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Riverhead Raceway: Soper goes from car failure to first

What a difference a week makes.

That’s a longtime adage heard around the pit area of short tracks across America. On Saturday night, sophomore NASCAR Modified driver Kyle Soper of Manorville could apply the adage after leading all 40 laps to win his first career feature event at Riverhead Raceway. One week earlier, Soper and his team were forced to load their family-owned car into a trailer after the rear-end assembly failed. This week they basked in the lights of victory lane.

“This is a great win for our team,” Soper, the 2015 NASCAR Modified Rookie of the Year, said after exiting his Chevrolet. “I can’t thank my parents for all they do and my crew. Last week was tough on us but we rebounded as a team.”

Jason Agugliaro of Islip posted his best finish of 2016, crossing the line second. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville was third. Dave Sapienza of Riverhead worked his way to a fourth place finish after starting 10th. Ken Darch of Riverhead came in fifth.

In a 50-lap Late Model event, championship leader David Roys of Coram scored his first career win in the class on the strength of a midrace outside pass of leader Mike Bologna of Melville. Roger Oxee of Peconic made a Lap-32 pass for second place. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead, the defending Late Model champion, drove in third.

Eric Zeh of Selden, a former multi-time Charger champion at Riverhead Raceway, enjoyed his first career triumph in another division at the track, winning a 20-lap Blunderbust main event. Tom Pickerell of Huntington was the runner-up while early leader Scott Maliszewski of Deer Park had to settle for third.

Dave Brigati of Calverton topped the field in a 20-lap Super Pro Truck feature, earning his ninth career win in the class. Brigati waved off the traditional victory lap and postrace interview, instead racing to the pits to strap into his NASCAR Modified where he finished seventh. Roger Turbush of Riverhead was second and third went to Jimmy Rennick of Howard Beach.

Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead won a 30-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature, a week after his car sustained heavy damage in an early-race crash. It was his second win. John Beatty Jr. of Merrick was second, with the new championship leader, Bryan Kelly of Aquebogue, third.

Ben Gregor of Bridgehampton made it 3-for-3 in Truck Enduro action this year as he topped a 21-truck field in a 50-lap contest. Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point was second and Hank Hallock of Riverhead took third.