It was a very competitive and exciting Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. All the Miler Lite night feature events featured some great competitive racing, including the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified main event where Ryan Preece of Berlin, Connecticut, raced his way into the lead with just eight laps remaining to post his third win of the season.
In pre-race qualifying Preece—making his first start in the Merkel Race Engines Chevy since July 27 at Riverhead—set fast time with a lap of 11.876 but would redraw sixth for the feature event. Jason Agugliaro and Dave Brigati would wind up picking the front row in the 18-car field. At the throw of the green flag it would be Agugliaro racing his way out front with Brigati filing into second for the first half of the race. A couple of early race cautions would find positions behind the two race leaders being exchanged on the double-file restarts with drivers Dave Sapienza, Chuck Steuer, Timmy Solomito and points leader Howie Brode all going toe-to-toe for position.
Meanwhile back up front, Agugliaro was driving his heart out in hopes of scoring his first career NASCAR Modified feature event win. But as the race hit the halfway mark, Preece started to make his presence known. On lap 18, Preece wrestled second away from Brigati, and after a few laps, closed in on leader Agugliaro. With 10 laps remaining in the race it looked as though Agugliaro might keep Preece at bay but then Preece, exiting turn two on lap 26, made a charge under Agugliaro. By the time the duo raced through the third and fourth turn, Preece would have the race lead as they began the 27th lap, a lead he’d never surrender over the final eight circuits.
As the checkers waved, it was Preece notching his third NASCAR WAAS Riverhead win of 2013 to go along with his Hoosier Tire 200 WMT triumph back in late June.
“What can I say, Bill and Dave just give me a great car to drive and I’m the lucky guy who gets to drive it,” Ryan said after exiting the East-West Marine Chevy. As for racing with Agugliaro for the win Preece reflected, “Jason had a good car but as the race wore on he got tight off the corner and my car was great on the bottom and I was able to get by.”
Turning in a great performance for second would be Agugliaro of Islip in his Tom O’Keefe & Sons Chevy. Sapienza of Riverhead made a late race move to secure third place money for his new sponsor, Heller Construction. Brigati of Calverton and Chuck Steuer of Bohemia, making his first Riverhead start in more than two years, completed the top five.
On the strength of an early race outside pass, Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead scored his second Late Model win of the year in the Miller Lite night 25-lap main event. Shawn Patrick and McDermott brought the field down to the green flag for the start of the race and it would be Patrick holding court for the first lap of the race. However, on lap two McDermott hung his SDS Telecommunications Dodge to the outside of Patrick and McDermott got some good “bite” on the high side racing his way out front. Once out front, McDermott—the 2012 Charger champion—would quickly pull away from Patrick and the remainder of the field. The race saw many of the championship contenders have issues, mainly points leader Scott Kulesa and challenger Roger Oxee. Kulesa was knocked out with a damaged shock, while Oxee got a right front flat and fell from the race. None of that mattered to race leader McDermott, who drove off to victory in the Unique Golf-owned racer. Patrick of Brightwaters was runner-up in the Steve Mehner Race Engines Dodge, while Chris LaSpisa of Shirley made a great comeback from an early race flat to finish third in the Sprinklers Galore Irrigation Chevy.
The Miller Lite Night 20 for the Chargers turned out to be a barn burner, and when the dust settled C.J. Lehmann of Shirley drove to his first win of the season in the car his team calls the “Cotton Candy Express.” Tom Anderson set the pace of the race over the first seven laps, challenged at first by Cory Midgett who ran second for the first four laps. Lap five saw Lehmann racing his way around Midgett for second with Midgett now third and Eric Zeh entering the battle in fourth. A lap seven double-file restart would really shake things up as Lehmann was able to rim ride the outside lane to the race lead around Anderson with Zeh racing his way from fourth to second. The race between Lehmann and Zeh intensified as the two young driving talents swapped paint side by side through the corners with “Radiant” Ray Minieri taking it all in from a close third. Chad Churilla made his way to the party later as well and it was now a four-car fight for the win. Minieri got by Zeh for second on lap 12 but five laps later on the 17th circuit it was Churilla getting by Minieri to now challenge Lehmann. Churilla got close to the back bumper of the TJ Halpin’s Chevy but in the end it was Lehmann prevailing and scoring the popular win. Churilla of Hauppauge settled for second in the Angela’s House Pontiac while Chris Turbush of Riverhead made some late race moves to finish third in the Sapienza Racing Chevy.
The 20-lap Miller Lite Super Pro Truck feature was decided by three drivers in yet another closely contested short track classic on the night, with defending champion Roger Turbush of Riverhead scoring his 16th career win.
For the second week in a row, second generation driver Brian McElearney broke out front at the start and was chased over the first five laps by Frank Dumicich Sr. Lap six is when things started to heat up, as Mike Albasini raced his way under Dumicich on the front stretch to come to second with Turbush quickly coming to third. Albasini and Turbush in tandem quickly reeled in race leader McElearney and an intense three-truck race for the lead and win was on. With both Albasini and Turbush draped all over his tailgate, McElearney did a great job keeping both at bay until lap 17, when Turbush made a bold move to the outside and drove around McElearney to take the race lead as the two-to-go signal was displayed. Turbush kept his Allied Air Conditioning Chevy out front over the final two laps to collect the victory. In a photo finish for second, McElearney of North Babylon was runner-up in the Randy’s performance Chevy while Albasini of Flushing was third in the Hollis Court Collision entry.
Defending Legend Race Car champion Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead extended his 2013 points lead as he drove to his fourth win of the season. When the 27-car field lined up, teammates Jeffrey Goodale and Ellwood occupied the front row by virtue of their heat race victories. By the time the duo hit the third turn, Ellwood had the measure of Goodale for the lead. On lap two, Kyle Soper worked his way under Goodale for second and he would stay close to Ellwood until he was passed for position by “The Natural” Timmy Solomito on lap eight. Once to second, Solomito was all over the rear bumper of Ellwood as they battled for the lead. Solomito made a late race run off turn four for the lead which Ellwood blocked with slight contact involved. Both drivers gathered up their cars and raced on with Ellwood in the Riverhead Building Supply entry taking the win over Solomito of Islip in the Monster’s Recycling machine. Soper of Manorville was third in the Moriches Bay Diner racer.
Jason Savoy of Lake Panamoka scored his second consecutive Demolition Derby win of 2013 as he topped newcomer Andrew Ferrante of Riverhead. Ferrante was named Judge’s Choice while “Curious” George Astacio of Shirley was voted Fan’s Choice.