Kyle Soper of Manorville and his Eastport Feeds NASCAR Modified team have served notice at Riverhead Raceway that the 2019 championship will have to go through the team that captured the 2018 title winning their third race in four starts to begin the Whelen All American Series season. For the second time this season Soper came from the final starting spot to claim the victory.
Dave Brigati and son-in-law Roger Turbush brought the field to green with Brigati taking the lead as the field completed the first lap. Lap two saw Tom Rogers Jr., the only other driver to win a NASCAR Modified race in ’19 race his way under Turbush in the third and fourth corners for second. Once to second Rogers tucked in behind race leader Brigati as the race settled in. After 19 laps of pursuing Brigati challenger Rogers would get a break when a caution flag waved on lap 21 setting up a double file restart. On the restart Rogers raced his way around Brigati to take over the lead but Tommy’s time out front was about to become short lived.
Just prior to the halfway juncture of the race Kyle Soper raced his way around Brigati for second on lap 23 and he wasn’t done yet. With a car that appeared flawless Soper quickly caught and passed Rogers for the race lead on lap 26 while Rogers now found himself second and looking at the back spoiler of the race leader. Once Soper had the Wayne & Joette Anderson Chevy out front there was no looking back for Kyle Soper who raced off to his 12th career victory.
“I’ve said it all along, this car is just awesome and a reflection of all the work my father puts into it” Kyle proclaimed, “my guys make sure I have the best car week in and week out, I’m just the lucky guy who gets to drive it” With the victory Soper has a 12-point lead over John Fortin Sr,. of Holtsville in the early in the 2019 championship rankings and also leads the Whelen All American Series New York State championship chase. That chase pays bonus points to drivers who win after starting deep in the field and with two last to first wins this year Soper the 2018 New York State champion is off to a good start defending that crown.
Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead in the Denise & Ken Darch Precision Water Works Chevy was runner-up while David Schneider of Huntington was third in his ESM Racing Chevy just 24 hours after running at the Stafford Motor Speedway in a Open Modified 80-lapper. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and Dave Brigati of Calverton completed the top five.
Another driver three for four on the season is former multi-time Late Model champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead who won the show opening 50-lap feature event. In qualifying Chris Turbush led the way with a lap of 12.528 but “Bub” would pull pill #4 in the redraw while the Rob Pelis Motorsports team cars of Scott Kulesa and Jeremy McDermott would occupy the front row. Kulesa running a part time schedule this year raced to the lead at the throw of the green with McDermott in pursuit. After two laps in the challenger position McDermott jumped to the outside of his team car to take the race lead in the third and fourth turn with Kulesa moving back to second. Chris Turbush made his presence know as the race wore on challenging Kulesa for second before finally taking the spot on lap 37. Over the final 13 laps all Turbush could do it watch as Jeremy McDermott drove off to his 12th career victory in the Eastport Feeds Pontiac. The win moves McDermott into a tie with “Mighty” Mike Mortimer for 11th on the all time LM win list. Chris Turbush of Wading River was runner-up in his Eastern Fuel Chevy while Dave Brigati making his first LM start of 2019 was third in the Bekiesz Garage Doors Pontiac.
Ken Hyde Jr. after going without a win in 2018 drove his way back to victory lane Saturday night when he won the 15-lap Figure Eight main event. Starting second in the event Hyde wasted little time breaking to the race lead at the start of the contest out running rookie driver Joe Warren Jr. who started from the pole. Tom Ferrara quickly got by Warren from his third starting berth and “The Alter Boy” chased Hyde for the first six laps of the race. However misfortune struck on lap 7 when Tom spun allowing Eric Zeh to take over second with Tom Rogers Jr. third. With the two teammates filling Hyde’s mirror the third generation drive did not get rattled as he would lead the rest of the way in his Kings Park Contracting entry for the win. The victory was Ken’s 9th career triumph ranking him 15th on the all time win list. Oddly enough Hyde credited Zeh and Rogers crew chief “Gizmo” for going through his engine and car in an effort to get it right. Zeh of Selden and Rogers were second at third in their United Exhaust Shop Chevy Coupes.
Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead rebounded after a heartbreaking last lap incident the week before on the final turn of the race to bounce back with a victory in the 20-lap Blunderbust race. Joe Warren Jr. would pace the race for the first three laps of the tilt before Laird completed an inside pass exiting turn four to take the race lead as the field started the 4th lap. Just one week prior Laird in an incident he termed “totally my fault” collided with Jack Handley Jr. while the tandem raced for the win. This week Laird felt he owed his Bandit Motorsports team one and once to the lead Jim never looked back hitting his marks lap after lap in his Poolsmith Inc. Chevy in route to his 8th career win. Cody Triola of Bay Shore steering the Cesspool Pros entry came away with an impressive runner-up finish while “Mad” Max Handley of Medford just back from his studies at UNOH in Ohio made his first start of ’19 a noticeable one as he was third after starting 8th in the Licciardi Builders Chevy.
Jack Handley Jr. of Medford shifted divisions this week turning his championship winning Blunderbust over to brother Max and strapping in Mike Albasini’s Super Pro Truck. The result was victory for “The Jack Attack” in the 20-lap contest. The race was competitive to say the least as no less than 8 changes in position among the top two occurred during the race. Rookie Joe Cerabino led the first lap before he was passed by 30-time winner Lou Maestri on lap two, Cerabino one lap later was overtaken for second by Jimmy Rennick Jr. Meanwhile Maestri would pace the race until the 8th lap when Mark Stewart raced out front with Maestri now second. Rennick then slipped by Maestri for second but soon thereafter his fuel pump would quit forcing him to the infield. With Stewart leading and just five laps to go Handley who started 9th in the field muscled his way by Maestri for second on a late race restart. Just one lap later another yellow waved and on that double file restart Handley rode the outside lane around Stewart to take the lead on lap 16 and drive to the win in the Hollis Court Collision Chevy. Stewart of Riverhead was runner-up in the East End Building machine while Joe Cerabino of Bay Shore impressed with a fine third place effort in the Victory Mixed Martial Arts Chevy.
Defending INEX Legend Race Car champion Jim Sylvester of Massapequa made it two in a row when he won the 30-lap feature event. Richie Davidowitz topped qualifying for the 35 cars on hand with a lap of 13.620 in the Paul Dodorico owned machine. The race got off to a very rocky start as it took three attempts just to get the first lap in the books leaving some damaged cars and hurt feeling in the wake. When the race finally did go and stay green Sylvester moved out front in his Oval Speed Unlimited mount with the teenage Lambros brothers in hot pursuit. Dean & William Lambros run selected races at Riverhead and on Saturday made their presence known. The siblings were able to stay in the tire tracks of the race leader for the duration of the race but perhaps a lack of experience to the more seasoned race leader prohibited them from making a run for the win. At the finish Jim Sylvester sat in victory lane with Dean Lambros and William Lambros of Northport were second and third in the Wm. Dean Platinum team cars.
Paul Wojcik of Centereach made it two out of two in the 20-lap Mini Stock feature event. Wojcik, the defending champion in the class moved out front at the start of the race with Chris Elixson in tow. However Elixson quickly felt the heat and was passed by Joe Warren Jr. for second on lap 2 and just like the opening race of 2019 it appeared Wojcik and Warren would be left to decide the race. Unfortunately though Warren’s night would be cut short with six laps left in the race when his car went up in smoke. After a clean-up the final six laps of the race were contested with Paul Wojcik in his VDR Graphics machine driving off to his 3rd career victory. Newcomer Justin Squires of Flanders was an impressive second in his Roadworks Construction mount with third generation driver Jamie Meyer of Wading River a stellar third in the StariaAutomotive entry.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. David Schneider 4. John Beatty Jr. 5. Dave Brigati 6. Chris Young 7. CJ Lehmann 8. John Fortin Sr. 9. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 10. Eric Zeh 11. Roger Turbush 12. Cory Midgett 13. Dylan Slepian 14. John Baker DNS- John Fortin Jr., Michael Rutkoski
Late Models: 1. Jeremy McDermott 2. Chris Turbush 3. Dave Brigati 4. Scott Kulesa 5. Chris McGuire 6. Shawn Patrick 7. Ray Minieri 8. Gerard Lawrence 9. Kevin Metzger 10. Jay Scalice
Figure Eights: 1. Ken Hyde Jr. 2. Eric Zeh 3. Tom Rogers Jr. 4. Vinny Delaney 5. Scott Pedersen 6. Tom Ferrara 7. Gary Fritz Jr. 8. CJ Lehmann 9. Bryan Quilliam 10. Bob Dalke 11. Joe Warren Jr. 12. Brian Hansen DNS- Paul Cummings
Blunderbusts: 1. Jim Laird Jr. 2. Cody Triola 3. Max Handley 4. Tom Pickerell 5. Joe Warren Jr. 6. Russ Jansen 7. Bill Wegmann Sr. 8. Bill Wegmann Jr. 9. Cassandra Denis 10. Eddie Diaz 11. Kyle Halpin 12. Brian Midgett Jr. 13. Alyssa Paprocky DNS- Brendon Hubbard, Tim Mulqueen
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Mark Stewart 3. Joe Cerabino 4. Sean Glennon 5. Eddie Schutze 6. Lou Maestri 7. Frank Dumicich Jr. 8. Dave Koenig 9. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 10. Ethan Brown 11. Frank Dumicich Sr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. Jim Sylvester 2. Dean Lambors 3. William Lambros 4. Vinny Delaney 5. Eric Hersey 6. Jerry Curran 7. Jeff Otto Jr. 8. Allan Pedersen 9. Joe Costello 10. Colin Volpe 11. Stephen Coleman 12. Tanner Jones 13. Joseph Braun 14. Mike Benton 15. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 16. Jason Castaldo 17. Riely O’Keefe 18. Ed Cheslak 19. Kevin Nowak 20. George Tomko Jr. 21. Ray Fitzgerald 22. Richie Davidowitz 23. Jonathan Parsons 24. Mike Van Houten Jr. 25. Scott Cheslak
Mini Stocks: 1. Paul Wojcik 2. Justin Squires 3. Jamie Meyer 4. Chris Elixson 5. Brad Bess 6. James O’Connell 7. Martin O’Connell 8. Joe Warren Jr. 9. Matt Stawecki 10. Joe Cooke Jr. 11. Tom Puccia DNS- Tom Cacozza
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release
-Photo credit: Jeffrey Rogers Experience