Kyle Soper Kicks Off Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified Title Defense With 25th Career Victory Saturday

Defending NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville seeking his fourth title in five years got his championship defense off on the right foot, literally Saturday night when he scored a milestone 25th career victory at Riverhead Raceway. A strong field of 22 Tour Type Modifieds signed in for competition for the regular season opener.

By Bob Finan

Early on in the 50-lap event 2021 Rookie of the Year Jack Handley Jr led the first two circuits of the race before John Baker came calling for the lead on lap 3. Handley would chase Baker over the next four laps of the race which had it’s share of yellow flags along the way. On lap 7 a strong running Eddie Brunnhoelzl III made his way by Handley for second and quickly set his sights on race leader Baker. The complexion of the race would change dramatically on lap 14 during a double file restart. Kyle Soper, who started the race 7th had made his way to third and when the green flag reappeared he got two for the price of one when he passed both Baker and Brunnhoelzl to take over the race lead.

Once out front in the Eastport Feeds Chevy Soper would find three drivers give chase until the race concluded as Baker, Brunnhoelzl and later Dave Brigati all took turns at trying to reel in the race lead. Brigati advanced to second with 20-laps left in the race after Brunnhoelzl and Baker got together in a minor tangle off turn four with Brunnhoelzl going for a spin while Baker continued. Over the closing laps Brigati kept pace with Soper but never was able to pull up to the eventual race winner to mount a challenge.

“We moved our shop over the winter and being superstitious we didn’t know what that would do for our luck” Soper noted in the winners circle, “I just can’t thank my team enough for all the work they put in on this car and this past off season for all the extra work moving”.

Dave Brigati of Calverton was runner-up in the Coors Light LFR with John Baker of Brookhaven third in the Staria Automotive Chevy. Justin Brown of Manorville and JR Bertuccio of Centereach both recovered from an earlier race incident that saw Bertuccio sent to the rear for spinning Brown after contact. Brown and Bertuccio were fourth and fifth.

Solid turnout of 18 Late Models took to the track for a 40-lap main event and much like the NASCAR Modifieds it would turn out to be a rough and tumble affair. When the dust settled veteran Dave Brigati of Calverton prevailed for his 7th career win. Brandon Turbush moved to the race lead early from the pole and the former college track star looked as though it was going to be his night. However Brandon’s night got sideways off turn four on lap 19 when he spun after what he later termed hitting fluid on the track. Far enough off the track Turbush could only sit and watch as Dave Brigati moved into the race lead he once occupied. Gerard Giordano, Jimmy Rennick Jr. and “Radiant” Ray Minieri all took turns running second to new race leader Brigati. It was perhaps Rennick who had the stronger of the cars among the trio but he was later black flagged from the race for losing fluid having to surrender second with just five laps left in the race. In the end it was “The Fancy Farmer” Dave Brigati in the JDL Environmental Chevy coming home the winner over Ray Minieri of Bay Shore in the Long Island Performance Chevy and Chris McGuire of Selden in the C-Ya Apparel entry.

After winning three Crate Modified races in 2021, Owen Grennan of Glen Cove wasted little time in notching his first victory of 2022 winning their 25-lap feature event. The victory moved Owen into a tie with Dave Brigati atop the all time win list with 11 each. Starting from the front row Grennan wasted no time breaking out front over Rich Gerbe for the race lead and the tandem would run in that order over the first 11 laps of the contest. On lap 12 veteran Mike Albasini ducked under Gerbe for second entering the third turn moving to second as the field was shown the halfway signal. With 10 career wins under his belt there would be no catching Owen Grennan in his Excellence East Automotive Chevy. Mike Albasini of Flushing was runner-up in the Hollis Court Collision machine while Rich Gerbe of East Northport had a solid showing coming home third in his Highmark Building Efficiency Chevy.

Ken Hyde Jr. of Medford made a triumphant return to his home track after racing off Long Island most recently to win the 20-lap Figure Eight event, the first race for the class in the Miller Lite triple Crown Series. Hyde steering the TLC Hauling Chevy set a new track record in qualifying with a lap of 16.727 and then proceeded to lead all 20-laps of the main event. The only harrowing moment for Hyde came midway through the race when a car spun directly in front of him and he had to jump on the binders to slow down entering the first turn. Luckily for Kenny his brother-in-lap Gary Fritz Jr. was running second of the time and Fritz was able to get his car slowed down to avoid contact. After collecting his thoughts after the close call Ken Hyde Jr. drove off to his 11th career win tying him for 14th on the all time win list with Arne Pedersen. Gary Fritz Jr. of mastic Beach in the sponsor wanted entry was second with Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches third in the S&H Welding Camaro.

“Hubcap” Brandon Hubbard of Mastic Beach led from start to finish to win a non stop 20-lap Blunderbust main event. Hubbard raced his way from the pole to the race lead and was chased the entire distance by Tom Sullivan. Hubbard was able to put some asphalt between he and Sullivan as the race moved along but in the end it was the United Exhaust Shop entry of Brandon Hubbard earning his second career win. Tom Sullivan of Massapequa was runner-up in the Island Trees Automotive Chevy while defending champion Cody Triola of Bay Shore placed third in the Cesspool Pros machine.

The Super Pro Trucks ran a 30-lap feature to kick off their Miller Lite triple Crown Series with Sean Glennon of Northport scoring the victory. Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach set the standard in qualifying with a lap of 13.352 earning the veteran the pole. At the throw of the green the race got competitive in a hurry with Rennick breaking into a slight lead over Jack Handley Jr. and Mark Stewart who were side by side for second. Handley eventually took control of second and quickly turned his attention to leader Rennick. Handley pulled alongside Rennick as the duo ran side by side for the 7th & 8th laps. On lap 9 Jack fell back just a little setting up Jimmy for an inside pass he’d make on lap 10 as the duo exited the fourth turn. However as Handley and Rennick battled Sean Glennon made his way into the fray moving by Rennick on lap 11 for second. After chasing Handley for 11 circuits Sean made a bid for the lead on lap 23 passing Jack to the inside off the second corner. Once out front there was no turning back for Sean Glennon who then drove his R&R Brothers Electric Chevy to victory, the 5th of his career tying him with Jimmy Rennick for 18th on the all time win list. Runner-up money went to defending champion Jack Handley Jr. of Medford in the River Walk Bar & Grille Chevy while “The Bullet” Ethan Brown of Floral Park was third in the Foos Fire Chevy.

Jason Castaldo of Shirley rebounded nicely for an opening night crash to annex the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car win. After a couple of attempts to start the race things finally got underway and when they did it was all Jason Castaldo as he broke to the race lead, a lead he’d never surrender in the M3 Technology mount. Nick Morabito quickly came to second and for the entire 20 lap distance he try and track down the race leader Castaldo but to no avail. At the finish Morabito of Miller Place was runner-up in the Benimax Trucking entry while veteran Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville was third in the EP Milling & Sweeping racer.

Tony Ferrante Jr. of New Hyde Park scored the 15-lap win for the Eddie Partridge Vintage All Stars. Ferrante made a bold outside pass of Kyle Ellwood through the third and fourth turn on lap 2 to move the Tony Ferrante & Son Inc. Cavalier out front for good. Ellwood of Riverhead was runner-up with Mark Miller of Hauppauge third.

NASCAR Modifieds: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Dave Brigati 3. John Baker 4. Justin Brown 5. JR Bertuccio 6. Kyle Ellwood 7. Artie Pedersen III 8. John Beatty Jr. 9. Joey Braun 10. Dylan Slepian 11. Tom Rogers Jr. 12. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 13. Chris Turbush 14. Chris Young 15. Chris Rogers 16. Wes Glibert 17. Jack Handley Jr. 18. Jason Agugliaro 19. Cory Midgett 20. Owen Grennan 21. Allan Pedersen 22. Brian Brown

Late Models: 1. Dave Brigati 2. Ray Minieri 3. Chris McGuire 4. Shawn Patrick 5. Gerard Giordano 6. Ethan Brown 7. Alyssa Paprocky 8. Kevin Metzger 9. Jeff Otto Jr. 10. Brandon Turbush 11. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 12. Rusty Turbush 13. Ed Cheslak 14. Brian Brown 15. Russ Jansen 16. Scott Cheslak 17. Paul Cummings DNS- Brian Doyle

Crate Modifieds: 1. Owen Grennan 2. Mike Albasini 3. Rich Gerbe 4. Charles Macwhinnie 5. Vinny Delaney 6. AJ DeSantis 7. Eric Hersey 8. Dennis Krupski 9. Chris Rogers 10. Alex Colasanto 11. Sean Glennon 12. Terry Stiles 13. Michael Berner 14. Mark Wolf 15. Eddie Schutze 16. Max Handley 17. Chase Grennan

Figure Eights: 1. Ken Hyde Jr. 2. Gary Fritz Jr. 3. Allan Pedersen 4. Joe Warren Jr. 5. Bryan Quilliam 6. Vinny Delaney 7. Ryan Warren 8. Bob Dalke 9. Cody Triola 10. Scott Pedersen

Blunderbusts: 1. Brandon Hubbard 2. Tom Sullivan 3. Cody Triola 4. AJ DeSantis 5. Bill Wegmann Sr. 6. Jim Laird Jr. 7. Bill Wegmann Jr. 8. Tom Puccia 9. Steve Neenan 10. Eddie Diaz

Super Pro Trucks: 1. Sean Glennon 2. Jack Handley Jr. 3. Ethan Brown 4. Frank Dumicich Sr. 5. Mark Stewart 6. Matt Triola 7. Lou Maestri 8. Jimmy Rennick Jr. 9. Daniel Creegan 10. Joe Cerabino

Legend Race Cars: 1. Jason Castaldo 2. Nick Morabito 3. Ray Fitzgerald 4. Eric Hersey 5. Anthony Marsh 6. Joey Braun 7. Richie Davidowitz 8. Mike Benton 9. Jim Sylvester 10. Collin Hoeffner 11. Chase Van Houten 12. Jeff Farruggia Jr. 13. Chris Sinatro 14. Jake Curran 15. Mike Van Houten Jr. 16. Ray Stulz 17. Pat Moore 18. Jayden Glennister 19. Kim Daniell 20. Ed Stadtlander 21. Charlie Hodge 22. Billy King 23. Christopher Coleman 24. George Tomko Jr. 25. Michael Metcalf 26. Sean McElearney

Vintage All Stars: 1. Tony Ferrante Jr. 2. Kyle Ellwood 3. Mark Miller 4. Jimmy Reed 5. Mike Siraco 6. Chris Mancz Sr. DNS- Alex Colasanto

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