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"EYE ON RIVERHEAD" by Bob Finan
April 29, 2014
The weekend that seemed during the past harsh winter would never arrive will indeed do so this Saturday and Sunday May 3rd & 4th as Barbara & Jim Cromarty will host opening weekend 2014! To all of our loyal race fans, competitors, track staff and officials we wish you a season full of success and most of all, have a good time and have fun!
Co-Chief Stewards Mike Cappiello & Steve Tooker have announced that for this Saturday opening day for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series the pits will open at 10:00 am. This will allow teams that still need to go through Safety Tech to do so and in general get settled in. Sunday, for the Enduro lid-lifter, the pits will open at the usual 10:00 am.
After a 90-minute rain delay round two of the pre-season practice was completed this past Saturday with several teams taking their first laps of '14.
John Baker #07 debuted his all new Charger car that features a Chevy Camaro body similar to what is used on the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Folks, this car is a looker and it hasn't even been lettered yet! Sunrise Medical Labs will be back as a sponsor for John who by the way won on opening night back in 2012 for his 1st career win.
Tom Rogers Jr. will be the hired gun for Keith Repp in the #43 Coupe. The energetic Rogers was the busiest driver by far Saturday not only shaking down Repp's machine but also 2 Joe Ambrose owned NASCAR Modifieds. The #0 now boasts the same color scheme as the #3 Modified with the white and gold hues. The #0 underwent a makeover during the winter at the shops of noted Pennsylvania racer Zane Zeiner preparing for a championship run at Riverhead.
Defending Late Model champion Jeremy McDermott #4 took some laps in the refurbished JDP Mechanical racer owned by Jim Wichert of Unique Golf. Jim was unable to see his car, complete with new colors for 2014 test this past week as his twin sons received their first Holy Communion. Speaking of Jim and Unique Golf, they have agreed to return as the Victory Lane trophy sponsor this season once again. Watch for a 2nd Unique Golf location opening in the next few days at The Heartland Golf facility just east of the Deer Park RR station.
"The King of Queens" Mike Albasini #66 was riding around tuning his Hollis Court Collision Super Pro Truck but he barely got to the track. Seems Mike listened to his computer in his tow vehicle which told him he had 25% fuel remaining, needless to say he didn't. With the help of our track crew he did arrive at the track in time to practice.
Former Blunderbust champion "Slick Pick" Tom Pickerell made his first laps of 2014 in his Premier Utility Services Chevy. Tom must have been satisfied with the result as he departed the track early.
Defending 4/6-Cylinder Car Enduro champion Joe Warren was on hand mentoring his brother Ryan during the Enduro practice session. Joe had hoped to shake down his Blunderbust car but the team discovered water in the oil last week and that effort is on hold for now with the #15.
Charger newcomer Greg Immerman in the former Ray Minieri mount was at it again. The Southampton resident will be backed by Hometown Taxi for his rookie season.
All-time leading Late Model winner Roger Oxee, no folks, he did not retire was out in his Southold IGA Pontiac #39 complete with a new McBetts Racing Engines under the hood. Look for RJ to make a run at another LM title this year.
Eddie Brunnhoelzl III #8x finally got some seat time in his all-new Troyer machine which he and his family purchased in the off-season. The Basics Landscaping of Bay Shore entry looked solid on the track. It has indeed been a very, very busy past 12 months for Eddie. First he and his girlfriend Katie got engaged, then they bought a house and in two or so weeks will tie the knot! We wish them the very best of luck.
The famed Turbush family was out in full force Saturday with three generations taking track time. All-time leading Charger winner "Dynamite" Dan Turbush was wheeling the Eastern Fuel/Carpet Express #81 Charger for son Chris while former two-time Super Pro Truck champion Roger Turbush was at the keyboards of his Allied Air Conditioning #88. "The Real Deal" Mark Stewart with a break in his HS Baseball schedule was taking laps in his sponsor wanted #8 Super Pro Truck. Where was Chris Turbush? well, as he explained to me he was "on top of the box" as crew chief for the afternoon.
Grand Enduro veteran Joe Parcelluzzi was on hand gearing up for this Sunday's Enduro opener with his Blue Point Auto Body #28.
By the way we had a further conversation with one of the all-time leading winners of Enduros at Riverhead Raceway, Ray Fitzgerald, who told me he indeed will be full time in the #24 Legend Race Car this season. That car is also out of the Blue Point Auto Body Shop of Dan Jones.
Although not at the track for practice days David Roys has a new ride for 2014! Roys has parted ways with his team from 2013 and this year will put the fun back in racing by driving for Joe Paprocky & Debbie Nicola in the Charger ranks. They fielded the #23 last year but the car will carry the #26 of Roys for 2014. David hopes to make some starts in the NASCAR Modifieds in a car that he owns, that however depends on his ever bustling business and sponsorship. The new Charger team might not make opening night this week but hopes to be ready for week #2.
Two incidents marred Saturday's practice. The first came early in the day when LM rookie Chris Lescenski #46 slowly backed into the turn 4 gate in his RP Landscaping entry. The car was none the worse for wear but the gate needed a minor repair.
Later in the day 4/6-Cylinder Truck Enduro newcomer RJ Gage got into the wall doing damage to the right front of his Wheel Racing entry. The diehard racers which the Feola/Gage family are had that truck at Rich Giordano's G-Force Collision for some frame work Monday morning! RJ was okay after the hit.
We accidentally announced Chris McGuire was the driver of the #89x LM last week but rather it was car owner Kevin Metzger strapped into the V&J Auto Body machine. Metzger of course owned the car in 2013 while Chris drove it before the two parted ways last summer.
McGuire meanwhile has his own LM ready to go in 2014 but will run a limited schedule depending upon sponsorship. If he can find some extra funding he is all in, otherwise it will be part time for the man they call "Furdog".
Peter "Buzzy" Eriksen turning some laps in the Harley-Davidson of Nassau County #68, we were told it was the team's back-up car. By the time we got back to the pits "Buzzy" had left the track so I guess we will see on opening night this Saturday!
Until next time - BF
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