Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead cut short a family vacation to be able to compete in the Sunoco Race Fuels Twin 50 NASCAR Modified features on Saturday at Riverhead Raceway—and when both races were completed, his competition would rather he had enjoyed a few more days away, as he swept both 50-lap features.
The victories were his fourth and fifth of the season, and he’s now won four of the last five events at the demanding quarter-mile, moving his career win total to 29.
Ryan Preece of Berlin, Connecticut, set fast time for the evening with a lap of 11.918 seconds, and, in the redraw, his luck would change as the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion drew the pole. Preece’s joy soured some when Rogers Jr. picked the outside pole.
As Preece and Rogers Jr. brought the field down for the green flag, the talented tandem went wheel to wheel into the first turn, racing for the lead, with Rogers Jr., taking the top spot racing down the back stretch, with John Fortin, Howie Brode and Kyle Ellwood running third through fifth.
Early on, Preece parked himself right on Rogers Jr.’s rear spoiler, looking to try an inside pass off the corners. But Rogers Jr. was wise to that tactic and motored away from his challenger exiting the corners.
As the race wore on, Rogers Jr. was able to inch away from Preece, who in turn was able to keep a couple of car lengths between him and third-place John Fortin. In the first 50, the battle for position that would be the closest would be the Brode and Ellwood tussle for fourth.
When the race concluded, Rogers Jr. won, in his Royal Fence Chevy, over Preece, in the East West Marine Chevy. Fortin, of Holtsville, was third, in the SGS Stone Works entry, while Brode, of East Islip, and Ellwood, of Riverhead, completed the top five.
For the second 50-lap tilt, the roles were reversed, with Rogers Jr. on the pole and Preece sitting alongside. Preece knew if he was going to have a shot at winning the second race, he’d have to get the measure of Rogers Jr. on the initial green flag—which was exactly what he tried to do. When the race went green, Preece drove his car deep into the first turn, hoping he’d be able to motor away from Rogers Jr. off turn two. But, once again, the race leader was equal to the task at hand, and Preece had to tuck back into second.
Meanwhile, back in third spot, Brode and Fortin were side by side for position, with some sparks flying early on in that battle before Fortin settled into third once again.
With Rogers Jr. once again out front, that did not mean Preece wasn’t going down without giving it his all, as lap after lap he’d drive his car deep into the corners, hoping to gain a run on the race leader. But as was the case in the first race, Rogers Jr would only allow Preece to get close at times before he pulled away, and he went on to win his second race of the night. Second through fifth would again fall to Preece, Fortin, Brode and Ellwood.
After exiting his Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm Chevy in victory lane, Rogers Jr. was asked if he was at times toying with Preece, letting him get close at times in both races. “Depends when you are talking about,” the happy winner quipped, but then he got serious, noting, “I have to thank Ryan—he is a class act, he raced me hard early on in both races but never used me up. Especially in the first race, he could have squeezed me but never did.”
As for winning four of five races since returning to his family car, Rogers Jr. pointed to the lineage of the machine: “This is Frank Vigliarolo’s old car that he won titles with. We miss Joe Ambrose and hope he comes back soon so we can drive his stuff again. Time will tell.”
The INEX Legend Race Cars competed in their INEX National Qualifier with an astounding 39 cars attempting to make the 27-car field.
Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches led the way in qualifying, with a lap of 13.833 seconds, earning $100 from Sonny’s Collision Center. However, in the redraw, Davidowitz drew seventh, while Vinny Delaney and Brad Van Houten drew the front row for the prestigious race.
At the throw of the green, Delaney paced the first two laps over Van Houten, with defending track champion Brendon Bock looming in third. On lap 3, Delaney left the door open a tad too much on the inside, as Van Houten quickly shot under him for the race lead, with Bock and Kyle Ellwood also taking advantage of the opening to come to second and third.
After five laps of following and sizing up Van Houten, Bock made his bid for the race lead with an inside pass as the duo raced down the back stretch on lap 8. Four laps later, Ellwood, making his first Legend start of the year, raced by teammate Van Houten for second on the 12th circuit.
The remaining 18 laps of the race found Ellwood trying to figure out a way to make a move on Bock for the race lead, as Ellwood threw his car deep into the turns and got close to Bock in the center, before the leader was able to pull away exiting the turns—a scene that played out right up until the race’s conclusion. At the checker, it was Bock, in the Pro Systems Brake entry, scoring his second win of 2014, this one worth a cool $500 with lap and bonus money added in. Ellwood was runner-up, in the Riverhead Building Supply machine, with Kyle Soper, of Manorville, third, in the Atlantic Chevrolet-Cadillac entry.
Completing the top 10 were Davidowitz, Van Houten of Wading River, Delaney of Holtsville, Devin O’Connell of Charlotte, North Carolina, Kevin Nowak of Medford, John Beatty Jr. of Merrick, and Artie Pedersen III of Center Moriches.
Roger Maynor of Bay Shore scored his 112th career Figure Eight win in what for him was an unusual way, inheriting the race lead when another driver was sent to the rear of the field.
Second-year driver Gary Fritz Jr. broke out front when the race went green, with former champion Mike Mujsce giving chase over the first six laps. As the field started the seventh lap, Mujsce got into the back bumper of Fritz right in front of the NASCAR officials, and when Fritz spun, drawing the caution, Mujsce was sent to the rear for his role in the spin.
That turn of events moved Roger Maynor, who raced his way from seventh to third in quick fashion, into the race lead, with Rogers Jr., second. Right away, everybody on hand flashed back to the Cromarty Cup race in May, when these two went toe to toe, but that close battle never materialized, as Maynor had the race covered in his Barrasso & Sons Mason Supplies Ford for his second win of 2014. Rogers Jr. was runner-up, in the PCFI Plymouth Coupe, while Scott Pedersen, of Shirley, was third, in the Reliable Motors entry.
“Radiant” Ray Minieri of Bay Shore posted his third win of 2014 when he topped the 20-lap Charger feature for his 21st career win.
Rookie driver Greg Immerman once again took the early race lead, chased at first by Cory Midgett and Scott Pedersen. Lap 7 found Minieri, who started the race seventh, making his way to second, and his first order of business was to erase the lead that Immerman had built up. With the aid of a caution flag, Mineri was able to execute an inside pass of Immerman on lap 14 as they raced into the first turn, with C.J. Lehmann trying to race under Immerman for second as well. Minieri would get the lead, but Immerman was able to block the effort of Lehmann to remain second in the race.
At the finish, Minieri was the race winner, in his Sunrise Chiropractic & Wellness Dodge, with Immerman, of Southampton, runner-up in the Hometown Taxi Pontiac. Defending champion Eric Zeh, of Selden, was third, in the S&P Carting Chevy.
June 9, 2001, was the last time veteran driver Richie Hubbard of Mastic Beach had won a Blunderbust feature, and the timing of his victory on Saturday night could not have been better. Earlier in the week, Hubbard and his family mourned the loss of his sister, and on race day Hubbard was truly a man on a mission.
All season long, Hubbard had been having an issue keeping belts on his Buick, an issue he hoped would not return as he started on the pole for the 20-lap main event. Right from the get go, he served notice he was the man to beat, taking the early race lead, chased at first by Brian Brown, then Joe Warren, as well Tim Mulqueen.
Mulqueen offered the biggest threat to the race leader, but he suddenly saw his car veer to the right in the first turn, hitting the wall on lap 17 shortly after he came to second. That turn of events moved the newcomer Warren back to second for the green, white and checker finish. It mattered not to Hubbard, who was running second, as he was able to drive off over those final laps to score the win in his Defend Tattoo Buick, a car, it should be mentioned, that dates back some three decades as well.
Warren Jr., of Ridge, was runner-up, in the TS Haulers Chevy, while Brian Brown, of Baiting Hollow, was third, in the Mitrani Plastering entry.
“The Real Deal” Mark Stewart of Riverhead captured his third Super Pro Truck win of 2014 as he topped the 20-lap feature.
Frank Dumicich Sr. showed the way early on, with “Dangerous” Dave Koenig second for the first two laps. As the tandem raced off turn four to start the third lap, Koenig slammed the wall, ending his race and setting up a double-file restart between Dumicich Sr. and Mark Stewart, who started the race fourth. On the ensuing restart, Stewart got the measure of Dumicich Sr. to lead laps three and four before Dumicich Sr. rallied back to lead laps five and six.
Lap seven would do the trick for Stewart, as he raced his way into sole possession of the race lead in the REMAX Realtors Chevy. Once out front, Stewart would be able to drive away from the field at first—but later in the race Mike Albasini, who came to second on lap eight after Dumicich Sr. faded and later dropped out of the race, closed in. Albasini was able to close the gap on Stewart late in the contest.
At the finish, though, it was Stewart taking his seventh career win. Albasini, of Flushing, was runner-up, in the Hollis Court Collision Chevy, while point leader Erin Solomito, of Hampton Bays, finished third, in the Sea-Level Construction Chevy.