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Tom Rogers Jr. Makes It Two In A Row At Riverhead Raceway
With Cody's BBQ & Grill Night NASCAR Modified Victory
by Bob FInan
Tom Rogers Jr. remained as hot as the weather Saturday evening at Riverhead Raceway when he posted his second straight NASCAR Modified win in a row when he topped the Cody's BBQ & Grill 35. This was the 17th career victory and the third of the year for the former two-time champion. The win moved Tom into third place in the 2012 championship chase at the quarter mile oval but it sure didn't come easy as he had to hold off a hard pressing Ted Christopher.
Rogers once again set the standard in pre-race qualifying with a lap of 11.656 and in the redraw among the top six from time; he drew the outside pole with Ken Heagy drawing the pole in his first start of 2012. The duo ran side by side for the first lap of the race before Tom took the lead a lap later with Heagy running second. A third lap double file restart found Timmy Solomito gluing himself to leader Tom Rogers' rear bumper which moved him under Ken Heagy for second with Ted Christopher soon racing his way to third also with an inside pass of Heagy. A 10th lap yellow once again set-up a double file restart and this time it was Christopher staying on the rear spoiler of Rogers to slip under Solomito for second which then allowed him to set sail for race leader Rogers.
As the race hit an extended green flag run Rogers was able to keep a two car length lead on Christopher but a late race caution on lap 29 would change all of that setting up a virtual six lap dash for the cash. As has been his style at Riverhead on single file restarts Teddy kept his front bumper right on the rear bumper of Rogers and when the green flag waved the race was on. In an entertaining final mile and a half Christopher kept nudging Tommy entering the corners as he tried to move the leader up a groove and slide under for the lead, however Rogers was having none of it as he shut the door each time despite the fact that the challenger had his nose under him a couple of times.
When the checkered flag waved it was Tom Rogers Jr. earning a hard fought victory in his Relay Communications Chevy. "That was good hard short track racing between Teddy and me" Tommy noted in victory lane and during his interview car owner Joe Ambrose discovered the right rear tire was going down. "I knew something wasn't right, the right front just seemed off and now I know why". The win moved Rogers to within six points of second place point man Shawn Solomito, 252 to 246 with Howie Brode remaining the championship leader with 284.
Ted Christopher of Plainville, Ct was once again runner-up, his fourth straight such finish in his last four Riverhead starts in the Eastport Feeds Chevy, while Shawn Solomito of Islip was third in the Meade's Welding & Fabricating entry. Timmy Solomito of Islip and Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown completed the top five.
Arne Pedersen of Mastic Beach also had a thrilling win Saturday when he topped the Cody's BBQ & Grill 15 for the Figure Eights. At the throw of the green Arne and Tom Ferrara raced their way out front but a quick yellow on lap 1 when Ken Hyde Jr. and Rick Swanson made minor contact set-up a double file restart. Pedersen and Ferrara once again occupied the top row spots when the green light winked back on and in fact would run in that order for the remainder of the race. The thrilling aspect of Pedersen's eventual win in his BNR Home Improvement Dodge came in the form of Arne having to time his entry and exit at the "X" just right. One of the cars he narrowly missed on more than one occasion was that of Roger Maynor who was trying to recover from a mid-race spin. The crowd never sat down during the final half of the race and as the cars exited the track with Arne Pedersen sitting in victory lane they cheered the entire division on a job well done. Following Pedersen were the team cars of Tom Ferrara of Patchogue and Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach in the Bill Beener Tree Service entries.
"Radiant" Ray Minieri of Bay Shore withstood a last lap challenge from Eric Zeh to score the Cody's BBQ & Grill Charger victory in a 20-lap feature event. Minieri took advantage of a rare front row starting berth to put his Sunrise Chiropractic & Wellness Center Dodge out front with Eric Zeh in tow. With the race going flag to flag without a caution Zeh trailed Minieri by less than a car length for most of the distance and as the race hit its final five laps Zeh, seeking his first career win knew he had to make a move and make it quickly. After taking the white flag Zeh made a move to the inside of Minieri exiting turn two and as they went into the third and fourth corner they were side by side. Off turn four Minieri was able to pull ahead by the slightest of margins and at the line he'd earn his 15th career win tying him with Chris McGuire for 6th on the all-time win list. Eric Zeh of Selden threw everything but the kitchen sink at the race winner and he'd finish second in the Finishline Container & Construction Chevy, while points leader Jeremy McDermott of E. Stroudsburg placed third in the JDP Mechanical racer.
Lou Maestri of Deer Park became the all-time leading winner in the Super Pro Trucks when he topped the Cody's BBQ & Grill night 20-lap main event. This race also went non-stop with veteran Peter Rotzi pacing the field for the first two laps while he raced side by side with Lou Maestri. The 3rd lap found Lou slipping under Peter in turn three to take the race lead and once he put the Star Car Collision Repair Center Chevy out front he was very much in control. Mike Albasini was able to get around Peter Rotzi for second on the 4th lap of the race but soon he'd have Chris Turbush challenge him for the position and that was all Lou Maestri needed to drive off to his 23rd career victory. Lou and Danny Grennan of Glen Cove were knotted at 22 wins each going into Saturday evening's action. Chris Turbush of Riverhead was able to move his Long Island Poultry Chevy around Mike Albasini of Flushing to claim runner-up money, while Albasini in the Hollis Court Collision Chevy placed third
Anthony Pizzo of Lake Ronkonkoma turned in a dominating performance to score the win in the 50-lap feature for the 8-Cylinder Enduro class. Pizzo and fellow veteran Dege Russell ran one-two early on with Russell keeping pace with Pizzo early on. However as the race moved on Pizzo in his United Exhaust Shop Caprice was able to hit another zone as he would eventually lap all but the second and third place cars on his way to victory lane. Dege Russell of Rocky Point was runner-up in the Kelly Russell Realty Chevy and Jess Martines of Shirley was third in his sponsor wanted machine.
Kevin Rommeney of Maspeth scored the School Bus Demolition Derby win when he out lasted Chris Van Cott of Commack. Oddly enough Kevin drives a New York City Transit Authority Bus through the streets of Brooklyn for a living and he appeared to truly enjoy wrecking his Gershow Recycling School Bus. Rommeney and Van Cott went toe-to-toe for quite sometime before Kevin made the last hit to score his first career win.
1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Ted Christopher 3. Shawn Solomito 4. Timmy Solomito 5. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 6. Howie Brode 7. Ken Heagy 8. Vinny Biondolillo 9. John Beatty Jr. 10. Al Ermmarino 11. Ken Darch 12. Glenn Logan 13. Marisa Niederauer 14. Chris McGuire 15. Dave Sapienza 16. Jason Agugliaro 17. Jerry Solomito Jr. 18. Brad Van Houten 19. Kevin Orlando 20. Don Howe
1. Arne Pedersen 2. Tom Ferrara 3. Mike Mujsce 4. Roger Maynor 5. Ken Hyde Jr. 6. Tim Mulqueen 7. Mike Smith 8. Dennis Scott 9. Rick Swanson 10. George Seus 11. Tim Farrell
1. Ray Minieri 2. Eric Zeh 3. Jeremy McDermott 4. Chris Turbush 5. John Baker 6. CJ Lehmann 7. Brian Doyle 8. Cory Midgett 9. Jayson White 10. Tom Sullivan
Super Pro Trucks:
1. Lou Maestri 2. Chris Turbush 3. Mike Albasini 4. Roger Turbush 5. Frank Dumicich Jr. 6. Erin Dumicich 7. Frank Dumicich Sr. 8. Keith Rotzi 9. Peter Rotzi 10. Anthony Vecchio 11. Rich Campo
8-Cylinder Enduro (top five):
1. Anthony Pizzo 2. Dege Russell 3. Jess Martines 4. Chris Burns 5. Don Carasitin
School Bus Demolition Derby:
1. Kevin Rommeney
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