October 17, 2020
KYLE SOPER MUSCLES HIS WAY TO MIKE STEFANIK HALL OF FAME 160 VICTORY SATURDAY AT RIVERHEAD RACEWAY
Bob Finan PR
Defending NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville raced his way back into the lead of the Mike Stefanik Hall of Fame 160 at Riverhead Raceway Saturday with 20-laps remaining to score his second consecutive win and third overall in the 2020 race season. Soper led the first 103 laps of the race prior to pit stops under caution in a dazzling performance but later in the race had to hustle and use muscle to reclaim his race lead and eventual victory.
Championship leader Tom Rogers Jr. despite having to rush to his nearby home in Riverhead to bring his back-up car to the track after engine failure sidelined his Denise & Ken Darch owned primary machine set fast time with a lap of 11.599 with Kyle Soper second at 11.619 setting the front row for the race. With Rogers having choice as to where he'd like to start on the front row he opted for the traditional inside lane and when the race took the green moving Soper outside the front row. When the green flag waved Soper got a terrific launch in the outside groove and quickly moved his Eastport Feeds Chevy out front. With the race featuring a long green flag run Soper put on a dominating and somewhat shocking performance clicking off laps in the 11.7 range as the race approached halfway. Many on hand were wondering if Kyle who started to lap the lower half of the top ten was wearing out his equipment and would his car perform the same without the aid of a caution and the two change tires available to teams during the 160 lap affair.
A Chris Young spin would provide the first answer in the equation on lap 103 as the yellow flag waved. When the pits opened the entire field pitted and now the race was to the gate to return to the race which was won by 2020 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore who was wheeling the Rob Pelis owned car for the 160. Rogers was second out of the pits and for the restart Bonsignore chose the inside. When the race resumed on lap 104 Rogers rode the preferred outside lane to the race lead with Bonsignore hot on Rogers heels in second. On lap 131 Bonsignore was able to work his way by Rogers for the race lead and just two laps later Soper was also able to get by Rogers on the 134th circuit for second.
Once to second Soper wasted little time pressuring Bonsignore for the lead in the five laps they ran one-two with Kyle quickly going side by side with the two time WMT champion. Indeed the duo would clang side bars and swap paint while slicing and dicing for the race lead with Soper muscling his way by Bonsignore to start the 140th lap of the contest. Once out front Kyle Soper would again start to gap his rivals and drive off to his 19th career NASCAR Modified win which now ties him with former multi-time champion Chuck Steuer for 21st on the all time win list.
After being presented the Mike Stefanik Hall of Fame 160 trophy in victory lane Soper gazed down at the hardware, "I always wanted one of these tripod trophies and for it to bear Mike's name on it, priceless" Soper revealed. When asked about his early race strategy that saw him racing hard every lap he disclosed his team's game plan, "we were out to lap the entire field if we could" Kyle, 24 admitted and added with a chuckle "we had a good pit stop I mean for a bunch of over 55 year olds with beer bellies" As to his battle for the lead and the contact between he and Bonsignore Soper was unapologetic "the lap before Justin got into me pretty good so I gave it back to him".
Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville who has indicated he'll be back for the Islip 300 on Saturday afternoon November 14th was runner-up in the RP Fabricating Chevy while Tom Rogers Jr. padded his championship lead by two points placing third in the License To Chill Chevy. Rogers closest challenger for the 2020 title Dylan Slepian of Dix Hill was fourth while John Beatty Jr. of Merrick came home fifth.
The Late Models were back and redeemed themselves after a rough and tumble caution laiden race two weeks ago with a fast paced non stop 25-lap feature event with veteran Jarrod Hayes of Calverton notching his first win of the season. "Radiant" Ray Minieri and Hayes brought the field down to the start of the race and has been the case often in 2020 the outside lane has the grip thanks to being treated and that allowed Hayes to bolt into the race lead. Minieri was quickly passed by Chris Turbush for second on lap 2 but second would be as good as it got for Chris who like leader Hayes came to the race with 18 career LM wins. As the laps clicked off "J-Rod" Jarrod Hayes just kept hitting his marks and drove off to victory in the MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy. Chris Turbush of Wading River was runner-up in the Eastern Fuel Oil entry while championship leader Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was third in the Eastport Feeds Pontiac.
Just two weeks removed from a grinding heat race crash in his Crate Modified Terry Stiles of Rocky Point rebounded nicely Saturday with his first win of 2020 leading all 25-laps of the main event. Stiles was suppose to start third but when pole sitter Charles Macwhinnie moved to the rear of the field the inside lane moved up one giving Stiles the pole and the Blunderbust graduate took full advantage. When the green light came on to start the race Stiles was able to get the measure of young lion Alex Colasanto who tucked into second behind Stiles. Colasanto ran second until lap 14 when he was passed by Chris Rogers who started the race from 8th. With just ten laps remaining for Rogers he went right to work reeling in Stiles but catching Terry was one thing, passing him would be another. Stiles never wavered in his T&S Auto Clinic Chevy and rewarded his Gino Orlando crew with victory. Chris Rogers of Patchogue would settle for second in his Peconic Gold Oysters Chevy while championship leader Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches drove from 9th to a third place finish in his Benimax Trucking machine.
After the last Blunderbust race former multi-time champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington knew something was lacking in the performance of his Encore Rentals Chevy and after some crafty exhaust work by United Exhaust he proved himself right as he won a non-stop 30-lap Blunderbust feature event. In qualifying "Mad" Max Handley set a new track record for the class with a lap of 14.445 with Jim Laird Jr. second quick at 14.474. Max Handley led the first lap of the tilt from the pole with Tom Pickerell quickly coming from third to second on the first lap. "Slick Pick" a 26-time winner in the class coming into competition wasted no time making a bid for the lead to the inside of Handley in the third & fourth turn to start lap 2 with Handley now second. From lap 4 through 7 Handley and Jim Laird Jr. swapped the second position before Handley claimed it and held it until he spun on lap 22. That turn of events moved Laird back to second but by that time Tom Pickerell was long gone in route to taking his first win of the season. Laird of Riverhead was second in the Poolsmith Inc Chevy while "Turbo" Tom Sullivan of Massapequa was third in the Island Trees Automotive entry.
"Blankets" Joey Braun was certainly not sleeping on a 9th lap double file restart during the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature as he win his second race of the year mastering the restart game. Eric Hersey broke to the race lead at the throw of the green with Braun moving into second. Braun tested Hersey over the first 9-laps of the race prior to a Robert Henninger III spin in turn four bringing out the yellow. Hersey and Braun lined-up side by side to resume the race and when the green waved Braun fired off flawlessly taking the lead away from Hersey. Over the remainder of the race Braun and Hersey would run one-two with veteran Kevin Nowak later joining the leading party. However when the race took the checker flag Joey Braun in his Dunrite Pools Coupe was first under it for his third career win. Eric Hersey of Commack was runner-up in the Epic Tools machine while Kevin Nowak of Medford was third in the JTEC Electric racer.
Prior to the 2019 race season James Pape Jr. of Mattituck invested into his racing career by purchasing a multi time winning Street Stock from Greg Zaleski. Saturday that investment paid dividends as Pape went out and won his heat race and later his first career feature event in a non-stop 20-lap main event. For the inital start Roger Oxee and James Pape Jr. made up the front row and at the hit of the throttle Oxee's car broke loose allowing Pape to move out front from the outside pole. Chris Lescenski seeking his second win of 2020 moved to second when Pape took the lead and while he kept the leader in his sights he was never able to muster a serious challenge for the lead. James Pape Jr., whose father Jim ran Late Models at the track was able to keep his Eastern Fuel Oil Chevy out front the entire race to score his first ever win that he celebrated with a first class burnout afterwards. Chris Lescenski of Riverhead was second in his TB Motorsports Chevy while Jay Henschel of Levittown was third in the Polar Bear Air Chevy. Henschel had actually sold this car to Blunderbust driver Alyssa Paprocky who after practice asked Jay to wheel it one more time.
Mike Stefanik Hall of Fame NASCAR Modified 160- 1. Kyle Soper 2. Justin Bonsignore 3. Tom Rogers Jr. 4. Dylan Slepian 5. John Beatty Jr. 6. Roger Turbush 7. Eric Goodale 8. Justin Brown 9. Michael Rutkoski 10. Howie Brode 11. Chris Young 12. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 13. CJ Lehmann 14. John Baker 15. Dave Brigati 16. John Fortin Sr.
Late Models: 1. Jarrod Hayes 2. Chris Turbush 3. Jeremy McDermott 4. Ed Cheslak 5. Kevin Metzger 6. Shawn Patrick 7. Ray Minieri
Crate Modifieds: 1. Terry Stiles 2. Chris Rogers 3. Richie Davidowitz 4. Owen Grennan 5. Alex Colasanto 6. Sean Glennon 7. Eric Hersey 8. AJ DeSantis 9. Michael Berner 10. Gerard Lawrence 11. Eddie Schutze 12. Steve Ratti 13. Mike Albasini 14. Dennis Krupski 15. Jason Hansen 16. Charlie Macwhinnie 17. Matt Brode 18. Lou Maestri
Blunderbusts: 1. Tom Pickerell 2. Jim Laird Jr. 3. Tom Sullivan 4. Alyssa Paprocky 5. Cody Triola 6. Bill Wegmann Sr. 7. Jason Wegmann 8. Gary Caldwell 9. Kyle Halpin 10. Max Handley
Legend Race Cars: 1. Joey Braun 2. Eric Hersey 3. Kevin Nowak 4. Ray Fitzgerald 5. George Tomko Jr. 6. Allan Pedersen 7. Jason Castaldo 8. Anthony Colandro 9. Anthony Marsh 10. Jim Sylvester 11. Shawn Wanat 12. Chris Sinatro 13. Scott Cheslak 14. Colin Volpe 15. Pat Moore 16. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 17. Mike Van Houten Jr. 18. Charlie Hodge 19. Jake Curran 20. Mike Benton 21. AJ Vasseur 22. Robert Henninger III 23. Chase Grennan 24. Michael Metcalf 25. Frank Hodge 26. Sean McElearney
Street Stocks: 1. James Pape Jr. 2. Chris Lescenski 3. Jay Henschel 4. Dave Antos 5. Brian McCormack 6. David White 7. Roger Oxee 8. Justin Ferreri 9. Danny Pizzo 10. James Dipietro 11. Chris Mancz 12. Sean Fitzpatrick 13. Rhett Fog