The chase for fourteen 2023 divisional Riverhead Raceway track championships will kick off in spectacular fashion as Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz present opening weekend May 6th & May 7th at the historic quarter mile facility. Seven NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series divisions take the green flag Saturday evening while the next afternoon on Sunday seven more divisions begin their quest for a 2023 driving title. Of the fourteen drivers capturing 2022 championships, twelve are expected to defend this season.
By Bob Finan
With the news of Wayne Anderson and Kyle Soper going their separate ways, the NASCAR Modified championship chase will be wide open for 2023 starting with this Saturday night’s 50-lap event on opening night. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick and his MSM Elite Motorsports team were runner-up to the Anderson/Soper team last season and enter the new season as favorites. There are however plenty of teams ready to pounce on the vacant title. 2022 runner-up Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills and his Eastport Feeds team are ready to take a step up to the championship rung as is third place point man for 2022 John Beatty Jr of Merrick with his MSM Elite Motorsports group. Dave Brigati of Calverton in his Coors Light Silver Bullet and 2022 Rookie of the Year Jack Handley Jr. of Medford in the Suffolk Precast entry were fourth and fifth last year, poised for a title run this year. Throw in talents like Chris Young of Calverton, Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown, Jason Agugliaro of Islip, Chris Turbush of Wading River Matt Brode of East Islip, Chris Rogers of Patchogue, oh and don’t forget returning multi time champion Tom Rogers of Riverhead adding up to a competitive title fight.
After 30-years of chasing a Late Model championship Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters will be back to defend his 2022 championship in the Matlach Fabricating racer, while first time Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified champion Owen Grennan of Glen Cove will be defending in his Dillner Precast/Eastport Feeds Chevy. Both Patrick and Grennan are going to be busy in ’23 as Shawn oversees son Liam’s budding Super Pro Truck career while Owen straps into the Ken Matlach Motorsports NASCAR Modified on occasion.
2022 Figure Eight champion Scott Pedersen of Shirley will be back seeking his third straight championship in the division, however the soft-spoken driver might very well be doing so with a new team. Scott is expected to reveal his plans this week. Two-time and defending Blunderbust champion Cody Triola and his Cesspool Pros team out of Bay Shore are going for three in a row in 2023, while 2022 Super Pro Truck champion Sean Glennon of Northport seeks to repeat in the LTE Drainage truck. Both drivers will pull double duty with Triola driving the North fork Welding Supply Figure Eight entry and Glennon wheeling his family’s Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified. Off the thrill of his firstINEX Legend Race Car championship last summer, Eric Hersey of Commack will be defending in his Grilling Villain entry and like Glennon will chase the Crate Modified crown.
Once the Saturday Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series opener is in the books attention quickly moves to the Sunday afternoon Enduro Opening Day. Originally the event was set for this past Sunday but a wet weekend scrubbed all on track activities at Riverhead. Dave Antos of Lindenhurst will be gunning for his fourth career Street Stock championship fresh off his 2022 title in the EP Milling & Sweeping Chevy starting with the Miller Lite Triple Crown Series 30-laplid lifter Sunday. Andrew Farnham of Baldwin will do the same in the Mini Stocks, who also compete in their Miller Lite Triple Crown Series opener Sunday and Farnham with help from Ken Matlach Motorsports hopes to score the victory.
The popular and growing Bock Auto INEX Bandolero class is ready for their third year of racing on the high banks. 2022 Bandit champion Benny Morabito of Miller Place and his Benimax Racing team are moving up to the Outlaw class for 2023 and judging by practice day on April 22nd are an immediate threat to win that title. Chevy Rommeney of Bohemia captured the Bock Auto Bandolero Outlaw crown last year but has “aged” out of the class and has not released his racing plans for the 2023 campaign.
Popular Woot Lawrence of Southampton will begin his title defense in his Gregor Well Drilling machine in the Truck Enduro Sunday. Pat Collins of Southampton notched his first career 8-Cylinder Enduro championship last summer and will be back to defend in the PC Truck & Equipment Chevy as will 4/6-Cylinder Gut & Go champion John Palmeri of Lindenhurst and his J&J Towing team.
Saturday May 6th spectator gates open at 4:00 pm, general admission is $30 for adults, kids 6-12 $15, with 5 & under free. Race team schedule finds Modified & Crate Modified hauler permitted with driver only to enter pits, pit gates officially open at 12 noon, rotating practice starts at 3:00 pm. A drivers meeting is planned for 4:30 pm, qualifying is 5:15 pm with opening ceremonies set for approx. 6:15 pm.
Sunday May 7th, gates for spectators open at 12 noon, general admission is $30 for adults, kids 6-12 $15, 5 & under free. Race team schedule is for pit gates to open at 10:00 am, practice commences at 11:00 am with qualifying at 12:30 pm to be followed by opening ceremonies.
The complete comprehensive 2023 schedule of events and other information can be found at http://www.riverheadraceway.com, e-mails reach the track at office @riverheadraceway.com and the phone number is 631-842-RACE.
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