Coming into the final month of racing at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night defending Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead had two goals on his mind. Try and go out and win the 50-lap feature event for long time team member Pete “Fuzzy” Jones who passed away earlier in the week and also continue his streak of at least one victory for the 18th consecutive race season. Rogers is the ninth different win in 2021 in thirteen NASCAR Modified events.
By Bob Finan
Former Charger foes Eric Zeh and CJ Lehmann brought the 18-car field to the green flag with Lehmann inching out front of Zeh but a spin by Dave Brigati in turn two shook things up in the championship chase when points leader Kyle Soper caught the spinning car with his right front wheel before a lap could be completed. Soper lost 16 laps in the pits for repairs. When the race did got underway Lehmann once again inched out in front of Zeh for the early race lead with both hard luck drivers hungry for their first win of ’21. On lap 16 Matt Brode caught the wall up the backstretch drawing another yellow flag with an extended clean up following. When the field lined up for the restart Lehmann remained the race leader but it would be Chris Young who started the race sixth moving to second.
However Tom Rogers Jr. was on the move from 8th to the top three and with a power move to the outside of Young off turn four Tom took over second at the start of the 20th circuit. With Lehmann’s car working best in the outside groove Rogers quickly realized if he were to get by CJ for the lead it would have to be with a bottom shot move. The duo ran side by side for numerous laps with Lehmann able to power away every time Rogers took a peak down low. Undaunted Rogers kept the heat on one time actually getting into the left rear rub rail of Lehmann and it would be on lap 31 when Rogers muscled his way under the race leader to take control of the race. Unfortunately for CJ an electrical issue took him out of a good finish after he lost the race lead.
Chris Young worked his way to second on lap 52 up the backstretch passing Lehmann. With just eight laps to work with and a highly motivated Tom Rogers Jr., a 60-time winner coming to the race out front Young would have to be content right where he was. When the checker flag waved it was one relieved and happy Tom Rogers Jr. leaping out of his Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevy taking the hood off the car displaying a decal of his fallen friend Pete “Fuzzy” Jones. “This one is for Fuzzy, heck he was with my father’s Street Stock team back in the day and with me ever since I started, he was riding with me tonight” Rogers recalled, “plus I keep my winning streak in tact” Indeed since his first career win on May 8th, 2004 Tommy has won at least one Buzz Chew Chevrolet NASCAR Modified race a season since and now totals 61 wins, just two back of “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek for the all time lead.
Chris Young of Calverton was runner-up in the CPC Pharmaceutical Chevy. The performance of the night fell to John Baker of Brookhaven who after a heat race crash rebuilt the right front of his car, started dead last in 18th to bring the Elite Towing Chevy home for a solid and satisfying third place tally. Timmy Solomito of Isllip raced his way to fourth after starting 11th while Dave Brigati of Calverton also ran all the way from the back after his spin to claim fifth.
Defending Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified champion Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches clinched the 2021 Miller Lite Triple Crown Series title when he won their 40-lap feature event for his third win of the season. Owen Grennan of Glen Cove set fast time in his Dillner Precast Chevy but due to a piece of lead falling off the car while taking time his lap of 12.423 was disallowed. That moved Mike Albasini of Flushing to the quickest in qualifying with a lap of 12.481, with Davidowitz second quick at 12.506. Albasini who was busy late in the week recovering cars from the floods of Queens after the remnants of Ida flooded the borough jumped to the race lead at the throw of the green with Davidowitz in hot pursuit. On lap 2 exiting the fourth corner Richie threw his car to the outside of the race leader and came away with the top spot as the race started the third lap. Once out front with his Benimax Trucking Chevy there was no looking back for Davidowitz who would have to survive one late race restart on lap 38 after a Terry Stiles spin. Chris Rogers gave some late race heartburn to Richie Davidowitz but in the end Richie held on for his 5th career win tying of all people Chris Rogers Of Patchgoe for fifth on the all time win list. Rogers making his first start since being shelved with a broken wrist was runner-up in the Pt Jeff Raceway Slots Cars Chevy with Mike Albasini third in the Hollis Court Collision racer.
Without question “Mad” Max Handley of Medford enjoyed a career night winning both the 30-lap Blunderbust feature as well the 20-lap Super Pro Truck main. The Blunderbust event was the third and final installment of the 2021 Miller Lite Triple Crown Series. Max Handley topped the qualifying charts with a lap of 14.413 breaking his own track record he set in July. Right from the start Max Handley was in control of the race taking the race lead over overall championship leader Cody Triola who was second quick in qualifying. Lap 3 saw Eddie Diaz make some noise as he passed Triola to the inside entering the third turn to come to second. With the race going green to checker caution free there was no stopping Max Handley in his All American Auto Wreckers Chevy as he drove off to his fifth win of the year clinching the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series title in the process. Eddie Diaz of Centereach was second in the Notorious Tattoo entry while Cody Triola of Bay Shore retains his overall track championship points lead with a third place finish in the C&L Glass & Aluminum machine.
Like the Blunderbust race the 20-lap Super Pro truck feature would run non-stop with 16-year old Ethan Brown pacing the race early on over Matt Triola.Just as the field received the halfway signal Max Handley who started 6th on the grid passed Triola for second and zeroed right in on Brown for the race lead. Brown tried to ward off Handley with all he had including a side by side battle for the lead on laps 11 & 12. Handley then tucked in behind Brown for a few laps before making what would be the winning pass on lap 17 working his way under Brown in turn one wrestling the lead away. Once out front in the Hydro Action Chevy Max Handley never looked back claiming his second win of 2021 as well his SPT career. All time leading winner Lou Maestri of Deer Park made a late race charge for second in the Goodfella’s Auto Repair machine while Ethan Brown of Floral Park finished third in his Foos Fire Chevy.
After winning his first career INEX Legend Race Car feature in mid August Anthony Marsh of Riverhead wasted little time in grabbing his second win of 2021 as he triumphed in their 20-lap feature event. Sean McElearney keeps knocking on the door for his own first career victory once again taking the race lead at the throw of the green. Chris Coleman gave chase to McElearney over the first three laps before Jason Castaldo moved to second on lap 4. Castaldo whom himself won his first ever race earlier in the year was seeking his third win of the year trying to track down McElearney. On lap 10 a Ray Fitzgerald spin and subsequent caution flag would change the complexion of the race as during the yellow flag period Castaldo dropped to the infield with a engine issue. When the race resumed McElearney remained out front with Anthony Marsh who started 11th now up to second. After investing five laps pursuing the race leader Marsh made his move for the lead passing McElearney to the inside off turn two on lap 16. Once out front the JAM Computer Systems entry of Anthony Marsh drove off to victory with Sean McElearney of North Babylon runner-up in the Finishline Demolition & Masonry car. Nick Morabito of Miller Place impressed with a solid third place finish in the Benimax Trucking racer.
Right after Dan Jivanelli of Hampton Bays, Jack Orlando of Calverton and Spider Ligon of Riverhead were inducted onto the Cromarty Wall of Champions the Vintage All Stars ran their fourth and final 15-lap event of 2021. After Mark Miller led the first three laps of the race Tony Ferrante Jr. of New Hyde Park took the lead with an outside pass of Miller exiting turn four to start the fourth lap. Don Howe of Water Mill followed Ferrante’s tire track to pass Miller for second as well but in the end Tony Ferrante Jr. in the Bill Murray owned X-3 won his second race pf the year. Howe also a two time winner this year was second in the Corwith’s Auto Body Cavalier while Timmy Solomito drove the Jarzombek Chevette 11th to a third place finish. In a surprise to Dan Jivanelli several folks including Steve Tooker, Wayne Okula and Billy Smith of Wild Child Designs among others transformed the Vintage All Star car of Dan Dombal into a tribute car to Jivanelli. Once side of the car was Dan’s orange paint scheme with blue numbers while the other side was the red, white and blue design Jivanelli also ran.
Former Charger champion Richie Carman of Port Jefferson led wire to wire to win the 40-lap 8-Cylinder Enduro his first of 2021. Carman who started racing back in the heyday of the 8-Cylinder Endurto days before going Charger racing had both Kevin Feeney and Pat Collins to deal with during the race. However at the finish it was Richie Carman in the United Exhaust Shop Chevy not only winning the race but padding his championship lead in the process. Pat Collins of Southampton was runner-up in the PC Truck & Equipment entry while Kevin Feeney of Southampton was third.
“The Punisher” Paul Fox of Riverhead lived up to his moniker when he won the night concluding School Bus Demolition Derby over the likes of “Kev-O” Kevin Rommeney of East Meadow and Rob Savoy of Selden. Fox was steering the Rapid Recovery bus.
NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Tom Rogers Jr. 2. Chris Young 3. John Baker 4. Timmy Solomito 5. Dave Brigati 6. Dylan Slepian 7. Michael Rutkoski 8. Justin Brown 9. Artie Pedersen III 10. Eric Zeh 11. CJ Lehmann 12. Kevin Orlando 13. Kyle Soper 14. Craig Lutz 15. Matt Brode 16. Joey Braun 17. Chris Turbush 18. Roger Turbush
Crate Modifieds: 1. Richie Davidowitz 2. Chris Rogers 3. Mike Albasini 4. Matt Brode 5. Michael Berner 6. Alex Colasanto 7. Stephen Coleman 8. Owen Grennan 9. Mark Stewart 10. Eric Hersey 11. Vinny Delaney 12. AJ DeSantis 13. Rich Gerbe 14,. Brian Brown 15. Dennis Krupski 16. Eddie Schutze 17. Mark Wolf 18. Terry Stiles 19. Dan Turbush 20. Steve Ratti 21. Chase Grennan 22. Lou Maestri
Blunderbusts: 1. Max Handley 2. Eddie Diaz 3. Cody Triola 4. Jim Laird Jr. 5. Brandon Hubbard 6. Tom Sullivan 7. Ron Langdon 8. Bill Wegmann Jr. 9. Jarrett Campbell 10. Bill Wegmann Sr. 11. Gary Caldwell 12. Kyle Halpin 13. Alyssa Paprocky DNS- CJ Lehmann
Super Pro Trucks: 1. Max Handley 2. Lou Maestri 3. Ethan Brown 4. Jack Handley Jr. 5. Matt Triola 6. Joe Cerabino 7. Mark Stewart 8. Patrick Glennon 9. Dave Brigati 10. Daniel Creegan 11. Frank Dumicich Sr.
Legend Race Cars: 1. Anthony Marsh 2. Sean McElearney 3. Nick Morabito 4. George Tomko Jr. 5. Allan Pedersen 6. Joey Braun 7. Christopher Coleman 8. Kevin Nowak 9. Riely O’Keefe 10. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 11. Jeff Otto Jr. 12. Jerry Curran 13. Mike Van Houten Jr. 14. Eric Hersey 15. Charlie Hodge 16. Jason Agugliaro 17. Pat Moore 18. Scott Cheslak 19. Chris Sinatro 20. Jake Curran 21. Chase Van Houten 22. Dave Strohmeyer 23. Ray Fitzgerald 24. Jim Sylvester 25. Mike Benton 26. Jason Castaldo
Vintage All Stars: 1. Tony Ferrante Jr. 2. Don Howe 3. Timmy Solomito 4. Jason Agugliaro 5. Mark Miller 6. Mike Siraco 7. Boots Jasinsky 8. Kyle Ellwood 9. Frank Saladino 10. Jimmy Reed 11. Dan Dombal
8-Cylinder Enduro: 1. Richie Carman 2. Pat Collins 3. Kevin Feeney 4. Kevin Coyle 5. Christian Kalbfleish 6. Woot Lawrence 7. David Verbeeck 8. Eric Germuth 9. Tony Copobianco 10. Joe Boccia 11. James Muench 12. Preston Prydatko 13. James Heym 14. Dave Sandel 15. Will Ebert 16. Moody Anaya 17. Steve Jones 18. Ralph Caggiano 19. John O’Rourke 20. Robert Eggers 21. Ricky Carman 22. Roger Tramm
School Bus Demolition Derby: Winner- Paul Fox