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"EYE ON RIVERHEAD" by Bob Finan
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Round two of the pre-season test & tune practice days is now history and like the first afternoon was very successful. Going into the opening weekend this Saturday and Sunday excitement is at an all-time high for the start of another season at Barbara & Jim Cromarty's famed oval. Record fields for the NASCAR Modifieds and Legend Race Cars could very well be in order and with that in mind Co-Chief Stewards Mike Cappiello and Steve Tooker have announced that the pit gates for Saturday's opener will swing open at 11:00 am. This to allow Handicapper Christie Harris ample time to get everyone park and situated before practice. It is quite possible that the auxiliary pit area might be needed for the first week!
Sadly we must report to those who don't already know that Donnie "Don-Don" Fox passed away last week, Fox was quite the showman in our School Bus events over the past few years, always making sure the children had a great time. Despite his burly exterior Donnie was indeed a big old Teddy Bear and he'll be missed by all who knew him.
Bruce Miglino a fixture with Dave Brigati's Outlaw Inc #98x team also passed suddenly late last week. "The Captain" as he was known was a tested tough veteran of the area short track game working with the likes of Johnny Bush, Shawn Patrick, Gary McDonald and most recently Brigati. Dave did a great job Sunday to win the Sport Modified feature at Mountain Speedway to honor his fallen team member.
Pat Pappa a fixture on the infield crew at the "World Famous" Islip Speedway and the uncle to Mike Watson from both Howie Brode and Dave Brigati's teams, passed away on Friday as well. Pat did a wonderful job running that infield crew at Islip making sure things ran smooth as a clock. To the family and friends of all three of these fine men we send our thoughts and prayers.
Mike Accordino #88 took his first laps as a Blunderbust driver Saturday during practice. He's in the former Matt Pepitone/Russell Broy Chevy and will have both Pristine Pools and Shirley Feed sponsoring him in his freshman year of racing. You might know Mike as "Irv" from CJ Lehmann's Charger team.
Eric Zeh shaking down his new Charger ride for 2012 which is the former car of owner Jimmy Becht and driver Steve Ratti. Eric will run under the number 34 for this year which of course was made famous in the NASCAR Modified ranks by his grandfather Carl Zeh and Carl's driver, five time Riverhead champ Don Howe.
Speaking of Don he also took his first laps of 2012 in the Gershow Recycling Chevy #2 NASCAR Modified of Joe Bertuccio. Don noted the car wasn't quite right at first but after a few adjustments they were getting closer to where they wanted to be.
Justin Wahl will be another newcomer to the Blunderbust ranks this year as he bought the Michael "Cheesebox" Rommeney machine. With backing from R&B Quality Electric Justin will campaign under the number 61 this year. He is the cousin, by the way, of tested tough Enduro veteran Mike Wahl.
NASCAR Modified pilot Ken Darch #03 told us Saturday he too is looking for a pit crew for 2012 on his Precision Waterworks/Rocco's Pizza entry. Ken lives in Riverhead and if you are interested please see him after the races this Saturday or contact me and I'll hook you up.
John Fortin #48 who was in the same pickle had both Vicki Capuano and Brian Frabizio working with him Saturday on his SGS Stone Works Chevy, both read here last week that John needed help, so hopefully it will work for Darch too. Fortin of course has switched his number from 84 to 48 in honor of 'Lilí Jay Trinca and his mom Keri and will race in their memory this year as he seeks his 4th career NASCAR Modified title.
Great to have Rob Visconti back with us in the Charger ranks in his Island Trees Automotive racer. Rob's day didn't end so well though as he was an innocent victim late in the session when another car spun and Rob had nowhere to go. His mount had some front end damage that we are sure will be all fixed up by this Saturday.
The all-time leading winner of Late Model races here at the track Roger Oxee #39 made his first laps of the new season in his Southold IGA Pontiac. RJ and longtime crew chief Todd chased some carbureting issues and in fact took some practice laps after the Enduros practiced!
Speaking of all-time winners, the all-time leader winner in all divisions Roger Maynor #28 was out in the Barrasso & Sons Mason Supplies entry. He and Arne Pedersen #34 put on a real good show in one of the later practices; in fact they were going so hard at each other I thought someone put up $1,000 to win!
Spoke too soon in our last Eye, Michael Rommeney will indeed be in his usual yellow #14; the blue #05 is just a back-up!
Veteran Paul Dodorico #55 who drove for the Strumpf family and in fact won his first career feature in 2011 was back behind the wheel of his own PDR Engines entry Saturday.
Dave Sapienza #36 and teammate Frank Vigliarolo Jr. arrived later in the day on a Frankie's Towing flatbed, with Frank in an un-numbered car very fast right off the truck. A broken axle on the former two-time NASCAR Modified championís car sent the duo home for the day. "Sap" was also turning some quick laps as well.
Brad Van Houten #09 had Dan Jivanelli shake down the Van Houten Trucking Camaro in the first two sessions as he was tending to some family business. Later in the day Brad himself strapped into the former Bryon Chew machine.
Bryan Quilliam #84 took his first laps in his new mount for this season, the former Kevin Rommeney Blunderbust. Bryan looked pretty good getting used to the Rick's Buy & Sell entry.
Brendon Bock #33 had a scary moment in one Legend Race Car practice; the oil filter worked itself off and started a small fire under the car. Luckily the fire went out as quickly as it came and Brendon was okay.
Defending Grand Enduro champion David Antos #73 getting ready for their opener this Sunday May 6th in his C&R Customs Chevy, however we did miss him this past Sunday at the first 100 Foot Drag event of the year.
Steve "The Pitbull" Trimboli fighting a misfire all day on his Grand entry, the #69 Pitbull Motors entry.
"The King of Queens" Mike Albasini #66 the 2009 Super Pro Truck champion was zipping around in his Gardiner Specialty Auto entry looking strong.
Spoke with Jerry Solomito Jr. #59 who told us that a stuck throttle was the culprit for his slight tap of the wall during the first practice day. By the way, one of his new sponsors is Ralph DeRosa Realty, I misspelled it last week.
Defending Late Model champion Mike Bologna #00 a late arrival in his Schlaugies Fuel Oil entry, but he indeed get some laps in before the Enduro teams took over the track.
Both Dennis Freese and Howie Brode shook down Bill & Barbara Park's #20 JAD Carpet Showcase Chevy with Ryan Preece slated to drive the car this week for the opener.
Marisa Neiderauer back in her X-Ray Utility Locating Equipment #74 NASCAR Modified under the watchful eye of Vinny "Petro". Great to have this team back in the pit area.
2011 Rookie of the Year Jason Agugliaro #69x sporting a new enclosed trailer for the Tom O'Keefe & Sons effort this year. If you miss this car on the track with its bright ultra-violet colors, well then might I suggest a trip to the eye doctor!
Robin Vollmoeller Sr. among those taking laps in the 4/6-Cylinder Truck practice, I've said it before, I'll say it again he knows every pebble in this place.
Legend teammates Jeffrey Goodale #46 and Kyle Ellwood #71x adding Buckley's Irish Pub to their team joining Riverhead Building Supply.
Well that should do it for now, remember this Saturday will be one of if not the most exciting opening night NASCAR All-American Series shows one could ever ask for, so make sure you are part of it! Spectator gates open at 3:00 pm, qualifying with Mod time trials and Legend heats at 4:15 pm and features at 5:30 pm.
Until next time - BF
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