Saturday evening at Riverhead Raceway provided some 194 laps of feature event racing during a high-paced Wall of Champions night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program.
When the dust settled on the Twin 30s for the NASCAR Modifieds, Dave Brigati of Calverton scored the win in the opener while Ron Silk of Norwalk, Connecticut topped the nightcap. Prior to the NASCAR Modified features, Wayne Anderson of Yaphank, Bill Park of Manorville, and the late Joe Biondolillo Jr. of Holtsville were inducted onto the track’s Wall of Champions.
pre-race qualifying found Preece setting fast time with a lap of 11.771, but his luck in the re-draw remained not so good as he re-drew eighth while Vinny Biondolillo drew the pole. Veteran Brigati picked the outside pole. When the green flag waved it would be Brigati getting the measure of the 15-year-old Biondolillo for the lead on the first lap with Timmy Solomito moving to second around the pole sitter on lap two. After an early race caution set up a double-file restart, the racing that followed the caution flag period was some of the best in the 63-year history of Riverhead Raceway, with the top six—Brigati, Solomito, Howie Brode, Ron Silk, Shawn Solomito and Preece—running side by side in near line-up formation for several laps. Not a spark flew during this breathtaking battle to get to the front. Eventually the race would find Brigati taking sole possession of the lead with Timmy Solomito testing him at entering and exiting every turn.
Ironically, it was Brigati who gave Timmy Solomito his first opportunity in a NASCAR Modified, and the duo put on an entertaining fight for the race lead and win. With the laps winding down to a precious few, Solomito turned up the heat on the race leader but when the checkered flag waved it was Brigati in the Del-J Associates Chevy posting his second win of 2013. Timmy Solomito of Islip was runner-up in the Eastport Feeds Chevy with Preece of Berlin, Connecticut driving from eighth to finish third in the JAD Carpet Showcase entry. Silk and Brode of East Islip completed the top five.
The second 30-lap main event found the field lining up in the order they finished the first race, Dave Brigati leading Timmy Solomito into the first turn when the green light winked on. However, this time the tandem made contact entering turn three, sending both cars sliding wildly through the infield along with several others including Preece. Everyone kept going and no caution was needed. Silk, making his first start in Joe Ambrose’s Jessup Landscaping Chevy, avoided all the chaos going on around him and drove into the race lead with David Roys quickly coming to second. The two drivers know each other very well as Roys used to serve as the car chief on the TS Haulers NASCAR WMT ride that Silk drives.
At first Roys kept pace with Silk but as the race wore on Silk kept a comfortable cushion between him and Roys. At the conclusion of the second race it was Silk making the most out of what may very well be a one-race deal in the Ambrose ride. “I had a lot of fun with these guys today,” Silk reflected in victory lane. “We got a break there when the leaders got together for a moment, and here we are.”
Brigati noted in his victory lane interview, “I’m just happy to be back racing here at my home track and I can’t thank Brian Schwarz enough. He put this car back together during the week pretty much by himself.”
Going into the 50-lap Late Model feature, things were going according to plan for Jarrod Hayes of Calverton as he set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 12.567, earning $100 from Finishline Carting & Randy’s Performance. He then drew the pole in the re-draw and was hoping to go out and lead all 50 laps. In the pre-race hot laps though, the plan went south in a hurry as Hayes pulled to the infield in a cloud of smoke with what he would later call “internal engine issues.” That moved Ken Alfano, who re-drew third, to the pole for the race which carried plenty of bonus money along the way. Alfano took full advantage of his new starting spot to take the race lead over Jeremy McDermott when the green waved, and Roger Oxee got around McDermott for second on lap 2. Over the following 33 laps Alfano kept a determined Oxee at bay and it appeared as though he would keep his recent hot streak, a win and runner-up in his last two starts, intact. Disaster would strike Alfano as the field entered turn one to start the 36th lap as he blew a right front tire at full speed going into the corner. Amazingly, Alfano kept the car off the wall and returned after pitting. That turn of events moved Oxee into the lead after he spent a good part of the race setting Alfano up for pass, and moved McDermott to second. McDermott draped himself all over Oxee’s rear spoiler over the final 15 laps of the race, but in the end it was the all-time leading winner in the class, Oxee, posting his 64th career win in the Southold IGA Pontiac. McDermott of Riverhead was runner-up in the SDS Telecommunication Dodge with Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters placing third in the Matlach Fabricating Dodge. Patrick made a great recovery from an early spin to rally for the podium finish.
Former Figure Eight champion Arne Pedersen of Mastic Beach spent the last two weeks installing a new front clip on his BNR Home Improvement Dodge after a crash two weeks ago in a Charger race, and he made all that hard work pay off for him and his team with a victory, his second of 2013. Taking advantage of a rare pole starting spot, Pedersen moved out front when the race got underway with Ken Hyde Jr. running second for the first lap. Lap two saw Scott Pedersen, Arne’s brother, come to second around Hyde and the battle of brotherly love was on! Arne, aside from having to ward off his younger brother, also had another big issue to deal with as he lost power steering in his car around the second or third lap and was forced to manhandle his machine around the track. With all the recent hard work and expense his team has endured the last two weeks, there was no beating Arne Pedersen as he drove off to his 11th career win since 2010. Scott Pedersen of Shirley was second in the Reliable Motors Chevy while Roger Maynor of Bay Shore claimed third place money in the Barrasso & Sons Mason Supplies Ford.
“The Jack Attack” Jack Handley Jr. of Medford posted his fourth Blunderbust win of the season after executing a pass for the lead with five laps remaining in a non-stop 20-lap contest. Bill Wegmann Jr. moved out front when the race went green with “Pistol” Paul Parisi in tow over the first three laps. As the field started the fourth lap of the race, Handley Jr. slipped under Parisi off turn two to take second position away and set his sights for race leader Wegmann. Once he was done reeling in Wegmann, it was time for the 17-year-old driver to try and figure out a way by the race leader, which he accomplished on lap 15 with just five laps to go. Once out front, Handley Jr. would lead the rest of the way in his Tom O’Keefe & Sons Chevy to score another popular victory. Wegmann Jr. of Patchogue would settle for second in the Crackerjack Auto Stores racer while Jimmy “The Kid” White Jr. placed third in the Busy Bee Pest Control machine.
It had been just over three years since the patriarch of the Dumicich racing family, Frank Sr., had won a Super Pro Truck main event but that all changed when he scored his 17th career win in the class Saturday. The veteran wheelman quickly raced around pole sitter Anthony Vecchio for the race lead when the green flag waved, and once out front the former champion never looked back. Vecchio ran second for the first two laps as Frank’s daughter, Erin Dumicich-Solomito, got around Vecchio for second with Mike Albasini coming to third. Dumicich-Solomito and Albasini would test each other for a few laps for second which was okay by Frank Sr, as he gained some breathing room. But then Albasini made an inside pass for second entering turn three. Once to second, Albasini then set sail for leader Dumicich and he drew close to Dumicich over the final half of the race but was not able to muster a pass. At the finish it would be the Arenz Heating and Air Conditioning Ford F-150 of Frank Dumicich Sr, scoring his first win since June 12th, 2010. Albasini of Flushing was runner-up in the Gardner Specialty Auto Chevy with Lou Maestri of Deer Park rallying late in the race for third in the Gershow Recycling Chevy.
In the scheduled 30-lap INEX National Qualifier for the Legend Race Car, “The Natural” Timmy Solomito of Islip triumphed in a race that was shortened to 29-laps due to the time limit. Kyle Ellwood was quickest in time trials with a lap of 13.791, earning a $100 bonus from Teddy Bear Graphics. Ellwood would redraw seventh while Solomito picked the pole with Vinny Delaney on the outside pole. At the start of the race, Solomito jumped out front for the lead, one he’d never surrender but would be tested for on several double-file restarts during the race that was slowed by numerous caution flags. Solomito’s teammate Justin Strumpf ran second to Solomito over the first seven laps of the race before a double-file restart. On that restart, Kyle Soper worked his way under Strumpf for second and the remainder of the race saw Soper chase Solomito for the race lead and the win, putting plenty of pressure on the eventual winner. The final caution would wave on lap 29 when Johnnie Gloor IV lost an engine, dropping oil on the track going into turn one and several cars slid into the wall in the oil slick, ending the race one lap shy of its scheduled 30-laps. When the field was set in the proper order, the checker flag waved with Timmy Solomito in the Monster Recycling racer collecting his second win of 2013. Soper of Manorville was runner-up in the Atlantic Chevrolet-Cadillac entry with points leader Ellwood of Riverhead third in the Riverhead Building Supply mount.