Auto Racing: Rogers rebuilds, rebounds

Defending NASCAR Modified champion Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead and his race team had to virtually rebuild their car after a hard crash on Aug. 22. The car wasn’t finished until 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Later that night, Rogers went out and rewarded his hard-working group by sweeping the Twin 50 NASCAR Modified events at Riverhead Raceway Saturday evening. The victories were the 50th and 51st of his career, moving him to second on the track’s all-time win list that is led by Charlie Jarzombek with 63 wins.

Rogers’ victory in the first 50-lapper momentarily tied him with Jim Malone Sr. for victories. Kyle Soper of Manorville made a pass for second on Lap 36 stand up for a runner-up finish. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville was third, Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown fourth and Dave Brigati of Calverton fifth.

“This car needed a ton of work, more than most know,” Rogers said. “But my team, my sponsors and my family all stepped up putting in long hours.”

While it was the inside groove that Rogers utilized in his first race victory, the second race saw him find success on the top side of the track. Rogers passed Brigati and Fortin for the lead off a turn starting the eighth lap and held it to the end. “Anyone who knows me knows that I like the outside better,” he said.

Soper motored in second and was followed by Fortin, Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills and John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville.

After feeling as though he gave one away last Wednesday night, Chris Turbush of Wading River came back on a mission to win a 25-lap Late Model feature event, a milestone 10th of his career and second of the season. Soper was second and Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead placed third.

Owen Grennan of Glen Cove was first in a 35-lap Crate Modified feature. The non-stop affair saw Jack Orlando of Calverton second and Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck drive from a seventh starting spot to finish third.

With his car still on the shelf from a mid-season crash, Tom Ferrara of Patchogue won a 15-lap Figure Eight race in a borrowed vehicle. Taking advantage of a rare pole starting spot, Ferrara picked up the 13th win of his career, tying him with Bill Steen for 11th on the all-time list. Vinny Delaney of Holtsville was second and Tom Rogers Jr. third.

Sometimes racing is all about being in the right place at the right time. That was the case for first-time Blunderbust winner Cody Triola of Bay Shore. Following a crash on Lap 6, Triola found himself leading the race. He drove onto victory, followed by Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead and Timmy Mulqueen of Levittown.

A Super Pro Truck 20-lap race was won by Mark Stewart of Riverhead, his 17th career win. Dave Brigati of Calverton was second and Lou Maestri of Deer Park third.

Legend Race Car driver Ed Cheslak of Rocky Point won his first career 20-lapper. Championship leader Jim Sylvester of Massapequa made his way to a second-place finish. Riely O’Keefe of Islip was a career-best third.

Zeh, Fuller triumph Sunday

The second half of the Labor Day racing weekend at Riverhead Raceway was completed Sunday afternoon with Eric Zeh of Selden scoring his fourth Street Stock win of 2018 in a thrilling 40-lap affair. Steve Fuller of Manorville won a 30-lap Mini Stock race.

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