Auto Racing: Opening night is a big night for Rogers


The 65th anniversary season of Riverhead Raceway racing got underway Saturday night at on a clear but chilly evening that turned out to be a big one for Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead.Rogers swept the Twin 30 NASCAR Modified features for his 32nd and 33rd career NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified victories.

There was no stopping Rogers in the first race. He held off the runner-up, Ryan Preece. A rookie, Kyle Soper of Manorville, made a late-race pass on John Beatty Jr. of Merrick for third. Dave Sapienza of Riverhead filled out the top five.

The second race saw its share of caution flags and damaged race cars. While exiting a turn, George Brunnhoelzl III and John Fortin made contact while fighting for position, stacking up the field behind them. Among the cars damaged in the melee were those driven by Howie Brode, Shawn and Timmy Solomito, Brendon Bock, John Fortin Sr. and Jr. and Ken Darch.

On Lap 11, Rogers swooped past Preece on the way to his sweep. Preece finished second again, immediately ahead of Jason Agugliaro of Islip, Brunnhoelzl III of Mooresville, N.C., and Dave Brigati of Calverton.

In other races:

A former Late Model champion, Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead, topped the field in a 25-lap race that had a 15-car field. Roger Oxee of Peconic was second and Chris Lescenski of Riverhead drove in third.

Gary Fritz Jr. of Mastic Beach, the 2013 rookie of the year, scored his first career Figure Eight win. He was leading the scheduled 15-lap feature when the time limit ran out on Lap 8 during a caution. Rogers finished second and Hyde took third.

John Baker of Brookhaven showed that timing is everything. Baker stunned race leader Eric Zeh of Selden on a late-race restart to post his third career win in a 20-lap Charger feature. C. J. Lehmann of Shirley was third.

For the second year in a row, Jack Handley Jr. of Medford won the 20-lap Blunderbust opener after taking the lead on Lap 6 and never looking back. The race was marred by a personal feud that boiled over between Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge and Brian Brown of Baiting Hollow, who decided after spinning each other out during the race to have a demolition derby with their cars. Both were removed and disqualified from the race with future penalties to be announced, according to the raceway. Following Handley to the finish line were the second-place Joe Warren Jr. of Ridge and the third-place driver, 70-year-old Bill Wegmann Sr. of North Bellmore.

The defending Super Pro Truck champion, Lou Maestri of Deer Park, started his title defense off in style with his 28th career win. Trailing him at the finish were Mike Albasini of Flushing Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach.

Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches, a five-time winner in 2014, finished first among 28 cars in a 20-lap Legend Race Car feature. Second place went to Vinny Delaney of Holtsville and third to Greg Harris of Riverhead.

ENDURO SEASON STARTS  The curtain went up on the 30th consecutive season of Enduro racing at Riverhead Raceway on Sunday with Greg Zaleski of Jamesport, Don Nelson of Rocky Point, Anthony Pizzo of Lake Ronkonkoma and Mike Mujsce Jr. of Hampton Bays all scoring victories. Pizzo actually won twice by sweeping the day’s two Eight-Cylinder Enduro events.