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Riverhead Raceway: Soper races to seventh career victory

Kyle Soper of Manorville outlasted Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead to win the 68-lap NASCAR Modifieds feature event at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night. It was his second win of the year and seventh for his career.

Rogers spent much of the first 12 laps in second behind John Beatty Jr. of Merrick, who set the pace in the 18-car field. Rogers saw an opening entering turn three on Lap 12 and ducked under to take the lead as Beatty settled into second place, but only briefly until he spun racing off the second corner, drawing a yellow flag.

That opened room for Soper to move into second and he claimed the lead over Rogers on Lap 22. The two would exchange the lead several times, setting up an exciting duel in front of a large holiday crowd that was also treated to a fireworks display afterward.

Soper had slipped to third behind Rogers and John Fortin Sr. before surging back in the later part of the race. He passed Fortin on Lap 45 to set his sights on Rogers once again. Riding the outside lane, Soper made his way ahead of Rogers for good on Lap 61.

“Man, we had to work for that one,” Soper said in victory lane.

Rogers finished second and Dave Brigati of Calverton took third. Howie Brode of East Islip and John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville rounded out the top five. Fortin Sr. faded to ninth in the closing laps.

In other races, Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck posted his third win of 2018 in the Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modified race. Justin Brown of Manorville was the runner-up and Jack Orlando of Calverton was third.

It was a thrilling finish to the 15-lap Figure Eight feature as Rogers made a last lap pass of Vinny Delaney of Holtsville to claim his fourth win in five starts this season. Delaney finished second and Ken Hyde Jr. of Mastic Beach was third.

Defending Super Pro Truck champion Dave Brigati earned his first win of 2018 in the 20-lap event. It was his 13th career win, tying him for fifth on the all-time win list. Jimmy Rennick Jr. of Howard Beach was runner-up and Mark Stewart of Riverhead was third.

In the Legends race, Mike Alcaro of Newton, N.J., won and was followed by Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches and Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches.

David Antos of Lindenhurst won the 20-lap Street Stock race while Chris Busick was second and Gerard Lawrence was third.

Brian Halsey of Southampton won the 40-lap 8-Cylinder Enduro, an emotional victory after his father, who was known as “Hot Rod,” died last month. He got out to an early lead and never looked back. His son Jared Halsey of Southampton ended up behind him in second and Sean Fitzpatrick of West Babylon was third.

John Palmeri of Lindenhurst won the 4-Cylinder Demolition Derby, his first career win.

Coming up this weekend will be a big day of racing as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour comes to Riverhead for the Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200.

Photo caption: Kyle Soper, top, races next to Dave Brigati Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. (Credit: Bill Landon)

Fireworks lit up the sky after racing at Riverhead Raceway. (Credit: Bill Landon)
Fireworks lit up the sky after racing at Riverhead Raceway. (Credit: Bill Landon)