Riverhead Raceway: Rogers doesn’t take long to get back on winning track
After winning six times in 2012, NASCAR Modified veteran Tom Rogers Jr. didn’t take long to register his first of 2013. The Patchogue driver triumphed in a 35-lap race on Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. It was his 21st career triumph at the demanding quarter mile oval.
Rogers took the lead when Timmy Solomito’s car broke a pinion in the rear end, forcing him to the infield and handing the lead of the race over to Rogers early in the race.
In the end, though, there was no catching Rogers, who drove to victory on his birthday, the first time he had done so in 12 years, he said.
When reminded that at one point in the race on a double-file restart he was third, surrounded by three Solomito brothers, Rogers said: “I’ve raced with all three before. They run clean as I try to run them clean, too, so it was no issue.”
Shawn Solomito of Islip was second. Eddie Brunnhoelzl of Levittown salvaged his night with a third-place tally. Jerry Solomito Jr. of Islip finished fourth and Howie Brode of East Islip gained sole possession of the points lead with his fifth-place effort.
In other races:
For the 109th time in his career, Roger Maynor of Bay Shore took a win, claiming a 15-lap Figure Eight feature event. Maynor executed a textbook crossover move that propelled him to the race lead on Lap 8. Mike Mujsce of Quogue came in second, and Arne Pedersen of Mastic Beach had to settle for third.
Over the first three Charger races of the season, Ray Minieri of Bay Shore had not had the best of luck. That all changed Saturday when he was in the right spot at the right time to win the 30-lap feature event for the class.
Minieri took the lead on the 14th lap after Chris Turbush was forced to the pits because of a peeled back right front fender. Despite being chased by C. J. Lehmann of Mastic Beach for the entire second half of the race, Minieri drove his Dodge to the winner’s circle for the 16th time in his career. Lehmann was second. Chad Churilla of Hauppauge took a third for the third consecutive race.
The Blunderbust class once again thrilled fans with some late-race excitement as Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow notched his first career win as a result of some wild happenings.
Jack Handley Jr., who started 11th in the 19-car field, carefully picked his way through traffic before setting his sights on the leader, Bill Wegmann Jr., on Lap 15. Just moments after receiving the two-to-go signal, Handley looked to the inside of Wegmann on the first turn. Wegmann, however, tried to thwart the effort and contact was made off turn two. While neither driver ever spun, they did have to step off the gas, and that opened the door for Brown to take the lead. For the last lap and a half, Jimmy White Jr. was glued to Brown’s rear bumper, but Brown remained poised at the wheel and secured the win in thrilling fashion. White of Southampton was second. The defending champion, Tom Pickerell of Huntington, took third after moving up from 16th starting position.
The defending Super Pro Truck champion, Roger Turbush of Riverhead, notched his 15th career win in the class, taking first in a 20-lap main event.
Dave Koenig of Baldwin kept close to Turbush over the distance of the race, finishing second. Lou Maestri of Deer Park came in third.
The race concluded literally in a ball of fire as Erin Dumicich-Solomito, who was running among the top five, blew the engine after taking the white flag with a flash fire engulfing her truck for a moment. After taking in some oxygen she was “O.K.,” according to a raceway statement.
Mike Smith of Kings Park scored the win in the hard-hitting 8-Cylinder Demolition Derby.