The month of May hasn’t even ended yet, but Roger Turbush has already had himself a career year. He’s won championships before in the Super Pro Trucks division at Long Island’s historic Riverhead Raceway, but what he’s doing right now is impressing everyone, even him.
The 34-year-old driver from Calverton, New York has raced five times in 2015 between the Mr. Rooter New England Truck Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition at the Long Island bullring. He’s won four of those races. And the only race he didn’t win? He didn’t do too bad in that one either, taking home a second-place finish.
“I’ve never had a streak like this before,” Turbush told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I was just thinking about it and I’ve maybe had two good weeks, but then the third week isn’t so good or something like that. I’ve never had something like this before. The way it’s started off with winning four races and a second in that other one is just nuts.”
Turbush started the year off with a win at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) in the season opener for the New England Truck Series at the Icebreaker event. He backed that up with a win in the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) as well as a win at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (CT). He then went back home to Long Island and finished second. However, it wasn’t too long before he was back in victory lane, as he took the checkered flag at Riverhead this past weekend.
“This is like a complete season for me,” said Turbush. “Usually I average around four wins a year at Riverhead. But now I’ve already got four wins as it is so this is already a complete season for me. And I still have a couple months of racing left that I can still add to it. It’s just awesome.”
His win at Stafford is his favorite of the bunch so far. He battled hard with nine-time Stafford SK Modified champion Ted Christopher and Frank Dumicich Jr., a fellow Long Islander, all race long before prevailing in his first race ever at the famous Connecticut half-mile.
“Pulling into victory lane at Stafford was really cool,” Turbush said. “I’d always dreamed of pulling into victory lane there and I never thought I could. We never had a car for any of their classes and I never thought I’d run a Modified so to go there in my first race and pull into victory lane, I was pretty stoked about that one.”
In Turbush’s six years of racing he’s always been tough to beat. He won the championship in 2010 with four wins. But 2014 was a bit of a roller-coaster ride for Turbush.
Sure, he won his typical four races at Riverhead, but the consistency wasn’t there to contend for a championship. He finished fifth in the standings, 16 points behind champion Lou Maestri.
His inconsistency wasn’t necessarily his fault, either. It was mostly just bad luck. If something could go wrong for his red and black no. 88 truck, it seemed that it would definitely go wrong. He had a string of races where he suffered a flat right-front tire seemingly every week for almost a month, but on the nights where he didn’t have any troubles he’d typically end up in victory lane.
“That’s the thing about racing. You need luck,” he said. “You can be fast, but that doesn’t mean anything. In 2010 I won a championship at Riverhead and I felt like I was just in the right spots at the right times and I got the right restarts. Everything just worked out for me.
“But in 2011 I had a bad season. I’d have rear end problems and other problems. I was still fast, but that just comes up. You’ve just got to have that luck on your side. As of right now we do and I keep on knocking on wood wherever I go.”
Luck definitely seems to be on his side so far this year. In the NETS feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, the leaders crashed midway through the race. Turbush was behind the crash thanks to a penalty suffered earlier in the night for over-filling the fuel cell.
“If I didn’t start last I don’t know if our results would have been the same,” Turbush said. “We might have been in that wreck. I don’t know what would have happened. Everything just worked out. The leaders ended up wrecking, I got the lead, and I just took the race from there. Those are the things that are happening right now. Everything is going up and just working out.”
Of course, it isn’t all luck. Winning consistently also takes a fast truck prepared by a good crew chief, which he also happens to have in the form of his older brother, Chris, who has 41 wins in the Charger division at Riverhead.
“He’s an alright driver, I’ll give him that,” Roger said with a laugh. “But as a crew chief he knows what he’s doing. I trust everything he does.”
That race at the Speedbowl was a good example of the trust that the younger Turbush has for his older brother. Chris was preparing for a Charger race at Riverhead so he didn’t take the ferry across the Long Island Sound to Waterford with Roger, but he still ended up making the right adjustment calls from his trailer in the Riverhead pit area on Long Island.
“I was out to lunch in warm-ups that day,” Turbush said. “I was struggling. They caught me from a straightaway back and passed me. I called my brother and we made a lot of adjustments. He was at Riverhead, but he’s my crew chief so I called him.”
After a few phone calls throughout the rest of the day, the Turbush brothers had Roger’s truck dialed in for the feature and it showed when he went out and won his third straight NETS race to open the season.
Turbush plans to run the rest of the NETS season with the exception of maybe one race during the summer. If a race at a track that he’s never been to happens to fall on the same night that Chris would be racing his Charger car at Riverhead Roger will probably stay and race at Riverhead, he said.
“I don’t like going to any new tracks without him,” Turbush said. “It’s really difficult to dial in the truck. I’m not the best at it. He’s the man so I don’t feel comfortable going anywhere without him.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Passing Bird Photography