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"EYE ON RIVERHEAD" by Bob Finan
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Opening weekend 2013 is in the record books and what an exciting and fun weekend of racing it was at Riverhead Raceway, some great side by side racing with some controversy here and there and we'll capture it for you. In my never ending effort to try and tweak this Eye we'll try and do something different once again. First we'll go through the race winners and then in no particular order cover some drivers who had a good night, some who didn't and just some fun facts too. So here we go!
Shawn Solomito #66 survived several early race restarts to sweep the Twin 30's for the NASCAR Modifieds as he began what he hopes is his title defense of last year's championship. As is the case with more teams than not in any class at Riverhead, Shawn's race season will last as long as his racing budget will. Aside from EM Power, American Tent and Acme Sanitary who all do what they can, Shawn and his SS Motorsports team need a sponsor to keep moving forward. Solomito drove his all-new Troyer Engineering built, Bill the Kid powered machine to victory and as he noted in victory lane "the quarter panels are empty, we need to fill them".
Jeremy McDermott #4 with one of the best restart moves I've seen in a Late Model in quite sometime drove from third to the lead on lap 9, then once he had the Statewide Roofing Pontiac out front he ran away and hid from the rest of the field to post his first career win. Ironically the man who gave him a chance in the car, Jim Wichert of Unique Golf wasn't on hand to witness the fine drive the 2012 Charger champion turned in. Jim was all smiles by his 4/6-Cylinder Truck prior to Sunday's Enduro as I kidded with him that the party he was at better have been worth it!
"The Alter Boy" Tom Ferrara #14 led wire to wire to claim the Figure Eight gold in his K. Clement Landscaping entry. Tom is looking forward to the 2013 campaign where he hopes to notch not just numerous wins but his first track title in the process. Ferrara sure didn't mind Roger Maynor #28 and Arne Pedersen #34 getting all wrapped up with each other battling for second in an intense duel.
Chris Turbush #81 made no apologies for his win or for that matter how he got there after taking his 34th career Charger checker flag in the MSC Builder Chevy. Chris and then leader "Radiant" Ray Minieri #43 made contact entering turn 1 on lap 9. "I got a nose under him and I knew he'd come down but I'm here to win" Chris admitted afterwards. Chris will go full bore for his 5th title this year.
Justin Wahl #61 scored his 2nd career win when he was named winner of a wild 20-lap Blunderbust feature event in his Darling Electric machine. NASCAR Officials felt Jack Handley Jr. #49 was too aggressive with leader Scott Maliszewski #22 exiting turn 4 for the checker and Wahl was the next car to cross the line and was declared the winner.
Frank Dumicich Jr. #42 wasn't too sure he was going to race this year but in the end decided to do so and at the end of the 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature was sure glad he did. Frank quickly put his Whitney's Deli Chevy into the lead from the outside pole and led the remainder of the distance. By the way we were told Monday that Frank might be in line for a Figure Eight ride, we didn't get a chance to confirm with Frank but my source is pretty solid.
The only driver that almost beat Kevin Nowak #53 for the Legend win on the last lap was, Kevin Nowak, really. Kevin had led Paul Dodorico the entire distance but as he went through turn three and four he began to wave his hand out the right side window, well he almost lost the handle and Dodorico closed in! Fear not, Kevin gathered the Joseph Themann Electric racer and took the checkers.
Very tough and hard hit early on in the Super Pro Truck race, Lou Maestri took the worst of it in the IGA of Fort Salonga Chevy, which seemed to have heavy damage to the right side. Hopefully the truck is fixable and Lou will be back at it this Saturday.
Nice job by the Northeastern Office Equipment Figure 8 team of Gary Fritz Jr. to get the rear end in the '57 Chevy fixed after it broke in the first warm-up session.
No practice, no time trials, no problem for Eddie Brunnhoelzl III as he drove his Hagerman Systems 8x NASCAR Modified from 18th to a 9th place finish. That earns the third generation driver the weekly "Tiger" Tom Baldwin Hard Charger Award worth 5 -gallons of Sunoco Race Fuels from Hoosier Tire of Calverton.
Tough break for defending Super Pro Truck champion Roger Turbush #88 who hand grenaded an engine during their 20-lap feature in the Allied Air Conditioning entry. I'm sure knowing Turbush Racing Rog he'll be back this week loaded for bear.
Nice return performance by Charger runner-up Tom Anderson in the Robert's Asphalt entry, Tom had some early race contact but kept his head down for the fine finish.
Ditto both Late Model runner-up Peter "Buzzy" Eriksen in the Harley Davidson of Nassau County #68 and defending LM champ Mike Bologna in his Schlaugies Fuel Oil machine who placed third. Both had to fight their way back to the front and it would have been both interesting and fun to see what they would have had for eventual winner McDermott if a late race yellow came out.
How about the ride by "KO" Kevin Orlando, he was 7th in a SK Modified in the Prototype #00. Not only did he finish in the top ten he also timed in there too!
"Put it to the Floor" Johnny Gloor, with perhaps the longest nickname in racing, now steering the One Stop Market #1 Legend, was 7th Saturday.
Hated to see John Beatty Jr. #14 DQ'D from his NASCAR Modified runner-up finish in the Freeport Collision Chevy, this team I have come to know pretty well over the years and I know deep down the part in question is one they did not know was "unapproved". Hopefully they'll come back this week and show everyone just that.
NASCAR Modified driver David Roys #26 drove the Angela's House #26 with the flu, after two early race spins Roys claimed a solid 7th.
Nice to see Matt Odwazny with a 9th in the Super Pro Truck main event in his Commercial Driver Training #32.
Tough break too for "The Jack Attack" Jack Handley Jr. in his Sims Steel #49 Blunderbust with the rough riding call. He too will rebound nicely. Jack also took his first LM laps in the #18 out of the LaSpisa Motorsports stables.
"The Fancy Farmer" Dave Brigati #98x was runner-up in the NASCAR Modified contest, hopefully Dave will stick around and run for the Riverhead Raceway and Whelen All-American Series New York State title this year. Had to be fun for Dave to race in front of his hometown fans again.
Of the three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regulars in the field Eric Goodale had the best result with a third place in the Riverhead Building Supply Chevy. Ryan Preece gave the JAD Carpet Showcase #20 of Bill Park a great run from 11th to 4th, while Justin Bonsignore #51 had an engine or tranny issue on the M3 Technologies entry.
Eric Zeh #34 toughed out a 3rd place finish in the Charger feature in his Finishline Demolition & Carting Chevy.
Blunderbust driver "Pistol" Paul Parisi hinted to us that once his Tidewater Dock Builders #69x is through at the sign shop, it will carry a circus theme for the kids, nice touch! Parisi was 12th opening night.
Great comeback for 2011 Super Pro Truck champion "Dangerous" Dave Koenig #97 with a third place tally in the Nelson's Auto Salvage Chevy. Dave showed no signs of rust at all!
Very conspicuous by his absence so far in 2013 has been Blunderbust veteran Scott Sepe #6, anyone know what his plans are, if any?
"The Racing Grandpa" Bill Wegmann Sr. was runner-up in the wild Blunderbust finish in his Crackerjack Auto Stores Olds #79.
Johnny Vullo #66 had to scratch his Figure Eight return as he felt he might have "hurt" his engine in practice.
Rob Bader #19 debuted 6th in the Super Pro Truck feature in the Hogan Construction machine.
CJ Lehmann #1 took a hard hit into the wall; he told us that the LIBMagazine.com Chevy will be race ready by this week.
Defending Legend Race Car champion Kyle Ellwood placed third behind two "old timers" in the Legend feature in his Riverhead Building Supply #71x.
After early race contact on lap 1 from behind, defending Figure Eight champion Mike Mujsce #13 was done for the race with a broken axle on his Bill Beener Tree Service racer. That is way too early.
Now letís move to Sunday action.
The "Flying Phys Ed Teacher" Greg Zaleski #18 scored an ultra-exciting 50-lap Grand Enduro victory in his Blue Point Auto Body Chevy. Nice to see Zaleski praise his Dad for all he does towards the racing effort which is truly a father & son affair. Zaleski drove a masterful race to ward off a hard charging runner-up James Charrier in his Clear Beer Draft #36
Domination, the only word you need to use in describing Greg Harris's win in his SGS Stone Works #65 Chevy. As Greg noted in his victory lane interview his winning move came when the green flag dropped and he went from 3rd to the lead and never looked back.
Ed Brown Jr. took the 2012 season off from racing but when the green flag waved in the 75-lap 8-Cylinder Enduro you would never had known it as he scored the victory in his A. Voight Towing Caprice. Great to have you back where you belong Ed, racing!
Anthony Pizzo #1 was the man with the plan in the 40-lap 8-Cylinder Enduro nightcap in his Geico Insurance machine.
Over the years I have had some fun with Joe Warren Jr., usually at Joe's expense. Well in the 4/6-Cylinder Car Enduro he silenced many of his critics, yes even me. He too turned in a dominating performance as he nailed down his first career win in a 50-lap feature event. Joe races in memory of 'Lil Jay Trinca to whom he dedicated the win, nice job kid.
Great to see former Blunderbust driver Tim Blank #66 back racing among the Grand Enduro ranks in his Guardian Rivet Chevy. Tim purchased the car from Richie Carman of United Exhaust Shop.
"Kid Cool" Dale Owen reports he might have either blown the engine or head gasket in his Pitbull Motors #99, hopefully he'll be back.
Very unusual to see Dominic Ranieri #17 spin from the lead of a race but that's what he did in the first 8-Cylinder tilt, ah but wait, he later fell out with a flat left rear in the Westhampton Auto Salvage Chevy. That might explain the spin.
Very pleased to see Enduro veteran Spiro Germanakos #5 cross the line 3rd in the first 8-Cylinder race.
5th in that race was a driver by the name of Eric Germuth #7, why do I bring this up? Because I don't think he ever raced before, so you too can do this!
Nice job Erick Zegel #55 with a 3rd place finish in the Autosport Deign Chevy in the Grand race, this will be his only race of the year as he goes in for back surgery soon. We wish Erick a speedy recovery, by the way former Figure Eight driver Tom Graff #00 may fill in for Zegel while he's on the sideline.
Welcome to Grand Enduro racing Jerry Koenig (no relation to Dave) as he joins the class in the A1 Transmissions of Merrick Chevy.
Until then - BF
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