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Riverhead Raceway: Hard working during week leads to victory Saturday

After a late crash prevented Kyle Soper of Manorville from claiming a top-10 finish last week, his crew got to work to prepare the car for racing Saturday. Soper was more than ready for the challenge at the 66-lap Whelen All American Series event. 

Soper admitted after the race he considered taking a week off to recover from two crashes. But his father urged him to push forward and his team worked past 11 p.m. each night to get the car ready for racing.

The work paid off when Soper won the modified race, finishing ahead of last week’s winner, Shawn Solomito of East Moriches. Dave Brigati of Calverton was third.

Soper set the standard in qualifying with a lap of 11.990 seconds. He opened the race by maintaining an early lead over Vinny Biondolillo and the two young racers ran one-two for the first half of the race before Solomito passed Biondolillo for second. Solomito’s next task was to close in on Soper, who had gotten away from the field. A few late caution flags from minor spins helped him close the gap.

Solomito lined up alongside Soper on a double file restart with just laps remaining and Soper managed to maintain the lead. Soper held on over the final few laps to win the race.

John Fortin Jr. of Holtsivlle and Howie Brode of East Islip rounded out the top five.

Saturday’s racing featured a full slate of races, including late models, figure eights, super pro trucks, grand enduro and demolition derby.

Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Mass. raced to his 22nd career late model win after surviving an intense late race, side-by-side duel with Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters. The two were neck-to-neck over the final nine laps. The two cars never touched down the final laps, creating an exciting finish. Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead was third.

Ken Hyde Jr. of Mastic Beach secured his second victory of the 2016 season in the 15-lap figure eight race. He took the lead with just two laps remaining. Roger Maynor of Bay Shore was the runner-up and Mike Mujsce Sr. of Quogue was third.

In the 20-lap super pro truck, Jimmy Rennick Jr. appeared to have his first win in 33 years of racing across various classes at the track. However, after winning the race, a post race inspection turned up unapproved valve seats in his engine that resulted in a disqualification. The result was Roger Turbush of Riverhead claiming the victory. He was already home with his family when he received word of his victory. Brigati was credited as the runner-up and Mike Albasini of Flushing was third.

In the 50-lap grand enduro, David Antos of Lindenhurst won his second race of 2016. Greg Zaleski of Jamesport made a late charge to finish in second and Glenn Simonin of Holbrook was third. In the demolition derby, Jason Savoy of Lake Panamoka was the winner.