During the off season former Blunderbust driver Rob Bader wanted to return grassroots racing in 2021 and during the winter went out and got a Street Stock for competition at Riverhead Raceway. Among the goals Rob set was for the car to be a tribute to his late Uncle Jay Hulse former Charger driver. Then unexpected wrist surgery put Rob on injured list but undaunted he tabbed good friend Brian Brown of Riverhead to steer the car in Sunday’s May Meltdown event and in a storybook finish Brown delivered an emotional win for Bader and his family.
By Bob Finan
With the starting grid for the 15 car event set by heat race results the two qualifying winners Brian Brown and defending champion Dave Antos brought the field to green with Brown edging out front over Antos who immediately fell into the clutches of Chris Lescenski who started the race third. On lap 4 Lescenski was able to work his way by Antos and set his radar for race leader Brown. Over the final 16 laps the two good off track friends went toe to toe with the challenger turning up the heat as the laps clicked off. Lescenski was draped all over Brown in the final five laps of the 20-lap main event however it would be Brian Brown in the Robert’s Express Oil Chevy scoring the emotional win.
“Chris and I are good friends and I was kidding him before the race he got me in a race last year but I wasn’t gonna let that happen this year” quipped Brown after earning his 5th career SS win. “This means so much to Rob Bader for whom I am filling in for until his wrist gets better, once we get her all painted up it will look like one of Jay’s Charger cars from back in the day”. Car owner Bader could be seen by the start finish line with a mixed bag of emotions as Brown took the checker, pumping his fist in the air but all the while with tears in his eyes, “this is for Uncle Jay” is all Rob could muster.
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Chris Lesecenski of Riverhead was second in his Eastport Feeds Chevy while Dave Antos of Lindehurst started off his title defense with a third place tally in the EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy.
Mike Mujsce Jr. of Mastic Beach made a triumphant return to the Mini Stock wars when he topped the 20-lap Mini Stock feature event. During this event a very light drizzle started to fall but never got heavy enough to curtail the racing. Early on Chris Elixson and Tom Puccia diced for the lead before a double file restart allowed Justin Squires to move by Puccia on lap 3. Later on things started to happen in a hurry with Squires taking the lead from Puccia but soon a lap 12 caution would change the complexion of the race for good. During the caution Puccia was forced to the pits to repair a dragging front bumper cover ending his hopes for victory. When the race resumed that is when things got hairy as Squires just didn’t seem to fire off good which allowed Mike Mujsce Jr. who started the race from the 8th position to take the lead with Squires recovering for second. Once out front it would be Mike Mujsce leading the remainder of the race to post his 5th career Mini Stock victory in the Mike’s Auto Service of Quogue entry. Justin Squires of Flanders survived a late race battle with “Tree Trunk” Tony Collinsworth of Calverton to claim runner-up honors in his CRC Video Surveillance Honda with Collinsworth settling for third in the Suffolk Tree Works Chevy.
To say there were many twists and turns to the 40-lap Truck Enduro would be a understatement but when the dust settled on the thriller it was Justin McGrady of Stony Brook the defending champion of the class scoring his first career victory. Kerry Botts, Mariah Lawrence and Phil LaManna al took turns at the front of the field during the race. Lawrence had the most disappointing of circumstances remove her from the lead when a couple of lapped trucks got together in front of her in turn three while she enjoyed nearly a half a lap lead. By the time the involved trucks cleared and Mariah got back going the damage was done. Phil LaManna also had heartbreak while leading when his truck suddenly went south on him ending his hopes for the win. In the end Justin McGrady who started the race 7th was the happy first time winner in his HP Landscaping Chevy. Mariah Lawrence of Southampton recovered to finish second in her sponsor wanted truck while Gary Voight of Medford completed the podium in third with the A Voight Towing machine.
All Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon knows how to do in the 8-Cylinder Enduros is win and he did just that for the 11th time in his career Sunday in a 50-lap affair. Unfazed by a 14th place starting berth Fitzpatrick put the Tire Express Chevy out front on the 4th lap after early leader Richie Carman spun in turn four and never looked back. Roger Tramm of Yaphank had a fast car during the race and was able to claim runner-up money in the United Exhaust Shops entry while Kevin Feeney of Hicksville was third in the Ham Racing entry.
Zach Tyler of Cutchogue, the nephew of former Riverhead Raceway Late Model standout Glenn Tyler notched his first career win in the 60-lap 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro. After starting 6th in the field Tyler looked on early as Franky Abbabtiello and Frank Raynor took turns leading the early stages of the race. Tyler was able to take the lead from Raynor and then proceeded to open a huge lead over the field. John Palmeri came to second after the halfway mark and went to work on reeling in leader Tyler who at one point had half a track lead. Palmeri got the lead down to 1.7 second but there’d be no catching or passing Zach Tyler in his Miller & Caggiano Attorneys At Law machine. Palmeri of Lindenhurst was runner-up in the J&J Towing racer while veteran Bob Haeger of hampton Bays was third in the 27 Dollar band entry.
Street Stocks: 1. Brian Brown 2. Chris Lescenski 3. Dave Antos 4. Jimmy White Jr. 5. Brian McCormack 6. Alyssa Paprocky 7. Justin Ferreri 8. Ed Fontana 9. Danny Pizzo 10. James Dipietro 11. Robbie Blackmore 12. Bill Brown 13. Gerard Lawrence 14. Rhett Fogg 15. Roger Oxee
Mini Stocks: 1. Mike Mujsce Jr. 2. Justin Squires 3. Tony Collinsworth 4. Chris Elixson 5. Scott Phillips 6. James O’Connell 7. Martin O’Connell 8. Nick Kocis 9. Andrew Farnham 10. Paul Wojcik 11. Tom Puccia 12. Ryan Warren 13. Joe Cooke Jr. 14. CL Zukowski
Truck Enduro: 1. Justin McGrady 2. Mariah Lawrence 3. Gary Voight 4. Don Nelson 5. Phil LaManna 6. Kerry Botts 7. Brian Dean 8. Amber Weiss 9. Joe Brodman 10. Doug Tittle 11. Chris Olsen 12. Whitney Williams 13. Danielle Cohen 14. Jackie Germuth 15. Kelsey Squires 16. Tom Sullivan 17. Woot Lawrence 18. Gene Burbol
8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Sean Fitzpatrick 2. Roger Tramm 3. Kevin Feeney 4. Richie Carman 5. Joe Boccia 6. Kevin Coyle 7. Eric Germuth 8. Pat Collins 9. Michael Asdahl 10. Dale Doherty 11. Preston Prydatko 12. Tony Capobianco 13. Kale Buckley 14. Tom Talbot 15. Robert Savoy 16. Blake Drinkwater 17. Steve Jones 18. Carmine Ragusa 19. Greg Harris 20. Robert Eggers 21. David Cohen 22. Dennis Jones 23. James Muench 24. David Verbeeck 25. Ricky Carman
4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go Enduro: 1. Zach Tyler 2. John Palmeri 3. Bob Haeger 4. Joey Palmeri 5. Frank Raynor 6. Michael Serpa 7. Joshua Flynn 8. Franky Abbatiello 9. Patrick Collins 10. David Olivari 11. Chris Olivari 12. Jody Fickissen 13. Chris Constantine 14. Jack Tessa 15. Jenn Krpata 16. Mariah Lawrence 17. Gary Voight 18. Chris Grover 19. Rich Boulch 20. Charles Astacio 21. Jeremy Rand 22. Vincent Abbatiello 23. Michael Bianco 24. Anthony Paretta 25. Chole Phillips 26. Vincent Abbatiello Sr. 27. Mark Raynor 28. Robert Lindner 29. Peter Verwys Jr.