Second year Riverhead Raceway owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz along with their staff were not going to bow to mother nature Saturday and were able to complete the final NASCAR Whelen All American Series program of 2017 utilizing a features only format for the evening. The track crew led by GM John Ellwood dried the tracks for an extended period of time so the show could be completed minus the scheduled qualifying races. Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead sewed up both the NASCAR Modified and Figure Eight championships in grand style winning both feature events. The NASCAR Modified win was Tom’s fifth of 2017 while the Figure Eight victory was his ninth of the year tying him with the late Joe Biondolillo Jr. and Roger Maynor for most wins in a single season. Rogers would secure his fourth NASCAR Modified championship in a tie breaker with John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville who finished third with Tom besting John on victories, 5 to 1as both earned 736 points.
When the NASCAR Modified field lined-up for the final race of the season Tom Rogers Jr. and John Fortin Sr. lined up in the fourth row in 7th & 8th respectfully. When the race went green Chris Young broke out front from his outside pole starting berth with Eddie Brunnhoelzl III quickly coming to second. Young seeking his first ever win led until a 10th lap restart shuffled the deck when Brunnhoelzl motored to the lead with Dave Brigati charging to second on the restart. Meanwhile the title contender were having two different races, as he’s been known for Rogers was on the march early on knowing that he had to try and stay at least two spots ahead of Fortin to erase the four point deficit he was facing entering the race. Fortin took a different tact laying back early in the race knowing that he’d be able to make up ground as the race wore on.
On a lap 25 restart with just 15-lap remaining in the race Rogers knew it was “go time” and on that restart he slid under Brigati for second and quickly drove right up to the rear spoiler of race leader Brunnhoelzl. Eddie in search of his second career Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified win tried to keep the high flying Rogers at bay but it would be for naught as Tom raced his way to the lead on lap 29. Fortin now knowing Tommy was potentially going to earn maximum points for the night knew his mission was simple, race his way to second and he’d win the crown by 2 markers. John, the author of 31 career wins was on the fly racing his way to third as the laps waned down. With five or son laps to go it was evident the only way John might at least catch Brunnhoelzl for second would be with a caution but none was forthcoming.
When the checker flag waved on the race Tom Rogers Jr. had earned his 48th career NASCAR Modified win but more importantly his fourth career championship joining Bill Park as the only two four time champions at the historic quarter mile oval. “This was a wild way to win a championship” Tom noted in victory lane referring to the fact he started the year off driving for Joe Ambrose before moving back to his family car for the final two thirds of the year. “I can’s say enough about my team, we could have thrown in the towel but they just kept after it. Sponsors like SGS Stone Works, Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm and CAC Industries just to name a few make this all possible”. In closing Tommy noted, “by the way this car is for sale” smiling sheepishly.
John Fortin Sr. and his John’s Fuel Oil team gave it their best shot but came up one spot short in finishing third behind race runner-up Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown in his East End Building Chevy. Dave Brigati of Calverton and Kyle Soper of Manorville rounded out the top five.
Without question 2017 was not the season Chris Turbush of Wading River and his Late Model team had hoped for but they ended it on a positive note winning the final 25-lap race of the year. Kyle Soper would wrap up the 2017 Late Model championship with a third place tally in the race in his Eastport Feeds Pontiac on the strength of six wins during the year where he was originally slated to be a part time racer in the Rob Pelis owned car. Soper’s teammate and former champion Scott Kulesa showed the way early in the race leading the first 11 laps of the contest. A double file restart after the 11th lap was completed found Chris Turbush racing his Polywada Beverage Chevy out front getting the measure of Kulesa when the race resumed. Once out front there was no stopping Turbush, a five time LM winner in 2016 who was plagued by misfortune in the early part of the 2017 that limited his win total this year to just two. Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Ma was runner-up in the RP Landscaping entry while 2017 champion Kyle Soper completed the podium. In his final race of an illustrious LM career Roger Oxee of Peconic wound up 10th and hours after the races was still taking photos and signing autographs for the well wishers who stopped by to wish him well.
CJ Lehmann of Shirley scored a bittersweet victory in the 25-lap Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate race. Lehmann was ecstatic about driving the Visconti Motorsports/IGA Food Markets Chevy to victory in the race but afterwards when he saw the car loaded onto a flat bed to be delivered to new owner & driver Chris Rogers he knew he ran his last race in a car he loved. Rookie driver Kurt Kreiger led the first five laps of the race chased at first by another freshman driver Justin Brown. Lehmann made his way by Brown on the third lap and two laps later powered his way under Kreiger for the race lead entering the first turn on lap 6. Kreiger remained second until the 11th lap when he was passed by Dylan Slepian for position. Over the final half of the race CJ Lehmann was able to remain out front to score his first win of the year and second overall in his Modified Crate career as he raced under the checker flag first. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills was runner-up in the Eastport Feeds Chevy while Dave Brigati sewed up his second straight Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate championship with his third place finish in the Quest Machining & Fabricating machine. Dave took home six wins in fourteen starts in route to the championship and is the all time leading winner of the division with nine.
Unlike the stress he endured to win the NASCAR Modified championship the Figure Eight title would securely in the hands of Tom Rogers Jr. when the Figure Eights lined up for their final 15-lap race of the season. Over the first three laps of the race Tom Kraft Jr. and Vinny Delaney diced for the top spot with Kraft leading the first lap. Delaney the second and Kraft raced back to the lead on lap three. However Tom Rogers Jr., who started the race from 11th drove straight to the front and on lap 4 he raced the Keith Repp owned Bays Bar & Grill Chevy Coupe out to the race lead. As has been the case all season long once Tommy made his way to the race lead he’d keep it and that is just what he did to win his 35th career Figure Eight feature event. The 2017 championship is the fourth of Tom’s career and just like he did in 2015 Rogers wins both the NASCAR Modified & Figure Eight championships in the same season. Tom Ferrara of Patchogue was runner-up in both the race and the championship chase in his Northeastern Office Equipment Cadillac while Eric Zeh of Selden was third in the second Keith Repp owned coupe.
Earlier this summer Wayne Meyer of Flanders thought he accomplished a mission he set out upon this Blunderbust season by winning his first career race. However a ride height infraction stripped him of that when post race. Saturday night Wayne Meyer atoned for that tech miscue and won his first career feature event. Early in the race season long foes Tim Mulqueen and Jim Laird ran either up front or close to each other up from with Mulqueen taking the early race lead. Eric Zeh chased Mulqueen for the first three laps before he was passed by Laird to the inside exiting the fourth turn to start the fourth lap. Laird got by Mulqueen for the lead on lap 7 but just two laps later on a double file restart Timmy marched back out front on lap 9. Three laps later Laird ducking to the inside of Mulqueen entering the first turn reclaimed the lead as the field started the 13th lap. As the laps wore down Wayne Meyer began to flex his muscles as he passed Mulqueen for second on lap 15. Just two laps later the driver of the Farm-Rite/Kubota Tractor machine raced his way by Jim laird to not only take the race lead but the eventual victory as well. Eric Zeh made his way back to second late in the race where he’d finish in the Westhampton Auto Salvage Cadillac. Tom Pickerell on the strength of his third place finish in his Sequel Enterprises Chevy wrapped up his fifth career Blunderbust track championship.
He might only be 19-years old but Saturday night “The Real Deal” Mark Stewart of Riverhead won his 13th career Super Pro Truck feature event moving him into a tie for fifth with Frank Dumicich Jr. on the all time win list. Gunning for his third win in a row Mike Albasini paced the 20-lap race early on before he was overtaken by Dave Brigati to the outside on a 6th lap double file restart. Brigati who came to the final race with a slim 7-point lead over Owen Grennan for the 2017 title would lead laps 7 through 11 before Mark Stewart came calling for the lead on lap 13. Stewart was able to get his East End Building Chevy around Brigati for the race lead and once out front he motored away from the field for his second win in six start this year. Dave Brigati in the Outlaw Racing Chevy content to ride second did just that in order to win his first career Super Pro Truck championship. All told Dave has four track titles, 2 in the Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crates the past two seasons, this SPT championship and he was also the 200 Charger champion at the track. Sean Glennon of Northport in the Rob’s Deli Chevy was third.
After a rough start to the 2017 INEX Legend Race Car season Brad Van Houten of Wading Riverhead won his second consecutive race of 2017 to end his trying year out positively. Van Houten steering the Riverhead Building Supply machine raced from the outside pole to take the race lead, a lead Brad would never surrender. Eric Hersey for the second week in a row steering the Steve Boland owned entry gave chase to Van Houten but could only watch as the race leader and eventual winner would pace all 20 circuits of the race. When the race ended the driver dubbed “Fancy Pants” Brad Van Houten raced to his 8th career INEX Legend Race Car victory. Eric Hersey of Commack was second in the Luau of Long Island racer while 2017 track champion John Beatty Jr. of Merrick completed his championship season with a third place finish in the Giella Electric racer.
1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 3. John Fortin Sr. 4. Dave Brigati 5. Kyle Soper 6. Dylan Slepian 7. Dillon Steuer 8. Chris Young 9. John Baker 10. Roger Turbush 11. Howie Brode 12. Brad Van Houten 13. Dan Jivanelli 14. David Schneider 15. Vinny Biondolillo
1. Chris Turbush 2. Scott Kulesa 3. Kyle Soper 4. John Baker 5. Eric Zeh 6. Chris McGuire 7. Ken Matlach 8. Kevin Metzger 9. Jeremy McDermott 10. Roger Oxee 11. Steve Mastro Jr. 12. Darren McCabe 13. Daryn Miller 14. Ray Minieri
1. CJ Lehmann 2. Dylan Slepian 3. Dave Brigati 4. AJ DeSantis 5. Dennis Krupski 6. Michael Rutkoski 7. Peter Bertuccio 8. Scott Pedersen 9. Mike Albasini 10. Tony Vecchio 11. Michael Rommeney 12. Justin Brown 13. Cary Rogers 14. Kurt Kreiger 15. Jack Orlando
1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Tom Ferrara 3. Eric Zeh 4. Greg Harris 5. Scott Pedersen 6. Gary Fritz Jr. 7. Tom Kraft Jr. 8. Bob Dalke 9. Vinny Delaney 10. Brian Hansen 11. Dan Lynch Jr. 12. Charlie Macwhinnie
1. Wayne Meyer 2. Eric Zeh 3. Tom Pickerell 4. Jim laird Jr. 5. Bill Wegmann Sr. 6. Derek Wegmann 7. Tom Puccia 8. Alyssa Paprocky 9. Tom Sullivan 10. Cody Triola 11. Joshua Creel 12. Jarrod Hayes DQ- Tim Mulqueen
Super Pro Trucks:
1. Mark Stewart 2. Dave Brigati 3. Sean Glennon 4. Owen Grennan 5. Jack Handley Jr. 6. Lou Maestri 7. Eddie Schutze 8. Mike Albasini 9. Dennis Cunningham
Legend Race Cars:
1. Brad Van Houten 2. Eric Hersey 3. John Beatty Jr. 4. Ed Cheslak 5. Jim Sylvester 6. Jeff Otto Jr. 7. Artie Pedersen III 8. Jonathan Parsons 9. Ray Fitzgerald 10. Jerry Curran 11. Mike Mortimer 12. Mike Benton 13. Riely O’Keefe 14. Silas Hiscock Sr. 15. Steve Woytysiak 16. Matt Brode 17. Kenny Southard 18. Joey Villatoro 19. Stephen Coleman 20. Vinny Delaney 21. Jeff Farruggia DNS- Don Conradi