Over the Memorial Day weekend 15-year old Dillon Steuer of Bohemia won the longest NASCAR Modified race on the 2017 Riverhead Raceway schedule topping the Islip 300. Saturday night the soft spoken teenager very well could have won the shortest race of the year when he was leading on lap 27 when the rains came putting halt to the scheduled 40-lap NASCAR Modified event. Steuer at the time of the rain and 45-time career winner Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead were entangled in a torrid race for the lead with the youngster collecting his second career triumph.
After having a week off the NASCAR Modified returned and indeed early on the driver showed some rust. Armed with the pole to start the race Dillon Steuer made his way to the early lead with John Baker and Vinny Biondolillo in hot pursuit for the first lap. It would be the second lap of the race that proved troublesome as there were no less than three attempts to restart the race after a first lap caution. On one of those attempts Steuer and Baker drifted high off the second corner creating an opening to the inside and upon seeing the opening Biondolillo shot the gap under the leaders making it three wide entering the third turn. The trio got through the third corner okay but off the fourth turn Baker was the odd man out on the outside catching the wall ending his night with heavy right front suspension damage.
On the ensuing restart Tom Rogers Jr. who started the race 8th found himself sitting third after the field was shuffled during the numerous lap 2 cautions and once the race resumed he passed Biondolillo for second to the inside. Once to second Rogers wasted no time going to work on leader Steuer as he glued himself to Dillon’s back bumper. Undaunted by the presence of Rogers and the pressure he was bringing for the race lead Steuer hit his marks keeping the challenger at bay. The closest call to his race lead came on a 22nd lap restart when Rogers got a great launch off the fourth corner nearly muscling his way under Steuer for the lead. However the driver of the Northeastern Office Equipment Chevy was equal to the task and kept his race lead.
On lap 27 under the advisement of his on track NASCAR Officials, race director Scott Tapley called for the yellow flag due to rain in essence ending the event with Dillon Steuer shortly thereafter being declared the winner of the race. The victory was a much needed one for the Steuer team who lost an engine in their big block dirt Modified at the Georgetown, Del. Speedway some 24 hours prior to the Riverhead race.
Tom Rogers Jr was runner-up in the SGS Stone Works Chevy while Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville completed the podium in third with his WRS Environmental Chevy. Chris Young of Calverton roared back from an early race spin to finish fourth while Kyle Soper of Manorville making his debut as the driver of Wayne Anderson’s NASCAR Modified made a comeback of his own after having to pit during an early race tangle to place fifth.
The INEX Legend Race Cars took center stage Saturday night competing in the annual 30-lap INEX National Qualifier. In qualifying Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches set fast time turning in a lap of 13.878 earning the Myracenews.com $100 bonus as well the pole for the all important race. Brendon Bock 13.891 and Kevin Nowak 13.964 were second and third earning $75 and $25 respectfully from Fast Track Foods of Riverhead Raceway while Jim Sylvester was fourth quick collecting $40 from Glenn Dixon. With so much on the line the INEX Legend Race Car drivers turned in a stellar performance with just one caution flag waving for a minor spin by Steve Boland on lap 10. Otherwise it was clean and green with Richie Davidowitz showing the way until that 10th lap double file restart. After the Boland incident when the field went back to green Brendon Bock rode the outside lane to the race lead a lead he’d never surrender over the final 20-laps which were run green to checker.
When the race concluded Brendon Bock of Franklin Square was first under the checker flag seemingly having won his 4th race in a row and the second INEX National Qualifier of his career. However John Kelly the INEX Official at Riverhead Raceway overseeing the National Qualifier put the finish of the race on hold in post race technical inspection. The engine in Bock’s car which is owned by Jim Sylvester was confiscated by Kelly to be sent to INEX for further review. Richie Davidowitz was runner-up in the Thriftway Auto Body entry with Kevin Nowak of Medford third in his J-TEC Electrical Contracting machine. Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead and Jim Sylvester of Massapequa completed the unofficial top five.
It was spin and win for Late Model championship leader Kyle Soper of Manorville who collected his third win of the 2017 campaign. “Radiant” Ray Minieri who has been snake bitten by bad racing luck led the first eight laps of the race with Shawn Patrick in tow. During the early green flag run Kyle Soper spun after contact but never stopped his car for a caution but in the process lost valuable track position. Suddenly on lap 8 Dylan Slepian steering a team car to Soper spun untouched in turn three drawing the first yellow flag of the race and also allowing Soper to catch back up to the pack. On the ensuing restart between the two veterans Minieri and Patrick it would the Patrick working the high side to the race lead with Minieri now second. Under the heading one good turn deserves another the roles would be reversed on a lap 16 double file restart where Minieri rode the outside of Patrick taking the lead back. Patrick ran second until the 18th circuit where he was passed to the inside by Kyle Soper exiting turn two. Just three laps later Soper would use the same maneuver on Minieri taking the lead off turn two with just five laps remaining in the 25-lap event. At the finish it was indeed Kyle Soper recovering from the early race spin to score the win in the Eastport Feeds entry. Ray Minieri of Bay Shore was runner-up in the Meadowbrok Collision Chevy while defending champion Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was third in the JDP Mechanical mount.
The 30-lap Blunderbust event would find Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead scoring the sweep having set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 14.904, picking the outside pole in the redraw and leading the race from green to checker. It was the second win in a row for Laird and the third overall in his career. The race got off to a rocky start when Tim Mulqueen caught the wall in turn four on the initial start of the contest. Mulqueen was done for the race with right front suspension damage. On the second attempt to get the race underway Laird jumped from the outside pole taking the lead from pole sitter Max Handley who ran second over the first 3 laps of the race. Lap 4 found Wayne Meyer racing his way from a 5th starting position to the second spot with Handley’s race soon to end as his car started throwing fluid. Meyer who returned to the Blunderbust class with one goal in mind, winning his first career race put the heat on Laird for the lead. In fact on one occasion Meyer got into the back bumper of the race leader but backed off to allow Laird an opportunity to gather in his machine. Once he survived that turn of events Jim Laird in his Poolsmnith Inc. Caprice seemed to hit another gear leading the rest of the way for the win. Wayne Meyer of Flanders has a seasons best runner-up finish in the Farm-Rite Kubota Tractor machine while championship leader Tom Pickerell of Huntington was third in the Makely Enterprises Chevy.
Don Howe of Water Mill made it a perfect four for four in the 15-lap Long Island Vintage Racing Association feature event. Ken Southard paced the field early in his Pinto bodied racer before he was passed by Jim Kelly who executed an outside pass of Southard as the tandem raced off turn two. Kelly hungry for his first win in the LIVARS ranks would try his best to outrun Howe to the checkers but the former five time NASCAR Modified champion caught and passed Kelly to the inside off turn four as the field took the two signal. Once in the lead Don Howe in the Corwith’s Auto Body entry never looked back taking home the victory. Jim Kelly of East Moriches was runner-up in the East End RV Pontiac while Mark Miller of Hauppauge crossed the line third. Howe will attempt to make it a perfect five for five season when LIVARS returns over the Labor Day weekend for their final race of 2017.
In the 25-lap Mini 8 Enduro “Blackjack” Bryan Kelly of Aquebogue staved off the late race challenges of Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge to score the win. Early in the race Kelly opened up a big lead in his John’s Tree Removal racer but as the race wound down to the final laps Warren made one last run at Kelly. The challenger would pull even with the leader more than once but each and every time Kelly held Warren off for the win. Afterwards “Blackjack” revealed he’d enjoy this win with a planned vacation to Las Vegas. Joe Warren Jr. was second with Brandon Esposito of Farmingville third.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Dillon Steuer 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. Vinny Biondolillo 4. Chris Young 5. Kyle Soper 6. John Fortin Sr. 7. David Schneider 8. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 9. John Fortin Jr. 10. Dave Brigati 11. Cory Midgett 12. Amber Fortin 13. Howie Brode 14. Ken Heagy 15. John Baker
INEX Legend Race Cars (UNOFFICIAL) 1. Brendon Bock 2. Richie Davidowitz 3. Kevin Nowak 4. Kyle Ellwood 5. Jim Sylvester 6. George Tomko Jr. 7. Paul Dodorico 8. John Beatty Jr. 9. Ray Fitzgerald 10. Brad Van Houten 11. Eric Hersey 12. Vinny Delaney 13. Chris Rogers 14. Jerry Curran 15. Ed Cheslak 16. Mike Van Houten Jr. 17. Jason Castaldo 18. Mike Mortimer 19. Steve Boland 20. Dennis Kurras 21. Mike Benton 22. Silas Hiscock Sr. 23. Bobby Jones 24. Jeff Otto Jr. 25. Matt Brode 26. Riley O’Keefe 27. Bryan Kelly 28. Jonathan Parsons
Late Models: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Ray Minieri 3. Jeremy McDermott 4. Eric Zeh 5. Steve Mastro Jr. 6. Shawn Patrick 7. Kevin Metzger 8. Dylan Slepian 9. Jason Kreth 10. Darren McCabe DNS-Chris Turbush
Blunderbusts: 1. Jim laird Jr. 2. Wayne Meyer 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Tom Sullivan 5. Eric Zeh 6. Derek Wegmann 7. Tom Puccia 8. Bill Wegmann Sr. 9. Alyssa Paprocky 10. Tommy Walkowiak 11. Max Handley 12. Tim Mulqueen
LIVARS Vintage Cars: 1. Don Howe 2. Jim Kelly 3. Mark Miller 4. Ken Southard 5. Jimmy Reed 6. Frank Saladino 7. Bill Murray
Mini 8 Enduro: 1. Bryan Kelly 2. Joe Warren Jr. 3. Brandon Esposito 4. CJ Zurkowski 5. Tony Collingsworth 6. Ryan Warren 7. Doug Tittle 8 Ryan Dupuis 9. Kevin Rommeney
Riverhead Raceway Press Release. Photo Credit: Michael Jaworecki photo