It’s getting near back to school time for 15-year old racer Dillon Steuer of Bohemia but on Saturday night on Pack The Track Night at Riverhead Raceway it would be the teenager schooling the NASCAR Modified competition when he won their 40-lap Whelen All American Series feature. It was Dillon’s third victory of the season. The Mr. Rooter New England Truck Series was also in action and with a large crowd looking on Danny Anderson of Bradenton, Florida made his long tow worth while when he scored the Riverhead Nationals win for the NETS series.
For the start of the NASCAR Modified feature John Baker and John Fortin Jr. brought the field to green and as they have earlier in the season the two young lions ran side by side for the early lead. Entering the second turn on lap 2 Baker got into the first turn too hot and his car would loop around drawing a caution flag. When the running order was reset Fortin would be the new race leader with Dillon Steuer moving to second after the Baker spin. On the double file restart following the caution Fortin and Steuer would now test each other side by side in an exciting paint swapping duel. Steuer was not going to be denied the race lead as he kept rolling the top outside of Fortin and on lap 5 Dillon would take over the race lead. Fortin was able to tuck into second but he would quickly be under attack for that position from Kyle Soper who started e 5th. On lap 7 Soper was able to work his way by Fortin for second setting his sights on race leader Steuer.
As the race settled into a rhythm Soper would close in on Steuer but never really get to his back bumper as the race wore on. The battle for position would be for third as John Fortin Jr., fresh off a third place finish Friday night at Evergreen Raceway park was hoping to score his second podium finish in less than 24 hours. However before he could Tom Rogers Jr. was going to come calling and a classic student vs. teacher battle ensued. Rogers, a 46 time winner put heavy pressure on Fortin for third and one time even got a wheel under him but the youngster shut the door in turn three. Meanwhile back up front Steuer and Soper clicked off the laps a few car lengths apart with Steuer hitting his marks with Soper doing the same in tow.
At the finish it was Dillon Steuer steering the Northeastern Office Equipment Chevy to victory as the crowd roared with approval. ‘We’re having a pretty awesome year: Steuer noted in victory lane, “we won the Islip 300 and now two regular races and we still have a month to go” Not lost on Dillon is the strong team he drivers for, “I can’t say enough about Northeastern Office Equipment, Coram Materials and TJ’S Heros along with my dedicated crew. We’re working hard, winning races and having some fun along the way”.
Kyle Soper of Manorville was third his best effort since taking over the driving chores in the Wayne Anderson owned Eastport Feeds Chevy, “we are gaining on it, I can’t thank Wayne & Joette enough for this opportunity. John Fortin Jr. would collect third place money in his Ultimate Mower Chevy just one week after a runner-up finish, “two third place finishes this weekend, I’ll take it. Can’t thank my parents and girlfriend enough for all they do for me”. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead and last weeks winner Dave Brigati of Calverton rounded out the top five.
Last year when the Mr. Rooter New England Truck Series made the first visit to Riverhead Raceway Danny Anderson was in the mix for the win with one very fast truck but some late race misfortune ended his bid for victory. This year Anderson and his Q Auto & Injury Attorneys Chevy team were on a mission and pretty much dominated the day. Danny topped the charts during the afternoon practice sessions and was quickest in his group during group qualifying earning him the pole for the Riverhead Nationals 75. Local talent Jimmy Rennick of Howard Beach would lead his group in the group qualifying. Right from the throw of the green Danny Anderson would run up front challenged early by fellow NETS regular Dave Koenig. At first Anderson and Koenig went side by side for the race lead but as things settled down they would run single file. On lap 19 Tommy Walkowiak in the truck that won the 2016 Riverhead Nationals made his way and under Koenig entering the first turn for second setting his sights on leader Anderson. Just laps after Walkowiak came to second a caution flag would waved setting up a double file restart for the leaders. On that restart Walkowiak launched his truck into the race lead with what he felt as though a clean restart in the East-West Marine Go Zone. However NETS officials thought otherwise and ordered Tommy to drop to the rear of the field. That turn of events moved young lion Jerry Giordano Jr. to second, Giordano who started his career in the Riverhead Super Pro Truck class was hoping to score a big win in front of family and friends but Danny Anderson had other ideas.
As the race progressed Danny Anderson’s truck just seemed to get better and better and over the final third of the race he pulled away to a very comfortable lead and margin of victory. When asked if he thought the track owed him one after last year Anderson was quick to point out ” no I don’t think so but we came up here and we worked very hard for this race both leading up to it and while we were here, hard works pays off, not what you might think you’re owed”. Jerry Giordano of Freeport had a solid NETS championship chase points night with a runner-up finish in the HJA Logistics Chevy with Mark Stewart of Riverhead driving to an impressive third place tally in the East Side Building Chevy. If not for an earlier spin after contact Stewart might have been the only driver that had something for Anderson.
The Late Models competed in another 50-lap time trial event their second in a month and once again it would be part time campaigner Jarrod Hayes of Calverton dominating the days action. “J-Rod” would lead the way in qualifying with a lap of 12.681 and draw the outside pole for the race while defending champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead who times 6th drew the pole. At the drop of the green McDermott would lead the first lap by a nose but Jarrod Hayes kept digging on the outside and when the duo started the second lap Hayes rolled the top groove in the third and fourth turn to take the race lead from McDermott. Once out front Hayes would have several drivers aside from McDermott run second to him. Scott Kulesa, who like Hayes is running a part time slate in 2017 ran a majority of the race in second but his teammate and championship leader Kyle Soper came knocking on lap 46. Racing off the fourth turn the team cars of Kulesa and Soper would make slight contact with Soper now claiming the challengers role. With just three laps left Shawn Patrick who showed front end body damage from a near miss in turn four came to third and he was able to move by Soper for second exiting the fourth turn as the white flag waved. With all the shuffling of positions and swapping of paint behind him Jarrod Hayes didn’t mind one bit what was taking place in his mirror as he drove off to victory in the Meadowbrook Collision entry. Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters was runner-up in the Matlach Fabricating machine while Chris Turbush of Wading River rebounded from early race misfortune for a well deserved third in his Eastern Fuel Chevy.
For the second time in 2017 Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck drove to victory in the 25-lap Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate feature event. After spending the first lap of the race running second to Michael Rommeney the former INEX Legend Race Car talent made his way to the race lead on lap 2. The first few laps of the race saw much in the way of position shuffling and bold moves and when the dust settled Dave Briagti with perhaps the boldest of moves raced his way from a 6th place starting berth to second by the time the second lap was in the books. Many felt with Brigati, the all time leading winner & defending champion in the class to second so quickly that he’d have something for leader Rutkoski. However the race leader was undaunted as to who was running behind him and he would lead the remainder of the way for the win in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet Chevy. Dave Brigati of Calverton was second in the Quest Machining & Fabricating Chevy while his brother in law and most recent winner in the class “Jumping” Jack Orlando of Calverton crossed the line third in the Prototype Race Fabrication entry.
For the sixth time in eight races Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead won the 15-lap Figure Eight feature event. The win, the 32nd of Tom’s career ties him with “Downtown” George Brown for third on the all time Figure Eight win list. For the third race in a row Eric Zeh steering a team car to Rogers would break out to the early race lead with another rookie driver Greg Harris in tow for the first three circuits. After starting the race from 7th Tom Rogers Jr. stormed his way to second looping around Harris at the start of the fourth lap and after pressuring teammate Zeh for a few laps Tom would take the race lead for good on lap 7. Once in the lead Rogers would never look back driving off to victory over Eric Zeh of Selden in the Bays Bar & Grill team cars. Greg Harris had a solid effort coming home third in the SGS Stone Works car owned by 2016 champion Kenny Hyde Jr. Next up on the all time win list for Tom Rogers Jr, would be the late Joey Biondolillo Jr. who sits second with 53 victories, a tall order for Rogers.
In the 20-lap Blunderbust race Wayne Meyer of Flanders appeared to have won his first career win as he drove under the checker flag first in his East End Building machine. However in post race tech Meyer’s car was too low and he was moved back to last in the running order. That turn of events handed the win over to the all time leading Blunderbust winner “The Wildchild” Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge who was leading the race late before being passed by Meyer on lap 17. For Walkowiak it is his second win of the season and 63rd of his illustrious career. “Mad” Max Handley of Medford in his final race before returning to UNOH in Ohio was second in the Relle Electric Caprice while “The Racing Grandpa” Bill Wegmann Sr. of North Bellmore was third in his Crackerjack Auto Stores Olds.
Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point topped the 40-lap Truck Enduro in his Abner Tree Experts Chevy S-10. Newcomer Jarrett Campbell showed the way for the first 10-laps of the tilt and early on looked as though a first career win was in the offering. However lap 11 saw Nelson, one of the all time leading winners in the class as well champion take the race lead. Campbell ran second until the 14th lap when he was passed by “Handsome” Hank Hallock but unfortunately for Hank his truck would drop to the infield overheating on lap 22 allowing Campbell to come back to second. As the race moved along Don Nelson Jr. would dominate the rest of the way for the win with Jarrett Campbell of Yaphank coming home a stellar second in his High Velocity Paintball entry. Gary Voight of Medford was third in the A. Voight Towing machine.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Dillon Steuer 2. Kyle Soper 3. John Fortin Jr. 4. Tom Rogers Jr. 5. Dave Brigati 6. Vinny Biondolillo 7. Joe Hartmann 8. Howie Brode 9. John Fortin Sr. 10. John Baker 11. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 12. Chris Young 13. Roger Turbush 14. Cory Midgett DNS- David Schneider
-Riverhead Raceway Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com