(Riverhead, NY) – NASCAR Modified veteran Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT is more accustomed to longer distance races on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour but on Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway his mindset adjusted quickly for the 35-lap feature that was on the card and that adjustment took Silk to victory lane. It was Ron’s first win driving for car owners Bill & Barbara Park whose team is riding a hot streak having won three of the last five weeks at Riverhead. Ryan Preece drove Team Park to victory on May 23rd and June 6th prior to Silk’s victory.
To nobody’s surprise Tom Rogers Jr. set fast time with a lap of 11.833 but on the redraw Rogers drew 7th while Jason Agugliaro and Vinny Biondolillo picked the front row. When the race got underway Agugliaro quickly bolted out front while Ron Silk who started the race third jumped underneath Biondolillo to start a short battle for second with Silk prevailing. Once in sole possession of second Silk went right to work on race leader Agugliaro whose car was tight through the corners to start the race. Enter Ron Silk’s new mindset for a 35-lap feature and the former NASCAR WMT champion wasted little time driving underneath Agugliaro for the race lead on lap 5. Ron gave the race leader what he later termed “a bump” going into the first turn which moved Agugliaro up slightly and off turn two Silk did the rest by sliding under for the race leader going into the third corner.
Agugliaro then fell into the clutches of Biondolillo as they staged a brief duel for second with Biondolillo prevailing on lap 7. Once to second Vinny, who later this month will graduate high school, set sail for race leader Silk and he would stay within a car length as the race would stay green for the first 18 laps of the contest. Meanwhile further back Tom Rogers Jr. was doing some work as he one by one made his way from his 7th starting spot to come to 3rd just before the halfway point and he soon became a concern for second place Biondolillo, which was music to the ears of leader Silk. After a brief lap 18 yellow the race resumed and Rogers was quick to test Biondolillo, who he has mentored from time to time for second. In one instance Tom got into Vinny off the fourth turn with the teenager getting loose but Rogers backed off to allow Biondolillo the chance to collect his car which he did. All this again played right into the hands of Ron Silk who never looked back as he drove off to victory enjoying a comfortable margin when the race concluded.
After climbing out of the East West Marine Chevy in victory lane to a loud ovation Silk recalled the pass for the lead, “I knew I had to make something happen early. The 69 was tight through the corners and I gave him a bump going into one and was able to slide under him for the lead”. Making the win especially sweet for Ron was how he fared in the car the last time he was behind the wheel May 30th, “we really don’t know what happened a few weeks back, could have been a bad tire or something but this was a totally different car tonight and I want to thank Bill & Barbara for allowing me to be part of this”. Looking forward to the Hoosier Tire 200 June 27th at Riverhead where Silk will again drive the Team Park entry “this is a good car and team we might just have something for them in a couple of weeks”.
Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville who is knocking on the door for a first career win was runner-up in the Premier Utility Service Chevy while Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead crossed the line third in the Jessup Landscaping Chevy. Howie Brode of East Islip and Shawn Solomito of East Moriches completed the top five.
Like a fine wine “Jumping” Jack Orlando of Calverton keeps getting better with age as he scored the win in the 25-lap Late Model feature just one race removed from an event where he seemed to be on his way to victory before lapped cars ruined those plans. Orlando was slated to start the race from third but when pole sitter Richie Davidowitz’s car balked during hot laps the inside row moved up giving Jack the pole for the race. When the green lights came on Orlando quickly moved out to the race lead with Kyle Harvell to second with a quick yellow waving after the first lap was in the books. On the restart Jack once again quickly moved out front with Shawn Patrick working his way under Harvell for second. The race would then hit an extended green flag run which found Orlando opening up a large lead which at times grew to nearly a half a lap. However to heavy crashes late in the race would draw the field back to Orlando’s rear bumper. The first incident saw Scott Kulesa tag the wall nose first on the front stretch after contact with Mike Bologna and just moments later in the very same spot Chris Lescenski and Kyle Harvell got together. Both restarts saw challenger Patrick ride the back bumper of Orlando to the green flag and both times “Jumping” Jack in the Staria Automotive Chevy had him covered as he drove off to his 6th career win in the class complementing his 24 Chargers wins at the track. Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters was second in the Rick’s Auto Body entry while points leader Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was third in the Statewide Roofing Chevy.
John Baker of Brookhaven very well might be on his way to a career season in the Charger class as he topped their 30-lap main event for his second win in a row and third overall in 2015. Prior to this season Baker had won twice in the class. David Roys set fast time with a lap of 13.324 but would only muster a 6th place starting berth in the redraw. Cory Midgett and CJ Lehmann would draw the front row for the start of the race with Midgett taking the lead quickly when the race started. Baker, who started the race third made a bold move by Lehmann for second on lap 2. Moments later the yellow would wave for a Brandon Turbush spin setting up a double file restart with Midgett on the inside on Baker to the outside. When the green waved once again Baker drove his Clean Burn Energy Systems Camaro hard into the first corner and would come away with the race lead. A few laps later veteran “Radiant” Ray Minieri would make his way to second on lap 7 and he’d spend the remainder of his race trying to track down leader Baker. Not even several caution flags that would wave during the race could aid the challenger as John Baker had them covered once again. John’s win coupled with Jack Orlando’s LM triumph gave car owner Daryl Baker reason to smile but this was not the first time this has happened to the team as they swept the final features of 2014 as well. Ray Minieri of Bay Shore was runner-up in the Hometown Taxi Chevy while CJ Lehmann of Shirley was third in the Bottle Hampton entry.
The 20-lap Blunderbust feature event saw a first career win unfold as Jim Laird Jr. of Islip Terrace nailed down the win and in convincing fashion to boot. Laird, who has been coming to the races at Riverhead Raceway since he was three years old, took full advantage of the pole starting position as he took the early race lead over Derek Wegmann. Former champion Scott Maliszewski worked his way by Wegmann for second with leader Laird already building a big lead on the field. With Laird pulling away Maliszewski soon fell into the clutches of defending champion Tom Pickerell as the two most recent champs dueled for second and with the race going non-stop further allowed the race leader to motor away. On lap 16 Pickerell made a turn two pass on Maliszewski for second but with just three laps to go and not a caution flag in sight there was no shot of Tom Pickerell catching the race leader. At the finish Jim Laird Jr. in his Long Island Poultry Chevy not only accomplished a boyhood dream of winning a Saturday night race at the track he grew-up at with his grandparents and parents, he did so in dominating fashion. Tom Pickerell of Huntington was second in the Northportpower.com Chevy while Scott Maliszewski of Deer Park came home third in the FB Transmissions Chevy.
He is barely into his third season driving a Super Pro Truck but “The Real Deal” Mark Stewart of Riverhead is living up to his nickname as he won his 10th career feature event tying him with Ron “Hurricane” Humes for 7th on the all time win list. Mark was slated to start the race from the 4th starting spot but when the outside pole sitter jumped the original start and was sent to the rear of the field the outside lane moved up and Stewart was now on the outside pole. When the race did go green after the false start it would stay that way for all 20-laps with Mark Stewart moving into the race lead over Jimmy Rennick Jr. and Lou Maestri third. Lap 2 saw Maestri work his way by Rennick and move in to challenge leader Stewart. If Mark was to win his 10th career race Maestri was going to make sure the Riverhead High School student was going to earn it. Oh, and there was also the matter of Lou’s 30th career win hanging in the balance. As the laps wore down to a precious few Maestri, the defending champion in the class tried to nudge Stewart up a groove but Lou never stepped over the line and Mark Stewart in the Nelson’s Auto Salvage racer drove off to victory. His next win will tie him with Pat Smith for 6th on the all time win list. Smith is a crew member for Lou Maestri of Deer Park who was runner-up in the Beach Huts of L.I. Chevy. After fighting fuel pump issues all day Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach was third in the Sonny’s Collision Specialists Chevy.
Prior to the 50-lap Grand Enduro former champion Dave Antos of Lindenhurst was concerned about where he’d start in the field but those concerns were quickly put to rest as Dave won his first race of 2015. Jimmy “The Kid” White Jr. and Brian McCormack ran 1-2 for the first 4 laps with the tandem swapping positions on lap 5. One lap later Dave Antos entered the picture passing White for second and one lap later completed his charge to the front with an inside pass on the front stretch of McCormack for the lead. Greg Zaleski, who entered the race with a two win race streak, made his way to second when Antos made his pass for the lead and Greg could only watch as Antos raced off to a large lead. As the race was coming to an end Dave Antos in his G&R Performance Chevy had such a huge lead he was about to lap the third place car when the checkers waved. Greg Zaleski of Jamesport was second in the Peconic Sign Company Chevy while Brian McCormack of Holbrook completed the podium in his Big Mack’s Towing entry.
In the Demolition Derby “Mad” Mike Smith of Kings Park made it two for two as he bested a competitive field. The event came down to Smith and long time rival “Pistol” Pete Mikos of Lake Ronkonkoma with the duo laying some heavy licks on each other. In the end Mike Smith in his L.I. Truck & Equipment machine would score the win. Mikos was named Judge’s Choice while Blunderbust driver Scott Maliszewski was voted Fan’s Choice.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Ron Silk 2. Vinny Biondolillo 3. Tom Rogers Jr. 4. Howie Brode 5. Shawn Solomito 6. Kyle Soper 7. Jason Agugliaro 8. Ken Darch 9. Jerry Solomito Jr. 10. Frank Vigliarolo Jr. 11. John Fortin 12. David Schneider 13. Danny Watts 14. Artie Pedersen III 15. Kyle Ellwood 16. Amber Fortin 17. Ken Heagy
Late Models: 1. Jack Orlando 2. Shawn Patrick 3. Jeremy McDermott 4. Kevin Metzger 5. Chris LaSpisa 6. Roger Oxee 7. Mike Bologna 8. Kaitlyn Schober 9. Kyle Harvell 10. Chris Lescenski 11. Scott Kulesa 12. John Baker 13. Mike Mortimer 14. Richie Davidowitz
Chargers: 1. John Baker 2. Ray Minieri 3. CJ Lehmann 4. Rich Wilson 5. Eric Zeh 6. Steve Mastro 7. Brian Midgett 8. Brandon Turbush 9. Chris Turbush 10. David Roys 11. Cory Midgett 12. Jason Hansen DNS- Greg Immerman
Blunderbusts: 1. Jim Laird Jr. 2. Tom Pickerell 3. Scott Maliszewski 4. Jack Handley Jr. 5. Tim Mulqueen 6. Tom Sullivan 7. Joe Warren Jr. 8. Derek Wegmann 9. Ron Langdon 10. Tom Puccia 11. Ed Mistretta 12. Bob Muller 13. Fred Nolan 14. Terry Stiles 15. Robert Ehrle 16. Jason Wegmann 17. Bill Wegmann Jr.
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Mark Stewart 2. Lou Maestri 3. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 4. Dan Turbush 5. Dave Brigati 6. Brian McElearney 7. Mike Albasini 8. Roger Turbush 9. Jerry Giordano Jr. 10. Kevin Scharfenberg 11. Anthony Vecchio 12. Amanda Anderson
Grand Enduro (top 5) 1. Dave Antos 2. Greg Zaleski 3. Brian McCormack 4. Jess Martines 5. Erick Zegel
Demolition Derby: Winner-Mike Smith Judge’s Choice- Pete Mikos Fan’s Choice- Scott Maliszewski
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo