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Riverhead Raceway Beats Rain, Jason Agugliaro Tops
Tom Rogers Jr. In NASCAR Modified Thriller
by Bob Finan
Despite some stubborn weather systems that hung over Riverhead Raceway until late afternoon promoters Barbara & Jim Cromarty beat mother nature Saturday to get the entire NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program in the books. In the 35-lap NASCAR Modified feature Jason Agugliaro of Islip fended off a hard pressing Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead to win his second career feature event.
Tom Rogers Jr., as he has all season long, led the way in qualifying with a lap of 11.945 but in the redraw picked 5th while Jason Agugliaro and Ryan Preece drew the front row. To date the 2014 season has been a tough one on Jason Agugliaro and his race team mainly due to engine issues that actually found him running as a teammate to Tom Rogers Jr. earlier in the season and it was no surprise to anyone that Jason vaulted out front at the throw of the green. Championship leader Howie Brode snuck into second for the first two circuits before he was over taken by Ryan Preece for second. Early on the race hit an extended green flag run that allowed Agugliaro to pull out to a comfortable lead while Preece, Brode and Tom Rogers Jr. diced for position. Rogers would soon pass Brode for third but passing Preece for second would take sometime as the talented duo raced hard but clean for the spot.
Rogers would make a textbook inside pass of Preece entering the third turn to come to second but his chances of catching race leader Agugliaro would be zero without a caution flag. Much to Jason's dismay but to Tom's pleasure that yellow would wave on lap 24 for Jerry Solomito Jr. who spun after contact from Eddie Brunnhoelzl III who was sent to the rear for rough riding. With 11 laps remaining in the race those who did come out despite the elements figured it was a matter of time before Rogers got by Agugliaro for the lead, however Jason had a different ending in mind. Over those last 11 laps Rogers would drive his car in high entering the first turn and dive low exiting turn two trying to sneak under Agugliaro but the race leader was wise to that game plan and kept his car tucked tightly on the inside line. What resulted was a classic NASCAR Modified race on a humid and damp summer evening as a second battle erupted for third between Ryan Preece and Howie Brode that was every bit as intense as the race for the lead.
When the race concluded Jason Agugliaro in the Tom O'Keefe & Sons Chevy would withstand all the challenges from Tom Rogers Jr. to score a much needed win. When asked if for a minute he'd get a teammate "discount" from Rogers in the closing laps Jason offered, "No sir, Tom raced me as hard as he'd race anybody and did it cleanly and you can't ask for more than that". As to his roller coaster season the race winner admitted it has been a tough year, "We lost our new motor in week two but thanks to Tom and his car owner at the time Joe Ambrose we never missed a race and I learned a lot from them and thank them". Jason also announced in victory lane the big win came 24 hours after he and fiancé Theresa were married on Friday, "Theresa puts up with a lot and to win on the weekend we got married, well it makes this all the more special".
Tom Rogers Jr. saw his two race win streak come to an end in his Jessup Landscaping Chevy and was runner-up. Howie Brode of East Islip made a late race inside pass of Ryan Preece of Berlin, Ct. but that pass was called back as NASCAR Officials felt that Howie dipped under the line to make the pass. Preece was third in the East West Marine Chevy with Brode fourth in the RW Truck Equipment Chevy, Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville completed the top five in the Premier Utility Service entry.
Mike Bologna of Melville earned his second Late Model win of 2014 the old fashioned way as he drove to victory after starting 7th in the 25-lap feature event. Chris LaSpisa another driver at Riverhead in 2014 besieged by engine woes raced his way from the pole to the race lead when the green flag waved. Defending champion Jeremy McDermott chased LaSpisa over the first five laps of the race but lap 6 saw Mike Bologna who charged his way to third from seventh in the those first five laps pass McDermott for second. The first task for Mike was to erase the lead that LaSpisa had built early on in the contest which he would accomplish. Once to the rear bumper of the leader the trick would then become how to get by for the race lead. As the tandem raced off the second turn on lap 18 Mike ducked under LaSpisa who left the door open perhaps too much and Bologna drove to the race lead with a half dozen laps remaining in the race. Watching all this unfold from third was Roger Oxee and soon he would make a run at LaSpisa for second. All that was just fine with Mike Bologna who drove to an impressive win in the Schlaugies Fuel Oil Chevy. Chris LaSpisa of Shirley was runner-up in his McBetts Racing Engines Chevy while Roger Oxee of Peconic crossed the line third in the North Fork Sanitation Pontiac.
Defending Charger champion Eric Zeh of Selden notched his third win of the season in their 20-lap main event. "Radiant" Ray Minieri led the way in qualifying with a lap of 13.239 but would come up snake eyes in the redraw grabbing the number 6 tag. Rookie driver Greg Immerman picked the pole and was joined on the front row by CJ Lehmann and when the race went green it would be Immerman taking the lead. Lehmann was quickly challenged by Chris Turbush for second who took the position on lap 2. Meanwhile Eric Zeh who started the race 4th was doing some work of his own and on lap 4 he ducked under Turbush for second down the backstretch. Once to seocnd the chore for Zeh was to track down Immerman which he did in pretty quick fashion and on lap 9 he utilized the inside line once again off turn two to pass Immerman for the lead. Turbush through the opening created by Zeh quickly came to second and once again the two championship leaders found themselves having at it for the win. In the end Eric Zeh would have them all covered on this day as he drove his S&P Carting Chevy to victory bringing to within two points of Chris Turbush in the standings. Chris of Wading River was runner-up in the REMAX Realtors machine while Ray Minieri of Bay Shore crossed the line third in his Hometown Taxi mount.
Former two time Super Pro Truck champion Roger Turbush of Riverhead scored a milestone victory in their 20-lap feature event as he won for the 20th time in his career. Veteran wheelman Frank Dumicich Sr. moved to the race lead at the start chased early on by son Frank Jr and Mike Albasini. Soon Roger Turbush would enter the picture after starting 5th in the race as he passed Frank Dumicich Jr. for second exiting turn four on lap 5. After spending four laps catching and then sizing the elder Dumicich up for a pass Roger would complete that task on a lap 9 double file restart. The caution ironically enough had waved for Roger's nephew Mark Stewart who brushed the wall in turn 2 and when the race went back to green Turbush rode the outside lane around Dumicich for the race lead. Once out front the driver of the Allied Air Conditioning Chevy never looked back scoring his third win of the 2014 campaign. Frank Dumicich Sr. of E. Quogue finished second in the Tonino's Pizza Ford while "The King of Queens" Mike Albasini of Flushing was third in the KJ Farrell's Pub & Grill racer.
Greg Zaleski of Jamesport was in the right place at the right time to win the 50-lap Grand Enduro. After Steve Mastro led the first lap of the race Rob Bader moved out front on lap 2 and quickly opened up a sizeable lead on the field. Mastro chased Bader until la[ 12 when he was passed by Jimmy White Jr. who was seeking his third win of the year. White's hopes for victory were dashed by a flat tire on lap 19 which then moved former champion David Antos to second. Lap after lap Antos cut into Bader's lead and soon was on Rob's rear bumper. Exiting the fourth turn on lap 29 Bader got loose and Antos had nowhere to go which resulted in Rob spinning making Antos the new race leader. In the meantime Steve Mastro and Greg Zaleski were in a torrid fight for third and then after Bader's spin second. Unhappy about the contact Bader waited on Antos to come lap him and when he did contact was again made between the duo in the first and second turn ending both their nights. Greg Zaleski who just laps prior passed Steve Mastro for second soon found himself the new race leader on lap 44. Once out front Greg in the Peconic Sign Company Chevy would lead the final 6 laps of the race to score the win. Steve Mastro of Port Jefferson was runner-up in the NY Auto Giant entry with rookie driver Cody Triola of Bay Shore netting third place money in his PCFI racer.
1. Jason Agugliaro 2. Tom Rogers Jr. 3. Ryan Preece 4. Howie Brode 5. Vinny Biondolillo 6. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 7. Dave Schneider 8. Jerry Solomito Jr. 9. Russell Savoy 10. Ken Darch
1. Mike Bologna 2. Chris LaSpisa 3. Roger Oxee 4. Scott Kulesa 5. Chris Lescenski 6. Jarrod Hayes 7. Chris McGuire 8. Kevin Metzger 9. Mike Mortimer 10. Jeremy McDermott 11. Shawn Patrick
1. Eric Zeh 2. Chris Turbush 3. Ray Minieri 4. John Baker 5. CJ Lehmann 6. Owen Grennan 7. Cory Midgett 8. Scott Pedersen 9. Greg Immerman 10. Jay Henschel DNS- David Roys
Super Pro Trucks:
1. Roger Turbush 2. Frank Dumicich Sr. 3. Mike Albasini 4. Dave Koenig 5. Lou Maestri 6. Erin Solomito 7. Mark Stewart 8. Frank Dumicich Jr. 9. Brian McElearney 10. Jarrod Hayes 11. Amanda Anderson
Grand Enduro (top five):
1. Greg Zaleski 2. Steve Mastro 3. Cody Triola 4. James Charrier 5. Brian McCormack
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