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Riverhead Raceway: Soper opens season with victories

Kyle Soper of Manorville could not have dreamed of a better way to start the 2018 Riverhead Raceway season.

The rising driving talent won both the 40-lap NASCAR Modified and 25-lap Late Model feature events during the Cinco de Mayo opening night NASCAR Whelen All American Series program Saturday evening. It was Soper’s sixth career Modified triumph and the seventh Late Model win of his career.

A late-race caution flag on Lap 35 changed the complexion and of the Modified race as John Fortin Sr. and Soper lined up side by side for a five-lap dash to the finish that Soper won.

“This is pretty cool,” said Soper.

Fortin of Holtsville had to settle for second place. Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville was third. John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville charged his way from 20th to a fourth place finish while David Schneider of Northport completed the top five after starting 14th.

Earlier, Soper triumphed in the Late Model race. He held off teammate Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Mass., who made his was back after an early-race spin to claim runner-up honors. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was third.

Justin Brown of Manorville was the Modified Crate winner, completing the 25 laps ahead of the 2017 Rookie of the Year, Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck, who was second. Jay Hansen of Calverton drove in third.

Defending Figure Eight champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead got his title defense off on the right foot, literally. Rogers, on the pole for the 15-lap race, sped off to his 36th career win. Zeh of Selden and Scott Pedersen of Shirley were the next two finishers.

In a 20-lap Blunderbust race, Jack Handley Jr. motored to his 22nd career win. His next win will tie him for second place on the all-time win list with Fred Rodgers of Aquebogue. Tom Pickerell was second and Jim Laird Jr. third.

Mark Stewart of Riverhead took advantage of his pole starting spot for the 20-lap Super Pro Truck victory, the 14th of his career. The win moved the teenage driver into sole possession of fifth place on the all-time win list. Dave Brigati of Calverton was second and Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach finished third.

Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches drove from the front row to victory lane in a 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature race. It was his 15th career win, third on the all-time list. Jeff Otto Jr. of Deer Park was second, with veteran Jim Sylvester of Massapequa third.

After spending the entire 2017 Long Island Vintage Auto Racing Series vintage car season chasing Don Howe and watching him go 5-for-5 on the year, Jim Kelly of East Moriches was determined to end Howe’s win streak in 2018. He did just that, taking a 15-lapper. Howe of Water Mill and Mark Miller of Hauppauge were second and third, respectively.