Howie Brode of East Islip scored his second win of the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Riverhead Raceway when he topped the 35-lap NASCAR Modified feature on Saturday. It was his second win of the season and 13th of his career. With threatening weather all around the track and extremely hot and humid weather, competitors’ emotions ran high during the course of the program.
Tom Rogers Jr. set a fast time in qualifying with a lap of 11.865 seconds, but that would be as good as his night would get as he redrew seventh while Kevin Orlando and Shawn Solomito drew the front row. There were numerous attempts to get the race under way with thickening clouds overhead. There would be minor spins and crashes, jumped re-starts, passes under the yellow line, and one incident that found Rogers Jr. being disqualified from the race for his actions with further penalties to follow.
When the dust finally settled and the race got under way Brode took the early race lead over Jason Agugliaro, who was seeking his first career NASCAR Modified win. Agugliaro kept pace with Brode and took the occasional peek to the inside as the lead duo exited the corners. Meanwhile, defending NASCAR Modified champion Solomito was putting on a driving display as he made his way from back in the pack after being deemed involved in an early race incident and being sent to the rear of the field.
As the race wound down to its final few laps, Solomito indeed caught and passed Agugliaro for second on the 32nd lap, but with just three laps remaining in the race Solomito, after his spirited drive from the back, would not catch race-leader Brode.
At the checker, it was Brode taking down the race. Afterward he was asked if being in front of all the wild action early on was the key to victory,
“Any night you’re out front it’s a good thing but tonight for sure,” he said. “I don’t know what was going on but I’m glad I wasn’t back there.”
With the win, Brode now finds himself with a commanding 42-point lead on Tom Rogers Jr., but with Rogers Jr. facing further penalties, Brode’s rival might be third-place Solomito, who is 46 points back.
Solomito of Islip would truly earn his runner-up finish in the Acme Sanitary Systems Chevy with Jason Agugliaro of Islip posting his best run of 2013 with a third place tally in the Tom O’Keefe & Sons Chevy. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown and Jerry Solomito Jr. of Islip were fourth and fifth, and for Solomito it was his second straight top five in his last two starts.
Emotions were high as well in the 25-lap Late Model race, but this time for all the right reasons as Ken Alfano of Southold earned his first Late Model win since the passing of his wife, Julie. It was just days before opening day a couple years back when Julie Alfano lost her battle with cancer. Alfano’s teammate Chris LaSpisa would go out on opening night and win the 25-lap Late Model feature for his friends, Ken and Julie. This past Saturday Alfano—in his pink Late Model painted in honor of Julie and all those battling cancer—would take over the race lead after leader Kevin Metzger spun off on turn two. Mike Bologna, who was running in tight quarters with Metzger and Alfano, was sent to the rear for rough riding. That handed the race lead over to Alfano, with LaSpisa, his friend and teammate, sitting second. The rest, as they say, was history. Alfano would lead the remaining 21 laps of the feature event and as the laps wore down to a precious few, his biggest challenge was keeping the tears from blurring his vision, a challenge he would overcome to score the win in the Jay’s Recovery Chevy.
After the win, he parked his car against the wall in turns one and two where he and Julie sat, exited the car and blew kisses to the sky. Chris LaSpisa of Shirley was a very happy runner-up in the McBetts Racing Engines Chevy, while Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Massachusetts, took over the points lead with his third-place finish in the Eastport Feeds Pontiac.
In yet another feel good story, a fourth generation member of the famed Turbush racing family, Mark Stewart of Riverhead, made his way to victory lane in the 20-lap Super Pro Truck event. Stewart, the grandson of all-time leading Charger winner “Dynamite” Dan Turbush and the nephew to both Chris and Roger Turbush, broke to the front at the throw of the green with “Dangerous” Dave Koenig in tow. Koenig, who actually owns the truck Stewart pilots, kept his front bumper glued to the rear of Stewart’s truck for the entire distance of the race while a torrid battle waged for third between rivals Frank Dumicich Jr. and Roger Turbush who ran side by side in an entertaining and clean fight for position. Back up front it would be all Stewart in the race, his first race back in the Angela’s House Chevy after it was heavily damaged back in May. The 15-year-old former East End Kart Racing talent would collect the popular victory. Koenig of Freeport was second in the Nelson’s Auto Salvage Chevy while Roger Turbush of Riverhead won the battle for third in his Rheem Air Conditioning Chevy.
Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead pocketed his third Legend Race Car win of 2013 and once again it was a dominating performance for the defending champion. By virtue of his first heat race win, Ellwood sat on the pole for the 28-car feature, taking the lead when the green light winked on with Vinny Delaney in tow. Delaney, seeking his first career win, stayed with Ellwood early on but later would find himself racing with Kyle Soper for second, which allowed leader Ellwood to get away. Soper got by Delaney on lap 18, but they touched for a minute and had to lift, and on the white flag lap Brendon Bock made his way to second. Ellwood was long gone, however, in the Riverhead Building Supply entry and he drove to victory once again. Bock of Franklin Square was runner-up in the A&S Bagels machine and with the finish moved to second in points, trailing Ellwood by 54, 350 to 296. Soper of Manorville was third in his Moriches Bay Diner mount, doing a great job catching his car after the late-race contact.
Anthony Pizzo of Lake Ronkonkoma continues to be the driver to beat when it comes to the 8-Cylinder Enduro events at Riverhead Raceway as he won yet again in his United Exhaust Shop Caprice. Rob “The Racer” McCormick of Calverton barely made it to the track in time after spotting for Cole Powell in the NASCAR WMT race in New Hampshire, but he drove his Scott Denis wrenched car from 25th to runner-up money. McCormick literally signed-in and got in his car as the field was entering the track. Ed Brown Jr. of Mastic Beach led the race early and he would finish third in his Adesa Auto of Long Island Chevy.