Tom Rogers Jr. Dominates in NASCAR Modified & Figure 8 Feature Events

Tom Rogers of Riverhead turned in a double dip performance Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway when he scored the win in both the 40-lap NASCAR Modified feature event as well the 15-lap Figure Eight contest later in the program. The NASCAR  Modified win was the 44th of Tom’s career while the Figure Eight victory was his 27th trip to victory lane. The Granite State Pro Stock Series made their first ever Long Island appearance with Mike Mitchell of Cumberland, RI collecting his first career victory in the Riverhead 100 earning $2,000. Prior to Saturday night Mitchell had never even scored a GSPSS podium finish.

At the start of the NASCAR Modified event Dillon Steuer sat on the pole with John Fortin Jr, joining him on the front row but at the hit off the throttle off turn four Steuer’s car broke loose sending him into a wild spin while the rest of the field scrambled for a way by. One driver who did not survive the opening lap fireworks would be defending NASCAR Modified champion Shawn Solomito with his car suffering front end damage. When the race did get underway two young lions would test each other for the opening lap lead as John Fortin Jr and Chris Young tussled with Fortin coming out on top. Lap 2 saw Tom Rogers Jr. who started the race 6th quickly making his way by Young for second. Rogers made his way right to the back bumper of Fortin Jr. and the race was on for the early lead. Over the next 13 laps Fortin and Rogers played a high speed game of chess with Fortin who was seeking his first career win holding serve at first. After several attempts of trying a crossover move on the race leader that were unsuccessful Rogers then moved to the outside lane to make his bid for the lead.

On lap 16 the lead duo were side by side for the race lead when the yellow flag waved and when scoring and timing reviewed the transponder reading Rogers had led the last fully completed lap with Fortin now second. On the restart Rogers was able to maintain his lead while Fortin was under attack from Vinny Biondolillo for second on the double file restart. Biondolillo would power his way by Fortin and would then zero in on Rogers for the lead. Vinny would indeed get to the back bumper of Rogers and would apply pressure for the remainder of the race. Biondolillo tried his own version of the crossover move off the corners but the race leader was wise to the challengers strategy and was able to keep Biondolillo at bay for the remainder of the race.

“Vinny had a good car tonight” Rogers noted after exiting his race winning SGS Stone Works Chevy “he threw all he could at me and he’s going to win his share.” Roger pointed to some race shop work during the week as another reason he outlasted both Biondolillo and Fortin, “my crew chief Shawn and I went through the car this week and made some minor adjustments going back to an old set-up we had, it worked out pretty good”

Vinny Biondolillo of  Farmingville was runner-up in the Kennedy L.I. Realty entry while early leader John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville had a solid race scoring a third place tally in the Suffolk Pro Cycles Chevy. Dave Brigati of Calverton and John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville completed the top five.

Mike Mitchell and his Granite State Pro Stock Series team were not sure if they wanted to venture to Long Island for the Riverhead 100 but at the urging of his supportive girlfriend Mike and his team made the trip and when the century grind ended Mike was sure happy he listened to his better half. Local talent Jarrod Hayes started on the pole and would set the pace for the first third of the race. Former INEX Legend Race Car standout Devin O’Connell made his way to second and was all over the back bumper of Hayes. The duo would also find themselves side by side for numerous early race double file restarts but for every challenge O’Connell threw at Hayes the leader was able to thwart them. With Mike O’Sullivan moving to third O’Connell realized he might have to amp up his challenges for the lead as the third place car was indeed on the march. O’Connell applied the “chrome horn” to Hayes and on lap 33 went for broke as he made an inside move going to the first turn. Hayes tried to shut the door and contact was made with O’Connell’s right front getting into the side of the leaders car with both going for a spin and crash in the first turn. Infuriated Hayes after exiting his car went over to O’Connell to let him know he was not too happy with his driving.

When the race went back to green O’Sullivan found himself as the race leader but only for a short spell as smoke was starting to pour off the right front. Sure enough on lap 45 O’Sullivan veered off the second turn into the infield done for the race. That turn of events moved Mike Mitchell to the race lead with defending GSPSS champion Barry Gray now second. Gray was able to fill Mitchell’s mirror for the remainder of the race trying to work some lapped traffic as a pick along the way. In the end Mike Mitchell in his M&M Equipment machine would drive off to his first career victory. Barry Gray of Belchertown, Ma. was runner-up in the Meadow Motor Cars Chevy while Cory Casagrande of Stafford Springs, Ct was third in his Chalew Performance racer.  Scott MacMichael of Newbury, NH and Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Ma completed the top five.
The 15-lap Figure Eight contest found Scott Pedersen breaking out front at the throw of the green chased early on by Tom Ferrara before Tom Rogers Jr. made his way to second on lap 5. Rogers moved right in on Pedersen once he got to second and on lap 9 was able to race The Bay Bar & Grill Plymouth Coupe to the lead when Pedersen slowed just a touch at the “X” to avoid crossing traffic. Rogers never lifted and his momentum allowed him to move by Pedersen who now found himself in the role of challenger. Over the final five laps of the contest Rogers would stay out front and nail down the victory. Tom Ferrara of Patchogue made a late race pass on Scott Pedersen entering the first turn to claim runner-up money in the Northeastern Office Equipment machine while Scott Pedersen of Shirley settled for third in his Benny Vecchio owned car.

Former Blunderbust champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington took full advantage of his outside pole starting position to drive to victory in the 30-lap feature event earning his 19th career win in the process. As the field took the green off turn four Pickerell got the measure of pole sitter Tom Puccia taking the race lead entering the first turn. Puccia ran second until he was over taken to the outside on lap 3 by Cassandra Denis who seemed to have a god car under her. However just one lap later Denis would pull to the infield with transmission failure ending her race. That moved Puccia back to second but just for a lap as Tim Mulqueen made his way by on lap 6. Mulqueen who set a new track record in qualifying with a lap of 14.764 drove his car hard in an attempt to catch the race leader but to no avail. At the finish it was Tom Pickerell in the Sequel Group Chevy taking the win over Tim Mulqueen of Levittown in his self sponsored Timmy’s Towing Chevy. Jim Laird of Riverhead was on the move late in the race after starting 6th in the field and he’d claim third place money in the My Country 96.1 FM entry.

Owen Grennan of Glen Cove served notice on his fellow Super Pro Truck Competitors that he will be a voice in the 2017 championship fight as he won their 20-lap main event, his third career victory. Sophomore driver Sean Glennon showed the way at the drop of the green with both Rob McCormick and Jack Handley in hot pursuit. Handley and McCormick got into a heated battle for second and were joined by Mike Albasini as well. As the trio raced for second Glennon was able to move out to a very comfortable lead. After Handley, McCormick and Albasini all took turns running second Owen Grennan who started the race in 7th made his way by all three at one time or another to moved to second on lap 13. Owen then quickly reeled in race leader Glennon who seemed to have slowed his pace from earlier in the race and on lap 16 entering the first turn made an inside power move to put his Excellence Automotive East Chevy out front for good. Dave Brigati who started the race from 8th moved under Glennon moments later and would cross the line second in his Quest Machining & Fabrication entry while Mike Albasini of Flushing claimed third in his Hollis Court Collision racer.

The race of the night belonged to the INEX Legend Race Cars in their 20-lap main event with Bryan Kelly of Aquebogue nipping Kevin Nowak of Medford by a hair at the transponder stripe. Nowak took the race lead when things got underway with Jerry Curran giving chase over the first 6 laps. Lap 7 found Bryan Kelly making his way by Curran for second. Kelly was now faced with the task of reeling in fellow veteran driver Nowak for the race lead and indeed he would setting up the close finish with just under five laps to go. Nowak and Kelly in the closing laps would race side by side for the lead and right behind them John Beatty Jr and Brendon Bock went door handle to door handle for third while the chilled race fans roared with delight. With the checker flag in the air Nowak and Kelly came off turn four side by side with Kelly taking the narrow win in his John’s Tree Removal mount to which he stated afterwards, that was the most fun I’ve had here”. Kevin Nowak had to settle for second in his J-Tec Electric entry while John Beatty of Merrick too third in the D&D Auto Body racer.

In the 30-lap Mini Stock race Bryan Kelly would again find his way to victory lane in his BKS Marble & Granite machine and have to endure another hotly contested fight for the lead. Kelly and eventual runner-up Mike Mujsce Jr. of Hampton Bays raced for the win with Kelly coming out on top after starting 8th. Paul Wojcik of Centereach was third.

“Pirate” Pete Rabaglia of Bohemia roared from his 13th starting spot to take the win in the 30-lap Truck Enduro his second career win. Gary Voight of Medford was runner-up in the United Exhaust Shop Chevy while RJ Gage of Riverhead was third in the Wise Choice Fuel Oil racer.


NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Vinny Biondolillo 3. John Fortin Jr. 4. Dave Brigati 5. John Fortin Sr. 6. Howie Brode 7. Ronnie Williams 8. Chris Young 9. Dillon Steuer 10. John Baker 11. Cory Midgett 12. Ken Darch 13. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 14. David Schneider 15. Shawn Solomito

Granite State Pro Stock Series: 1. Mike Mitchell 2. Barry Gray 3. Cory Casagrande 4. Scott MacMichael 5. Scott Kulesa 6. Chris Turbush 7. Brandon Turbush 8. Brian Doyle 9. Nick Lascuola 10. Chris McGuire 11. Kevin Metzger 12. John King 13. Mike O’Sullivan 14. Jarrod Hayes 15. Devin O’Connell 16. John Baker 17. Roger Oxee

Figure Eights: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Tom Ferrara 3. Scott Pedersen 4. Gary Fritz Jr. 5. Greg Harris 6. Brian Hansen 7. George Brown 8. Charlie Macwhinnie 9. Bob Dalke 10. Johnny Vullo 11. Eric Zeh

Blunderbusts: 1. Tom Pickerell 2. Tim Mulqueen 3. Jim laird 4. Tom Puccia 5. Derek Wegmann 6. Wayne Meyer 7. Eric Zeh 8. Bill Wegmann Sr. 9. Tom Sullivan 10. Bob Muller 11. Joshua Creel 12. Alyssa Paprocky 13. Tommy Walkowiak 14. Cassandra Denis

Super Pro Trucks: 1. Owen Grennan 2. Dave Brigati 3. Mike Albasini 4. Jack Handley Jr. 5. Lou Maestri 6. Frank Dumicich Jr. 7. Rob McCormick 8. Jimmy Rennick 9. Tommy Walkowiak 10. Frank Dumicich Sr. 11. Roger Turbush 12. Sean Glennon

INEX Legend Race Cars: 1. Bryan Kelly 2. Kevin Nowak 3. John Beatty Jr. 4. Brendon Bock 5. Chris Rogers 6. Ray Fitzgerald 7. Jim Sylvester 8. George Tomko Jr. 9. Vinny Delaney 10. Jerry Curran 11. Jonathon Parsons 12. Ed Cheslak 13. Silas Hiscock 14. Dennis Kurras 15. Anthony Colandro 16. Mike Van Houten Jr. 17. Jeff Otto Jr. 18. Eric Hersey 19. John Mackie 20. Mike Benson 21. Steve Hersey 22. Richie Davidowitz 23. Don Conradis 24. Matt Brode

Mini Stocks: 1. Bryan Kelly 2. Mike Mujsce Jr. 3. Paul Wojcik 4. Steve Fuller 5. Preston Prydatko 6. Brandon Esposito 7. Chris Elixson 8. Robert Dugre 9. Jeremy Clint

Truck Enduro: 1. Pete Rabaglia 2. Gary Voight 3. RJ Gage 4. Steve Betcher 5. Jarrett Campbell 6. Gene Burbol 7. Mariah Lawrence 8. Mike Benton 9. Bobby Pease 10. Dustin Cole 11. Danielle Cohen 12. Emily Hubbard 13. Don Nelson Jr. 14. Hank Hallock 15. Paul Cummings 16. Danielle Corwin

Source: Bob Finan/ RR PR