Howie Brode of East Islip rallied late in the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 by Hagerman Systems NASCAR Modified race Saturday at Riverhead Raceway, making a pass with 10 laps remaining to win his third Whelen All-American Series feature of 2013. For Brode, who was very close with “Tiger” Tom Baldwin and considers him a mentor, it was his third win in the 77-lap memorial, and despite the prior wins this one was every bit as emotional as the others and was worth $1,600.
Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville set fast time with a lap of 11.876 but could only muster a 7th in the redraw while Brode drew the pole with Jason Agugliaro picking the outside of the front row. When the green flag dropped, Brode took the race lead while another former winner of this race, Ron Silk, quickly jumped under Agugliaro from his third starting spot to race the outside pole sitter from second. Silk took the position and quickly turned his attention to race leader Brode. With the leader’s car tight upon exit, Silk was looking to execute an inside pass for the lead with Ryan Preece, a winner in his last three Riverhead starts, making his way quickly from sixth to third. With Preece testing Silk for second, Brode gained some breathing room, although that would be short lived.
On lap 16, Preece worked his way by Silk for second just two laps after a 14th lap caution flag, with Preece using the double-file restart to his advantage. After chasing race leader Brode for a dozen laps and testing him numerous times, Preece worked his way under Brode for the race lead with Silk also getting by Brode for second, taking advantage of the opening as well. Once in the lead, Preece would start to motor away from Silk and Brode, but a 44th lap caution flag period turned Preece’s night upside down. While circling the track under yellow, the left front tire on the Bill & Barbara Park owned entry went flat and when he pitted Preece was forced to surrender the lead and what appeared to be certain victory.
When the race went back to green, Silk found himself the race leader with 35 laps remaining in the race, and he was hoping to give his car owner Ed Partridge another win in the 77, as Partridge was very close with Charlie Jarzombek.
However as the laps started to wind down, early race leader Brode—who had dropped to third—was starting to make his way back to the race lead. On lap 67, Brode ducked under Silk and the race leader tried unsuccessfully to pinch his challenger off, but Brode was having none of it as he put his Peter Clark Motorsports Chevy out front for good.
After taking the victory lap, Brode, choking back tears, rolled to victory lane and admitted his motivation afterwards.
“Even though we dropped back to third for a bit, this car was good and I just kept digging,” he said. John Denniston of Hagerman Systems surprised the race winner not only with a trophy but also with a photo of all three drivers on it. With his voice cracking, Brode admitted: “I think all three of these greats were riding with me tonight. I can never thank Tom Baldwin enough for what he instilled in me.” Brode also took home the checkered flag for the race from starter Mike Rickert and his family.
Silk of Norwalk, Connecticut was runner-up in the TS Haulers Chevy, while “The Natural” Timmy Solomito of Islip scored a solid third place finish in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. Dave Sapienza of Riverhead had a solid race, coming home fourth with teammate Dave Brigati of Calverton completing the top five.
Ryan Preece would rally over the final 35 laps for a sixth place showing.
A few weeks back, Scott Pedersen’s car owner, Benny Vecchio, purchased the former Ralph Tasso Figure Eight car for his race team, and this past Saturday in just his first start in the Reliable Motors Chevy, Pedersen would take down the win. Perhaps it was the sultry heat that led to a wild race for the class that found them running 13 of a scheduled 15 laps with the finish of the event looking like a WWE event. Tom Ferrara led the first 12 laps of the race and for the first nine laps was chased by Pedersen before he gave way to John Vullo on lap 10. Once to second Vullo, who was going for his third consecutive win, quickly went to work on race leader Ferrara with Pedersen still in he mix. The top three cars ran extremely close as the laps started to wind down to a precious few. On lap 12, Ferrara went for a spin after contact from behind and he wasn’t happy about it and waited for Vullo, the new race leader. On lap 13 Ferrara made contact with Vullo and Vullo would then retaliate with a caution flag being thrown in the process.
Caught up in the Ferrara and Vullo mess would be two innocent victims, Arne Pedersen and Ken Hyde Jr., with Pedersen’s car heavily damaged. During the yellow, NASCAR Officials sent Vullo to the rear of the lead lap cars for rough riding, Ferrara was finished for the night with a damaged car, and when scoring and timing put the field back in order, Pedersen, the 2010 track champion, was out front and named the race winner with the race checkered due to the time limit. Roger Maynor of Bay Shore came from ninth to finish second in his Barrasso & Sons Mason Supplies Ford, with defending champion Mike Mujsce of Quogue third in the Bill Beener Tree Service racer.
“Radiant” Ray Minieri of Bay Shore may have accomplished something no other Charger driver has done as he won the 20-lap PRC Industries/Angela’s House Charger feature event, and in order to do so passed Chris Turbush for the race lead. Cory Midgett paced the race over the first five laps before both Turbush and Minieri came calling in the form of an inside pass in turn three. With Turbush and Minieri now running one-two, many on hand thought Turbush would motor off to his 35th career win, but Minieri had other ideas. The two tough veterans put on a great side-by-side race for the lead over the final six laps of the race, with John Baker waiting for the leaders to get together and he’d drive off to victory lane. With the two-to-go signal in the air, Minieri made an inside pass of Turbush and after some minor paint swapping, Minieri would keep his Sunrise Chiropractic & Wellness Center Dodge out front to score his second win of the year and 17th of his career.
“Chris and I ran hard but clean for the win,” Minieri said. “I hope the fans enjoyed it.” Turbush of Wading River was runner-up in the Carpet Express Chevy and later reflected, “I can’t recall being passed for the race lead but it was a good race.” Baker of Brookhaven would cross the line third in the Sunrise Medical Labs Chevy.
With his AARP card tucked in his wallet, Ron Langdon of Wantagh celebrated his recent 50th Birthday by winning the 20-lap Blunderbust feature event.
Right from the outset, Langdon showed he was the driver to beat as he broke out front of Paul Parisi and “Turbo” Tom Sullivan. Sullivan would pass Parisi for second, but the race, as can be typical with the Blunderbust drivers, would be a caution-free event and that played into Langdon’s hand.
That is, until defending champion Tom Pickerell came to second on lap 12.
Over the last eight laps of the race Pickerell reeled in race leader Langdon in rapid fashion and now the race for the win was on. As the duo raced into the final corner, Pickerell went for broke and dove under Langdon for the lead. They touched off turn four and Pickerell would be first under the checker flag. However, NASCAR officials determined Pickerell’s last turn pass found him under the dreaded yellow line, a decision that Pickerell agreed with in a very sportsman-like manner. They put him back on spot, and lo and behold Langdon, who began his driving career back at Freeport Stadium, was the race winner in the Blaze Fuel Oil Caprice. Tom Pickerell of Huntington was runner-up in the Premier Utility Service Chevy while Langdon’s car owner “The Wildchild” Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge was third in the Langdon’s Automotive machine.
Soon to be high school senior Kyle Soper of Manorville scored his second career win in their 20-lap feature event and his winning move would actually take place when the race took the green flag. Armed with an outside pole starting spot by virtue of his win in the second heat race, Soper got some good forward bite off turn four and beat pole sitter Justin Strumpf to the lead. Strumpf would run second for the first two laps, but found himself stuck on the outside groove too long and on lap 3 was passed by Vinny Delaney for position. The race was a very clean affair with minimal caution flags which also played into the hands of Soper, a third generation driver who, after he graduates in June of 2014, will enlist in the U.S. Army. When the race concluded it was indeed the Atlantic Chevrolet and Cadillac of Bay Shore entry of Soper taking down the win. Delaney of Holtsville was second in the John’s Fuel Oil machine with Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches placing third in the SAM mechanical mount.