Riverhead, N.Y. — Before a large holiday crowd gathered at Riverhead Raceway the headline NASCAR Modifieds of the Whelen All American Series staged a competitive 68-lap feature event that saw championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville outlast defending champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead for the win. The race featured six lead changes, five of which came between laps 13 through 60. For Soper it was his second win of 2018 and the seventh of his career.
John Beatty Jr of Merrick would pace qualifying with a lap of 11.819 besting John Fortin Sr. who was second at 11.861. Beatty and Fortin would bring the 18 car field to the green with the the pole sitter breaking out front. With Fortin stuck on the outside Tom Rogers Jr. who qualified third made a quick move to the inside to come to second with Fortin third. Rogers content for the first dozen laps of the race to sit second to the race leader Beatty saw an opening entering turn three on lap 12 and ducked under to take the race lead as the field started the 13th circuit. Beatty settled into second but his night would only get worse when he spun racing off the second corner to draw a yellow flag.
On the ensuing double file restart Kyle Soper who moved to second when Beatty spun got the jump to the outside of leader Tom Rogers to take over the top spot on lap 22. The exciting duel for the lead between the two hard charging drivers saw Rogers take the lead back with an outside pass on the front stretch on lap 31 with Soper roaring back out front two laps later on the 33rd lap. It would be a 36th lap restart that almost ruined Soper’s night. On that restart Soper tried to play possum with Rogers quickly hitting the throttle and then backing off in attempt to make Rogers look as though he jumped the start. Officials were having none of it and Rogers raced to the lead with Fortin coming back to second and Soper fading to third.
It is often said there is no better race car driver than an angry one and Soper proved that point in the final portion of the race. In nine laps Kyle made his way back to and past Fortin for second on lap 45 then setting his sights on Rogers. Once again riding the outside lane Soper made his way by Rogers for good on lap 61 and drove off in his Eastport Feeds Chevy for the hard fought comeback win. “Man we had to work for that one” a hot Soper said in victory lane, “they say I laid back that restart, I don’t think I did but it is what it is”. Kyle also took time to thank those who support his efforts, “can’t thank Wayne & Joette Anderson enough for this opportunity and my Dad, he went back to some basics for tonight and it paid off. Doug Corwin of Eastport Feeds, Atlantic Chevrolet and Dr Martha Baker, the racers dentist all stand behind me”,
Tom Rogers Jr. was runner-up in the License To Chill Chevy while veteran Dave Brigati of Calverton had a solid outing with a third place tally in the JDL Environmental Chevy. Hoiwe Brode of East Islip and John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville completed the top five. John Fortin Sr. faded to 9th in the closing laps of the race.
Sophomore jinx, what sophomore jinx? That is exactly what Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified race winner Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck might be asking after he posted his third win of 2018 in their 25-lap feature event. AJ Desantis led the first lap of the contest before giving way to Artie Pedersen III on lap two. With Pedersen opening up the inside lane veteran Peter Bertuccio also slid under DeSantis to come to second. While Pedersen led the race Bertuccio was busy trying to ward off newcomer Owen Grennen for second when things went bad for the former Late Model champion on lap 16. After contact Bertuccio got into the wall off turn four setting up a double file restart. With Grennan also going to the rear of the filed Pedersen would be joined on the front row by Micahel Rutskoski who started the race in 8th. When the green flew Rutkoski got the measure of Pedersen who was fighting a balky clutch. With Rutkoski the new race leader opening night winner Justin Brown made his way to second on lap18 leaving the two young guns to race it out over the final seven laps. In the end the Buzz Chew Chevrolet machine of Rutkoski would prevail with Brown of Manorville having to be content for runner-up money in his SEDHI Inc. Chevy. Tested tough veteran “Jumping” Jack Orlando of Calverton was third in the Prototype Fabricating entry. Pedersen with his slipping clutch fell to fourth.
In a thrilling 15-lap Figure Eight feature event Tom Rogers Jr. made a last lap pass of Vinny Delaney of Holtsville to claim his fourth win in five start this season. At the throw of the green Delaney broke to the early advantage over Johnny Vullo Jr.. Ken Hyde Jr. who started the race from fourth made his way by Vullo for second on lap 2 and would spend the following eight laps trying to figure a way by leader Delaney. After spending the first ten laps of the race making his way from his 8th place starting spot Rogers made his presence known on lap 10 when he passed Hyde for second. Over the final five laps of the race Rogers put the heat on Delaney for the win and after taking the white flag he made his way as the tandem entered the right hand turn. From there Rogers drive the Keith Repp owned Chevy Coupe to his 39th career win. Delaney in the South Bay Sayville Auto Repair Chevy was runner-up with Ken Hyde Jr. of Mastic Beach third in the KPC Contracting entry.
Defending Super Pro Truck champion Dave Brigati earned his first win of 2018 in their 20-lap main event. Eddie Schutze and Jimmy Rennick Jr. made up the front row and when the green flag dropped Rennick hit the throttle and came away with the race lead from the outside pole. Brigati who started fourth made his way by Schutze for second on lap 2 with an outside pass off turn four. Rennick drove as hard as he could in an attempt to win his first career race but Brigati had other ideas. On lap 13 the caution Rennick never wanted to see waved and on the double file restart that followed Dave was able to ride the outside groove by Rennick for the lead as they started the 14th lap. Once out front Brigati hit his marks over the final six laps to score the win in his Quest Machining Chevy, the 13th of his career which ties him for 5th on the all time win list with Frank Dumicich Jr. Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach was runner-up in the Metropolitan Recycling Chevy while Mark Stewart of Riverhead posted a third place finish in the Flemington Furs truck after starting 8th.
In a very special Dan Jones Memorial 30 for the INEX Legend Race Cars invading Mike Alacro of Newton, NJ would score a clean sweep of the $1,000 to win race. Alcaro led the way in qualifying with a lap of 13.791 followed by Richie Davidowitz 13.840 and Allan Pedersen 13.904. It would this trio of drivers who’d occupy the top three spots of the race for all 30 circuits. When the green light came on Alacro jumped out to the race lead, a lead the driver of the Metjoe’s Race Shop would never relinquish. While Alcaro paced the race a torrid battle for second would develop between Davidowitz and Pedersen who swapped the position no less than four times mainly during restarts between laps 4 through 24. That of course played right into the hands of Mike Alacro who on each restart would keep a comfortable lead right up until the checker flag waved earning a handsome payday. “I never met or knew Dan Jones” the happy winner noted afterwards, “but I can tell he was a special guy and it’s an honor to win his race”. With a lap 24 pass Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches would win the duel for second in his TJ Heros machine while Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches settled for third in his Zero 630 Beard Balm racer.
In the 20-lap Street Stock contest former multi-time Grand Enduro champion David Antos of Lindenhurst took home the win. Former Blunderbust talent Chris Busick broke to the early race lead from the pole while Antos came to second at the start sneaking under Chris Lescenski who started from the outside of the front row. After sizing Busick up for the first six laps of the tilt Antos made his way to the inside of Busick off turn two to take the lead on lap 6. Busick in turn applied the pressure to Antos from second. However Antos in his CR Customs Chevy was not going to be denied and drove off to victory. Busick of Ronkonkoma pocketed runner-up money in his sponsor wanted entry while Gerard Lawrence of Miller Place was third in the Fairway Golf Car Chevy.
Former 8-Cylinder Enduro champion Brian Halsey of Southampton was a highly motivated driver in their 40-lap event having lost his father who they called “Hot Rod” halsey earlier in the month. Steering the P&C Repair machine Halsey broke out to the early lead and never looked back as he won one for Dad. Ironically chasing Brian for a majority of the race and finishing second would be his son Jared Halsey of Southampton in the Sabrosa Mexican Grill Chevy. Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon was third in the Lakewood Used Auto Parts mount.
In a hard hitting 4-Cylinder Demolition Derby second generation driver John Palmeri of Lindenhurst scored his first career win besting among others his brother Joey Jr. In the end the contest boiled down to the Palmeri Brothers, “The Stalker” Scott Phillips of Ozone Park and “The Z-Man” Ryan Zurkowski of Riverhead. In the end John would win out in his J&J Towing machine. Phillips in his Express Tires entry was named Judge’s Choice while the driver of the Bolla Market car Charles Astacio of Mastic Beach was voted Fan’s Choice.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. Dave Brigati 4. Howie Brode 5. John Fortin Jr. 6. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 7. John Beatty Jr. 8. Roger Turbush 9. John Fortin Sr. 10. Eric Zeh 11. David Schneider 12. Sal Accardi Jr. 13. Chris Young 14. Brad Van Houten 15. John Baker 16. CJ Lehmann 17. Dylan Slepian 18. Kyle Ellwood
Crate Modifieds: 1, Michael Rutkoski 2. Justin Brown 3. Jack Orlando 4. Artie Pedersen III 5. Dennis Krupski 6. Jason Hansen 7. Chris Rogers 8. AJ DeSantis 9. Scott Pedersen 10. Owen Grennan 11. Michael Rommeney 12. Peter Bertuccio
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Vinny Delaney 3. Ken Hyde Jr. 4. Scott Pedersen 5. Tom Ferrara 6. Eric Zeh 7. Charles Macwhinnie 8. Bob Dalke 9. Johnny Vullo 10. Rick Swanson 11. Brian Hansen 12. Paul Cummings
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Dave Brigati 2. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 3. Mark Stewart 4. Lou Maestri 5. Mike Albasini 6. Sean Glennon 7. Frank Dumicich Sr. 8. Eddie Schutze 9. Tom Sullivan 10. Frank Dumicich Jr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. Mike Alcaro 2. Allan Pedersen 3. Richie Davidowitz 4. George Tomko Jr. 5. Kevin Nowak 6. Ray Fitzgerald 7. Brad Van Houten 8. Ed Cheslak 9. Jerry Curran 10. Jim Sylvester 11. Glen Korner 12. Vinny Delaney 13. Eric Hersey 14. Mike Van Houten Jr. 15. Matt Brode 16. Mike Benton 17. Riely O’Keefe 18. Scott Cheslak 19. Stephen Coleman 20. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 21. Paul Dodorico 22. Noah Korner 23. Joey Villatoro 24. Jonathan Parsons 25. Jeff Otto Jr.
Street Stocks: 1. David Antos 2. Chris Busick 3. Gerard Lawrence 4. Greg Harris 5. Chris Lescenski 6. Anthony Pizzo 7. Rhett Fogg 8. Brian Brown 9. Eric Zeh 10. Phil LaManna 11. Dale Doherty 12. Wesley Sammon 13. Joe Boccia 14. Greg Zaleski 15. Sal Sinatro 16. Justin Ferreri 17. Ed Fontana 18. Brian McCormack
8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Brian Halsey 2. Jared Halsey 3. Sean Fitzpatrick 4. Dominic Ranieri 5. Kevin Coyle 6. Stacy Halsey 7. Dennis Jones 8. Christian Kalbfleisch 9. David Verbeek 10. Eric Germuth 11. Dwayne Sipila 12. Will Quinn 13. Dillon Varstan 14. Amber Weiss 15. Kevin Schultz 16. Drew Scalfani 17. William Ebert 18. Brandon Hubbard 19. Pat Collins 20. James Muench 21. Steven Marchese 22. Mark Wolf 23. Michael Asdahl 24. Big Ragu Deredita 25. Steve Fried 26. Dale Doherty
Demolition Derby: Winner- John Palmeri Judge’s Choice- Scott Phillips Fan’s Choice- Charles Astacio
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release
-Photo credit: Kerri Larsen