Auto Racing: Rogers, driving back-up car, roars from 21st to first


Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue barnstormed his way from a 21st starting spot to sweep the Twin 30 NASCAR Modified features at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night.

Rogers was forced to a back-up car when his Chevy suffered an broken axle, forcing him to drive his family-owned car and having to start in the last row of the 22-car field.

“What happened to our … car was just weird,” Rogers, a two-time track champion, said after his 15th career win. “The axle just split in a place it never does.” He added, “My guys work hard on both cars, and that’s the reason we were able to turn what could have been a bad night into a very good one.”

Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown, who drove to a runner-up finish, said: “Tommy was just toying with us. I’d get close and then, zoom, he’d pull away.”

Howie Brode of East Islip recovered from a turn four spin to finish third. Dave Brigati of Calverton was fourth and Dan Jivanelli of Hampton Bays was fifth.

Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Mass., who was shut out of Late Model victory lane last year, made sure that wasn’t going to be the case in 2012 as he won a 25-lap feature event, the 17th of his career. Kulesa moved to the front after NASCAR officials sent Peter Eriksen to the rear of the pack for rough riding. Over the final six laps, Kulesa remained in front. The opening-night winner, Mike Bologna of Melville, was second. Kevin Metzger of Massapequa took third.

Figure Eight driver Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach led all 15 laps to score his 12th career win. Ken Hyde Jr. was second, and Roger Maynor of Bay Shore scored a third-place finish.

C. J. Lehmann of Shirley led from wire to wire to win a 20-lap Charger feature event.

Ray Minieri of Bay Shore had to settle for second place in the caution-free race. Jeremy McDermott of East Stroudsburg, Penn., was third.

Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge had one goal in mind going into the 2012 Blunderbust campaign and that was to win his 50th career main event. He entered the new year with 48 wins and after just two races in 2012, his mission has been accomplished as he won his second straight 20-lap feature.

As Walkowiak climbed out from his car in victory lane, he was greeted by Riverhead Raceway owners Barbara and Jim Cromarty along with other well-wishers. Paul Parisi of Riverhead was second and Jack Handley Jr. of Medford was third.

Erin Dumicich of East Quogue notched her second career Super Pro Truck win, leading all 20 laps. Frank Dumicich Sr. of East Quogue crossed the line second. Mike Albasini of Flushing took third.

Youth was served in a 20-lap Legend Race Car feature as Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead triumphed for his second career win. Chris Young of Calverton and Paul Dodorico of Miller Place were second and third, respectively.