May 5, 2019
KYLE SOPER CHARGES FROM REAR OF RIVERHEAD RACEWAY NASCAR MODIFIED FIELD TWICE TO WIN OPENING NIGHT 50-LAPPER
Bob Finan PR
Reigning Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville had to come from the back of the field not once but twice before he could lay claim to his 10th career win Saturday night on a chilly and damp evening. Track owners Eddie & Connie Partrdige and Tom Gatz who suffered a track record eight rain outs in 2018 ignored rain that was as close as a mile away from the track and were able to complete the seven division lid lifter.
Forced to start dead last in the 18-car field after a heat race penalty put him to the rear of the finishing order in his qualifier didn't deter Kyle Soper one bit although his path to victory lane would take a detour just prior to the halfway mark of the race. Dylan Slepian broke out ahead of John Beatty Jr. to lead the first lap of the 2019 season. Lap two found Beatty passed for second by Dave Brigati who executed an inside pass in the newly repaired third and fourth turn. Just like their days battling in the Crate Modifieds, Slepian and Brigati renewed acquaintances in the NASCAR Tour Type Mods as Brigati, a tested tough veteran sought a way by Slepain who was seeking his first career victory. On the move to the top three from the rear of the pack was Kyle Soper whose car had plenty of drive off the corners. Soper got under Brigati for second on lap 20 exiting the second corner and just seconds later Brigati rode the backstretch wall winding up with a heavily damaged race car in turn three and four. Track officials placed Soper to the rear of the field on the restart for the contact with Brigati.
When the race went back to green Slepian found former three time champion John Fortin alongside for the restart with the former Legend Race Car champion keeping the challenger at bay. Lap 30 saw John Beatty Jr. make his way by Fortin on a double file restart but Fortin would reclaim the spot five laps later. Undaunted by his trip to the back of the field Kyle Soper reemerged at the front of the race once again on lap 38 making his way by Fortin for second. Next up for the high flying Soper was to try and find a way past his best friend at the track and racer Leader Dylan Slepian. As the field took the ten to go signal Soper was able to wrestle the lead away from Slepian and once out front in the Wayne & Joette Anderson owned machine he never looked back winning the opening night event for the second year in a row.
"I just can't thank Wayne & Joette and of course my Dad (former racer Tom) who pours countless hours into both our cars and Doug Corwin and his family of Eastport Feeds for their support of my career" the elated winner boasted. As to his adventurous night Kyle looked back, "the heat race contact, I own that for sure, really not too sure on the other one though". Soper when asked if he pondered finishing second to his buddy Slepian he quickly extinguished that thought, "he's my best friend but when we race, we race".
Chris Young of Caverton perhaps drove the best race of his budding NASCAR Modified career when he raced his way by Slepian for second on lap 43. Chris flying the red Riverhead Building Supply colors made famous by his later father was on the march when the race concluded settling for runner-up money. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills also impressed in his Eastport feeds Chevy leading 40 laps of the race before claiming third place honors. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville and John Beatty Jr. of Merrick rounded out the top ten.
Race drivers don't often need additional motivation to win a race but when they have that motivation they can become almost unbeatable. Such was the case with 25-lap Late Model winner Chris Turbush of Wading River who drove to his 13th career win. Chris's uncle and former multi time NASCAR National Mechanic of the Year winner Ray Bouchard was not at the track Saturday but rather in a local hospital with an intestinal disorder. Uncle Ray is the driving force behind the scenes for Chris as well his brother Roger in the NASCAR Modifieds. After former multi-time champion Jeremy McDermott paced the race for the first lap his leading car would get tail happy off turn two allowing both Chris Turbush and Chris McGuire to slip by. From laps 2 through 13 it was like their old Charger days as McGuire tried tracking down leader Turbush. On lap 13 of the non-stop race McDermott was back to his fast way passing McGuire to the inside entering the first turn. Mattered not to Chris Turbush who was running second as he was going to win one for Uncle Ray and that is just what he did in his B&M Moving & Storage entry. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was runner-up in the Eastport Feeds racer while Chris McGuire of Selden was third in his JC Discount Fuel Oil Chevy.
2018 Crate Modified championship runner up Justin Brown of Manorville got his '19 campaign off on the right foot when he won their 25-lap main event the 4th of his young career. Taking full advantage of the pole starting position Brown raced out ahead of Dave Brigati at the throw of the green. Brigati who has been racing longer than Brown has been alive won the first two championships in the Crate Mods would keep pace with leader Brown but that would be as close as he'd be able to get. As the race wore on Justin steering the SEDHI Home Improvements Chevy just kept hitting his marks as he drove off to victory in front of a happy gathering of family and friends who cheered him on. Dave Brigati of Calverton was runner-up in the JDL Environmental Chevy with Chris Rogers of Patchogue coming home third in the Captain Ralph's Seafood Safari entry.
Defending Figure Eight champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead rebounded from a rough night in his NASCAR Modified to win the 15-lap Figure Eight feature event, the 44th win of his career. Vinny Delaney led the first lap of the contest before Gary Fritz Jr. worked his way by for the top spot on lap 2 bringing Tom Rogers Jr. to second with him. Rogers who started the race from 5th hounded leader Fritz for a few laps before he motored by on lap 5. As is often the case once Tom Rogers Jr. has the Keith Repp owned Chevy Coupe out front he drives off to victory which was the case Saturday. Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach was runner-up in his 1957 Chevy bodied racer while Eric Zeh of Selden powered his way to a third place finish in the team car to winner Rogers.
It was a milestone 30th career win for 2018 Blunderbust champion Jack Handley Jr. of Medford as he won a non-stop 20-lap feature event. The St. John's University graduate swears he is not racing for the title in 2019 which mirrors his claim from last year. Jack noted that once his brother Max returns home from college he'd take over the keyboards of the Relle Electric Chevy. Cody Triola and Jack Handley Jr. brought the fiel to green with Handley getting the advantage on the outside groove taking the lead. With no cautions to be found during the event Jack was able to keep Triola of Bay Shore in his Cesspool Pros entry at bay for the entire race. Veteran Tom Pickerell of Huntington was third in his Makely Enterprises Chevy.
During the off season Super Pro Truck veteran Jimmy Rennick Jr. made sweeping changes to his team opting for a new engine program as well as having his chassis reworked in the winter months. Well those changes paid a quick dividend Saturday as Jimmy nailed down his first career win in a non-stop 20-lap contest. Starting from the pole Rennick drove to the lead when the race got underway with 2018 SPT champion Mark Stewart giving chase. Jimmy had seen this movie often last year but on this night the ending would be different. On lap 15 Stewart was black flagged from the race for leaking fluid ending his bid for victory. That turn of events moved Sean Glennon of Northport to second. Glennon was able to stay in the tire tracks of leader Rennick that would be as good as it got for the aspiring wheel man. At the finish it was a elated Jimmy Rennick Jr. in his Metropolitan Recycling Chevy scoring a long awaited first career win. Glennon in the Modelewski Law racer was runner-up while former champion Frank Dumicich Jr. of E. Qougue placed third in the Teddy Bear Graphics Chevy.
Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches hopped into the Paul Dodorico owned INEX Legend Race Car for the opening night 20-lapper and the tandem reaped instant success as Richie drove off to his track leading 21st career victory. Armed with a rare pole starting berth Davidowitz outran Eric Hersey to the first turn for the early race lead. Hersey ran second until a lap seven yellow flag waved for a spinning Pat Moore in turn four. On the double file restart Davidowitz raced his was back out front but it would be Kevin Nowak sliding under Eric Hersey for second. Try as he might Nowak could only keep pace with Richie Davidowitz who'd lead the remainder of the race in the Dr. Martha Baker, DDS entry. Nowak of Medford was second in the JTEC Electric machine with Eric Hersey of Commack third in the S&H Welding mount. John Beatty Jr., the 2017 INEX champion at the track drove Davidowitz's car for the night winding up 12th.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Chris Young 3. Dylan Slepian 4. John Fortin Sr. 5. John Beatty Jr. 6. David Schneider 7. Sal Accardi Jr. 8. Artie Pedersen III 9. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 10. Roger Turbush 11. Justin Bonsignore 12. Cory Midgett 13. Howie Brode 14. Tom Rogers Jr. 15. Eric Zeh 16. Dave Brigati 17. John Baker 18. CJ Lehmann
Late Models: 1. Chris Turbush 2. Jeremy McDermott 3. Chris McGuire 4. Kevin Metzger 5. Ray Minieri 6. Shawn Patrick 7. Ryan Zurkowski DNS-Charles Macwhinnie
Crate Modifieds: 1. Justin Brown 2. Dave Brigati 3. Chris Rogers 4. Terry Stiles 5. Mike Albasini 6. George Tomko Jr. 7. AJ DeSantis 8. Peter Bertuccio 9. Dennis Krupski 10. Matt Brode 11. Cary Rogers 12. Sean Glennon 13. Jason Hansen DNS- Scott Pedersen
Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Gary Fritz Jr. 3. Eric Zeh 4. Vinny Delaney 5. Scott Pedersen 6. Tom Ferrara 7. Ken Hyde Jr. 8. Joe Warren Jr. 9. Bryan Quilliam 10. Bob Dalke 11. Johnny Vullo Jr.
Blunderbusts: 1. Jack Handley Jr. 2. Cody Triola 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Russ Jansen 5. Jim Laird 6. Bill Wegmann Sr. 7. Joe Warren Jr. 8. Tim Mulqueen 9. Alyssa Paprocky
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 2. Sean Glennon 3. Frank Dumicich Jr. 4. Eddie Schutze 5. Frank Dumicich Sr. 6. Joe Cerabino 7. Mark Stewart 8. Ethan Brown
Legend Race Cars: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. Kevin Nowak 3. Eric Hersey 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. Jeff Otto Jr. 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Allan Pedersen 8. Jonathan Parsons 9. Ed Cheslak 10. Riely O'Keefe 11. Mike Benton 12. John Beatty Jr. 13. Stephen Coleman 14. Joey Braun 15. Jason Castaldo 16. Pat Moore 17. Joseph Costello 18. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 19. Colin Volpe 20. Mike Van Houten Jr. 21. Ken Massa Jr. 22. Jim Sylvester 23. Wally Schweizer 24. Scott Cheslak 25. Austin Bellemare 26. George Tomko Jr.