What a difference a week makes is a long time adage heard around the pit area of short tracks across America and this past Saturday night sophomore NASCAR Modified driver Kyle Soper of Manorville could apply the adage after leading all 40-laps to win his first career feature event at Riverhead Raceway. One week prior Soper and his team were forced to load their family owned car into the trailer after the rear end assembly failed while this week they basked in the flashbulb lights of victory lane.

 

Veteran Ken Darch and Kyle Soper made up the front row for the race and when the green flag waved the duo ran side by side for a lap and change with Soper having the slight edge before being able to move out front on lap 2 with Darch tucking into second. Early on in the race aided by a long green flag run Soper was able to put some asphalt between he and Darch with the challenger soon finding himself in a battle for second place with a hard charging Jason Agugliaro who started the race from the 8th spot. Agugliaro was doing all this on limited practice time arriving to the track at 4:00 pm some 45 minutes into warm-ups.

 

After testing Darch for second for a handful of lap Agugliaro was able to make an inside pass for second on lap 18 exiting the second turn with Darch slipping back to third. Meanwhile up front Soper, the 2015 NASCAR Modified Rookie of the Year was hitting his marks getting closer and closer to his lifelong dream of being a NASCAR Modified winner. Agugliaro was able to cut into Soper’s advantage as the race moved into it’s final stage with John Fortin Sr. moving into third after slipping under Ken Darch. In the end however there was no stopping the aspiring police officer Kyle Soper who drove off to victory lane for what will be the first of many NASCAR Modified victories.

 

“This is a great win for our team” Soper smiled after exiting his Atlantic Chevrolet machine, “I can’t thank my parents for all they do and my crew, last week was tough on us but we rebounded as a team”. As for the early race for the lead with Darch the happy winner recalled, “Kenny was strong tonight, we touched a bit there side by side but it was fun racing with him, he’s a cool guy”. Later in the pit area Kyle’s dad Tom Soper, a former racer himself revealed the team indeed plan on trying to make the NASCAR WMT race this Saturday at Riverhead Raceway.

 

Jason Agugliaro of Islip posted his best finish of 2016 crossing the line second in the Northeast Bus Rebuilders Chevy with John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville third in the John’s Tree Removal Chevy. WMT regular Dave Sapienza of Riverhead worked his way to a fourth place finish after starting 10th while Ken Darch of Riverhead had a stellar night coming home 5th.

 

In the 50-lap Late Model event championship leader David Roys of Coram scored his first career win in the class on the strength of a mid race outside pass of leader Mike Bologna of Melville. Defending LM champion Jeremy McDermott set the standard in qualifying laying down a lap of 12.793 but in a redraw among the top eight redrew 6th. Scott Kulesa and Mike Bologna would make up the front row for the race with Kulesa bolting out front at the throw of the green with Bologna second. Kulesa seemed to have things in hand early on in the race but caution flags would start to bunch the field up just prior to the halfway point of the race and the restarts that followed played a pivotal role in the outcome of the race. Racing in tight quarters through the third and fourth turn on lap 23 Chris Turbush who was running third got into leader Kulesa sending him for a spin causing a flat tire as well for Scott. Race control called for Turbush to report to the rear of the field. The turn of events moved Bologna into the lead with David Roys who qualified second but started the race from 7th into second. side by side with Bologna for the restart. When the race resumed Roys hung his car outside of Bologna who in turn was making things very tight and uncomfortable for the challenger. Undaunted Roys kept his car outside of Bologna and as the field raced off the fourth corner for the halfway signal there would be a new race leader. Once out front David Roys began to pull away from the pack in his Long Island Truck Parts Chevy and the only obstacle facing him would be a stubborn lapped car which he’d handle patiently. driving off to victory. Roger Oxee of Peconic made a lap 32 pass for second place where he’d finish in his J&R Steak House Pontiac with Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead third in the JDL Mechanical racer. Early in the race Jeremy dropped back to as far as 10th before making one of his patented runs to the front.

 

Eric Zeh of Selden a former multi time Charger champion at Riverhead Raceway actually got to enjoy his first career triumph in another division at the track as he won the 20-lap Blunderbust main event. At the outset Scott Maliszewski inched his way out front at the start of the race with Tom Puccia and Eric Zeh going toe to toe for second side by side. Puccia would take sole possession of the spot on lap 3 allowing him to now focus on leader Maliszewski. For six laps Puccia worked over the back bumper of the leaders car but before he could make a move by for the lead along came Eric Zeh to challenge for second with Eric making a lap 11 pass for the spot. Zeh wasted little time making his bid to pass Maliszewski for the lead which he did successfully with an inside pass on the front stretch on lap 13. One lap later defending champion Tom Pickerell worked his way by Maliszewski for second and “Slick Pick” set sail for the race leader. Pickerell was able to get to the back bumper of Zeh testing him over the final five circuits of the race. In the end however it would be the Frank & Vicki Curtis owned, Westhampton Auto Salvage Cadillac of Eric Zeh taking the popular win. Tom Pickerell of Huntington was runner-up in the Northportpower.com Chevy while early leader Scott Maliszewski of Deer Park was third in the FB Transmissions Caprice.

 

“The Fancy Farmer” Dave Brigati of Calverton topped the 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature event earning his 9th career win in the class. Early in this race the positions were being swapped in rapid fire succession with Owen Grennan leading the first lap before being passed by Lou Maestri on lap 2. Maestri’s stay out front was short lived too as Dave Brigati made an inside pass entering the first turn with Maestri now second but that would only last for a lap with Owen Grennan taking that spot from Lou on lap 4. Grennan would run second until a lap 5 double file restart that saw him being passed by championship leader Jimmy Rennick Jr. who held second another double file restart on lap 9. On that restart Roger Turbush was able to race underneath Rennick for second as the field received the halfway signal. Over the final 10 laps of the race Roger Turbush who chase his father-in-law Dave Brigati around the quarter mile but in the end it would be Dave in the JDL Environmental Chevy crossing under the checkers first. Brigati waved off the traditional victory lap and post race interview instead racing to the pits to strap into his NASCAR Modified where he finished 7th. Roger Turbush of Riverhead was runner-up in the Allied Air Conditioning entry while Jimmy Rennick of Howard Beach was third in the Pedowitz Machine Moving racer.

 

Like Kyle Soper in the NASCAR Modifieds, INEX Legend Race Car winner Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead was also living by the adage what a difference a week makes as he won the 30-lap feature event. One week prior Ellwood’s car received heavy damage in an early race crash. Veteran Paul Dodorico set fast time with a lap of 13.961 and when the top six redrew he picked the pole while Kyle Ellwood who timed second drawing the outside pole, a rarity in redraws. Once the green flags dropped over the 27-car field it was all Kyle Ellwood in the SGS Stone Works racer as he took the lead over Dodorico. A quick yellow for a stray fender on lap 2 bunched things up for the restart which found Shawn Wanat getting by Dodorico for second. Wanat’s run in second lasted until the 9th lap when Kyle Soper in the Jim Sylvester owned machine made his way by Wanat. Soper would hold second until the 24th lap when John Beatty Jr. who started the race from 7th made his way by for the position. Once again though it didn’t matter who ran second as Kyle Ellwood had them all covered driving off to his second win for his new car owner Steve Harris. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick was runner-up in the Giella Electric machine with new championship leader Bryan Kelly of Aquebogue third in the John’s Tree Removal entry.

 

Ben Gregor of Bridgehampton made it three for three in Truck Enduro action this year as he topped the 21 truck field in a 50-lap contest. Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point quickly made his way from a third place starting berth to the race lead at the start of the race. Nelson was on cruise control early before Gregor, who started the race in 10th position came calling. The talented duo race nose to tailgate with Gregor making the winning pass just prior to the halfway mark of the race. From that point foward Ben Gregor would lead the remainder of the race in the Gregor Well Drilling S-10. Don Nelson brought the Abner Tree Experts Chevy home for runner-up money while “Handsome” Hank Hallock of Riverhead came home third in the Westhampton Auto Salvage Chevy.

 

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Jason Agugliaro 3. John Fortin Sr. 4. Dave Sapienza 5. Ken Darch 6. Tom Rogers Jr. 7. Dave Brigati 8. Frank Vigliarolo Jr. 9. Shawn Solomito 10. John Fortin Jr. 11. John Baker 12. Howie Brode 13. Vinny Biondolillo 14. Cory Midgett 15. Craig Lutz 16. Dillon Steuer DNS- Johnny Bush

 

-Riverhead Raceway Press Release

-Photo Credit: Speed51.com

Soper Scores First Career Riverhead Modified Win