis Cunningham 13. Jason Hansen 14. Jimmy White Jr. DQ- Brandon Turbush
1. Tommy Walkowiak 2. Jim Laird Jr. 2. Jimmy White Jr. 4. Jack Handley Jr. 5. Tom Pickerell 6. Derek Wegmann 7. Jason Wegmann 8. Jessica Cohen 9. Bob Muller 10. Tim Mulqueen 11. Tom Sullivan 12. Ryan Zukowski 13. Robert Ehrle 14. Tom Puccia 15. Scott Maliszewski 16. Ed Mistretta 17. Joe Warren 18. Terry Stiles DNS- Eric Zeh
Super Pro Trucks:
1. Dan Turbush 2. Mark Stewart 3. Dave Brigati 4. Lou Maestri 5. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 6. Jerry Giordano Jr. 7. Brian Brown 8. Amanda Anderson 9. Mike Albasini
Grand Enduro (top five)
1. Jimmy White Jr. 2. Dave Antos 3. Greg Zaleski 4. Jeff Otto Jr. 5. Brian McCormack
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release. Photo Credit: Mike Jaworecki