Auto Racing: Rogers Jr. avoids multi-car wreck, drives closer to title

Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead took a big step toward his third career Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified championship Saturday night when he swept the Twin 30 feature events for his seventh and eighth victories of the season.

The second race was shortened to 16 laps after a massive multi-car pileup. The wreck was the worst of its kind in recent memory, doing serious damage to several race cars. One driver was injured and taken to a hospital.

Entering a turn, contact was made by two cars with the result finding no less than seven cars getting caught up by the exit gate.  Involved were Vinny Biondolillo, Ron Silk, John Fortin Sr., Kyle Ellwood, Rob McCormick, John Fortin Jr. and Ken Darch. Fortin Jr. was transported to a hospital with an injured left wrist and arm, but was released to seek further care from an orthopedic specialist. All the other drivers were said to be fine.

Darch received the most damage to his car when the body was torn from the car. Darch’s helmet had tire marks on them, evidence of how lucky the veteran driver was to walk away.

With just six cars left on the track, NASCAR officials threw the checker flag and Rogers Jr. earned his 39th career NASCAR Modified win.

“I hope John Jr. is O.K.,” Rogers said after running over to the crash sight, “I’ve been there myself.”

Rookie driver Kyle Soper of Manorville was second to Rogers in the second race while Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., crossed the line third.

In the first race, Rogers Jr. was immediately followed by Preece and Soper.

“Ryan and I just race well together, whether it’s here or on the tour,” said Rogers Jr., who took a commanding 45-point lead over Soper with two races remaining in the season.

In other races:

Scott Pedersen of Shirley picked up his Figure Eight win of 2015, taking first place in a 20-lap race. Mike Mujsce of Quogue was second and Tom Ferrara of Patchogue third.

With several of his St. John’s University classmates cheering him on, Jack Handley Jr. of Medford drove to his fourth Blunderbust win of the year. Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge was second and newcomer Jim Laird Jr. of Islip Terrace took third.

Dave Brigati of Calverton took home his second Super Pro Truck win of the season. The race was slated for 30 laps, but numerous caution flags ended the contest on Lap 28 when the final of many yellow flags waved, leaving Brigati with his eighth career Super Pro Truck win. Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach. An impressive freshman talent, Jerry Giordano of Freeport, was third.

A 20-lap Legend Race Car event was a non-stop affair, with Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches collecting his fourth win of the year. Shawn Wanat of Riverhead was the runner-up. Vinny Delaney of Holtsville made a late-race pass for third.

Second generation driver Jamie Kilkenny of Howard Beach topped a 23-car field to win the National Demolition Derby Championship.

ANTOS, BURBOL PREVAIL Dave Antos of Lindenhurst won a 50-lap Grand Enduro while veteran Gene Burbol of Brookhaven was first in a 50-lap Truck Enduro on Sunday.

Following Antos was Greg Zaleski of Jamesport. The two will enter Saturday’s race tied for the championship lead. Erick Zegel of Medford was third.

In the Truck Enduro, Hank Hallock of Riverhead drove in second, with Donald Lawrence of Southampton third.