Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue made a triumphant return to the NASCAR Modified ranks at Riverhead Raceway this past Saturday when he won the 35-lap Whelen All-American Series feature event in his first start after serving a five-week suspension. The Donaldson’s Volkswagen-Subaru night victory was Rogers’s third of the season, ninth in the past two seasons and 23rd overall in his career and took place in front of a standing-room only crowd.
Ryan Preece of Berlin, Connecticut once again set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 11.847. With his recent bad luck in the re-draw, Preece asked one of the safety workers from the track to draw for him, but he still started fourth. The front row found veteran Tom Rogers Jr. and sophomore driver Vinny Biondolillo on the front row. When the race got underway, Rogers led the first lap by a half car length over Biondolillo, who was trying to hang tough on the outside. On lap two, Jason Agugliaro was passed Biondolillo for second to the inside with Preece making a quick move from the outside to the inside to race under Biondolillo for third going into the first turn. Preece would then pressure Agugliaro for second for a few laps before he got by Agugliaro for second on the fifth lap. All the jockeying for position behind him was just fine with race leader Rogers.
Once to second, it didn’t take Preece long to play catch-up to Rogers. Once he got to Rogers’s back bumper, the high-speed chess game was on. Looking to execute a crossover move, Preece rolled into the corners on the high side before ducking to the inside off the turns. But Rogers was wise to that game plan and kept Preece at bay.
Watching all of this from third position was Agugliaro, who kept himself in position in case the top two cars got together. After the race hit halfway, things began to settle in as Rogers put some distance between himself and Preece as Preece’s car seemed to drop off a bit and he fell back off Rogers in the final stages of the contest.
At the finish, it was a very satisfying win for Rogers and his Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm team.
“I can’t thank Joe Ambrose enough for sticking with me during all of the recent events,” Tom said. “My team kept working away and won a race here last week with Ron Silk and that is a testament to them and this race team.”
As for the race itself, Rogers said: “We were really good early on but then I abused the right rear a bit and the car fell off, but I guess so did Ryan’s. We had a good battle early; he’s fun to race with.”
Preece was runner-up in the JAD Carpet Showcase Chevy while Agugliaro of Islip placed third in the Tom O’Keefe & Sons Inc. entry. Points leader Howie Brode of East Islip was fourth while Dave Brigati of Calverton completed the top five. With three Riverhead Raceway point-paying races left in 2013, Brode has a comfortable 86-point cushion over Timmy Solomito of Islip, 382 to 296. Preece is third with 287.
Ken Hyde Jr. of Medford posted his first Figure Eight win of the year when he topped the 15-lap feature event. Defending champion Mike Mujsce, who was seeking to snap a post-championship season strewn with bad luck, took the early race lead over Hyde. Once again however, the racing gremlins stepped in and ended Mujsce’s run out front on lap 4 when he slowed with a flat tire and other damage, drawing a yellow flag after he nearly put one of the protective cement blocks on the infield. That turn of events put Hyde out front with Arne Pedersen now sitting second.
Pedersen thought he hurt his engine in practice and would have to find another ride for the night, but didn’t after his crew made the necessary repairs and chased Hyde, the 20-year-old race leader, for the remainder of the race, but to no avail. At the checkers it was one very happy Hyde, and in victory lane he gave credit to a sponsor who came on board for the night.
“I can’t thank Grant Williams of Northeastern Office Equipment enough for his support tonight,” he said.
Pedersen of Mastic Beach was second in the BNR Home Improvement Dodge while brother Scott Pedersen of Shirley was third in the Reliable Motors Chevy.
Armed with some new marketing partners on his potent Charger car, Chris Turbush of Riverhead scored the victory, his 35th career win, in the 20-lap Charger main event. Tom Anderson and Jayson White moved out front when the race went green and indeed it would be a fast paced non-stop event for the class. White chased Anderson for the first three laps of the tilt before he was passed to the inside by Turbush on the fourth lap. Once to second, Turbush went hunting for race leader Anderson who was hoping to score a win for his new race team. However on lap 8, exiting the fourth turn, Turbush slipped under Anderson as they raced off the corner to start the ninth lap of the race. Once he had the Eastern Fuel Chevy out front, there was no looking back for the former four-time Charger champion as he motored to his third win of 2013. Eric Zeh of Selden, who is locked in a tight battle with Turbush for the championship, made some late-race moves to finish runner-up in the DC Customs Chevy while Chad Churilla of Hauppauge was third in the Angela’s House Pontiac.
It took Legend Race Car talent Vinny Delaney a few years to win his first career main event but now the Holtsville resident can lay claim to two feature event wins in one month as he topped their 20-lap event. At the throw of the green Delaney, winner of the second heat race, got out front going into the first turn to take the race lead, a lead he’d never surrender but indeed would be pressured for during the race. Over the first dozen laps of the race, Richie Davidowitz kept the pressure on Delaney as he looked high and low for a way around Delaney. Lap 13 found Brendon Bock making his way around Davidowitz for second and it was now Bock’s turn to try and figure a way by the leader. Just as Davidowitz did prior, Bock stayed glued to Delaney and looked high and low for a groove by him but in the end it would indeed be Delaney in the John’s Fuel Oil machine scoring his second win of 2013. Bock of Franklin Square was runner-up in the A&S Bagels racer while Davidowitz of East Moriches was third in the SAM Mechanical mount.
Popular “Cheesebox” Michael Rommeney of Maspeth took the win over his father-in-law, Dennis “The Menace” Scott of Bay Shore in a hard-hitting and crowd pleasing School Bus Demolition Derby. The tandem created some great memories for the fans and some good Thanksgiving Day dinner table talk in their family as they battled it out as the large crowd screamed with approval. Scott would finish second to Rommeney after his battery failed in his bus.