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Riverhead Raceway: Rogers sweeps Modified, Figure Eight titles

Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead sewed up both the NASCAR Modified and Figure Eight championships in grand style Saturday at Riverhead Raceway, winning both feature events. Rogers secured his fourth NASCAR Modified championship in a tiebreaker with John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville.

The Modified race win was Rogers’ fifth of the year while the Figure Eight victory was his ninth, tying him with the late Joe Biondolillo Jr. and Roger Maynor for most wins in a single season.
When the checker flag waved on the Modified race, Rogers had earned his 48th career Modified win, but more importantly joined Bill Park as the only two four-time champions at the quarter mile oval.

“This was a wild way to win a championship,” Rogers said. “I can’s say enough about my team. We could have thrown in the towel but they just kept after it.”

John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville gave it his best shot but came up one spot short in finishing third behind race runner-up Eddie Brunnhoelzl III of Levittown. Dave Brigati of Calverton and Kyle Soper of Manorville rounded out the top five.

Unlike the stress he endured to win the Modified championship, the Figure Eight title was securely in Rogers’s hands when the Figure Eights lined up for their final 15-lap race of the season. Rogers, who started the race from the 11th position, win his 35th career Figure Eight feature event. The championship is the fourth of his career and just like he did in 2015 Rogers won both the Modified and Figure Eight championships in the same season. Tom Ferrara of Patchogue was runner-up in both the race and the championship chase. Eric Zeh of Selden drove in third.

The 2017 season was not what Chris Turbush of Wading River and his Late Model team had hoped for but they ended it on a positive note, winning the final 25-lap race of the year. Soper wrapped up the Late Model championship with a third-place tally. He had six wins during the year.

Once out front, though, there was no stopping Turbush, a five-time Late Model winner in 2016 who was plagued by misfortune that limited his win total this year to two. Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Mass., was second. In his final race of an illustrious Late Model career, Roger Oxee of Peconic wound up 10th. Hours after the races was still taking photos and signing autographs for well-wishers.

Brigati sewed up his second straight Modified Crate championship with a third-place finish. He took six wins from 14 starts en route to the championship and is the all-time leading winner of the division with nine. C.J. Lehmann of Shirley won the 25-lap Modified Crate race. Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills was second.

On the strength of his third-place finish, Tom Pickerell of Huntington wrapped up his fifth career Blunderbust championship. Wayne Meyer of Flanders won his first career Blunderbust race. Eric Zeh of Selden worked his way to second.

Brigati was content to ride in second and he did just that in order to win his first career Super Pro Truck championship. Mark Stewart of Riverhead is only 19 years old, but he has already won his 13th career Super Pro Truck feature event, moving him into a tie for fifth with Frank Dumicich Jr. on the all-time win list. Sean Glennon of Northport came in third.

After a rough start to the Legend Race Car season, Brad Van Houten of Wading Riverhead won his second consecutive race. Eric Hersey of Commack was second while John Beatty Jr. of Merrick completed his championship season with a third-place finish.