Auto Racing: Flat tire doesn’t keep title away from Charrier


The curtain came down on the 63rd season of racing at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday evening with a full card of Enduro racing that saw Bob Engelfried of Stony Brook take his first career victory in a 50-lap Grand Enduro. Greg Harris of Riverhead scored his second win of the year in the Four/Six-Cylinder Truck event. The two drivers, however, took different paths to the winner’s circle.

Greg Zaleski, who started the Grand Enduro race 11th, moved by a struggling James Charrier for the lead on the 34th lap. Laps after surrendering the lead, Charrier, a five-time feature event winner, dropped to the infield with a left rear flat tire that had slowly been losing air.

Despite falling out of the race while seeking his sixth win of the year, Charrier clinched the 2012 Grand Enduro title on the strength of his five wins. It is Charrier’s second title in three years.

Once out front, Zaleski pulled away from the field and seemingly won his third race of the year. However, Riverhead Raceway’s chief technical inspector, Walter Bonczyk, told the top six finishers that an involved teardown would take place. Zaleski was one of four drivers who refused the teardown, earning an instant disqualification. Phil LaManna (fourth), David Antos (fifth) and Erick Zegel (sixth) all balked at the teardown as well.

Engelfried moved into the winner’s circle as his Chevy passed inspection. Steve Mastro of Port Jefferson was second. Glenn Simonin of Holtsville who, one week earlier had a career-best fifth-place finish, improved upon that tally with third-place honors. Chris Lescenski of Riverhead and Michael Retus of Manorville completed the top five.

Greg Harris liked the feeling of his first career Enduro win a few weeks back so much that he went out and won another 50-lapper.

“I guess the saying is true, the first win is the toughest, the rest get easier,” said Harris.

With a runner-up finish, Robin Vollmoeller of Riverhead sewed up the Four/Six-Cylinder Truck Enduro championship. Dale Owen of Oceanside was third, Don Nelson of Rocky Point fourth and Greg DiCanio of Seaford fifth.

Frustrated with how his Labor Day weekend Eight-Cylinder Enduro effort panned out, Anthony Pizzo of Lake Ronkonkoma was a driver on a mission Saturday as he scored a convincing win in a 75-lap feature that was the first of two for the class that day. Dominic Ranieri of East Northport clinched the Eight-Cylinder Enduro championship with his runner-up finish in the race. Jess Martines of Shirley was third, Dege Russell of Rocky Point fourth and Rob McCormick of Calverton fifth.

In the second Eight-Cylinder race that went a distance of 50 laps, Russell ended his season on a high note, driving to victory. Ranieri was second, with Pizzo third in the nightcap. Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville and Mark Wolf of Shirley were fourth and fifth, respectively.

As Steve Trimboli saw it, there was only one way for him to clinch the Four/Six-Cylinder Car Enduro title, and that was by going out and winning Saturday’s 50-lap main event. That is just what the Freeport driver did. Trimboli worked his way by the early race leader, Mitchell Pattern, on the eighth lap to take the lead, and once he was out front he dominated the remainder of the race. In a postrace interview, Trimboli disclosed that this win and championship would be his final one in the class as he will concentrate on a full Grand Enduro effort for 2013. Bob Haeger of Hampton Bays was second in the race. He was followed, in order, by Joe Warren Jr. of Rocky Point, Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach and George Davis of Patchogue.

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