As in the first two Islip 300 contests at Riverhead Raceway, the third annual edition of what has quickly become a short-track classic had its share of pit strategy, extended green-flag runs and late-race drama. In the end, defending NASCAR Modified champion Kyle Soper of Manorville held off a torrid challenge by Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead for the victory. It was Soper’s fourth win of 2019 and by far the biggest of his budding career.
During the final 10 laps it was evident Rogers had a better car as Soper’s car tightened up, but Soper was wise enough to slow his car up in the center of the turns, stalling any run to the inside Rogers attempted.
After finishing first in the 23-car field and receiving the trophy, Soper said: “This is awesome. Tommy had a better car, no doubt. I had to back up the corners so he couldn’t get a run off under me. I’m sure if the roles were reversed he’d do the same.”
Rogers, one day shy of his 41st birthday, said, “I was trying to gain a run on Kyle underneath but he did a great job protecting his lead.”
The triumph was Soper’s 13th career win, tying him with Frank Vigliarolo Jr. and Justin Bonsignore on the all-time win list.
Craig Lutz of Miller Place, whose car stalled in a spin off a turn and did not refire right away, saved his night by roaring in third. Eric Goodale of Riverhead was fourth after having started the race 16th. John McKennedy of Chelmsford, Mass., was fifth.
Chris Rogers of Patchogue had waited a long time to visit victory lane at Riverhead Raceway, never having done so in his Legend Race Car driving days. Rogers won a 25-lap Crate Modified main event. Matt Brode of East Islip was a career-best second and championship leader Justin Brown of Manorville raced his way to a third-place finish.
Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead scored his second Blunderbust win of the year (and ninth of his career), a competitive 20-lap affair. Cody Triola of Bay Shore was second and Jack Handley Jr. of Medford third.
Six races into the Legend Race Car season, one thing has become evident with the class that in the past had been uncharacteristic: the rough and tumble nature of its 20-lap features. Such was the case Saturday when Allan Pedersen of Center Moriches did a masterful job of avoiding carnage to post his first win of the season and second of his career. Rookie Joseph Costello and George Tomko Jr. locked together off a turn, hitting the wall hard. Both drivers were transported and later released from a local hospital before returning to the track, the raceway said. Vinny Delaney of Holtsville was second, with Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches third.
Jimmy Reed of Central Islip, at the age of 82, won a 15-lap Vintage All Stars event, proclaiming it to be his first win in over 50 years.