After chasing race leader Brand Van Houten of Wading Rive for 17-laps of the 40 circuits that made up the NASCAR Modified feature at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night David Schneider of Northport executed a late race pass with just over two laps remaining in the event to score his first win of the 2018 Whelen All American Series at the historic quarter mile oval. In the IGA Food Markets Allan Cantor Memorial for the NEMA Midgets Avery Stoehr of Lakeville, Ma. led all 25-laps to take home the win leading two teammates to the checkers in the process.
Dylan Slepian and Van Houten made up the front row of the 18-car grid at the start of the race with Van Houten gaining the advantage when the race started with Slepian settling in for second. Dylan’s race would come to an abrupt end on lap 3 when smoke billowed from under the hood of his car due to a power steering hose failure forcing him to the infield. Roger Turbush moved to second on lap 4 but a quick caution flag would slow the race setting up a double file restart. Van Houten and Turbush made up the first row for the double while former three time champion Howie Brode sitting third. When the race resumed to start lap 5 Brode slipped under newcomer Turbush for second and moved within striking distance of Van Houten while Schneider soon made his way to third.
The top three ran in that order until lap 10 when another yellow flag waved setting up another exciting restart. What racing gives you sometimes it can take back just as quickly and that would be the case for challenger Brode who was passed to the inside by Schneider on the ensuing double file restart, Brode would settle into third. Once to second Schneider quickly made his way to the rear bumper of race leader Van Houten and from lap 11 through 37 the duo would wage a torrid duel for the lead and win. Van Houten was hitting his marks while Schneider patiently raced right behind him hoping the leader would slip up along the way. With just over five laps remaining in the contest the leader’s car started to get loose and the challenger was ready to pounce.
Van Houten seemed to be managing his loose condition until the tandem raced down the backstretch on lap 37. As they entered the third turn Brad left a little too much room on the bottom and David filled the hole and when they took the two to go signal Schneider was the new race leader. Undaunted Van Houten tried to cross Schneider over off turn two on lap 38 but the new leader was able to scamper away and race to his 3rd career win at Riverhead Raceway. Afterwards David dedicated the race to his Mom who passed away during the off season, “this win is for my mother, without her and my father’s support and guidance I wouldn’t be here”. As for the race with Van Houten David reflected, “it was a great, hard and clean race. He left me just enough room there and I took it. I can’t thank Mike Pettit Race Engines for the power and my Ray Grennan led team, we ran Stafford last night in a open comp race and finished 10th, we’ve been busy”. Looking ahead to the Islip 300 this Saturday night Schneider noted, “hopefully we’ll be on a roll now and take the $7,000 to win pot of gold Saturday”.
Brad Van Houten would settle for second just two laps shy of his first career win in the Precision Lawn Sprinklers Chevy. Asked about his loose condition afterwards Brad pointed to himself, “the car wasn’t loose it was just the way I was driving it. Hats off to David he ran me super clean and thank you to Denise & Ken Darch for the ride, almost”. Howie Brode of East Islip crossed the line third in the Peter Clark Motorsports entry but afterwards pointed to his son Matt who scored his first career top ten with a 10th in the Legend Race Car event, “how about my boy huh?” the proud poppa boasted. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville and Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead completed the top five.
Just seven days after a faulty axle and subsequent crash damaged Avery Stoehr’s Bertrand Motorsports NEMA Midget followed by a week of burning the midnight oil to get the car ready for Riverhead Raceway the Lakeville, Ma. talent went out and made the hard work pay dividends when he led wire to wire to win the Allan Cantor Memorial 25-lap main event. Stoehr quickly moved to the race lead at the throw of the green and before long his two teammates Todd Bertrand and Randy Cabral moved to second and third. It would turn out a battle for second would soon rage between Bertrand and Cabral which allowed race leader Stoehr to further distance himself from the pack in what turned out to be a non-stop affair. All eyes quickly focused on the race for second as Cabral attempted to pull a “slide job” on teammate Bertrand more than once entering the first turn getting side by side but never by for position. At the checker it was the K&N Filters machine of Avery Stoehr scoring a well deserved win after a long week in the shop, “I’d be working until midnight on my car nightly, then get up at 5 in the morning to go to work but all worth it to win the Allan Cantor Memorial”. the winner offered. Todd Bertrand of Danielson, Ct. and Randy Cabral of Kingston, Ma. followed to complete the all Bertrand Motorsports podium.
In the companion 25-lap NEMA Lites event Randy Cabral would prevail after taking the race lead from Ben Mikitarian on lap 3 with an inside pass racing down the backstretch. At first Cabral was able to open a comfortable lead in the non-stop race but later in the tilt. Dan Cugini moved by Mikitarian for second on lap 10 and begin the process of trying to erase the advantage Cabral had built up. However time would run out and Randy Cabral would steer the K&N Filters mount to victory lane. It would be Cabral who’d deliver the line of the night after the NEMA events when he stated, “I love Riverhead, it races like an indoor track but it’s outside”. Dan Cugini of Marshfield, Ma and Jim Chambers of Atkinson, Ma. completed the podium.
Former Late Model champion Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Ma. doesn’t race full time these days and tries to take advantage of the races he does compete in which is exactly what he did Saturday when he topped the 25-lap feature event posting his 23rd career triumph. Kevin Metzger a former champ in his own right jumped to the early race lead with Ray Minieri second for the first lap. Kulesa wasted little time making his move into contention when he passed Minieri to the outside off the fourth corner for second on lap 2. Kulesa would spend the next 10 laps of the race first catching and then attempting to pass the cagey Metzger for the lead and win which he did again with an outside pass off turn two on lap 13. Over the final dozen laps Chris Turbush moved in to challenge Kulesa for the lead but Scott’s teammate Kyle Soper made his presence known on Turbush making life uncomfortable for the challenger. On lap 16 heading into the first turn Soper dove under Turbush for second while Kulesa remained out front. At the finish Scott Kulesa who went winless in 2017 was back in victory lane with his RP Landscaping Chevy while defending champion Kyle Soper of Manorville was runner-up in his Eastport Feeds entry. Chris Turbush of Wading River was third in the Chris Mohr Landscaping racer.
In the 25-lap Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified main event “Jumping” Jack Orlando of Calverton appeared to score his second win of 2018 after making a late race pass of Chris Rogers with nine laps left in the race. However Orlando’s machine came up just under 10 pounds light at the scales due to what the team termed under fueling the car for the race coupled with several cautions during the event and was disqualified to last. That unfortunate turn of event moved Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches into the winners circle in just his fourth start in the class. Pedersen made his way to second following in Orlando’s tire track when the latter passed Rogers for the lead. The unexpected victory was an emotional one for the Vecchio Cesspools team and car owner Ben Vecchio who lost his father and the past car owner/driver of the winning car Anthony during the off season. Championship leader Justin Brown of Manorville in the SEDHI Inc. Chevy and Dennis Krupski of Calverton in Gadinski Insurance machine completed the top three.
Defending Figure Eight champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead notched his third win of the season in four starts when he won the 15-lap Figure Eight feature, the 38th of his career. Former two time champion Ken Hyde Jr. made a bold first lap move to race his way from his third starting berth to the race lead at the drop of the green with Bob Dalke second for the first cycle. Scott Pedersen came to second on lap 2 but his stay in the challengers role would be a short one as Rogers who started the race from 6th made his way by Scott for second on lap 4. After sizing Hyde up for four laps Rogers made his bid for the lead payoff when he made a pass of the early leader on lap 8 entering the right hand turn. Once out front Rogers was able to keep just enough distance in his United Exhaust Shop Chevy to remain out front of Hyde for the remainder of the race. Ken Hyde Jr. of Mastic Beach was a close runner-up in his JLH Custom Works Chevy while Eric Zeh of Selden in the Keith Repp owned team car to the race winner was third.
Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches is now two for two on the 2018 INEX Legend Race Car season as he won their 20-lap main event, the 16th of his career. Ed Cheslak and Jerry Curran ran first and second when the race got started and would do so for the first five laps. Meanwhile Davidowitz who started the tilt from 10th was making his way towards the front and with an inside pass of Curran entering the third turn would come to second on lap 6. Riding the momentum of that pass, one lap later Davidowitz swooped underneath Cheslak off turn four to take the race lead as the field started the 8th lap. Cheslak stayed second for a lap or so before George Tomko Jr. made his way by for the position on lap 9. Try as he might to reel in the race leader Tomko could only watch as Richie Davidowitz motored to the win in his Tony Power racer. Tomko of Aquebogue in his sponsor wanted entry and Cheslak of Rocky Point in the Crown Construction machine completed the podium.
A 18-car field of very sharp looking Street Stocks made their first start of 2018 after being delayed by rain for over a month. Eric Zeh of Selden would wrestle the lead away from Brian McCormack of Holbrook on lap 10 and would drive off to win the 30-lap feature event in his Best Built Construction Chevy. Zeh is doing triple duty in 2018 not only driving the winning Street Stock for car owners Frank & Vicki Curtis but also his family owned NASCAR Modified and the Repp Figure Eight coupe. Zeh started the SS event from 7th. Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place was runner-up in the Fairway Golf car Chevy while veteran Greg Zaleski of Jamesport was third in the Peconic Sign Co. Chevy.
Frank Saladino of Huntington won his first career LIVARS Vintage Race Car feature when he topped their 15-lap event and revealed afterwards it was his first win ever in a main event. Saladino, a retired school teacher who is best know in the pit area for his expertise in racing transmissions and rear end assembly’s disclosed that back in his competitive driving days he had won a heat or consolation race but never a main event. Frank in his Richie Evans “Rusty Nail Spl” tribute car had to ward off the advances of Don Howe of Water Mill in order to claim the win. Howe was second in the Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier while Jimmy Reed of Central Islip was third in the Tando Argentinean Steak House Cavalier.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. David Schneider 2. Brad Van Houten 3. Howie Brode 4. John Fortin Sr. 5. Tom Rogers Jr. 6. Vinny Biondolillo 7. John Beatty Jr. 8. Kyle Soper 9. John Fortin Jr. 10. Ryan Preece 11. Roger Turbush 12. Artie Pedersen III 13. Dave Brigati 14. Sal Accardi Jr. 15. Chris Young 16. Tim Lento 17. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 18. Dylan Slepian
NEMA Midgets: 1. Avery Stoehr 2. Todd Bertrand 3. Randy Cabral 4. Jim Chambers 5. John Zych 6. Alan Chambers 7. Doug Cleveland 8. Peter Pernesiglio 9. Richie Coy 10. Matt Janisch 11. Harry Weed
NEMA Lites: 1. Randy Cabral 2. Danny Cugini 3. Jim Chambers 4. Ben Mikitarian 5. Avery Stoehr 6. Megan Cugini 7. Matt Janisch 8. Kyle Valeri 9. Richie Coy 10. Jake Trainor 11. Jim Cataldo DNS- Ryan Locke
Late Models: 1. Scott Kulesa 2. Kyle Soper 3. Chris Turbush 4. Ray Minieri 5. Chris McGuire 6. Kevin Metzger 7. Charles Macwhinnie 8. Ed Cheslak 9. Darren McCabe 10. Jeremy McDermott 11. Ryan Zurkowski
Crate Modifieds: 1. Artie Pedersen III 2. Justin Brown 3. Dennis Krupski 4. Michael Rutkoski 5. AJ DeSantis 6. Peter Bertuccio 7. Owen Grennan 8. Chris Rogers 9. Scott Pedersen 10. Cary Rogers 11. Jason Hansen 12. Jack Orlando
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Ken Hyde Jr. 3. Eric Zeh 4. Scott Pedersen 5. Tom Ferrara 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Johnny Vullo 8. Bob Dalke 9. Rick Swanson DNS Brian Hansen
Legend Race Cars: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. George Tomko Jr. 3. Ed Cheslak 4. Jerry Curran 5. Eric Hersey 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Jim Sylvester 8. Mike Benton 9. Mike Van Houten Jr. 10. Matt Brode 11. Scott Cheslak 12. Steven Woytysiak 13. Patrick Moore 14. Jeffrey Farruggia Jr. 15. Rich Braun 16. Steve Hersey 17. Riely O’Keefe 18. Brad Van Houten 19. Allan Pedersen
Street Stocks: 1. Eric Zeh 2. Gerard Lawrence 3. Greg Zaleski 4. Brian McCormack 5. Wesley Sammon 6. Chris Busick 7. Dave Antos 8. Brian Brown 9. Greg Harris 10. Phil LaManna 11. Chris Lescenski 12. Rhett Fogg 13. Mark Wolf 14. Ed Fontana 15. Sal Sinatro 16. Anthony Pizzo 17. Joe Boccia 18. Dale Doherty
LIVARS Vintage Cars: 1. Frank Saladino 2. Don Howe 3. Jimmy Reed 4. Ken Southard 5. Mark Miller 6. Jim Kelly 7. Rich Rumplick DNS- Don Conradis
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release
-Photo credit: Kerri Larsen Photography