Dave Brigati of Calverton shook off a run of bad racing luck this past Saturday evening in front of a standing room only crowd at Riverhead Raceway when he held off teammate Dave Sapienza of Riverhead to win the 35-lap NASCAR Modified feature event. “The Fancy Farmer,” as Brigati is known, raced off Long Island for the past few seasons and this was his first win since returning to Riverhead full time at the start of the 2013 season.
John Beatty Jr. of Merrick, in a brand new race car that perhaps had eight laps of practice on it, set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 11.822 and drew the outside pole for the feature while Brigati drew the pole. At the throw of the green Brigati was able to get the measure of Beatty going into the first turn to take the race lead, a lead he would never surrender.
On an 11th lap double-file restart, Brigati once again got away from the pack while Timmy Solomito eased his way under Beatty for second and “The Natural” Solomito would try and set sail for the race leader but soon he’d have his hands full with a hard charging Dave Sapienza for the second position.
After several laps of riding Solomito’s back bumper, Sapienza finally found his way by Solomito and set sail for the race leader, Brigati, who ironically was driving Sapienza’s other car. Once “Sap” got to Brigati, many figured the tandem would run single file to the checkers but that would not be the case as Sapienza nudged the race leader on more than one occasion, but it would be to no avail.
At the finish it was one relieved and happy Brigati scoring a much needed win, one that wouldn’t have come without a phone call from the runner-up, Dave Sapienza. “I tore up all my equipment early in the season,” Brigati reflected. “I was done and then Sap calls me and asked if I wanted to drive his older car and now I’m glad I said yes.”
Following runner-up Sapienza in his Buncee.com Chevy was Solomito of Islip in the Eastport Feeds Chevy while Howie Brode of East Islip and Jason Agugliaro of Islip completed the top five.
Eric Zeh of Selden worked his way through the Talmage Farms Agway Night Charger field from a seventh starting position to score his third win of the 2013 season and in the process reclaimed sole possession of the points lead.
John Baker charged into the race lead when the green light winked on with rookie Rich Wilson in tow for the first lap. Lap two found Cory Midgett slipping under a high and wide Wilson for second. After chasing down race leader Baker, Midgett claimed the top spot just prior to the halfway mark of the race on lap 9, with Zeh also getting by Baker who was a touch out of shape after prior contact. Zeh, wheeling the ILS Landscaping Chevy, wasted little time in making what would be the winning pass as he ducked under Midgett off turn two for the lead on lap 13. Once out front, Zeh’s biggest concern over the final five circuits would be Chad Churilla who made his way to second and was hungry for his first career win. However, Zeh would indeed prevail with Churilla of Hauppauge settling for runner-up money. Chris Turbush of Riverhead crossed the line third in his Wild Flower Smoke Shop Chevy.
The Blunderbust division normally can be counted on for quick running feature events with many going flag-to-flag without a yellow but that was not the case Saturday as they had a rough and tumble race which ended on lap 12 due to time running out. The storyline on Bill Wegmann Jr.’s 2013 season will be that he has led numerous feature events going into the closing laps. That was the case again as Wegmann led the race but unfortunately also was the reason for the race’s final caution flag. Tim Mulqueen chased Wegmann for the first 11 laps of the race but as the field started the 12th lap he was passed by Jimmy White Jr., and a yellow flag soon waved for Jack Handley Jr. who had a rear suspension failure in turn four. The field was reset with Wegmann leading White, and when the race went back to green, contact was made going into the first turn and Wegmann was up against the wall. NASCAR Officials had warned the drivers over the one-way radio that the next yellow would be the race’s final one, and when scoring and timing lined the cars back up, White of Southampton in the Busy Bee Pest Control entry was declared the winner, giving him his second win of 2013. Mulqueen of Levittown was runner-up in the Timmy’s Towing entry while Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow was third in the Chet Mitrani Plastering machine.
In the 20-lap Jos. M. Troffa & Sons Landscape & Mason Supplies Legend Race Car feature, Vinny Delaney of Holtsville finally grabbed the brass ring, winning his first career main event. Kyle Ellwood set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 13.378 but drew seventh in the redraw while Delaney nabbed the pole and Jeffrey Goodale drew the outside of the front row. When the race got under way Delaney wasted no time putting his John’s Fuel Oil entry out front with Paul Dodorico able to slide from third to second under Goodale. After an early race caution, a lap two double-file restart found Kevin Nowak racing under Dodorico for second, and for the next dozen laps Delaney would lead Nowak, while all eyes were on Timmy Solomito, who was making his way toward the leaders from his eighth starting spot.
Solomito worked his way by Nowak for second on lap 18 and now the race for the win was on. At one point as the field raced off turn four to take the white flag, Solomito had actually gotten under Delaney for the lead but a grinding front stretch crash saw the race revert back to the last fully completed lap, lap 18. That put Delaney back in the lead for a green, white and checker and he was not about to open the bottom up for Solomito with his second chance at victory. Indeed Delaney protected the low groove long enough to give car owner Joe Sole their first career victory together. Solomito of Islip was runner-up after making one last bid off turn four in the Monster’s Recycling entry. Veteran Dodorico of Miller Place claimed third place money in the Dr. Martha Baker DDS coupe.
James Charrier of Shirley continued his domination of the Grand Enduro racing in 2013 when he topped their 50-lap feature. After Glenn Simonin and Greg Zaleski led early on, Charrier came to the race lead passing Zaleski. A red flag was necessary on the 29th lap when early race leader Simonin had his right front suspension collapse just before the starters stand, and when the race went back to green, White Jr. caught Charrier to take over the lead. Driving with some more motivation, Charrier wasn’t going to be beaten that way and on lap 45 he put his Clear Beer Draft Chevy back out front and would lead the final five laps of the race. White was runner-up in the Hometown Taxi entry while Zaleski of Jamesport was third in the Gallo’s Used Auto Parts racer.
In the 8-Cylinder Demolition Derby, defending National Demolition Derby champion Jason Savoy of Lake Panamoka scored the victory in the car he calls the “Misery Machine.” Savoy outlasted veteran “Cheesebox” Michael Rommeney of Maspeth to lay claim to the victory. Both drivers were coming off wins from the Sunday before at the Orange County Fair. Rommeney was named Judge’s Choice while the Fan’s Choice went to hard hitting talent George Astacio of Shirley.
In the School Bus Demolition Derby Rommeney rebounded for the win after outlasting guess who? That’s right, Savoy, as the duo went toe-to-toe in the Gershow Recycling buses with the “Cheesebox” taking the win as the crowd roared with approval and chanted out his nickname. Chris Van Cott of Commack was third.