September 5, 2020
TOM ROGERS JR. SCORES CLEAN SWEEP OF RIVERHEAD RACEWAY 70TH ANNIVERSARY 70-LAP NASCAR MODIFIED FESTIVITIES SATURDAY NIGHT
Bob Finan PR
Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead figured not having won for a month in NASCAR Modified competition at Riverhead Raceway was enough time between wins and promptly went out in his Denise & Ken Darch owned entry and swept the 70th Anniversary 70-lap feature event for his 59th career win at the historic quarter mile facility. While unable to eclipse his own track record of 11.482 set last year Rogers laid down a quick 11.609 to earn the pole for the 70-lap tilt.
When the green flag dropped on the 18-car field Tom Rogers Jr. out dragged second quick Dave Brigati, 11.657 to the first turn to take the race lead. The race got off to a rocky start however when third place starter Artie Pedersen got out of shape off turn two stack up the field behind him. Both John Beatty Jr. and Dave Sapienza suffered damage as a result with Sapienza done for the night before it even began. On the ensuing restart Rogers again bolted to the lead, a lead while challenged for later in the contest he'd not surrender. Early on Dylan Slepian was able to make his way past Brigati for second setting his sights on race leader Rogers.
As the race moved along a long green flag run was in order and during the extended green flag run it seemed as though Slepian was able to stay within striking distance of leader Rogers. Or was it a case of Rogers saving his equipment for the final portion of the race. Either way Slepian was close enough to mount a challenge if and when he felt he could. In the meantime John Fortin Sr., making his first start of 2020 was on the march racing his way to third but he'd need a caution of he were to challenge the top two drivers.
Low and behold that caution needed by Fortin came on lap 57 for a dual spin by Kyle Ellwood on the front stretch and Roger Turbush in the first turn. The stage was set. Would Rogers choose the inside or outside for the restart? Could Slepian make a run for his second career win? Could Fortin make a run from third to his 35th career win? When the final restart of the race unfolded Tom Rogers Jr. in the SGS Stone Works Chevy had all the answers driving off to victory lane in a clean sweep setting fast time and leading all 70 circuits. Slepian gave it all he had on the final restart as did Fortin but it was not to be.
Before arriving in the winner's circle Tom stopped his car in turn two in front of a grandstand side memorial set-up for George Worthington Sr. and Jr. who passed away within 48 hours of each other last week. Rogers exited his car and climbed on top of the wall waving one final checker flag for the deceased father & son who watched the races from that vantage point. Ardent fans of Riverhead Raceway Worthington Jr. along with his wife Mary were killed in a NH motorcycle accident Friday 8/28. George Sr. perhaps from in part from a broken heart died some 48 hours later. "They were special people, big fans of our team too" Rogers reflected afterwards. "They'd stop by the shop during the week with some tomatoes and check in on us" As for the race itself Tom was quick to praise his challenger Dylan Slepian, "he threw some moves at me here and there and of course on the last restart, he's going win his share of races and who knows maybe make a run at my career win total".
Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills was a strong runner-up in his Eastport Feeds Chevy while John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville was third in the John's Tree Removal entry. Dave Brigati of Calverton on the strength of his fourth place tally will move out front in the 2020 championship chase while John Baker of Brookhaven completed the top five.
In the 25-lap Late Model feature the Jeremy McDermott express was derailed as Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters led from green to checker in a rough and tumble affair that was slowed five times by caution flags. At the throw of the green Patrick in an all new Matlach Fabricating built chassis moved out front chased for the first lap by "Radiant" Ray Minieri. Lap 2 saw Chris McGuire duck under Minieri to take second. However on lap five McGuire made a bold move to the inside of Patrick in the third and fourth turn and halfway through the move decided against it. Chris tapped the brakes and that was enough to send him into a spin on the ensuing restart Patrick would lead Minieri again until the race slowed with another yellow on lap 13. That restart saw Dylan Slepian make his way under Minieri for second. For Shawn Patrick it mattered not to him who ran second as he would lead the final 11 laps of the race to post his 8th career LM victory. Slepian in the RP Fabricating Chevy was second while Chris McGuire of Selden recovered nicely from his lap 5 spin for third in the Rock Tech Industries Chevy.
Evere since the first practice day of 2020 it was apparent it would be not if Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches would score his first 25-lap Crate Modified win but rather when he would take that victory. Saturday night would be the night that Davidowitz who started 10th in the Benimax Trucking Chevy made his way to the winner's circle. Sophomore driver Alex Colosanto broke to the early race lead from the pole and the former go-kart standout impressed early and and in fact deep into the race. Rookie talent Eric Hersey chased Colosanto over the first 18-laps of the race before Richie Davidowitz came calling on lap 18 to the inside to take second away from Hersey. With just six laps left in the race it was no a question of could Davidowitz reel in Colosanto and get by him for the win or would time run out? Well a late race caution answered that question as the yellow waved on lap 21. For the restart Colosanto chose the inside lane leaving Davidowitz to the outside and when the green reappeared Davidowitz a 25 time career INEX Legend Race Car winner was able to motor out front to take the lead and eventual win. Alex Colosanto of Selden turned in a stellar performance for runner-up honors in the Panorama Signs Chevy while Eric Hersey of Commack was third in the Chervalley Plumbing Chevy.
In a car built some four decades ago by "The Dean" Bill Steen, CJ Lehmann of Lake Grove scored his second career Figure Eight feature win in their 15-lap main event. At the outset Bryan Quilliam led the first lap but CJ Lehmann took over the top spot on lap 2. Quilliam chased Lehmann until the 4th lap when Tom Ferrara was able to make a pass for the position and set his sights on leader Lehmann. Ferrara was all over Lehmann for the lead but soon was distracted by his teammate Joe "Bam Bam" Warren who was challenging for second. The fight for second allowed Lehmann some breathing room albeit temporary. On lap 9 Ferrara went up the hill in the right hand turn opening the door for Warren to come to second setting up what would be a hotly contested run to the checkers between he and Lehmann. Over the final two lap Warren tried to crossover on Lehmann but Cj was wise to the tactic and drove the North Fork Welding entry to the hard fought victory. Try as he might for his second straight win Joe Warren of Ridge was second in the Sayville South Bay Auto Repair machine while Tom Ferrara of Patchogue was third in the Beach Auto Collision Cadillac.
As NY Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra was famous for saying, "it ain't over until it's over". Well that was certainly the case in the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car main event. Eric Hersey fresh off his third place tally in the Crate Modified race Eric Hersey bolted to the race lead when the green dropped chased by Patrick Moore who debuted a brand new car. Moore ran second until a 6th lap restart when he was passed by 15-time career winner Kevin Nowak, at the halfway mark of the race Hersey led Nowak who while close to the race leader was not exactly glued to his rear bumper, not yet anyway. As the race dwindled down to the final three laps it appeared Hersey had the field, Nowak included covered however on lap 18 that all went up in smoke, literally. Colin Volpe making his first 2020 start blew his engine and soaked the first and second turn in oil on lap 18 setting up a green, white & checker finish. With a new lease on life in the race Nowak was ready to make his move on Hersey for the race win. After taking the white flag Nowak dove to the inside of Hersey as the duo entered the third turn from the back stretch. With the checkers waving ahead neither driver was going to lift and they didn't sending them into a wild spin off the fourth turn. For Jim Sylvester of Massapequa it was like a parting of the seas as he drove through the spinning cars to score his second win of 2020 in his Sure Smiles Dental entry. It was Jim's 8th career triumph. George Tomko Jr. of Aquebogue was runner-up in the D&D Auto Body machine while Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches was third in The Boiler Guy" mount. Unfortunately Hersey was relegated to a 17th place finish with track officials placing Nowak who crossed the line in the top five to 18th one spot back of Hersey for his role in the incident.
Former Mini Stock champion Paul Wojcik of Centereach returned to his winning ways when he won their 20-lap main event. James O'Connell paced the race early on but a restart midway through the race would be his downfall with Paul Wojcik racing his way to the race lead. Over the final 10 laps of the contest Wojcik hit his marks in the Energy Kinetics racer and drove off to his fourth career win. O'Connell of Miller Place was runner-up in the Walls of Fame entry while Andrew Farnham of Baldwin completed the podium in his self-funded car.
Former Truck Enduro champion Don Nelson Jr. you could say won the 40-lap main event for his class as he entered the track in the afternoon. The field for these races is set by luck of the draw and Nelson of Rocky Point drew the pole. As one might expect Don Nelson broke out front in his Abner Tree Experts Chevy and never looked back leading all 40-circuits comfortably. Gary Voight of Medford was second in the A. Voight Towing Chevy while the biggest mover of the race was Woot Lawrence of Southampton who drove his Gregor Well Drilling truck from 16th to finish third.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Dylan Slepian 3. John Fortin Sr. 4. Dave Brigati 5. John Baker 6. Mike Rutkoski 7. Kyle Ellwood 8. Artie Pedersen III 9. Howie Brode 10. Roger Turbush 11. CJ Lehmann 12. John Beatty Jr. 13. Chris Young 14. Justin Brown 15. Vinny Delaney 16. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 17. Kyle Soper 18. Dave Sapienza
Late Models: 1. Shawn Patrick 2. Dylan Slepian 3. Chris McGuire 4. Jeremy McDermott 5. Chris Turbush 6. Jarrod Hayes 7. Ray Minieri 8. Brandon Turbush 9. Kevin Metzger 10. Ryan Zurkowski
Crate Modifieds: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. Alex Colosanto 3. Eric Hersey 4. Justin Brown 5. Matt Brode 6. Sean Gelnnon 7. Gerard Lawrence 8. Owen Grennan 9. Chris Rogers 10. Terry Stiles 11. Lou Maestri 12. Steve Ratti 13. Michael Berner 14. Dennis Krupski 15. Ken Southard 16. Eddie Schutze 17. Charles Macwhinnie 18. Stephen Coleman 19. Mike Albasini 20. AJ DeSantis 21. Peter Bertuccio
Figure Eights: 1. CJ Lehmann 2. Joe Warren Jr. 3. Tom Ferrara 4. Gary Fritz Jr. 5. Bryan Quilliam 6. Bob Dalke 7. Brian Hansen 8. Ryan Warren 9. Chris Elliott 10. Scott Pedersen 11. Paul Cummings
Legend Race Cars: 1. Jim Sylvester 2. George Tomko Jr. 3. Allan Pedersen 4. Joey Braun 5. Jason Castaldo 6. Mike Benton 7. Brad Van Houten 8. Shawn Wanat 9. Patrick Moore 10. Mike Van Houten 11. Charlie Hodge 12. Chris Sinatro 13. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 14. AL Vasseur 15. Ed Cheslak 16. Ray Fitzgerald 17. Eric Hersey 18. Kevin Nowak 19. Jerry Curran 20. Robert Henninger III 21. Christopher Coleman 22. Riely O'Keefe 23. Colin Volpe 24. Anthony Colandro 25. Scott Cheslak 26. Frank Hodge
Mini Stocks: 1. Paul Wojcik 2. James O'Connell 3. Andrew Farnham 4. Chris Elixson 5. Jesse St. Clair 6. CJ Zurkowski 7. Johnny Cricchio 8. Mike Mujsce Sr. 9. John Messing 11. Justin Squires 12. Tony Collingsworth 13. Jamie Meyer 14. Joe Cooke Sr.
Truck Enduro: 1. Don Nelson Jr. 2. Gary Voight 3. Woot Lawrence 4. Justin McGrady 5. Mariah Lawrence 6. Dusty Cole 7. Kerry Botts 8. Doug Tittle 9. Joey Villatoro 10. Amber Weiss 11. Brandon LaManna 12. Bryan Moore 13. Joe Brodman 14. Wayne Yarbrough 15. Emily Hubbard 16. Danielle Cohen 17. Phil LaManna 18. Brian Dean
Noah Watts Photos