John Baker Wins Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified Race Saturday Night

Saddled with starting 12th in Saturday night’s Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified feature didn’t deter John Baker of Brookhaven from racing to his second win of the season on I Love American night at Riverhead Raceway as he won the 50-lap feature event. For Baker who also won on June 12th the victory was the fourth of his career.

By Bob Finan

Early in the going Jack Handley Jr. moved to the race lead followed by Eric Zeh with both drivers seeking their first career win. On lap 3 working the backstretch Dylan Slepian was able to pass Zeh to the outside for second. Slepian, a former INEX Legend Race Car champion chased Handley for the following seven laps. On lap 12 Kyle Soper gunning for his third win in a row made his way by Slepian for second setting sail for race leader Handley. The first lead change of the race would come on a 18th lap double file restart where Soper would get the measure of Handley taking over the race lead and many on hand thought Soper would race off to his 23rd career win however John Baker who was making his way towards the front of the field and Tom Rogers Jr. has other ideas.

On lap 20 Baker who had just come to third just laps prior made his way by Handley for second and began to close in a leader Soper. After three laps of sizing Soper up for a pass Baker made his move on lap 23 slipping under Soper in the third and fourth turn to become the new race leader. Just one lap later Tom Rogers Jr. with whom Soper had a race long battle with to win the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 a week earlier also passed Kyle for second. While Rogers was able to keep pace with Baker over the second half of the race as did Soper but the leader’s car seemed to be getting stronger as the laps wore down.

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At the checker it was John Baker racing from deep in the field to the winners circle in his Staria Automotive Chevy. “This is all my father (Daryl) who gives me what I need to race and of course Geno Orlando who prepares them for me” Baker noted afterwards in victory lane. As for the race itself John recalled, “this thing was just right tonight and I was able to make my way through the pack but getting the lead was one thing, keeping against Tommy and Kyle quite another”. He was referring to the fact that Rogers the defending track champion is a 60-time winner and Soper the 2021 championship leader has won 22 time.

Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead for the second week in a row was runner-up in the Precision Water Works Chevy while Kyle Soper of Manorville was third in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills and Chris Young of Calverton completed the top five finishers.

The Figure Eights returned to action after a month layoff providing a wild finish to their 15-lap main event that saw Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville win his first career feature while spinning backwards! Brian Hansen led the first lap before defending champion Joe Warren Jr. passed him on lap 2 for the race lead. Vinny Biondollilo making just his second start of the year after a brief time away to drag race would come from dead last (12th) to move by Hansen for second on lap 3, it would not be the last time Biondoillo and Hansen would see each other. As the race progressed Warren and Biondolillo ran one-two with Vinny a one time NASCAR Modified winner turning up the pressure. On lap 12 that pressure paid off as Biondolillo made his way by Warren for the lead but Joe wasn’t going to give up without a fight.
As the race was coming to a conclusion the traffic at the “X” was getting more frequent and as they raced off turn four to come down to the checker Biondollilo was clipped in the intersection by Hansen which sent the leaders machine into spin cycle. At first it appeared that Joe Warren Jr. crossed the line first however race director Scott Tapley requested a replay from the track live stream and upon further review Vinny Biondollilo’s rear bumper crossed over where the start finish line would extend to on the course and he was deemed the race winner. The large crowd on hand roared with approval at the wild finish. Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge was second in the Alicia M. Menechino Attorney At Law entry while Tom Ferrara of Patchogue was third in the Beach Auto Collision Cadillac.

Just one week removed from his award winning march from twenty sixth to third in the 50-lap INEX Legend Race Car National Qualifier Anthony Marsh of Riverhead backed it up Saturday with his first career feature event triumph and this time he only had to come from the eighth starting berth. At the throw of the green Mike Benton raced out front chased over the first 11 circuits by teenage driver Sean McElearney. Both drivers had never won before and looked strong running up front until the halfway mark of the contest. Unfortunately on lap 11 leader Benton got into some fluid dropped by a car he was lapping sending him into a spin that would draw a caution moving him to the rear of the field. On the ensuing restart it was McElearney the new race leader as he outgunned Marsh to lead lap 12 but on the very next lap Marsh jumped to the outside passing McElearney on the front stretch for the lead. Kevin Nowak the defending champion and 19-time career winner made his way to second on lap 14 and if Marsh were to win his first ever race he would have to hold off one of the best on the East Coast. Hold him off he would as when the checkers flew it was Anthony Marsh steering the Riverhead Trailer machine to victory lane. Kevin Nowak of Medford was runner-up in the JTEC Electric racer while Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches was third in the CheckerWon Manufacturing mount.

The 20-lap Mini Stock feature turned into a race long battle between Joe Cooke Jr. of Shirley and eventual winner Ryan Warren of Ridge complete with a photo finish. Cooke who has stepped up his program in 2021 broke to the early race lead with Warren second. On lap 4 Warren ducked under Cooke in the third and fourth turn to take the lead a lead he’d hold until lap 11. A medical episode in the grandstands drew a caution flag so EMT’s could tend to the person in distress who would late be okay. When the race restarted Cooke reclaimed the race lead from Warren as they sliced and dices their way around the quarter mile. On lap 14 during another double file restart that found Cooke choosing the inside Warren would ride the outside to take the race lead back from Cooke. The battle would boil down to the last turn of the final lap as the tandem ran side by side with the checkers waving in the air. After careful review of the scoring and timing and feed from the live stream it was determined Ryan Warren in his Schmidt’s Market & Produce Cavalier won the race by 0.005. Joe Cooke in the Sign Design racer was a disappointed second thinking he had his first career win while defending champion CJ Zukowski of Riverhead was third in the MSM Motorsports Cavalier.

Giavanna Agugliaro of Islip in just her third start won the 15-lap Bandolero Group B feature. Giavanna took the lead from Matthew Vescovi Jr. on lap 2 of the event and once to the lead started pulling away. However the race was slowed on lap 3 when Jayden Owens-Bader backed his car into the turn four wall after spinning, Jayden was okay while his car suffered heavy damage. When the race resumed Giavanna Agugliaro picked up right where she left off leading the race in her Cesspool Pros Bando until the conclusion of the race. Austin Allen of East Hampton was runner-up in the Riverhead Building Supply entry while Wayne Meyer Jr. of Calverton was third in the Long Island Poultry racer.

In the 15-lap Bandolero Group A main event for the third time this season Darren Krantz Jr. of Huntington took home the victory. Nick Hodge jumped to the race lead at the start with Julianna Kramer giving chase for the first four laps. On lap 5 Darren Krantz Jr. worked his way by Kramer for second and then began to try and shrink the lead Hodge had opened up. On lap 7 while lapping slower cars Hodge had to slow down as to not make contact and that allowed Krantz with a full head of steam to race his way out front. Once in control of the race Darren Krantz Jr. never looked back in his machine scoring the win. Chevy Rommeney of Bohemia made a las t lap pass to claim second in the HCC Collision entry while Nick Hodge of Bellmore crossed the line third in his Sea Pro Marine Dock Builders mount.

The 40-lap 8-Cylinder Enduro had an exciting finish of it’s own too Saturday with Roger Tramm of Yaphank scoring his first career victory. The race boiled down to veteran Woot Lawrence and Roger Tramm who had been chasing each other all race long. With just two laps to go and Lawrence leading Tramm made his move working his way by for the lead and victory in the United Exhaust Shop Chevy. Woot Lawrence of Southampton was runner-up in the Travers Tools entry while championship leader Richie Carman of Port Jefferson Station was third in his Flowrite Exhaust Systems Chevy.

In the night ending 4/6-Cylinder Demolition Derby Joey Palmeri Jr. of Lindenhurst outlasted Sean Adler and brother John Palmeri both out of Lindenhurst to win his first event of 2021 in his J&J Towing machine. Adler was runner-up in the Monster’s Recycling car while John Palmeri was third in the JP Automotive entry.

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. John Baker 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. Kyle Soper 4. Dylan Slepian 5. Chris Young 6. Michael Rutkoski 7. John Beatty Jr. 8. Matt Brode 9. CJ Lehmann 10. Jack Handley Jr. 11. Roger Turbush 12. Craig Lutz 13. JR Bertuccio 14. Eric Zeh

Figure Eights: 1. Vinny Biondollilo 2. Joe Warren Jr. 3. Tom Ferrara 4. Scott Pedersen 5. Bryan Quilliam 6. Gary Fritz Jr. 7. Brain Hansen 8. Kim Hyde 9. Paulo Miguel 10. Bob Dalke 11. Allan Pedersen 12. Rick Swanson

Legend Race Cars: 1. Anthony Marsh 2. Kevin Nowak 3. Allan Pedersen 4. Devin Deshaies 5. Richie Davidowitz 6. Sean McElearney 7. George Tomko Jr. 8. Joey Braun 9. Tony Colandro 10. Jerry Curran 11. Nick Morabito 12. Brad Van Houten 13. Riely O’Keefe 14. Jeff Otto Jr. 15. Jason Castaldo 16. Scott Cheslak 17. Jim Sylvester 18. Eric Hersey 19. Mike Benton 20. Chris Sinatro 21. Charlie Hodge 22. Mike Van Houten 23. Ray Fiztgerald 24. Frank Hodge 25. Chase Van Houten 26. Jayden Glennerster

Mini Stocks: 1. Ryan Warren 2. Joe Cooke Jr. 3. CJ Zukowski 4. Paul Wojcik 5. Tom Puccia 6. Tony Collinsworth 7. Christian Conklin 8. James O’Connell 9. Scott Phillips 10. Bob Dalke 11. Martin O’Connell 12. Nick Kocis 13. Andrew Farnham 14. Jesse St. Clair 15. Ryan Zukowski

Bandolero Group A: 1. Darren Krantz Jr. 2. Chevy Rommeney 3. Nick Hodge 4. Rodeny Dowless Jr. 5. Jullianna Kramer 6. Ben Morabito 7. Tucker Bock 8. Gavin Romano 9. Brandon Booker

Bandolero Group B: 1. Giavanna Agugliaro 2. Austin Allen 3. Wayne Meyer Jr. 4. Reid Halpin 5. Matthew Voscovi Jr. 6. Kix Bock 7. Jayden Owens-Bader

8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Roger Tramm 2. Woot Lawrence 3. Richie Carman 4. Eric Germuth 5. Pat Collins 6. Kevin Feeney 7. Michael Asdahl 8. Ricky Carman 9. James Muench 10. David Verbeeck 11. Christian Kalbfleish 12. Kale Buckley 13. Preston Prydatko 14. Steve Jones 15. Tony Capobianco 16. Robert Eggers 17. Mahmoud Anaya 18. James Heym 19. David Cohen 20. Will Ebert 21. Kevin Coyle 22. Joe Boccia 23. Kris Dane 24. Christopher Smith 25. Dave Sandel

Demolition Derby: 1. Joey Palmeri Jr. 2. Shawn Adler 3. John Palmeri

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