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"EYE ON RIVERHEAD" by Bob Finan
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Where did that rain come from? Perhaps the most asked question last Saturday at Riverhead Raceway that to this minute is still unanswered. Once again however our unbeatable team consisting of promoters Barbara & Jim Cromarty, our loyal race teams and most of all our diehard fans didn't fold and the entire race card was completed. To those who came out despite the rain all around the track, thank you very much.
Howie Brode #96 swept both ends of the Twin 30 NASCAR Modified features wheeling his Peter Clark Motorsports owned Petro Fuel Oil Chevy, it was Howie's first win since July of 2010 when he won his second Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 Memorial. The smile on Howie's face after the hard fought win told the story of how much the win meant to him, plus it moves him to 4-points back of point leader Shawn Solomito #66, 72 to 68. It should be noted that Ryan Preece also has 68-points as well but due to his WMT commitments will not be running for the track title.
What better way to celebrate a Birthday if you are a racer than winning your feature event on your special day. Well that's just what the driver of the IGA of Southold Pontiac Roger Oxee did on his 61st Birthday as he won his 62nd career Late Model feature. Oxee, whose wife had a Birthday just days earlier had other plans for the weekend but when the class was added to the show after the May 11th wash out he was more than happy to put them on hold and I bet he's even happier now. By the way there is no truth to the rumor that the local fire Marshall nixed the idea of 61 candles on RJ'S cake after the races.
Arne Pedersen #34 scored yet another Cromarty Cup for his mantle as he won the 20-lap Figure Eight race run in honor of Barbara Cromarty's May 15th Birthday. Arne was reeling in Johnny Vullo when the checkers waved to complete the race but Vullo had clipped three cones going into turn one on lap 14 and the call was made he was no longer the race leader. Pedersen, a very soft spoken man said he saw Johnny hit the cones but also said he wanted to try and pass him anyway with his BNR Home Improvement Dodge.
Eric Zeh #34 walked away with his second career Charger win in the ILS Landscaping Chevy which once again this year is painted like his grandfather Carl Zeh's NASCAR Modifieds that were wheeled by Don Howe. We can say this, Eric is the only driver in the pits that can point to his mother as the parent who won a feature event at Riverhead Raceway as she topped the June 30th, 1990 Blunderbust feature. Dad, Eddie was an instrumental part of Don Howe's five Riverhead NASCAR Modified titles and has always been more comfortable turning the wrenches. Eric trails Chris Turbush #81 by two points 98 to 96 going into this week.
One of the more popular drivers and figures in the pit area weekly is "Turbo" Tom Sullivan who owns and drivers the #7 Blunderbust. He loves to call everyone Fred, why we don't know and frankly we've never asked. Sullivan told me pre-race that he prepared for racing on Friday night with plenty of peanut butter & jelly and I thought well that's a weird sandwich to bulk up for competition with. Turns out he was speaking of shots at his local watering hole but no matter what it worked and the Custom Exteriors Lincoln bested all comers Saturday. All kidding aside it was Tom's first win since August 20th, 2005 and we congratulate him.
Opening night saw Lou Maestri's #1 Beach Hut of Long Island Super Pro Truck heavily damaged in a grinding crash on the front stretch and there was plenty of damage done and work ahead. Enter Rich Giordano of G-Force Collision in Lindenhurst who once again gets a Riverhead race team back on track! Not only did Lou get back on track but he drove to his 25th career victory in the class. Oh and by the way if you looked at the truck you could never tell it was in a minor tangle!
Kyle Ellwood #71x dominated the 20-lap Legend Race Car main event in his Riverhead Building Supply machine to score the victory, his biggest obstacle from about the halfway point of the race was the lapped traffic he and the other front runners had to deal with. I was taken back some when the soon to be Riverhead High School graduate exited his winning mount wearing a fire suit his father John wore some years back. In fact I recall interviewing John after a win in the Lolly's Hut #17x Charger while he was wearing that same suit, pretty cool.
Once again the worst crashes of the night came in the usually calm Super Pro Truck class. First "Dangerous" Dave Koenig #97 slammed into the first turn wall in his Nelson's Auto Salvage Chevy doing severe damage to the rear clip. Dave on Monday had pictures on his Facebook page showing him in the process of getting his 2011 championship truck back in shape.
Just laps later Rookie driver Mark Stewart #8 got collected by the same truck that did Koenig in and that turned the teenage driver head first into the wall right about where Maestri got caught up on opening night. The Angela's House Chevy was heavily damaged from the firewall forward and ironically enough that truck is also owned by Dave Koenig. Hopefully it will be out again this week but time will tell. I saw Mark after the races and he was okay.
Frank Scimeca #18 made his Figure Eight debut in the PK Books entry but unfortunately for Frank it only lasted a lap or two as the engine, the last 6-Cylinder motor standing went up in smoke by the turn four gate.
Roger Turbush subbed for Cory Midgett in the #14 R. Bono Plumbing & Heating Charger and was 6th at the finish. Cory was off attending his prom and we hope he enjoyed it.
How about that "Racing Grandfather" Bill Wegmann #79 who drove the Crackerjack Auto Stores Olds from 15th to 5th in the Blunderbust feature event and better yet Bill is now tied for the points lead with Scott Maliszewski #22 with 90 each!
Prior to the races 2012 NASCAR Modified champion Shawn Solomito #66 announced with his wife Kristi that the SS Motorsports team will be racing on behalf of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation during the 2013 season. Over the summer they will be raising awareness and hopefully some money for the CF Foundation and we'll keep you informed on where and when. Shawn was third Saturday in the Twin 30's driving a heads-up race.
Not a bad Charger debut for Rookie Richard Wilson who brought the Southampton Publick House #12 home for 8th place money which I'm sure pleased dad Harold.
Nice qualifying effort by sophomore NASCAR Modified driver Vinny Biondolillo #06 who was 3rd with a lap of 11.899 in the Premier Utility Service Chevy, not too far off the fast time of 11.777 set by Ryan Preece #20. Vinny was 14th in the Twin 30's.
Tough night for the Monster's Recycling Legend Race Car team of Justin Strumpf #15 and Timmy Solomito #48. First Justin got ushered into the wall going into turn one just after taking the green and then Timmy laps later fell from the race with mechanical woes. "The Natural" was 9th in the Eastport Feeds NASCAR Modified which salvaged his night somewhat.
Loved the way Johnny Vullo handled himself after finding out he was not the winner of the Cromarty Cup race after hitting the cones. When I spoke to him he more or less said a rule is a rule but did add maybe we should brighten up the cones with a brighter color paint. Point taken Johnny "Electric".
Scott Kulesa #10 chased Late Model winner Roger Oxee to the line but would finish second in the Eastport Feeds entry and that finish puts him into a tie for the LM point lead with opening night winner Jeremy McDermott in the Statewide Roofing Pontiac #4. Both have 92 markers.
Rich Campo in his #38 NY Auto Giant Chevy and Kevin Scharfenberg in his Brightview Distributors #44 made their first starts of 2013 in the Super Pro Trucks and were 9th and 10th respectfully.
Speaking of the SPT race, nice little battle for second between siblings, Frank Dumicich Jr. #42 and Erin Dumicich-Solomito #95 with Erin giving her older brother a shove once and again. Frank was runner-up in the Arenz Heating & AC Chevy, while Erin third in the Sea-Level Construction Dodge. Frank Jr. leads dear old dad Frank in the championship chase, 98 to 86.
The "Alter Boy" Tom Ferrara #14 was third in the Cromarty Cup Figure Eight tilt which puts the driver of the K. Clement Landscaping entry into a tie with Arne Pedersen for the points lead, 96 points each.
"Hollywood" Ken Hyde Jr. #58 was runner-up in the Kings Park Contracting machine and told us Monday he'll need some more sponsorship help when the class returns after three weeks off on June 15th.
Felt badly for Mike Bologna #00 the two-time defending LM champion who left the track Saturday with a pretty torn-up race car, but knowing the Schlaugies Fuel Oil team they'll be back this week loaded for bear.
Blunderbust car owner Vicki Curtis along with her hubby Frank was beaming Saturday as daughter Jamie graduated from Dowling College. Their BB driver Brian Brown was 9th in the Chet Mitrani Plastering #56 after starting 17th!
Mike "V-Ride" Van Houten #3v made his Legend Race Car debut in a car he purchased from Brendon Bock's team and despite the fact he didn't make the 28-car feature had a great time and can't wait to race this week.
Ron Silk and the TS Haulers #6 NASCAR WMT team were a surprise entry for the Twin 30's Saturday and came away with a 4th place tally.
Hats off to Jerry Solomito Jr. #59, who for the second race in a row was in a spot where he could have sat and drew a yellow flag, did he? No sir both opening night and this past week Jerry re-fired the EM Power entry and drove away, a rarity in short track racing these days!
Figure Eight newcomer Gary Fritz Jr. #9 collected a career best 7th in the Northeastern Office Equipment Chevy. During warm-ups I stood with team mentor "TK" Tommy Kraft and listened in on Kraft spotting and guiding Gary around the track. I have to say I was as impressed with that performance by Kraft as much as any he turned in as a driver.
It's just a matter of races or in my mind a race before Vinny Delaney takes home a Legend Race Car victory in his John's Fuel Oil #17, maybe this week! Vinny was runner-up to Kyle Ellwood this past week.
Great run for Ken Alfano in the Bayport Auto Body #35 LM with a 4th place showing, Ken is another driver that needs some marketing partners to get through the season.
Tom Rogers Jr. #0 noted that an issue with tire stagger slowed his efforts last week in the Twin 30's in the Stakey's Pumpkin Farm Chevy. Oh but those first 30-laps where he was draped all over Howie Brode's rear spoiler, now that was some fun to watch!
Great job by Chad Churilla with his third place finish in the PRC Industries/Angela's House #20 Charger, he'll be a feature winner this year, count on it.
Until then - BF
2013 Eye On Riverhead Archive
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